However you define success, you have to do the work to get what you want. Hoping that events will turn out the way you want doesn’t work.
“You have to assemble your life yourself — action by action,” writes Marcus Aurelius in his book, Meditations.
Whatever you want in any area of your life, if you spend too much time finding motivation, waiting for the perfect time or focusing on unimportant actions, you will miss out on the progress you seek.
Every success starts with an actionable goal. Most people create vague goals without practical steps or plan to get started.
“I want to start making more money this year” is not a specific or measurable goal. It’s the bigger picture. “This is the issue with goal setting: the goals many people set for themselves are simply too broad or too vague — and you have no idea where to start,” writes Ramit Sethi.
What you need to make more money is actionable steps, behaviours or habits you can practice daily, weekly or monthly.
First, you need time to put your action to work, so determine how/when to put your skill to work. For example, if you want to boost income, you can start with realistic ways to make passive income if you’re going to keep your current source of income.
What exactly do you want to do outside your present job: you could teach what you already know online (writing online, starting a newsletter, creating a course, packaging your expertise as ebooks, renting your skill to remote companies, etc.).
The options are endless, but it pays to focus on something that brings out the best in you. But what to do is not the point. How you will do it makes a big difference — the step by step process to achieve the goal.
Real success is more about what you put in daily, weekly or monthly. We all want to be successful but ultimately, those who can commit to a working process win.
The point is, whatever you want in life begins with an actionable plan and most importantly, doing the actual work — committing to high-impact activities at specific times for as long as possible. That’s how you get results.
Action is a force multiplier
Action compounds — good progress begets success.
Prolific artists have skin in the game.
Pablo Picasso created 50,000 works of art in his lifetime. “Action is the foundational key to all success,” he once said.
Mozart composed over 600 pieces of great music in his lifetime. Isaac Asimov wrote about 500 books. Seth Godin has published over 8000 posts.
“I wake at five in the morning. I get to work as early as I can. I work as long as I can. I do this every day of the week, including holidays.” Isaac Asimov said.
To be prolific, he says, you must be a “singleminded, driven, nonstop person.”
Taking action is the only way to build a better life.
Want a great career? Hone your skills like your life depends on it. Build a personal enterprise to become indispensable. Invest in timeless skills.
Want to improve your health? Add more fruits, nuts and vegetables into your diet. Move more. Take good care of your physical, mental, and social life.
Want to become wealthy? Invest more (a lot more than 10% of your income) in products that compound over time (for example, index funds). “You get truly rich by owning things that increase rapidly in value,” says Sam Altman.
Knowledge only serves you when you apply it or use it to improve yourself.
The real measure of success is action. Action moves the needle. It’s the only catalyst for growth. Inaction is the only reason you are not making real progress. Action brings faster results if you can make it a habit.
Success is a complicated concept that can be difficult to define. Yet, it’s something that we all hope to achieve. No one can tell you what will make you successful because it’s different for everyone.
But everyone has to take action. It’s non-negotiable. “Taking action trumps all the planning and learning, fidgeting and worrying you will ever do,” says Alex Mathers, a self-taught illustrator.
Whatever you want in the next few months or years, define it. Write it down. Make it as realistic as possible. And narrow down why it means the world to you to achieve it.
Develop your plan of action. And most importantly, take small steps each day that will lead you closer towards that goal.
Successful people are not rare. Successful action takers are rare. Regardless of what you want to feel successful, taking action should be at the core of getting what you need in life.
This post was previously published on Thomas Oppong’s blog.
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