“Show me someone who has done something worthwhile, and I’ll show you someone who has overcome adversity.” – Lou Holtz
There is a very good reason why most people never come anywhere close to getting the success they think they deserve from life…they simply don’t want it enough. Nearly everyone wants success but few are actually willing to put in the hard effort required to get it. You have to crave success, you have to battle hard to get it and you have to overcome every obstacle and road-block which comes between you and the success you desire.
I don’t know what great achievement it is that you desire but I do know that you will have to battle against great obstacles to get it. Some of the obstacles will be small and easily conquered while others may seem utterly insurmountable…at least at first. Everyone who has achieved something big in their lives has battled adversity…absolutely everyone and you are no different.
The easy option is to throw in the towel when the going gets tough and let self pity take over as you seek to blame others for your lack of progress. You may look towards someone who has achieved what you want to do and blame them for your woes. How many times have you heard this pitiful cry of the underachiever: “Well it is alright for you because you are good with numbers/were born with a silver spoon in your mouth /have the right contacts etc…I don’t have any of the resources you have…I didn’t stand a chance…I was doomed to failure from the very start.”
Nonsense. Utter nonsense. You doom yourself to failure by not wanting success badly enough to blast the obstacles out of your path as you march on-wards towards your goal with steely determination. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you are the only person in the world who has had to battle adversity – believe that and you doom yourself.
Keep your eye on the prize and embrace the obstacles which block your path. Embrace them in the sure and certain knowledge that your success lies on the other side. You just have to navigate a path to the other side. Ask anyone who has gone before you and they will tell you of the hardships they have had to face down. Now make a determined effort to face down your own hardships and never again blame anyone else for your lack of success.
“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” – Michael Althsuler
Some great things about working for yourself are no time clock to punch, no boss to answer to and you get to do whatever you want with your time. The problem is knowing how to balance that time efficiently in a working from home environment where family members and even pets can constantly demand your attention. Remember that we started our own businesses because we wanted to do whatever we want, whenever we want. The key is setting up boundaries so others know when they are allowed to interact with you. Here are some tips:
Decide on your business hours.
Define your working hours. Post a sign on your office door when it’s ok for family members to come in and when it’s not and, except for genuine emergencies, stick to it so that everyone in the house gets on a schedule with you. Just because you are at home in front of your computer doesn’t mean you are free to fix everyone’s problems. Your clients, partners, employees and vendors also need clearly defined times when they can and cannot conduct business with you. This is your business and NO ONE cares how much of YOUR time they take up if there is a benefit in it for them. You work at home for YOU not for others.
Remember back in school when you had 20 minutes for recess? Now I’m telling you to do the same thing – take regular 10-20 minute breaks away from your computer. Get up and stretch, go for a walk around the block. Do anything you want that doesn’t involve work or computers.
Define your home office space.
It will help you compartmentalize between work time and personal time. Designate the space around your computer as “work space.” If you are lucky enough to have a spare room to devote to office space, keep the door closed. Keep a barrier between work and home. If you have just the corner of a room, make sure to keep only business related stuff there. When work time is over then spend time with your family away from the computer.
Work is important but don’t let it take over your entire life. Make the changes now so you can enjoy the time you have without a state of constant chaos.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Maybe it goes without saying but whenever you decide to do something you always have to start somewhere. The problem is that many of us either never get started or begin working on important stuff far too late because we have been holding back while waiting for the perfect moment. We keep waiting for the perfect moment even when, deep down, we know there is no such thing as a perfect moment to do anything.
Very often we are just making excuses not to act rather than waiting for the ideal time to act. We may tell ourselves something like: “I will start the project when I have raised a little more money, done a little more research, talked it over with my friends, set up my website etc.” Or we may take the more negative approach and say something like: “Yes of course I want to get started on this project but now just isn’t the right time to do so.” Either way the job never gets done and yet another golden opportunity has passed us by.
Perfect does not exist. There are no perfect circumstances and there is no ideal world but there is where you are now and what you have got right now. That is where you must start your journey; from where you are and with what you have at your disposal. By all means have huge ambitions but start small and let what you are working on evolve naturally over time. Maybe you see yourself at the head of your own multi-national corporation. It could certainly happen but if it does then that is something you would build up to over a considerable number of years. It would almost certainly start out with you putting plans in action to offer your goods or services to one customer.
Comparing yourself unfavorably to others will also not help get the job done. “Well it is alright for Tom because he has a rich uncle, university degree, family to support him while I have only got…” We can all make excuses for not doing things but they don’t change a single thing about your personal circumstances. Look, you are where you are so that is your starting point. It will throw up its own set of unique challenges along the way but you are resourceful enough to deal with life’s challenges, so deal with them.
“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” – Mark Twain
Far too many people seem to think that the world owes them a living and that they should prosper from the efforts of others. Thinking like this allows you to absolve yourself of personal responsibility when things go wrong in your life because you can always put the blame at somebody else’s door. However the truth is that you actually reap what you sow and this reminds me of the Parable of the Sower from the Bible.
In this parable Jesus tells us of a sower who scattered his seeds erratically – on a path, on rocky ground, amongst thorns and on good earth. The seeds which fell on the path were eaten by birds; those which landed on rocky ground produced crops which withered away in the sunlight because the plants could not take root; the seeds which grew among thorns yielded no fruit because the thorns choked the plants but those which landed in fertile soil produced a bountiful crop.
The actions you take in life are similar to the seeds which were scattered. Some actions just won’t work out and will produce no results for you at all, others look like they will produce results but come to nothing because they were not thought through fully and, therefore, could not take root. For some actions maybe you relied too much on other people, or on the wrong people and they strangled the life out of them.
Yes it is disappointing and frustrating when things don’t work out and your actions fail to bear the fruit you wanted. You may be tempted to give in but this is exactly the wrong thing to do. The right thing to do is to keep sowing and to redouble your efforts because by keeping going you will eventually sow your seeds in good, fertile soil and your efforts will be rewarded in abundance.
The more you can focus and take the time to take the right actions to reach your goals then the more of your seeds will fall on the fertile soil. Don’t overly rely on others to help you achieve your goals and never, ever, fall into the trap of thinking the world owes you a living. It doesn’t owe you anything at all.
“Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire, and begin at once, whether you’re ready or not, to put it into action.” – Napoleon Hill
Yesterday we discussed how there is never a perfect moment to get started on a project because that perfect moment never comes. Today we are going to take things one step further and inject a little more urgency into working on our goals. The message today is that you don’t even have to be ready in order to get started. Yes you have to have a plan of action but you don’t have to have every last detail worked out before you get started. We all tend to over complicate things and endlessly working out details which need to be resolved before we take action is just another way of making things more complicated than they need be.
One of the main reasons you don’t have to be absolutely ready is that just getting started on a project can create a momentum and an urgency all of its own. This momentum will drive you forward and now that you are taking action, problems which once seemed impossible to resolve when it was just a theory suddenly have solutions. Soon you will be anticipating problems before they even arise and working out ways of dealing with them should they occur.
But what happens if you know that you need to take action but still can’t seem to get started? Well a great way of getting started is to make your plans public. Tell a trusted friend or family member what you plan to do and then get started right away. If you do this then it is important to choose someone who you trust and who is supportive of your project. You are using this person to help hold yourself accountable and to give you that extra push you need to take the action you know you need to take. That is another reason why it is important to surround yourself with positive people; these people will help you attain your goals while negative people will only serve to hold you back.
As your plan progresses ensure that you set deadlines along the way so that you can measure your success and chart your progress. Again feel free to share these intermittent goals with your friend or accountability partner to help ensure you stay on track.
How do you know when you’ve been successful? You could measure it by the things you’ve obtained or the goals you’ve reached. You could say, “I’ve come this far in this amount of time,” and maybe that, to you, is a clear measure of success. You could even tell yourself something as simple as “I haven’t failed.” That’s true: if you haven’t failed, then you’ve succeeded. You can find that one in the dictionary. But what if instead of measuring your success by results, you measured it by your suffering. Success, then, can be viewed as not something that you win or lose but something that you pick up over time, slowly, with effort, ignoring all the signals that are telling you to back down, all the signals that are trying to wave you in for a big failure.
If you’re an entrepreneur, maybe you have already gotten into this habit of judging yourself based on what you’ve been able to accept. As someone starting out in business, you have to be willing to accept a lot. A lot of guff, a lot of heartache, a lot of toil. There’s no way around any of this, because even with a really super idea, you’re still facing some stiff competition. There are some people who can handle – or at least put up with – the bad times. These are the people who, holding all else constant, have a fighting chance at converting an idea into a product.
Ostrich Effect – 40 Things Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know is the book for those people: the fighting-chancers.
“Every man’s life lies within the present; for the past is spent and done with, and the future is uncertain.” – Marcus Aurelius
It is interesting to look at how other people live their lives. Some people seem to always yearn for the past, others are happy in the present while another group of people are always looking towards the future. However whatever our particular outlook, today’s quote reminds me of the stark reality that our life is what we are experiencing right now. What has happened in the past is done and gone and while those events will have helped shape who were are today, there is no reason why they must dictate our future.
The balancing act we have to do is learn to live our lives fully each and every day while making sensible plans to shape our future. Children often yearn to be adults where they have the freedom to take control of their lives and make their own decisions. However they often don’t have sufficient experiences of life to know that what they do in their formative years (such as studying hard at school) will have a huge impact on what they go on to do as adults.
While the future is uncertain for all of us we can do many things right now to help us prepare for it. Say you want to become a surgeon, top chef, lawyer, athlete or any of a thousand other things, then you will need to put in years or hard work and dedication to make your dreams come true. You will have to close some doors which may be open to you now in order to be able to open other doors in your future.
Another way of looking at this is you will have to be prepared to make certain sacrifices in your life now in order to have the life you desire in the future but that does not mean your present life does not have to be fulfilled or enjoyable.
It always saddens me when I see people who have no idea of what they are doing in life and have no ambitions for the future. Your life is what is happening to you right now and it is what you choose to do with it now which is important. If you are unhappy with your present life then you must take action right now to make your life better. Don’t wait for the perfect time or the perfect opportunity to come along because there never is a perfect time or a perfect opportunity.
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Rohn
One of the main barriers to success for many people is the failure to take timely action when an opportunity presents itself. Even when people get motivated to do something they often still somehow fail to take the action they should. I think this is partly because motivation tends to come to us in short bursts only. It seems to be rather like a short-acting drug and once the effects wear off then people quickly go back to their unmotivated state. So the question is how do we train ourselves to get motivated and to stay motivated?
Getting motivated is perhaps the easiest part of the problem. It helps if you find something you are so passionate about that you want to just shout about it from the nearest rooftop. It could be a hobby, your job or any part of your life that really gets you excited. Passion is important because it is this element which will allow you to find new motivation each and every day. The key to staying motivated is repetition where you keep doing what you started until it becomes a habit and so that it becomes second nature to you.
So if you are passionate about something you will be more likely to stay motivated to keep going with it long after the initial novelty of doing something new and exciting has worn off. It is also important to do things in your life which are in line with your desires and morals. If what you seek to do does not fit in with your ethical beliefs then you will find it difficult to sustain your motivation in the long term.
You must also deal with obstacles which crop up along the way as you seek to get from where you are now to where you eventually want to be. Having things go wrong can be a real motivational killer and many people just give up at the first sign of trouble. However finding your own inner strength to redouble your efforts during the tough times will pay off. Remember why you got motivated in the first place and hold those thoughts close as you work to overcome the problems in your path.
British wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill said: “Never, never, never give up” but the sad thing is that many people give up on their goals just short of the finishing line. Don’t let that be you. Make a habit of doing the things you care about so that the motivation will stay strong to carry you past the finishing line.
“The pessimist complains about the wind…the optimist waits for it to change; the realist adjusts his sails.” – Lucio Seneca
I guess we all know people who could be described as pessimists and while we all have it within ourselves to be a bit down from time to time some people just seem to actually enjoy being depressed. These are the people who seem to be their own personal little storm clouds of doom and despair and seek to suck the very life-force out of all those around them. I bet you either know people like this in your life right now or have had known such people in the past.
The problem with people who complain about the wind (and everything else under the sun too) is that their pessimism can be contagious. If you are not careful they will bring you down with them and crush your spirit in the process. Given that we can never rid the world of negative people, the trick is to try and take control of how others interact with us.
When you find yourself in the company of someone who is being negative about everything, remember that you don’t have to follow them into a cycle of negativity. You can tell them that you don’t share their views but you don’t have to argue with them. There may come a time when the best solution is simply to remove yourself from the influence of negative people in your life. Instead start surrounding yourself with people who are smart, focused and goal-orientated so that you can be inspired by their positive emotions as you seek to improve your life every day.
Remember that your interactions with people should help you and not hurt you. Don’t wait for people to change – the chances are that they will not change – but adjust your sails and seek out the waters where others who share your goals and ambitions can be found. You are in control of your own life and that means you are in control of the people you choose to surround yourself with. Are you going to choose the negative energy vampires who want to suck the life-force out of you and leave you feeling drained and exhausted? Or are you going to choose the positive go-getters whose very actions and enthusiasm for life inspire you to even better things and challenge you on a daily basis? I know which group of people I want to have around me.