It’s easy to set a big, awesome goal to work toward.
You might want to quit your job and start working for yourself. Maybe you want to travel the world, or just start waking up early on a daily basis (hey, getting out of bed can be pretty damn hard some days).
What’s not so easy is sticking to what you set out to do and continually recommitting yourself to your vision.
It’s especially challenging when there is a big, looming chasm between where you are now, and where you want to be. I know how daunting it can feel when you’re looking up at the summit from ground zero.
You’re here, but you want to be there.
If you want to close the gap between working on someone else’s terms, to getting paid to be who you are, what you need more than anything is to…
Willpower and excitement at the beginning of your journey is wonderful. It inspires you to take the first steps and really commit to your destination.
But arousal-based energy is a limited resource. Like drinking a cola or a sugary piece of fruit, it provides an initial burst that quickly fizzles. What you really need for the long journey to your goal is slow-burning fuel.
When it comes to seeing your vision through to the end, you need a similar type of fuel. And the basis of that fuel revolves around three key ingredients:
- Rituals that root you and reconnect you to your purpose.
- Community and accountability.
- The “just a matter of time” mindset.
Let’s take a look at each of these in detail and see how they relate and support each other.
#1) Create reconnection rituals
In order to stay connected to your purpose and vision, you need a practice that continually reminds you of what you set out to do and why it matters to you.
If you want to get paid to be who you are and work on your own terms, you might create a morning ritual where you revisit your most deeply held values. This could be a few minutes spent journaling with a cup of coffee in the morning, or reflecting on your commute to work.
I have a hard time not making this a robotic, going-through-the-motions process. Because of that I like to vary things by doing morning sketches that tie in to my values. (You can see an example here.)
The important key here is to find something that speaks to you, that you won’t do just to get through it. Really take the time to feel an emotional connection to your purpose and values, and let it sink in. Once you feel excited and energized, you know that your practice has been successful and it’s time to get to work.
#2) Cultivate a community that’s aligned with your values
Very few great things are accomplished alone. Just as the saying goes “it takes a village to raise a child,” it takes a community to raise an entrepreneur.
If you want to change the world, follow your passion and do great things, you need a community to support you. They’ll be there to lift you up when you’re feeling weak and are considering turning back. Without a community, you’re fighting the inertia of your current reality alone on a daily basis. But with a strong private council in your corner, you have momentum on your side and the wind at your back.
The most important key here is to consciously choose the people you’ll let into your community based on shared core values. Think about people that are on the path to a similar goal and vision as yourself, or those that have already done what you want to accomplish.
Rather than criticizing your big plans, they’ll cheer you on and remind you why what you want to do is possible.
Note: For further reading, I recommend this article on creating a private cartel.
#3) Adopt the “just a matter of time” mindset
In order to stay productive you need a deep, unshakeable commitment to where you want to go and the life you want to create. I think it goes without saying here that you must have a goal that is rooted in who you are and is founded in something that defines you. This is non-negotiable.
If working for yourself is aligned with the type of person you are, you’re much more likely to succeed at it, rather than if it’s just a fleeting, interesting idea.
However, even when a goal is centered in who you are, it can still feel daunting when you’re doing something you’ve never done before. The path can be dark, mysterious and treacherous at times.
As a safeguard to our fluctuating internal motivation, we can espouse the “just a matter of time” mindset.
Of all the tools and “inner game” skills I’ve developed, this is by far the most powerful. It’s my secret weapon that ensures any goal I commit to will be reached. Not might be reached. Not could be reached. It will be reached.
This mindset is simple once you get used to thinking in this way. Whatever goal you have for your life, decide that it will happen. No matter what. It’s not a matter of how or if, it’s a matter of when.
It’s just a matter of time. With enough energy, enough action, it is inevitable.
When you decide that something is just a matter of time, you move from the realm of possibility to the realm of inevitability.
When you mix these three key ingredients together into your trailmix, you have a powerful, steady burning fuel that will keep you energized on the journey to realizing your dreams.
Use these wisely, they are powerful and potent elements that will serve you well on your path.
You may even find when you employ this formula, others begin to think you’re superhuman.
PS: Want to get paid to be who you are? We’re holding a no-cost event soon (at your computer), on creating a path you never want to stop walking. Click here for the details.
My favorite point out of the three is the “just a matter of time mindset.” When you really want something to work, you want to see immediate results – but the bigger a project is, the longer it will take the see said results. I need to remind myself to slow down and realize that if I keep at it – if I see my goal through to the end – I’ll get there.
Thanks for writing this :)
I absolutely loved this post!
“No matter what. It’s not a matter of how or if, it’s a matter of when”
“Not might be reached. Not could be reached. It will be reached.”…. these two line gave me shivers and also hope.
Thanks for the posting and providing this value :)
Love this! The rebellious creative side loves the idea of drawing out my vision and values when it’s had enough of the neatly formatted, bullet pointed list and flow chart the anxious side created in order to get a handle on the big picture that isn’t happening exactly according to plan, damn it. And the reminders of tribe and mindset….well, the systems geek is envisioning a Venn diagram.
Awesome post! I am in the beginning stages of creating my community and I have already come to the point that it is only a matter of time. I know what I need to do and I just need to keep working at it until it comes. Thanks for all of your great ideas and inspiration man..
@justinharmons Glad to be of service man. Keep charging forward.
I learnt something new with point #1 and really believe that it’s important so to keep us on the path during rough times. It’s without reconnection, that fear and desperation takes over during those times.
dude great post. easy to forget that time is ON our side, if you harness that way. posting this one in the twitter-verse, great stuff. I’ve been thinking about starting at “morning ritual” checklist to ground me in my values and purpose – this is just the tipping point advice I needed.
Sandra Pawula says
This is precisely what I needed to hear today. I like your emphasis on make a deep soul connection with your purpose regularly. Journaling is a good approach for me.
Thanks for this, Jonathan.
I know some people procrastinate forever to get started. For me, it’s easy to get started. But to keep going, without faltering, or getting back on trace when you do falter, that’s hard. That’s where all these three things help. I use journaling for reconnection. By journaling, I remind myself why I am doing what I am doing, and whether my goal is aligned to my values.
I am always interested whenever I read a headline that claims to help people meet their goals. Most of the time the posts are filled with big words, and no practical application.
But I think you nailed some really poweful things here. I have found that routine has been one of the most (if not the most) powerful tools in helping me focus on my dreams and making them real.
My routine is consistent. Every day I wake up at 5 am eat breakfast and at 540 I start writing. I exercise at 630 for an hour. Then I head to my job. I have a lot of free time at work so I am able to focus on my longterm projects.
Having a consistent daily routine is really powerful for me because it has allowed me to take steps daily towards my big goals.
But even before all of this, sitting down developing the big goals and breaking them down into measurable steps is what has allowed me to live it out on a day to day basis. I know that any day I break away from my routine I am choosing to not follow my dreams.
I think the challenge can be that after so many weeks of doing the same routine, it can be hard to make sure everything stays fresh and exciting. This is when number 2 – having a strong community is so darn incredible. When I communicate with people that inspire me, it ignites a fire in my belly that keeps me pushing hard and wanting it.
Awesome post man.
Thanks for the needed reminder! It’s definitely time to add slow-burning fuel. I also need to work on my “in person” cartel.
Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2 says
I love the idea of using rituals to make your new success behavior automatic rather than having to rely on sheer will power to do what you know you need to do.
You mentioned that when you’re excited and energized you’ll know that’s when your practice has been successful. I partially agree with this.
There’s a meditation process I took notes on a couple of weeks ago that stated something I’d never come across before. The process is like five steps and most of them would be familiar to anyone who’s taken any kind of time to study and practice meditation.
The counter intuitive step (much like the topic you spoke of on Copyblogger today) sounds mundane but is critical.
The step instructed you to get yourself into a joyous state of mind BEFORE you meditate. This guru knew that what you focus on expands so that by getting yourself into the right state of mind, your meditation would expand upon this. Most people think meditation is a magic pill that will GIVE them joy but they don’t put that into it and therefore whatever state they showed up in merely continues. And it’s no wonder that in a world where most of the population is overwhelmed, a common complaint about meditation is that you can’t sit still and that your mind won’t shut up.
So one counter intuitive approach to making sure that you’re truly connecting to values, beliefs, and affirmations is to follow these guidelines before you start . . .
1. Think of a time in the past when you felt totally confident
2. Stand the way you do when you feel totally confident
3. Breathe the way you would when you’re totally confident
4. Wear the facial expression you do when you’re totally confident
5. Move/Gesture the way you do when you’re totally confident
6. Talk to yourself in the same tone, pitch, and volume you do when you’re confident
You put yourself in the excited and energized beast mode place first. Doing this practice can send you into your reconnection rituals on fire with alert attention rather than passive reading mode.
And it seems that it’d be a good idea to run yourself through these 6 steps before you tell yourself, “Soon.” Thank you Jonathan for bringing consciousness to this topic of illuminating the dark path of the unknown.
@ Adopting the “It’s just a matter of time” mindset may be the most important part of sticking with a project til completion. The world is a place of immediate gratification and instant results, but in truth this rarely happens. Keeping the right mind set will keep a person working long after the emotional high has faded.
When you are working with a group, you can play a more limited role since other people can play the other roles. But when you strike out on your own, you have to wear several hats and be able to switch modes. The “excited strategist” mode that you have when you first start dreaming up ideas can’t do the job of the “disciplined mundane task” person who has to do the 9-5 grind work to reach the goals the strategist set out.
I think switching between these modes is what can be challenging. And some people don’t realize the need to switch and try to stay in one or the other too much for too long.
Great article, Thanks Jonathan
George Smolinski says
Great article! So many of us are struck by the “good idea fairy”, and when the fairy dust is gone, our ideas fizzle.
It takes hard work, dedication, and continual focus on the end product to reach our goals, and this article provides great tools to achieve this focus.
I really like this.
This has been something i’ve had problems with for ages because I would often lose interest in what I do after about 3 years into it.
I think the symptom is forgetting about why I started doing what I was doing in the first place and have that motivate me to keep moving forward in times of hardship.
The worst is when you develop the basic skill and eventually become complacent at improving your skills further.
So based on what you said. 2 things are crucial when it comes to a person’s development:
1) Reminders – Why are you doing what you’re doing?
2) Peer/Success group – Have people around you that are better than you to and constantly improving their skills in order to kindle your competitive spirit.