“You can achieve whatever you want, as long as you are willing to pay the price.”~Elvin Semrad
If you could do or be anything in the world, what would it be? For some people, it would be to be a famous singer, musician, film or television star, writer, or a high profile professional athlete. Others desire simpler things such as to get out of debt, retire early or own and operate a business. Whatever your lifelong dream is, it IS possible–no matter how remote that possibility is. How do I know? Because others have done it.Advertising
So what makes some people successful and others mediocre? Is it innate talent, education or just plain ole good luck? Is there some secret formula that some discover and others don’t? Could it be as simple as being in the right place, at the right time and knowing the right people? The answer to all of those questions is–yes. All of those elements are factors in determining your level of success. However, the two most important characteristics that ultimately determine success are a relentless abundance of ambition and a dogmatic, never quit, supercharged work ethic.
Ambition, simply defined is a strong desire to achieve a goal requiring determination and hard work. That’s it. So, the question isn’t what do you want? The true fundamental question pivotal to your success is: how bad do you want it? The latter question requires an answer, because ambition has a price…Advertising
We all understand work ethic. If you have ever accomplished anything worthwhile, you know what hard work is. Our work ethic is developed in our early experiences and interaction with work. There are several questions worth pondering that will highlight where you value system concerning work was derived. Were your efforts productive? Were they rewarded? Was laziness and laissez faire-ness rewarded? Were you pushed or coddled? Were you allowed to quit? Did you quit often?
The equation is simple: Ambition + Hard work = SuccessAdvertising
Ambition – Hard work = A Dream
Many people say they are ambitious–but are they really? Simply wanting something is not enough. True ambition is always coupled with hard work. They are conjoined twins that cannot be separated. Putting in the minimum amount of effort to achieve a satisfactory result is a behavior associated with people that have little or no ambition. Successful individuals take nothing for granted. They realize that it takes hard work and dogmatic commitment to their goals and they may have to put in extra hours or do things that may feel punishing to either their mind or body – quite often both.
We romanticize the dreamer who fantasizes about what could be. If you are not willing to work hard to achieve what you want, you are a dreamer; stay stay in bed.Advertising
Hard work – Ambition = Hamster in a wheel
Truth be told, most people fall into this category. They work hard, put in long hours, go the extra mile but continuously come up empty. Ambition (a strong desire for a specific thing) is the focus that allows you to aim your hard work at a specific target. We’ve all seen the hamster in the wheel. The tiny creature runs and runs, striving to reach an imaginary destination but the culmination of all of that expended energy and effort is exhaustion and being in the exact same place where it all began. Do you see yourself here?
Ambition + Hard work = Success
Find your passion and make it your life’s mission to achieve it. Truly successful people cultivate ambitious habits.
- They are goal oriented. Once they accomplish one goal, they immediately set another. They are always reaching. They do not, however, broadcast their goals. They are internally focused.
- They are relentless. They are laser focused and when they do get side-tracked they regroup and recommit to their path. Set backs are not failure to them–they are opportunities to grow. The are dissatisfied with mediocrity and avoid becoming complacent. They commit to the process and always follow through.
- They take risks. Chasing a dream is risky business. Ambition requires risks and involves a certain amount of failure. The risk of failure will cultivate courage if you continue to take those calculated leaps of faith.
- They believe in themselves. …even when know one else does. They are confident that they can accomplish their goal and know how to use their own unique gifts and talents to their advantage.
- They are positive. Success is a state of mind. In order to remain focused and keep driving toward your goal, your mind must be disciplined to remain optimistic in the face of disappointment, failures and the drudgery that accompanies ambition.
- The are strategic. Focusing on what is important, the ability to prioritize, the ability to conserve and expend the right amounts of energy and effort–in short, the ability to be strategic about your ambitions is extraordinarily important. This minimizes set backs and wasted time. Being strategic means that you squarely face where you are visualize, where you want to be and then draw a map connecting the two points.
There is a difference between a dreamer and a dream chaser. One stays in bed fantasizing about what could be and the other wakes up every morning and fills their ambition mug to the brim with focused hard work and diligence.
Last Updated on March 21, 2019
11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits
Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:
You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”
But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:
To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.
It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,
“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”
The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.
In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.
Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?
1. Start Small
The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.
Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.
Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.
Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.
Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.
Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.
It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.
Do less today to do more in a year.
2. Stay Small
There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.
But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.
If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.
When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.
I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.
Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.
The same thing applies to every other habit out there.
Pick a (small) number and stay at it.
3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence
No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.
There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.
What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.
Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.
This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.
This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.
4. Those Who Track It, Hack It
When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.
Peter Drucker said,
“What you track is what you do.”
So track it to do it — it really helps.
But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.
5. Measure Once, Do Twice
Peter Drucker also said,
“What you measure is what you improve.”
So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:
For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.
Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.
6. All Days Make a Difference
Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.
Will two? They won’t.
Will three? They won’t.
Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.
What happened? Which one made you fit?
The answer to this (Sorites paradox) is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.
No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).
7. They Are Never Fully Automated
Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.
But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.
What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.
It will just become a part of your lifestyle.
The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.
It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.
It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.
8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.
Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.
When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.
The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.
Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.
9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It
The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.
Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.
You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”
But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.
So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.
If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.
This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect and why process-oriented people don’t.
The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.
Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.
10. Punish Yourself
Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.
I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.
It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.
You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.
No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.
The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.
But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.
11. Reward Yourself
When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.
Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.
The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.
After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.
If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.
Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.
If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.
In the End, It Matters
What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.
When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.
And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:
“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”
More Resources to Help You Build Habits
- How to Break a Bad Habit and Retrain Your Brain
- Understand Your Habits to Control Them 100%
- How to Break a Habit and Hack the Habit Loop
- How to Break Bad Habits (The Only Effective Way)
Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com
|||^||Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox|
|||^||Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?|
|||^||Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit|
|||^||Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes|