“There are no “overnight successes”. Think of all the incredible people you truly admire. They didn’t succeed because of one giant move, but rather a series of small and consistent actions over time.” -Thomas Oppong
There’s this idea you’re probably familiar with:
“You know what — if I wanted to, I could turn everything around right now and become super successful. I just…haven’t wanted to.”
It might sound silly, but this idea is pervasive with much of the “mediocre majority” — the 95% of the world who will never be truly successful.
Many of these individuals live horribly imbalanced, radically unhappy lives, yet to comfort themselves they cling to the notion that they could “turn it all around right now, if they wanted to.” They could flip the switch tomorrow, and change all their lazy/negative/wasteful habits to productive, positive, and successful ones.
“I could write an entire screenplay in a few hours, if I wanted to.”
“I could get 6-pack abs in 4 weeks, if I wanted to.”
“I could save up $10,000 dollars in 4 months, if I wanted to.”
But that’s kind of like thinking you’d be Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead. Everyone wants to believe they’d be the smart, resourceful, lucky ones to survive…
…but in reality, you would almost certainly be just another zombie. (No offense.)
Odds are, you’re probably horribly unequipped — in skills, talent, knowledge, drive, ability — to be the “one that survives,” both in the zombie apocalypse and in the real world.
Yet we still like to think we’re the one who could make it.
Setting up a Great System Can Help You Achieve Almost Anything
“Long-term consistency beats short-term intensity.” -Bruce Lee
We’ve seen too many Rocky training montages to realize that changing your entire system and mindset can’t happen in a few hours.
This is because humans don’t work well when they rely on massive bursts of inspiration and energy to fundamentally change indefinitely. Humans need systems for that change to last.
Unfortunately, that’s how most of us operate. The more we grow fatter, slower, and lazier, the more we’re confident we could suddenly jump off the couch one day and write a book, lose 40 pounds, and begin eating half our daily calorie intake.
No, we need slower, deliberate steps to shed old habits and cultivate new ones. Only purposeful consistency makes you unstoppable.
Producing small but consistent outputs of energy is a far smarter method for achieving success than trying to radically change the entire system overnight.
You don’t get 6-pack abs by spontaneously going to the gym on a Thursday night (when you haven’t gone in months) and attempt to complete 500 crunches as you mutter “this is my life now” under every breath. That’s not sustainable.
You’re likely simply riding a wave of dopamine and drive, maybe after watching Gladiator or something (which is likely to happen after watching that movie).
But it’s silly to think this type of motivation will last.
Purposeful Consistency Will Make You Unstoppable
“The secret of success is consistency of purpose.” -Benjamin Disraeli
There’s this funny scene in The Office where one of Michael Scott’s (Steve Carrell) employees asks him to be a donor for his nephew’s cancer walk.
Most of the other office members pledged around $2 or $3. Michael, in his trademark falsely-modest magnanimity, scoffs at such low contributions and pledges $25.
But he didn’t realize he was pledging per mile — for every mile the runner completed, Michael would have to donate $25.
Suddenly, donating $3 didn’t seem so stupid.
This is what our sudden, intense bursts of motivation are like. “I’m going to start going to the gym 6 times a week!” we cry with clenched fists and ill-fitting gym clothes. But when you think long-term, hell — twice a week (consistently) is daunting enough.
Joe Frazier once said, “Champions aren’t made in the ring, they are merely recognized there.”
The effort happens outside the ring, in repetitive, boring, regimented training environments.
Nobody suddenly enters the ring and wins against a trained fighter — no matter how excited or motivated they are.
Change — lasting change — is tough. It’s tough for anyone.
Instead of trying to do it all at once, you can start building systems one habit at a time. Focus on incremental progress and consistency to lay the foundation for getting things done.
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