Most advice on success seems to focus on what we want to hear instead of what we need to hear. We are mostly told about having a positive attitude, dreaming big, and setting our goals the right way. It’s satisfying to read about this because It doesn’t require much effort from our part. The advice makes us feel like we are working on our goals and moving forward, but often it becomes another way of procrastinating. We spend most of our time getting pumped up to act but never end up doing it.
Here’s what you need to know, success is a consequence of progressive improvement through consistent and persistent action. It’s taking action that gets us closer to success. Goal-setting, positivity, and getting into the right mindset are very helpful, don’t get me wrong, but they are meant to support and encourage action, not to substitute it.
We rarely read about talking action because it’s not glamorous, it doesn’t require special techniques, or getting pumped up. Taking action is obvious advice and you’ll think there’s nothing special about it. You know you need to take action, but are you doing it?
Great athletes, geniuses, and any top performer work on their art, craft, or sport daily. It is their dedicated practice that makes them great. Motivation keeps them practicing, and it’s important, but motivation alone does not take anyone too far.
Taking action is the difficult part of achieving anything in life. Most writers for example, will tell you that the hardest part about writing is sitting down to do it. What’s hard is not the thinking about writing, or wanting to write, or imagining the story and the plot, but taking time everyday to face a black page and write.
We want to imagine that the road to success is mystical, but it is not. Success is sometimes a dull process; It’s about taking small steps everyday towards what you want to achieve.
Here’s how to do it.
1. Break down your goal into small actionable steps. Many times we avoid taking action because we don’t have a clear idea of what needs to be done next, or because we are overwhelmed by the size of our goal. The solution is to divide our goal and translate it into small actionable steps. How small? It shouldn’t take more than two hours to accomplish. (If it takes more time, break it down even more.)
2. Choose one of those small steps and make it the most important task of the day. We know what our priorities are but we don’t treat them as priorities. We only dedicate them the time that’s left from doing other tasks that we want to get out of the way.
We are going to change that. Instead of trying to clear our “to do” list -thinking we’ll have all the time in the world to work on our goals without interruptions after we do so- we are going to work on our priorities first and give whatever time is left to other tasks.
3. Repeat every day. Choose a small actionable step and make it your priority to finish it.
This method is not fancy or sophisticated, taking action is that simple, though not always easy. Focus your energy on taking small steps towards your goals and you will see better results in the long term than from anything else.