It’s just hard work.
Right now, somewhere in the world, there is someone spruiking a strategy or step-by-step plan for success the way a used car salesperson would on a Saturday morning after a mug of instant coffee.
“All you need is…”
“This is what is working right now…”
“Here is Larry who followed our steps and he says…”
There are seminars, books, coaches, social media channels, and online courses all designed to teach you how to be successful at something. The truth is, you can be successful at anything without any outside help.
When I began writing back in 2014, I didn’t read any books on the skill, attend any seminars, speak to any other writers, have any coaches, or follow any other writers. All I did was work my butt off doing the writing knowing that my process and what works for me will be entirely individual.
I signed a fictitious contract with myself, for a minimum of five years, to do nothing but write.
Things took a very long time and eventually I figured it out. The secret? It was just hard work which is the answer nobody wants to hear.
Let me give you a practical example: gym memberships.
When you purchase a 12-month gym membership, it’s supposed to help you with your fitness goals.
You walk into the nicely lit gym, speak to the trainer who has the body you want, swipe your card and then attend the gym. It couldn’t be easier. Well, that’s until Taco Tuesday happens and you decide that it’s more important than the gym, so you skip it. Before you know it, it’s been one month and you’ve already given up.
The stats are alarming because most people sign up to the gym and then quit before they have seen any results. And the guilt of quitting forces them to keep paying for a membership they don’t need in the hope that their circumstances will change — and they never do.
What if the process happened differently?
What if instead of allowing you to sign-up, the gym told you that it would be at least twelve months until you saw any results and that they wouldn’t let you sign-up unless you agreed with this commitment?
On top of that, what if they told you that once you sign up for 12 months, if you stop going, they were going to charge you three times the price as a punishment? If the gym was honest with you, then that is what they would do, but their business model is built on your failure not your success. And here’s the harsh truth:
Most business models in the how-to space are built on you failing.
On a daily basis I get asked for help, training or coaching. A lot of the time I can’t bring myself to do it because my experience has taught me that none of it matters if you don’t do the work.
The strategy that will work for you to succeed at whatever your goal is, is defined by doing the work. Doing the work reveals the process as a result of consistent action.
There have been so many people I have tried to help who have wanted to skip over this fundamental detail. They let this step get lost in all the other potential steps one can take without realizing that this step alone can make all the other steps irrelevant.
Replace short-term thinking and the endless search for information with this process instead:
Schedule the work
Select an exact time and day every week to do the work. Start small by choosing one day and blocking out no more than 30 minutes.
Schedule this in your diary and ensure that you do not miss a single session.
Do the work
Sit down on that one day per week and do the work. Embrace the joy of not having all the answers and being a somewhat amateur like everyone else that came before you.
Repeat the process
Repeat this process of doing the work over and over without judgment on how you’re going.
Increase the session time
Once you are three months in, increase the session time. The more time you spend doing the work, the better your skill level.
If you can’t increase the session time, then a weekly practice is better than what most other people who have the same goal will ever commit to and follow through on.
Wait five years
Not one week, one month or one year. If the goal matters, then you have to be in it for the long-term.
Five years is a minimum to do anything at a mastery level. Setting long-term goals is what serious people do and it makes all the difference.
There is no overnight success or hack that beats doing the work for 5+ years with a big ass smile on your face.
You don’t need more experts, more information or more strategies — you need to do the work and commit for the long-term.
That is the truth no one wants to hear and it is why I struggle to do anything other than write. No one wants to hear this reality because most of the time, the how-to folk can’t charge you for it.
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