When people ask me about the secret to success, I don’t just give them one. Success requires that you possess several specific traits.
Last time, I offered three of those traits; here are four more.
Note: This list is not exhaustive, nor in any particular order, but if you apply them, I like your chances.
1. Be consistent.
An important component of success is consistency — not too much or too high, and not too little or too low. But steady. If my goal is to create a 12-month emergency fund (a three-month fund doesn’t cut it any more) to help me live for 12 months at my current standard of living without any income, it’s better to be consistent in my saving. Instead of saving $1,000 one month, and $100 the next, it’s much better if I can simply save $400 every month. I need to develop savings habits that I can live with that aren’t too restrictive.
Lack of consistency happens with people who try crash diets, too. They get motivated to lose weight and go on some sort of crazy 800-calorie-per-day plan, which is a quick-fix approach and not sustainable. Instead, they could eat 1,800 calories per day with some exercise — and then do that for the rest of their life.
That is the difference between quick fix and sustainable. Can you see yourself taking this action for the rest of your days? Successful people skew to the sustainable.
2. Practice IMA:
Implement – Monitor – Adjust
They only way you can determine if an action works for you (a referral approach, a workout plan or an investment strategy) is to try it consistently for a reasonable amount of time (about four weeks is good for referrals and workouts; investment actions take longer). Then, see if it’s garnering results and use outside information sources and internal reflections to adjust.
This is the sequence: implement, monitor, adjust. Implement, monitor, adjust. Just like shampoo, rinse, repeat.
3. Eschew negative social pressures.
If you want to be fit, rich, and accomplished, don’t expect people to be holding hands, singing “Kumbaya” and cheering you on. Why? Well, because most people aren’t fit, rich and accomplished — and if you are and they aren’t, it makes them feel bad about themselves.
This manifests itself in many ways. If you say, “I can’t talk, I have to update my customer information,” they might scoff and say, “You don’t have to do that. Just put down ‘CCLM’ [‘called customer left message’] and leave it. That computer system doesn’t work, anyway.”
If you volunteer for an extra assignment, they might say, “Hey, what are you trying to prove!” If you bring your lunch, they could mock you. If you don’t stick around to drink beer after work, they’ll probably call you crazy and tell you to loosen up.
Don’t listen to them — and don’t hang around them. In five years, you’ll be miles ahead and they’ll be out of shape, broke and looking for work. Trust me on this one.
4. Understand the empathy gap.
We often underestimate how our emotions will impact our behaviors. When you start out with a new fitness plan, for example, you get up in the morning and say, “I’m going to work out today and eat healthy.” And as the day progresses, you become more tired and your strength to keep your healthy commitments wanes.
You must take that into consideration and create an environment that sets you up for success. If your weakness is chocolate chip cookies when you come home from work, don’t have them in the house. If you plan to do outbound prospecting calls later in the day, but later in the day you’re fatigued, you’ll find all sorts of excuses not to do them.
To be truly successful, you have to expect that you’ll not always be gung-ho, and that you won’t always have the discipline of a Spartan warrior. So create an environment that helps you work through this mental bias.
Many people are out of shape, two weeks away from being broke and haven’t accomplished anything of note in a decade. Don’t let that be you. Be extraordinary.
Your life is a gift. What you do with it is your gift back.