Everybody wants something. Everybody has goals and aspirations, and everybody has dreams. Often, these vivid and grandiose visions of our ideal lives seem to be so distant from the moment we are living in now. Success can seem like an elusive mirage that disappears every time we peer over the horizon. Yet, we all believe that someday the stars will suddenly align and the universe will acquiesce to our desires.
The older we get the more we begin to realize that day may never come.
I think the main reason that most people never get what they truly want is that they have the wrong mentality of what being successful means. They think of it as an event, something that happens miraculously and clicks simultaneously, for no apparent reason. The reality is that success happens incrementally, day in and day out, etching closer and closer to the end game goal. We all want different things, but I do believe there is one common element that ties a seemingly endless myriad of destinations together. It really doesn’t matter what you want, it makes no difference, and the way to get there is the same regardless of the situation.
The key to getting what you want is building momentum.
One thing that all human beings have in common is the need to move forward. We all have an element of drive inside of us (for some more than others). This explains why millionaire business owners don’t simply retire, even though they have enough money to last them a lifetime. It explains why we want to advance in our careers. Sure, money is important-but perhaps it’s not as important as the thrill of the chase; the incessant need to be bigger, better, faster, stronger, and more important than we were previous.
Although (to varying degrees) we have this innate drive to achieve, some of us can also get stuck in our circumstances. That is, we lose momentum.
Think about yourself when you were an adolescent. We all usually start out bright eyed and bushy tailed, perceiving the world as our perpetual oyster. It is rare that you come across a pessimistic child. When you were a kid you probably believed that you could do what ever you wanted to in life. That momentum continues on into young adulthood as many of us go off to college, fantasizing about our dream career, in our dream city, and finding our dream partner. Still at this point, we are quite optimistic about our prospects. At first, our new careers seem full of excitement; we have now entered the working world of the masses. We are proud to be members of a great company; this feeling lasts for a little while. However, as time creeps forward, if one isn’t careful, the train begins to move more slowly, and the wheels get a little bit rusty.
Then, one day, it comes to a screeching halt.
This is the point I observe many people being at in their lives. Its not that they are necessarily doing poorly, but they are stagnant. They have a “nice job”, a nice car, a nice home, and a couple of kids. They begin to grow tired of their monotonous routine. They spend five days a week doing the same exact tasks that they’ve been doing for years. They come home, crash on the couch, watch some TV, and go to bed. They wake up and do it all over again. Their life is reminiscent of a VHS tape being rewound and replayed. They have completely lost their momentum. Those dreams they had in their youth have disappeared. Everything stops, forever.
I think if I were to take a poll of everyone in our country, I would bet that at least 80 percent of them would like to detour from the conventional career options and explore an alternative type of career path. We all have ideas. I believe the majority of us are entrepreneurial deep down and would like to start our own business, or at least enjoy a career that involves our passions. I also think that the main reason why the majority of us don’t do it is that it seems too daunting of a task. Make no mistakes about it, its not easy to strike out on your own, but I think if we collectively adopted a different mentality towards achieving our goals we would see more people living the types of lives that they truly want to live. The only thing you need to do is gain momentum, and once you grab hold of it, never lose it.
I’ll use the example of becoming healthy through exercises to illustrate. You can’t go to the gym a few times and become a body builder. At one point, that herculean, stone chiseled, ridiculously strong body builder that you glare at with envy during your gym sessions, had to start out with lifting just the bar. He’s probably been lifting weights for several years, maybe even a decade or two. There are no shortcuts. He had to go there and get stronger, little by little, day by day, for a long time. As time goes on however, going to the gym gets easier. You may be sore for a week after your first time, but after a while you begin to build momentum. The stronger you get and the healthier you feel, the easier it becomes to go back to the gym everyday. You may even look forward to it. This same concept of momentum building can be applied to any area.
If you have never been in business before, you wont make a million dollars next month. First, begin to learn what it takes to make it in your industry. Spend a lot of time learning and reading. Find a mentor to work underneath or beside you. Then, maybe you can strike out on your own. If you’ve always wanted to become a great golfer, it probably isn’t a great idea to immediately start playing at pebble beach. Going to a driving range, playing consistently, and finding courses that match your skill set is a more likely route to finding eventual success. The same methodology can be applied to any situation or goal.
The great thing about building momentum is that its not linear, its exponential. The increases are gradual at first, but sometimes you are able to take massive leaps forward, because you’ve built a solid foundation. You can take a pick and chip away at a stone 1,000 times and it won’t make a single indent. Then the very next time it may shatter completely. This is how success works. Step by step one gets ahead but not necessarily in fast spurts. Build momentum, prepare yourself, and when its time to run with it you’ll be fit for the sprint.
We all see the professional sports team win the championship at the end of the year, but perhaps we forget that for them, the season started in training camp, or in the workout programs during the offseason. The team isn’t elated simply because they’ve earned the crown; it’s because they remember all of the work it took them to get to the pinnacle of achievement. The reality is that you simply need to do the things you know you should be doing. There’s no secret, and there’s no substitute. You have to become better each day, and you can’t let up, ever. It’s simplistic, and in a world that seems to be over complicated, perhaps a simple approach is what we all need.
If you slug it out inch by inch, day by day, and are fortunate to live long enough….
You will get what you want.