“Success is a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.” –Jim Rohn
By Guest Blogger Scott Rowsick
Jim Rohn was practically an encyclopedia of wisdom. There’s nothing flowery or audacious about that quote, either. Rohn was never a Twain or Rumi. That’s what makes it so wise. It’s simple. It’s direct. It’s true.
Last week I cited Aristotle’s famous “We are what we repeatedly do” quote. Rohn’s words are rooted in the same intuition. If we are what we repeatedly do, and we develop and practice habits or disciplines, and these disciplines are a means to achieve own definition of success, are we not, then, a success? Even taking the subjectivity of success into consideration, Rohn’s ingenious quote still holds true because we pick and choose our own “simple disciplines”. The key then, is in the continual striving—the daily action—the discipline to try and become a better you.
What disciplines should we practice, then? That depends completely on our individual definitions of success. What is it you want to become? Your goals will determine your disciplines. Take your goals and break them into their component parts. Take your biggest, baddest, scariest goal—the one you don’t tell too many people about because you think they’ll laugh at you.
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Let’s take a look at money. As a disclaimer, it is important to note that no amount of money will guarantee happiness for all people, while no amount of indebtedness will guarantee misery. Monetary figures, however, are a common and practical means by which we can relate goals and success. And the magic number is one million. What if your breakthrough goal was to attain an average yearly income of one million dollars (after taxes)?
To put that into perspective, if you’re paid on a biweekly basis, each of your paychecks would amount to over $38,000. You could literally buy two BMW 3-series every single month. It would be stupid, but it could be done.
Even the vice presidents at my work only make 1/10th of that! And besides, I only make $45,000 now. The only way I’m getting to seven figures is if I put away as much of my money as I can for retirement and hope for the best.
If this is your first thought, please meet with your manager and ask politely, yet firmly, for him to return your soul. They’ve clearly taken it from you.
We all have times when we lose sight of ourselves, when we don’t see our true abilities. Life’s demands are many, and we are but one. Should that steal your courage, though? The vast majority of us have stages in our lives where we are dead set on achieving our dreams, only to have a small hiccup derail the train for good. We set out to start reading the books, designing a business plan, calling on potential mentors, joining business groups—doing something. But then a tough week comes up at work and you have to work overtime. But then, the water boiler goes out and you have to replace it. But then the kids get sick and you have to get them nurse them back to normal. And then the ball game is on. And then your favorite show starts a new season. Then, that new restaurant opens up and has happy hour specials you just can’t miss. And then those books start collecting dust, you have a file on your desktop you haven’t opened in months, you have names in your phone’s contacts that you don’t remember, and you’re unsubscribing from business organization newsletters that clog your inbox. “Work got tough” you’ll say. “I couldn’t find the time” you’ll say. It ends up being that your only true discipline is being undisciplined. You’ve lost self-control. You’re unconscious. I mean, truly, would you consciously decide to partake in activities that sabotage your dreams?
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There’s some disconnect that happens along the way, and that disconnect is two-fold. One side of it is the idea in your mind that the effort you need to put in on any particular day to say you’ve done something to further yourself in the achievement of your dreams is too much. In economic terms, our demand for action towards the achievement of our dreams is highly elastic (as the price of taking action goes up, our willingness to take that action goes down by an equal or greater measure). How many times have you unconsciously decided that the effort you needed to put in after a long day’s work was too much to justify? It’s just easier to get home, watch a little TV and get to sleep. There’s just no time to do something meaningful.
The other side of it is focus. You want to do all of these things with your life—you want to accomplish your goals. But there are so many disparate and moving parts to your life that there is never any true focus. You’re worried about your health, but healthy food is either more expensive or requires cooking. You would cook to save money and become healthier, but it takes too much time. The gym also takes time—significant time. That’s time you could be with your kids, or working on getting your side business going. But you don’t know what business you want to start because you don’t know how you can leverage your time and money in the best way, you haven’t gauged the market, or hashed out your ideas with your family or potential business partners. There are a million different things going on in your mind, and this obfuscation of focus is killing your conscious ability to get ahead.
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How do we deal with these problems? How do we overcome the elastic nature of our willingness to take action? And how do we focus our attention, and sharpen that image in our minds of our amazing future? We take a few simple disciplines, and practice them every day.
Right now, think of three things you want to accomplish in the next five years. I would recommend they come from different areas of your time—family, financial, and health—but they can be anything. If you don’t have time to do it now, stop reading right here and come back to it when you have ten minutes to spare. Once you’ve got those three things written down, write down one thing you can do by this day next year that will help you in the accomplishment of each goal. Once you’ve written those, decide what you can do by this time next month to help you get where you want to be next by this time next year. And, finally, once you have your one month goal, decide what you can do today, for each of your three goals. Rewrite this list every single day.
What you do today, what you do now, literally creates your future. So at the end of a hard day, when you don’t feel like it, or you think you can’t do anything meaningful to help reach your dreams, look at your list. It’s now narrow and focused enough so you have a target to hit. Become disciplined. Practice every day. Build-up your mental inertia so that when you’re tired after a long day, you can’t go to sleep checking off those to-do’s. It will literally stress you out more to sit and waste the day.
So what is it that you can do right now? If you’re reading something like this, you’re already on the right track. But it’s time to stop to reading for the time being and do something. Drop down and do some push-ups, call that company you’ve been eyeing-up, or start writing your business plan. Take action, every day!