In a culture that seeks quick results, we must learn the beauty of effort, patience, and perseverance.
Be strong, present, and steadfast.
Have you ever told yourself that you’re going to make something happen and then nothing happened? That’s because you didn’t follow-through. You didn’t have the right rituals in place – little things you do each day that build up and gradually condition your body and mind to make things happen.
Rituals define you. All the results in your life come from your rituals.
If you’re out of shape and overweight, you have different rituals than someone who’s physically fit. If you’re fit, you jump out of bed early every morning and sweat before preparing a healthy breakfast. If you’re out of shape, you sleep in and eat whatever is fastest and easiest.
This may be a bit of a generalization, but it’s not far from the truth for the average able-bodied person.
In all walks of life, you don’t suddenly become successful. You become successful over time from all the little things you do every day.
Failure occurs in the same way. All your little daily failures (that you don’t learn and grow from) come together and cause you to fail…
- You fail to check the books.
- You fail to make the call.
- You fail to listen to your customers.
- You fail to innovate.
- You fail to push yourself to do what must be done.
And then one day you wake up and your business has failed. It was all the little things you did or didn’t do along the way, not just one catastrophic event.
So with this principle in mind, I want to share some weak points we’ve seen plaguing thousands of our coaching clients and course members over the past decade – little things people do every day that stop them from moving forward with their lives:
- You change nothing and expect different results. – There’s a saying that the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If you want to improve yourself, you have to try new things to see what works and what doesn’t. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. Often the difference between a successful person and a person who struggles to implement positive changes is not one’s superior abilities, but the courage that one has to bet on one’s ideas, to take calculated risks, and to take steady steps forward. In other words, some people sit and wait for the magic beans to arrive while the rest of us just get up and get to work.
- You keep waiting and waiting and waiting for the right time. – You cannot wait for the perfect time; it will never come. If you think this moment feels like the wrong time, think again. It’s just uncertainty messing with your mind. Most of the time you must dare to jump. Today is the first day of a new beginning – the conception of a new life. The next nine months are all yours. You can do with them as you please. Make them count. Because a new person is born in nine months. The only question is: Who do you want that person to be? Right now is the right time to decide.
- Your planning and focus are in disarray. – Do you plan your days? Did you wake up today knowing what you wanted to accomplish? If not, maybe it’s time you do. Trust me, a year from now you will wish you had managed your time properly today. What would you regret not accomplishing this year? What would you regret doing an abysmal job at, simply because you waited until the last minute and then rushed around doing 50 things at once? Create a plan to accomplish these things sanely, one at a time. Planning doesn’t have to be long and tedious; it can just be a 60-second process. Every night, think about three small things that you want to accomplish tomorrow and write them down. When you wake up in the morning, review this list before you do anything else, and then take the first step. If you find yourself being lured to do something that’s not on that short list of three things, bring yourself back and focus.
- You refuse to accept necessary risks. – Living is about learning as you go. Living is risky business. Every decision, every interaction, every step, every time you get out of bed in the morning, you take a small risk. To truly live is to know you’re getting up and taking that risk, and to trust yourself to take it. To not get out of bed, clutching to illusions of safety, is to die slowly without ever having truly lived. Think about it: If you ignore your instincts and let shallow feelings of uncertainty stop you, you will never know anything for sure, and in many ways this un-knowing will be worse than finding out your instincts were wrong. Because if you were wrong, you could make adjustments and carry on with your life, without looking back and wondering what might have been.
- You make the rejections of yesterday the focal point of today. – NOT believing that you CAN is the biggest trap of them all. If you don’t know your own greatness is possible, you won’t bother attempting anything great. All too often we let the rejections of our past dictate every move we make thereafter. We literally do not know ourselves to be any better than what some opinionated person or narrow circumstance once told us was true. Of course, this old rejection doesn’t mean we aren’t good enough; it means the other person or circumstance failed to align with what we have to offer. It means we have more time to improve our thing – to build upon our ideas, to perfect our craft, and indulge deeper in to the work that moves us. And that’s exactly what you need to do, starting now. (Read Daring Greatly.)
- You refuse to take responsibility. – Not every event in your life is your fault, but they are all your responsibility. A combination of your decisions and external factors for which you had no control brought you to where you are in the world today. Negatively blaming someone else, or some other past circumstance, will change nothing. Positively taking full responsibility for your situation and your path forward can change everything. Leave the unchangeable past behind you as you diligently give yourself to the present moment. In this moment is every possibility you seek. Take responsibility for it, and bring these possibilities to life.
- You want things to be perfect. – Every one of us is a perfectionist about something. Learn to sense when your desire to make something perfect is preventing you from getting it done. Realize that the idea of perfection is not only unachievable, it can destroy your otherwise productive mindset. It will keep you running in place, feeling insane for your entire life. If you feel like you’re running in place right now, take a break and reflect. Think about the difference between diligent effort and perfectionism. Know when enough is enough. Say it out loud if you must: “Get lost perfectionism! Without you I am brilliant!”
- You avoid the truth. – Personal transformation and growth can be remarkably rewarding, but only when the process of change is based on honesty and truth. When you’re not being authentic somewhere in your life or with someone in your life, any attempt at transformation eventually leads to anger and frustration. The truth always creeps back up on you; it does not cease to exist when you ignore it. Being fake about any aspect of your existence slowly digs a dark void in your soul. Life will simply not work for you if you don’t show up as YOU. The truth may not be easy to deal with, but it will always set you free in the end.
- You close your mind to new ideas and perspectives. – Even as you grow wiser and wiser with age you must remind yourself that an understanding is never absolutely final. What’s currently right could easily be wrong later. Thus, the most destructive illusion is a settled point of view. So remember that success in life does not depend on always being right. To make real progress you must let go of the assumption that you already have all the answers. You can listen to others, learn from them, and successfully work with them even though you may not agree with every opinion they have. When people respectfully agree to disagree, everyone benefits from the diversity of perspective. (Read A New Earth.)
- You let a few negative people fill your mind with garbage. – Of course, there will inevitably be a few people in your life who will be critical of you regardless of what you do or how well you do it. If you say you want to be a dancer, they will discredit your rhythm. If you say you want to build a new business, they will give you a dozen reasons why it might not work. They somehow assume you don’t have what it takes, but they are dead wrong. It’s a lot easier to be negative than positive – a lot easier to be critical than correct. When you’re embarking on a new venture, instead of listening to the few critics that will try to discredit you, spend time talking to one of the millions of people in this world who are willing to support your efforts and acknowledge your potential, respectfully.
- You keep telling yourself the wrong story. – Forget what everyone else thinks of you; chances are, they aren’t thinking about you that often anyhow. If you feel like they always are, understand that this perception of them watching you and critiquing your every move is a complete figment of your imagination. It’s your own inner fears and insecurities that are creating this illusion. It’s you judging yourself that’s the problem. You judge yourself by telling yourself a story inside of your head. Every moment of every day you’re telling yourself this story. You are building your future around this story, so tell it right. Create a positive narrative about your dreams and goals that include only the circumstances that matter. What you think others are thinking about you is not part of this narrative, and neither are your negative self-judgments.
- You are holding on to something that’s not real. – Let go of what was never really there. Your intuition knows what I’m referring to – the pictures in your head that go against the present reality. Remind yourself that not everything is meant to be, and you have to accept this. You have to seriously sit down with yourself and come to grips with the fact that you were wrong about it all along. It was just an illusion that never really was what you thought it was. It’s one of the most difficult realizations to accept, to realize that you feel a sense of loss, even though you never really had what you thought you had in the first place. The key is knowing this, learning from it, letting go and taking the next step. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Adversity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- You want and expect things to be easy. – Easy goals don’t exist. A goal is a point of achievement that requires effort and sacrifice. There are no esteemed ventures worth participating in that don’t require some level of effort and struggle. Decades from now when you’re resting on your deathbed, you will not remember the days that were easy, you will cherish the moments when you rose above your difficulties and conquered goals of magnitude. You will dream of the strength you found within yourself that allowed you to achieve what once seemed impossible. So don’t do what’s easy, do what you’re capable of. Astound yourself with your own greatness.
- You have forgotten the importance of helping others, too. – It’s one of life’s great paradoxes; when you serve others you end up benefiting as much if not more than those you serve. So if you feel stuck right now, shift your focus from your circumstances to the circumstances of those around you. As Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Instead of asking, “What’s wrong with me?” ask, “How can I help you?” Find someone who could use an extra hand and make an offer they can’t refuse. When your focus shifts from your own confusion and difficulties, to the confusion and difficulties of others, and you see yourself making a positive difference, it fills you with a sense of meaning and illuminates a clear path to a brighter future.
- You aren’t taking small steps every day. – Every moment of your life builds upon the next. This moment is the bridge between the reality of where you are and the vision of where you want to be. Reality is approaching you every second. And the great thing is, you’re able to alter it as it arrives. You just have to decide what you want to do with it. The greatest of all mistakes is to do nothing simply because you can only do a little. In fact, it is far more productive to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a giant leap only to stumble and fall and never get up again. The path to every goal requires a hundred small steps – one after the other. Figure out where you want to go, take a step, and keep on stepping. Diligence and persistence will get you there.
Choose any area in your life that you want to improve, and then:
- Write down the specific details about your current circumstances. (What’s bothering you? What’s wrong? What do you want to change?)
- Write down your answer to this question: What are the daily rituals that have contributed to your current circumstances? (Be honest with yourself. What are you doing that contributes to the situation you’re in?)
- Write down the specific details about your ideal circumstances. (What would make you happy? What does your ideal situation look like?)
- Write down your answer to this question: What are the daily rituals that will get you from where you are to where you want to be? (Think about it. What small, daily steps will help you move forward?)
What has been stopping you from moving forward? What rituals (or habits) do you want to change in your life? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
Photo by: Marc Benslahdine