There are even a ton of “gurus” out there that will tell you that success is actually wide out in the open. All you have to do, they say, is watch.
After all, success leaves clues.
Or does it…?
Have you ever had a really good secret that you didn’t want to tell anyone because you were afraid that – once you did – everyone else would spread that secret and ruin it for you?
Maybe it was a secret place you went to get your Magic The Gathering cards – where they gave an extra discount, or had special boosters no one else did.
Maybe it was a restaurant you went to that was so good and so impossibly cheap that you resisted the urge to post about it on Facebook. If word got out, that would mean longer lines and a possible risk of overcrowding the place.
And even if that sounds like an unrealistic (and selfish) way of looking at it, a lot of people still think this way.
And when it gives you an edge, you’d naturally want to keep that information under lock and key.
But today, I’m feeling generous. You see, being cryptic isn’t my thing.
I’m not a fan of putting on an of air mystery or giving vague advice for you to interpret. I’d rather just straight up share my success tips and be clear about it as humanly possible.
Hunting for clues and stumbling for success in the dark? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Let me shine a little light on what REALLY works on a daily, practical level. Here are some of the best yet surprisingly simple tips that will help you get ahead:
Look, you might think that, given all the stores that offer their own card, credit cards are the best things to have. Especially when they bait you with 15% off this purchase – if you apply right now.
But the truth is that credit is the one thing that is currently sinking our economy down the drain. (And chances are, that last sentence could be said at any time and be just as valid.)
If you’re currently stockpiling credit cards – and debt – you have to break free. Excessive debt weighs you down, making you feel as if you’re always shouldering an immense burden.
And it doesn’t let up. It’s hanging over your head every day of your life, like some dark cloud that refuses to go away.
I know how tempting it is to just put everything on your card and worry about the bills later. You’ve been working so hard lately, so you deserve a little treat, right?
But it’s this “out of sight, out of mind” kind of thinking that’s putting countless people knee-deep in financial ruin every day.
Here’s a little dose of reality for ya…
There was a time when you didn’t buy something unless you had the money to pay for it. If you take a second and think about that, you’ll have a big epiphany.
But now that everyone gets credit, they’re getting their “success in advance.” They get all their riches before they’ve put in the effort and character to bring home the money to pay for it.
So everyone gets to pretend to be rich, while they secretly juggle tens of thousands of dollars of consumer debt. To buy stuff they don’t need.
Okay, this is a bit vulgar, but a very good philosophy. You need to store up six months of what I call “Screw you” money.
(You can use the F-word in there, I’m just trying to keep this thing mildly PG-13.)
If your job ever turns on you and starts making your life a living hell – and believe me, this can happen quicker than most people realize – you can just pack your bag and head home.
This kind of attitude will do wonders for your self-esteem, not to mention your ability to cling to your ethical and moral beliefs. The ability to leave when you WANT is a good option to have in the back of your head.
Don’t let money be a reason to keep yourself in a crappy situation or let anyone have that kind of power over you.
Remember when I said to deep-six those credit cards? Think of how those financial sinkholes in your life are chipping away at your “Screw You” Stash.
While you’re at it, trim the fat wherever you can. Ask yourself: do you REALLY need to buy that, or is there are cost-friendlier alternative.
If you want to be honest with yourself, be willing to admit that a great chunk of your expenses are entirely optional. Either you can do completely without those branded sneakers, or look in the bargain bin instead.
And if you can apply the same kind of mentality with other stuff like rent, entertainments, utilities, and transportation costs, you’ll be all the better for it.
Your vampires are all the things that pop up and wave their hands at you – ready to take you away from what you’re currently working on.
They promise you a quick hit of relief, and they’re so small and innocent that you almost forgive them for the life-destroying behavior they create.
– Youtube videos with no educational benefit whatsoever
– Distraction sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google Plus, etc.
– Online shopping sites such as eBay, Amazon, WalMart, Etsy, Ikea, Target
– Or basically any site that allows you scroll down endlessly, thereby offering that hit of relief on tap
– Texting and Skype-chatting your friends
– Other chat-based apps like WhatsApp, Viber, Snapchat
– Updating your status on one of these social networking sites WHILE you’re getting stuff done (e.g. studying, working, cleaning, etc.)
They might give you the ability to stay connected with everyone, but it doesn’t mean you’re actually engaged with the people in your life.
Sure, it’s important to keep in touch your social circles and be able to communicate with them when you REALLY need to. But allowing these things to get in the way of your productivity and overall well-being is another matter altogether.
You might think that I’m repeating myself here, but it’s not quite the same thing.
When I tell you to trash your distractions, I’m saying you need to start getting rid of all the things in your life that are weighing down your Subconscious Backpack.
You see, we’re all carrying around a huge backpack of subconscious crap that we just can’t seem to get rid of. It weighs us down and demotivates you every day.
Distractions also grab us because there’s a part of the brain that feels rewarded when you do something new, or experience something new. This feeling of novelty is extremely easy to get addicted to.
Social media is obviously a HUGE source of those shiny distractions, which we’ve already covered. But as an additional note, you also need to turn off the notifications on your phone.
Any form of addiction has a built-in mechanism to pull you back into the cycle. Not only do notifications serve that purpose, they also create that irrational Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) in your head.
While you’re at it, get rid of your cable TV subscription. Most of commercial TV is loaded with advertising that doesn’t just feed your brain with delicious morsels of distraction.
It’s also designed to reinforce the feeling of inadequacy. Trust me, you don’t want to waste your time and energy thinking that you need to have the newest phone, a flashy wardrobe or that luxury car.
Sometimes, you just need to practice a little self-awareness when you’re feeling that familiar itch. Develop the habit of seeing these distractions for what they really are so you can TUNE THEM OUT.
It’s been my experience over the last 15-20 years of my life that we are rapidly becoming a world that has lost touch with the things that really matter.
Just for existing.
We think we deserve the goodies and the prizes in life UP FRONT – with no effort, and no character.
As comedian Louis CK points out, we’ve become so jaded and entitlement driven that we get irritated when the stewardess on our plane flight tells us that the Internet is going to be down for this trip.
You’re sitting in a chair – IN THE SKY. The most amazing thing that we couldn’t have imagined existing for most of human history is now possible.
And you’re angered because you can’t surf Facebook at 30,000 feet.
We have to get back to what I often refer to as “Zero Sum Gratitude.”
This is where you realize that right now, you’re just lucky to be alive. Breathing, and functioning.
You’re a miracle as you are RIGHT NOW.
Call this ZERO level if you will.
And then walk around your house and fall in love with the fact of all the cool “stuff” you own, and how you don’t have to sleep in a damp alley.
Get back to gratitude and see just how amazing our world is. And forget all the multitudes of imaginary conveniences that are really just numbing your mind.
Most of that stuff just doesn’t matter.
If you see other people getting the goodies in life without effort or character, you should be VERY wary and afraid.
This malady can often be linked to the addiction to instant gratification, which will also stop you dead in your tracks on the search for success.
Like what we’ve talked about so far, the temporary pleasure you get has a heavy price tag attached to it. And most of the time we’re not aware that we’ll have to pay up one way or another.
It may be in the form of lost time, wasted energy or even unrealized dreams.
Did you notice that most of my tips involve ditching the unnecessary stuff from your daily routine?
That’s no coincidence. In a lot of cases, getting on the fast track to success simply means getting rid of the things that are slowing you down.
Don’t be afraid to streamline your life. You’ll go through a period of chaos and adjustment when you make these changes, but the long-term benefits are worth it.
Back then, the only way you got a dose of inspiration or advice on goal setting and topics related to personal development was to:
1) Get caught up in an Amway group (great source of inspiration, by the way – just no income)
2) Buy tapes from Nightingale Conant (still around to this day – and the best source of self-help materials next to the Internet)
3) Buy old classics off the bookshelf and hope you could figure out a way to make it work for you…
4) Go to a giant Tony Robbins seminar… Apparently he’s still going strong after 30 years
We’ve come a long way since then.
Now we’ve got entire magazines and websites and seminar industries built around how to accomplish your goals.
So today, I’m going to put a few fresh ideas in your head on how to get what you want from your life.
But first – some myths about goals – BUSTED!
When I first started setting goals, I got caught up in the hype of goal setting. I sat down and broke my life up into the “important” areas like:
– Health (diet & fitness)
Then you’re told to make a goal for the next week, month, year, 5 years, 10 years, for each one!
Jeez, it’s no wonder no one ever sets goals if it has to be this complicated. And that’s the reality – if your goal setting is taking time away from pursuing your goals, you’re not going to achieve them!
I’ll give you an alternative in a minute, but just recognize that goal setting should NEVER be this labor intensive.
NO! This is probably the worst way to set goals for yourself.
You have to align your goals with what’s really important to you.
Most people don’t know what motivates them, or really know themselves well enough to pick a goal that makes sense, much less one they’ll stick to and pursue to the end.
You have to start from a place of knowing yourself before you can set those goals. I’ll give you a great tip for this further on.
Again, very bad advice that sounds kinda real. Like Stephen Colbert says – it has Truthyness about it.
But here’s where you have to maintain some flexibility.
Lives change and people change, so if your 25 year goal that you set when you’re 20 doesn’t make sense anymore now that you’re 40, there’s a reason for that! It’s called “mature thinking.”
This standard advice about not quitting is given out because so many people make a goal and then give up on it.
Usually this happens in the first few weeks (or even days, if you’ve ever had a diet you couldn’t stick with.)
What this advice really means is that you shouldn’t be discouraged when you run into obstacles.
But if your life and your direction changes, you should allow yourself the flexibility to take a different route.
Hey, when you set that goal you might not have realized what you were in for, right?
Okay, so let me give you a few tips that will put you on track with effective and REAL goal setting. Starting with:
We often set goals that SOUND good to us, but they’re not really something we WANT to accomplish yet.
I mean, eventually you might want to go back to school for that MBA.
OR get that professional certification…
But right now? Your drive is to get out there and establish a career for yourself.
You’re tired of school and it was a drag, so now you just want to get to work!
OR – maybe you want to take a year and travel Europe. After all, your degree isn’t going to fade away immediately.
You know you’ll wish you had traveled if you were to just go and get a job right away…
But nooooooo…. all these other Knowitalls are telling you to just get back to school! Or get to work!
Look, life is full of choices, and none of them are wrong. (Unless you fail to learn from them.)
They do have opportunity costs, but they’re almost never WRONG. So don’t label anything a mistake or you’re just going to kill your self-confidence and self-esteem.
Don’t waste your time on a goal you want INTELLECTUALLY, but your spirit couldn’t give a flying squat about.
Take a few minutes and go do either the “Kolbe” or the “Strengths Finder” tests to find out what your true calling is… before you start on a goal that your heart really isn’t interested in.
Or go do a solid personality test that will help you know where to focus.
And speaking of that…
Yeah, I used to set multiple goals in every area of my life. I’d write them down on these clever forms that I would photocopy at work on my lunch hour. (Shhhh!)
Then I’d do all this tiresome work to think the goal out for the next 25 years… even all the way out to my death.
And I couldn’t stay focused because I had too many dang goals! I mean, every Sunday I’d review them, and I’d get overwhelmed by how much I couldn’t get done because I’d SET TOO MANY GOALS.
In fact, I’m pretty darn sure that Tony Robbins doesn’t have the time to do this, either.
Stay focused and stop getting distracted by every shiny thing our culture puts in front of you.
Which leads me to:
That’s right. You heard me.
Just start out by setting ONE SIMPLE short-term (less than a few weeks) goal.
I’d even suggest that you set this goal to complete within ONE week.
Because the longer it takes you to feel the reward of your work, the less likely you are to complete it.
SOONER rather than later.
If you set a goal that won’t get completed for a month, that means you need to live a whole month as a failure.
Because you’re spending that time NOT reaching your goal!
This is a huge psychological de-motivator that the gurus never tell you about.
WARNING: The following is going to sound a bit dark and a bit – dare I say – negative…
There is something to be said for accountability, but the reality is that most people do NOT want you to accomplish your goals. I know this one bit of advice will come as a shock to some, but most people do not have the mindset for self-growth.
In fact, most people are barely keeping it together each day. They only want to work their 40 hours, collect their paycheck, and go home to their big screen TV for some entertainment.
It’s the unfortunate truth about humans.
Someday they might wake up out of their trance, but for now, they are not your allies.
So when you’re setting goals, they’re going to smile and say (as if to a child) “Oh, isn’t that swell! Jane is setting herself a goal. Let’s hope little Jane gets her goal without anything SCARY or BAD happening to her.”
But for those of you who know that some of your family and friends are held back by their own mental “junk” – it’s better to just do this without them.
You see, there’s nothing more unsettling for a person than to see someone actually put in some effort and lift themselves out of their situation in life to get something better.
Those other folks are just looking for more excuses as to why the world put them in their lousy circumstances.
So … shhhh! Become a winner without them for now.
If they want to do it, they’ll come knocking on your mansion door later.
Again there are too many factors working against you accomplishing goals in the first place.
If you set a goal that’s too far in the distance, you’ve got no positive reinforcement coming for a LOOOOOOOOONG time. And that’s going to murder your motivation.
There is a place for long term goals, but it’s best done like this:
Write your specific desire down on a piece of paper or in your journal. Something like this would work:
Within 5 years, I’ll have learned Spanish fluently enough to carry a conversation with most people I encounter when I travel there.
Then think about what it will be like to accomplish that goal – and then put that piece of paper away for 5 years.
That thought will sit in the back of your head and your subconscious will go to work on it. And in 5 years, you’ll be surprised how many of those goals you actually accomplished.
WITHOUT making yourself feel like crap along the way for it.
Or doing all that unnecessary work.
Life’s An Adventure… Or nothing at all.
So go get busy!