It’s that time of year again. The time when many of us think about what we’ve accomplished over the past year and what we might want to accomplish next year.
I’ve made huge changes over the past two years and I’ve watched many of my friends and peers transform their lives. Some people seem to be able to do just about anything.
And yet most people will set goals for the new year with good intentions only to abandon them just days or weeks later.
Why is that? Why is it so hard to achieve what we know we need to do?
I’m not talking about trite little goals here. I know many of you reading this have big things you want to do or change. Maybe you’re dangerously unhealthy or overweight. Maybe you hate your job. Maybe you have a habit that’s killing you slowly.
Maybe you know that you’re not serving your life’s purpose and that you’re not doing anything to change that. Every day you’re not radiantly alive and pursuing your life’s purpose is a day wasted.
This isn’t a dress rehearsal, people. I don’t care how cliche it sounds. You only get one life. In that life, the feeling of time accelerates dramatically as you get older. Don’t fool yourself by thinking you have plenty of time to make the important changes later. That attitude can easily consume a decade or more.
In fact, I have something to say that some of you might not like. Maybe some of you will unsubscribe from my blog after reading this. That’s fine with me, so listen up. I know some of you read everything you can about changing your life or living exceptionally. Maybe you follow my blog or Chris Guillebeau or Leo Babauta or Jonathan Mead and enjoy what you read.
I’m glad you enjoy what you read, but honestly this isn’t about entertainment. This is about your life and your future. It’s about living to the fullest for yourself, not just reading about what other people are doing like it’s some kind of surrogate TV show.
I don’t write just to be read. I write to help you get your ass in gear so you can start pursuing your life’s purpose with every fiber of your being.
I don’t care if you’re 22 or 35 or 60. You owe it to yourself to live the life you know deep down you were meant to fulfill. You know it’s there. Making it happens all starts with admitting to yourself what you want.
I think it was Tim Ferriss who I recently read saying 99% of people don’t think exceptional things are possible. That makes it surprisingly easy for the other 1% of people to achieve the exceptional.
This is about joining that 1%. It’s about being unrealistic. Start by committing to yourself that you want to be exceptional. Then, work to put a plan in place to achieve it.
From watching dozens of people become hugely successful online over the past two years, I’ve noticed 5 core principles all of them have followed. These aren’t just casual outside observations. These are deep insights from hours of conversation with these people who I consider both friends and peers.
If you’re serious about joining the 1%, let this 5-point plan be your guide to achieving anything.
- Stop looking for a shortcuts.
I would revise Tim Ferriss’ statement about the 99% above slightly. In my experience, 90% of people don’t think exceptional things are possible, 1% actually make the exceptional possible and the other 9% constantly spin their wheels in a never-ending quest for a golden shortcut.
You see this all the time in interviews and whenever people get to ask their mentors a question. Maybe you’ve heard this question before (or thought of asking it yourself): “what’s the ONE thing that led to your success?”
The question is unanswerable as far as I’m concerned. There are no secret shortcuts to success. If the only way you’re willing to achieve your goal is through miraculous luck (like winning the lottery), then I say your goal isn’t something you really want. If you really wanted the goal, you’d stop fucking around playing the lottery and commit to doing whatever it takes to achieve it.
Get-rich-quick mentality is a disease, just like drinking or gambling. It can ruin your life if you don’t stop it, and you won’t make any real progress towards your goal until you give it up.
Wanting “passive income” or a 4-hour workweek or whatever can be a worthy goal, but only if you’re willing to work your ass off to achieve it. If you aren’t willing to work hard, you may as well give up now.
- Learn from the best.
Virtually anything you want to achieve has already been achieved in some form by other people. Your job is to seek out those people and learn from them, whether through books or the Internet or in person.
And when I say learn from “the best,” I mean it. The best people in any field are 100x more successful than the average person. Plenty of average people are willing to give advice to anyone who will listen. Don’t listen to average. Ignore the armchair quarterbacks.
The only exception here are people who are going to be exceptional. I’m talking about the rising stars in your field. It’s good to pay attention to them for perspective and inspiration. Just be careful about who you predict will become a big success. If you don’t have a good sense for that, you’re better off sticking with the proven experts.
- Make new friends.
Social norms are some of the most psychologically powerful and controlling forces in our lives. Ask yourself why you do something you regularly do, anything, and the answer will probably involve “because that’s what people do,” or “because so-and-so does it.”
Why do you commute 45 minutes every day? Why do you put up with working in a cubicle? Why do you accept being chronically out of shape? You probably don’t have a good answer other than, “that’s what everybody else does” or “I didn’t know there was another way to live.”
Luckily, just as social norms can be powerful in a negative way, they can be equally powerful in a positive way. My wife and I agree that if we had kids (which we’re leaning towards not having), we would want to raise them in a big city. Why? Because people who live in cities tend to be more adventurous, fitter, happier and concerned with learning new things than people who don’t live in cities. We would want to put those social norms to good use in shaping the lives of our kids.
When you commit to changing something major in your life, you need to establish new social norms for yourself. Find people who are working towards what you want to achieve and make new friends. Spend lots of time with those people (in-person is preferred, but online can work too) and become part of that culture. You can keep your old friends too, but you might need to divorce some of them if they’re particularly negative influences.
- Obsessively measure your results.
Did you know the mere act of stepping on a scale every day can cause you to lose weight? If you want to change something you have to start by choosing your measure of success. Then start measuring it obsessively.
“That which gets measured gets done,” is how Peter Drucker famously put it. Tim Ferriss has a masterful chapter on the importance of measurement in his new book The 4-Hour Body. I bought the Kindle edition of the book yesterday and couldn’t put it down.
Choose what you measure carefully, however. Measure things you can control and measure that which will lead to the results you want. Measure the result itself as well, but know that you can’t control the result directly.
For example, if you’re trying to become an incredible investor in the stock market, you have to choose a philosophy. If you’re smart like my friend Scott Dinsmore, you’ll probably choose the Warren Buffet value approach to investing. Once you’ve chosen a method that you know has worked for other people, you should measure your progress against the method itself more than against the results. Measure how well you stuck to the core Buffett investing principles (or your own modified principles) and know the results will follow eventually.
- Succeed by helping other people succeed.
I guess I’m all about cliches lately. You’ve probably heard this saying before from Napoleon Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich: “It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.”
Why does helping others lead to your own success? First, when you focus on helping others, you ensure your products or services will have demand. Second, helping others can be a great form of market research, learning what works and what doesn’t work. Third, people you help are likely to reciprocate and help you back.
If all that isn’t reason enough to help others, it also makes you feel great. And when you feel great about yourself, you’re likely to do more great work.
- Bonus tip: don’t give yourself an out.
There is only one way you can guarantee success in anything you do. Make it your goal to do your absolute best on the journey towards your destination instead of making the destination itself your goal. If you commit to doing your best every day, that’s something you can control and achieve without luck or circumstance.
Once you’ve committed to the journey, it’s time to burn your boats.
Don’t give yourself the option of failing. Tell people about your plan. Hold yourself accountable, publicly if possible. Make the journey your new reality and know that if you do your best, you’ll succeed no matter what. Failure doesn’t exist if you consider every failure a building-block towards your ultimate success. You’ll win the war even if you don’t win every battle.
If you’ve been reading about how to change your life just for the entertainment value, it’s time to have an honest conversation with yourself.
If you’re ready to commit to pursuing your life’s purpose from this moment forward, subscribe for free updates from me and I’ll be here to hold you accountable.
This isn’t a dress rehearsal. You owe it to yourself to live the life you know deep down you were meant to live. Every day you aren’t radiantly alive and pursuing your life’s purpose is a day wasted.
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