I clearly remember the day my life changed forever. Hours into a seminar on dating and attraction, me and 19 other guys were given a simple task: approach 3 girls in a 60 minute lunch break.
As we were exiting the building, I spotted two pretty girls on the other side of the street. I wasn’t the only one: the others noticed, too. All 19 of them shrugged, turned away and went on their way.
I ran over and started talking.
I was absolutely terrified; I had no clue what to say or do. Compared to the other guys, I had very poor social skills. I was so bad that two girls pretended to be mute when I tried to talk to them that day!
I was stubborn, though, and a few weeks later I was far and away the best in my group.
Getting better at approaching women is no longer a priority for me, but the lessons I learned back then were very important. At some point, I started thinking about why some people manage to make life changes while others don’t.
What I learned through watching people succeed and fail is this: we all have the power to change our lives.
Buy the Ticket; Take the Ride – Hunter S. Thompson
Figure Out What you Want
Most people don’t know what they want. Our entire lives, we’re bombarded with images of what we should be. For many years, I thought I needed to be a careerist to be happy because that’s what else said.
But the truth is, other people don’t know what’s right for you. Screw what everyone else thinks: decide what you want and go for it.
If you’re unsure what your goals are or what you need to do to reach them, use this exercise. For the simplicity of this article, let’s assume you want to do something straightforward, e.g. run a marathon.
Before you get started, prepare yourself for the change you’re about to make. You’ll need 3 things:
1) Resources – time and equipment: the tools you need to get started.
2) Instruction – an instructor, book or resource that will guide you towards your goal. This part is important: you need to have a clear idea of what you’re doing.
3) Community – being in touch with like-minded people isn’t necessary, but it does offer helpful motivation and support.
Make the First Step
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step – Confucius
Self-help resources never tell you to do one thing. It’s always a million things: do this, do that, do something else. It’s daunting, and thinking about the huge journey ahead of you will freak you out.
So I’ll share a little something with you: focus on the first step. If you want to become an awesome chef, go to a single cooking class. If you want to get a better body, start by going to the gym once a week.
I have a friend who always wanted to try a martial art. He’s a very busy entrepreneur with a young child that keeps him up most nights: if he were like most people, he’d come up with excuses to stay at home.
Still, he finds the time to train once a week. It’s not ideal, but it’s a thousand times better than doing nothing. If you don’t make the first step, you can never make the journey.
Whenever you start something new, you progress so quickly that staying motivated is easy. Eventually, though, the temptation to quit will rear its ugly head.
When that happens, just concentrate on making the first step every day. Don’t think about the grueling workout session ahead of you: focus on getting to the gym.
Another useful trick is allocating 15-20 minutes to your activity several times a week. More often than not, you’ll get carried away and do mor than that. But a 15-minute commitment is easy to keep and will help you stay on track.
Burnout is a huge problem. As you continue to do something for months and years, you will get days when you just don’t feel like going on. When this happens, take a break.
If you keep doing something you’re supposed to enjoy against your will, it won’t stay fun for long. I usually take a week’s break from whatever I’m focusing on at the moment every 4-8 weeks. It’s a healthy way to bring balance into your life.
How about you? What do you think helps people become successful at their pursuits? Let me know in the comment section!