Advertising

Looking For Shortcuts To Success? You Need To Read This.

Looking For Shortcuts To Success? You Need To Read This.
Advertising

Have you ever known someone who seemed to have everything come to them easily?

Maybe they were born into wealth with a super-star face. Athletic. Charming. With just the raise of an eyebrow and a flash of perfect teeth, it all falls in their lap.

Meanwhile, you battle like a Lord of the Rings montage for every scrap of progress in your life.

Nothing is handed to you. Oh, no. In fact, it sometimes feels like the universe takes a thrill in creating obstacles so you have to go the long way around.

You would give anything for a break. Winning lottery ticket? Fortune from the death of a long-lost relative? Genie lamp?

Yes, please!

Shortcuts do exist, and some people hit the jackpot.

So why do I suggest they don’t? I’ll give you seven reasons why shortcuts to success do not exist. Then you decide for yourself.

1. The Ski Lift Reason

There is a difference between feeling successful and reaching a benchmark that appears to mark success.

I have climbed mountains, and I have ridden ski lifts. There is a distinctly different feeling when I reach the peak.

Advertising

The thrill of reaching the peak of a mountain on your own two feet, sweat streaming, heart racing, lungs burning—it’s surreal. Looking down on all around you, you know you earned that view. You battled for it. You could have stopped and turned around at any point, but you hung in there. The journey changed something inside of you. You know now that you are capable of so much more. “If I can do that, what else can I do?”

The only thing I know I can do after ridding a ski lift is that I can sit in a chair. Sure, it’s fun. I still get to see the lovely scenery. But beside the dismount, I feel no accomplishment. I didn’t overcome anything. Reaching the peak is not a success when I arrive on a ski lift.

Same mountain peak. Completely different feeling.

Success is a feeling, not an event. You might be able to take shortcuts to the benchmark, but the shortcut diminishes the feeling.

2. The Butterfly Reason

Shortcuts reduce your strength to create more success.

There was a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. A child watching the struggle decided to help the butterfly. He cut open the cocoon so the butterfly was free. He then watched as the butterfly flapped about.

The child’s grandmother came along and asked what happened.  When the child proudly told her how he helped, the grandmother nodded and then sighed.  She pulled the boy into her lap and said, “Butterflies need to struggle. When they squeeze out of their cocoons, it pushes fluid into their wings for the first time. This makes their wings strong. Your butterfly didn’t struggle so it will never be able to fly.”

When we are in the middle of our struggles, we wish someone would come along and cut us out of our cocoons. The struggling, though, does the same thing for us as it does to the butterfly. It makes us stronger.

Success that comes from struggle generates strength that serves you throughout your life.

3. Dumbo’s Reason

When “success” happens by fluke or shortcut, you never learn how to re-create it.

Advertising

In Dumbo, Timothy tells Dumbo that he can fly because he has a magic feather. When Dumbo loses the feather, he is paralyzed.  He doesn’t how to fly without the shortcut.

Our brains are constantly looking for patterns. When we know we are working hard and making progress, we will continue to repeat these patterns.

When shortcuts are responsible for our seeming success, we have no idea how to repeat those patterns again. It actually degrades our confidence and our strength. Then, when larger challenges come along, we panic. If all you have is a magic feather, you have nothing substantial to rely on when you really need it.

Success that comes from hard work, though, arms you with knowledge and strategies to take on bigger challenges and fly even higher.

4. The Impostor Reason

When you arrive at the peak on a ski lift to find a group of people who hiked to the top, you have a hard time connecting with them.  They’re swapping stories and patting each other on the back.  “Yeah, and what about that huge log over the trail with the bees nest right next to it! That was crazy! How did you get around it?”

And you’ve got nothing to share. What are you going to say?

People who arrive at success by their own hard work and ingenuity have earned their sense of pride.

Eventually, if you arrive at success by shortcuts, it will be harder and harder to hang. You won’t have the stories, strategies and strength that will make you an insider.

You will feel like an impostor.

You won’t stay on the top of the mountain for long.

Advertising

5. Odysseus’s Reason

The road to real success is paved by failure.

Remember good ol’ Odysseus from high school English. Oh, The Odyssey, that long, long Greek poem. It is epic, literally.

This dude is trying sail home after a fighting in The Trojan War for 10 years. The journey back home leads him on a roller coaster ride from failure to success and back again. It takes another 10 years, but he finally reaches home again.

So, what’s Homer’s point?

Success is not one moment or one achievement. It is a series of struggles, fought again and again, that change who we are. The lessons learned on the journey are far more valuable than arriving at the desired destination. Take a shortcut to the destination and you miss everything you could have learned.

6. The Habitual Reason

Successful people develop habits based on what they learned from past failures. They develop their own systems that consistently work for them.

These habits become so normal that they don’t even think about it.

Like Odysseus, the long struggles are an incubation process that builds a success machine.

The mantras & sayings, vocal qualities, posture, ways of waking, creating, questioning, organizing, networking: these are learned from repetition.

Shortcuts miss all the practice that make your success habits second-nature.

Advertising

7. Michael J. Fox’s Reason

Ever see The Secret of My Success? It’s a classic 80s movie starring Michael J. as a young business man who finds a shortcut to success. But what’s his secret? Sneaking, lying, covering tracks, and general slapstick shenanigans. Spoiler alert: in the end, it all falls apart. Our boy learns that all the trappings of success mean nothing without honesty and love. Awww, shucks.

One reason Michael J. Fox’s real life story has touched so many people is what he teaches about success.

This guy had it all. Every outward signifier of success flowing as far as the eye could see. Then at age 30, he developed the symptoms that lead to a diagnosis of early onset Parkinson’s disease. A symbol of youth has the disease of the “old.”

How does he respond?

He realizes that he needs to become a new symbol.  No longer is he the “shortcut taker.” He becomes the role model of the long-haul.

There are no shortcuts to success in a marathon. Every step is a struggle. Every success is earned and every failure is a lesson for doing better next time.

Real success in life comes from knowing who you are, having confidence that you can face our fears, and stepping up to the plate courageously with love and integrity.

There are no shortcuts in these moments of truth.

So what do you think? Will you decide to take shortcuts? In the end, it is not so much whether shortcuts exist or not. It’s what you want to feel when you reach the peaks and when you put your head on the pillow each night.

More by this author

21 Ways To Strengthen Struggling Relationships 10 Lessons Everyone Can Learn From These Millionaires and Billionaires Who Started With Nothing 8 Simple Steps to Resolve Any Conflict Like a Zen Master Confused About Your Career? Why That’s Good & What To Do Now 20 Invaluable Keys to Success That You’ve Been Ignoring

Trending in Productivity

1 7 Effective Ways To Motivate Employees in 2021 2 How a Project Management Mindset Boosts Your Productivity 3 5 Values of an Effective Leader 4 How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them 5 The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
Advertising

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

Advertising

From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

Advertising

The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

Advertising

But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

Advertising

Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Advertising

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

Read Next