A month from now, millions around the world will use the new year as motivation to lose the weight, get an education, make more money, find a lover — and whatever else.
Most of these resolutions are purely superficial desires. And make no doubt most people will fail.
“But Ben, I really do want to make more money in 2014 so that I can finally afford to do [whatever]”
I’m sure that you do. I do too.
But the reality is that you’re already destined to fail.
You’re setting goals for the wrong reasons
It all starts with the motivations behind setting goals or making resolutions. They usually exist only to fulfill a fantasy. The fantasy is driven by the melancholy of our everyday existence. And we expect a direct 1:1 payoff.
It’s easy to dream about a better life when you’re stuck in a cubicle, doing work that you hate, dreading the hour long commute back home stuck in traffic.
When setting goals we account for our current state and then automatically assume a big payoff that will occur directly after they’re achieved. Anything has to be better than where you currently are. But there are no guarantees. The choice that you make and path you choose may put you in an even worse position than before.
To to be successful in achieving your goals; you must embrace that life is ever changing, progressing and evolving. Your ability to adapt, pivot and persevere must be second to none.
You’re at war with your mind.
Your mind is a clever conniving S-O-B that will rationalize things that are completely irrational.
It will make up IF / THEN statements for you and convince you they are reality.
IF I move to a new city, THEN I’ll be happier than I am here.
IF I make more money, THEN I’ll be able to afford the things that I want.
IF I lose 35 pounds, THEN I’ll be more attractive and get a girlfriend.
The disconnect is S C R E A M I N G through these statements. They only work if you operate under a TON OF ASSUMPTION.
If you want a girlfriend, will being in shape help? Absolutely.
But if you’re an obtuse douche bag living at home with your parents without a job or a hint of social skills, you’re probably still screwed.
There are probably a few buffs at your local gym who are lonely, single and insecure. But they have convinced themselves that if their outer appearance is attractive, then they’ll be able to attain their goals.
Do you know why your mind does this?
Because it’s easy.
In addition to being clever and conniving, your mind is also really fucking lazy.
It enjoys binge watching Netflix shows, Buzzfeed articles about nothing, munchkin cat videos and long naps on the couch. It won’t help you unless you help yourself.
So before you do any type of goal setting make sure that you account for the fact that:
- Achieving something does not automatically make everything else perfect.
- Your brain will attempt to trick you by automatically creating an IF / THEN fantasy.
Before you can start actually getting things done…
Your commitment must be foolishly optimistic and totally committed. Put complete and absolute faith into your goals and let the path to them consume you.
Achieving your goals requires a total lifestyle change. You can’t expect to spend an hour a day or two hours a day or Saturday mornings before you go out and realistically expect to achieve anything. Only your effort compounded over time will yield results.
This is no different than trying to get in shape. If you’re out of shape, then going to the gym a few times a week will help, but until you make a complete lifestyle change the results will be negligible. The hour on the treadmill doesn’t help if you’re still at home eating processed chicken nuggets covered in bbq sauce.
It’s absolutely crazy how many people view opportunities like building a business or making money online and think that they can be successful without complete dedication and immersion into the world. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just watch one episode of Bar Rescue and I promise it will teach you that.
If and only if you’re totally committed you can do the next two steps…
1.) Eliminate the stupid filler activities
I love sports. I’m a religious ProFootball talk reader and obsessed Ravens fan. But there’s a difference between loving sports and using sports to occupy time periods of your life. If it’s a Tuesday night and you’re thinking to yourself, “Damn I wish there was a game on,” you have a problem. And you aren’t alone.
A lot of people use sports, video games, reality tv and other cheap forms of media as filler for their lives. It’s just like fast food, a quick fix for your brain’s need for stimulation and entertainment that provides zero benefit for your life. Sure knowing that Candice Glover won Season 12 of American Idol may help on your local trivia night, but being trivia champion isn’t particularly exciting.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with these filler activities and they can be a good way to relax, but they offer zero value. From now on you’re all about maximizing the value and return on your time. The truth is that eventually your attention span for filler diminishes as you become interested in actually living.
2.) Stop hanging out with people who don’t make you better
If you’re not hanging out with likeminded people that are working towards their goals, then you’re wasting your life, time and potential.
Here’s a familiar scenario that I’m sure will bring a few friends to mind.
Your friend does the same thing each weekend, getting plastered at whatever set of bars they usually go to. They take the time to complain about their job, relationship, how they don’t have enough money and why [insert name] is being a total bitch. Instead of taking any proactive steps to make things different, they go back to the filler activities that provide that quick fix of happiness they need to keep going.
Now a lot of people do this day in and day out for years, maybe lifetimes. You can try and help them, but if they’re not willing to do the work and pull themselves out of the situation there’s nothing you can do.
Colin Powell eloquently describes the situation,
“The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve. Any time you tolerate mediocrity in others, it increases your mediocrity. An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with negative thinking and negative acting people. As you grow, your associates will change. Some of your friends will not want you to go on. They will want you to stay where they are. Friends that don’t help you climb will want you to crawl. Your friends will stretch your vision or choke your dream. Those that don’t increase you will eventually decrease you.”
Those that don’t increase you will eventually decrease you. That’s probably already started, but it doesn’t have to continue. If your social circles aren’t helping you, you need to find new ones.
So what’s next????
Real World Experience + Real World Education = You Becoming A Killer In Your Field
I’ve talked about getting experience here on this blog before, but my ultimate recommendation would to be find an entrepreneur or hustler in your field / industry that you believe in and swear your undying loyalty to them. Become a foot soldier in the army and get things done without asking too many questions. Don’t know the answer? Research it first and be swift. Business is about being able to make decisions on your own, on the fly and only using the information in front of you. Being able to competently complete tasks without any management or oversight is key to being successful.
Don’t quit your day job (unless you can), but acquire as much low risk exposure as you can before really making the plunge. This provides a good way to measure whether you really want to work in that role or you’re guilty of the wrong way of thinking.
Most real world education is not taught in a classroom. Your marketing classes don’t teach you how to sell a product on the internet, sales classes don’t teach you lead nurturing and your communications professor doesn’t know anything about PR (unless they’ve read Trust Me I’m Lying).
But you can get access to an endless amount of information and content online and most of it is available for free!!! Over and over again I’ve had talks with a lot of “wantrepreneurs” who don’t read books, blogs or listen to podcasts. I’m just thinking to myself, well obviously they don’t really want to do this because they think they know it all already. It’s either that or they think that they need to go back to school to learn.
It makes zero sense to take on additional debt taking classes taught by people who know little about the current state of their field. I had a few marketing classes in college where I literally yelled at the professor because they didn’t know anything about online marketing, but here they were teaching it and getting paid thousands. If you’re looking to get started learning anything check out your options on sites like Udemy, Skillshare or Code Academy. There are tutorial videos on Youtube for everything imaginable, podcasts and bloggers talking about different topics and not to mention books!!!
Once you’re able to create realistic expectations, remove the distractions and begin the process of education and experience – you’ll be on your way. I say on your way because I don’t think that motivated individuals are ever done working. We move from one project to the next. Life is a gift for us to learn, experience, command and conquer. It’s why millionaires become billionaires and no one who’s self-made just retires and sits around. It’s because we love what we do and that never stops.
A few things I’d recommend reading that have all had a profound effect on me –
The Ultimate Cheat Sheet to Reinvent Yourself 2013 by James Altucher
Success and Motivation Part 1 – 4 (2007) by Mark Cuban
The 1000 Day Rule (2011) by Dan Andrews