One of the things we struggle with most as human beings is being fulfilled with our lives and what we’re accomplishing. Most of us work hard, day-after-day, to get ahead in life and just seem be going in circles. And hard work is necessary in order to get to where you’re trying to go (if you actually know where it is you’re trying to go). But is it as simple as working hard to get ahead?
Hard work is something that is not hard to find, especially in the United States of America. The average American works about 35 hours a week, tops amongst all other countries. The average full time American works 47 hours a week. Again, number one in the category. And even though we work as hard as we do, how are we still unhappy about the accomplishments that we’ve had in our personal and professional lives? Why does it seem life we are working to take 2 steps forward, but end up taking no steps forward? The answer to these questions can be answered in a number of ways. And the approach I’m going to take is likely to make some of you upset…but that’s okay. Because sometimes we need a little reality check to let us know what needs to happen to lead us to the path to achievement.
So if we already work harder than any other country on our Planet, why is this not getting us toward our goal and overall idea of success? The first reason we don’t seem to be going any where is life is because you are lacking your True North. What is your True North? Simple, I know that every single one of us was put on Earth for a reason. And the reason is not what you do on the surface. So what your profession is does not define why you’re on Earth. Your profession is only a tool to help you achieve your True North or your guiding purpose. Your True North is your “Why” for being on this planet
For instance, I got into fitness coaching because I wanted to get people in shape. And that’s what guided me for a long time. But I quickly learned that, although lifting weights was fun and enjoyable to me, most people were not as enthusiastic about the act of actually working out and eating healthy. And it took me a while to understand why that was. Until I figured out what truly drives people. Once I understood that, on the surface people said they wanted to lose weight, they really meant that they wanted to be able to play with their grandchildren or be there for their spouse or have a more fulfilling life, only then was I able to develop my True North. And now I do what I do so I can help as many people as I can become as healthy and vital as they can be. That’s my True North. That’s my “why” for what I’m doing.
Once we take the time to truly understand why we do what we do, that’s not enough to help move us forward towards our goals. If you have a True North (which I strongly suggest you develop one if you don’t. Companies are told to have values and a purpose, which are lip service for most organization, and you should have values and a purpose as well. Otherwise, what’s guiding you?), you’re light years ahead of most. Once that’s developed, you have to decide to take the next course of action to get you moving forward. And that is sacrificing short-term pain to have long-term pleasure. Let me explain.
Because we love instant gratification so much, we have developed the sense to have everything we need or want at a moment’s notice. Losing weight is the ultimate example when it comes to wanting instant gratification.
If you Google “how to lose weight”, you’ll be given 98.6 million ways to do it (literally, I just Googled it and there were 98.6 million results…try it!!). And of those 98.6 million results, 98.5 million of them will have a title such as “how to lose 10lbs in 10 days” or “rapid weight loss for fab results” or “the ultimate flabby belly eliminator”. And all of these methods will get you the result they promise if you do what it is. And then, without fail, you will put all of the weight back on, and then some. As a matter of fact, only 5% of people who lose weight on a rapid-weight-loss diet actually keep it off…yup, 5%.
Weight loss is only one of thousands of examples in our lives where we are wanting a lasting result but look for instant achievement. And if we know that we will not actually achieve a lasting resulting if we try this instant-gratification tactic, even though we’ve done it ourselves before or know people who have tried and failed before, why do we still do it…over and over again? One word…PAIN!
Pain and pleasure are at the root of every decision that we make. Whether you’re simply trying to decide which toothpaste to buy or deciding to pull the plug on relative in a vegetative state, you’re weighing the pain or pleasure that you will get out of the decisions that you have. And, although we like to believe we make intuitive decisions on a regular basis, our brains are hardwired to to avoid pain at all costs.
Think about it. 20,000 years ago, our ancestors had to worry about running from sabretooth tigers and giant gorillas and herds of stampeding buffalo. Their nervous centers had to be constantly alert to the threats that lurked on a daily basis. Nowadays we don’t have sabretooth tigers or giant gorillas or herds of buffalo to worry about, so, instead, we worry about what our neighbor said about us or what might happen if we make a wrong decision or why that person cut you off on the way to work. Because our brains are survival machines, it is constantly looking for threats to its existence and avoiding anything that may fit that category.
What does this have to do with achieving goals and being successful you ask? Great question. Intuitively, we know that we could achieve whatever it is we want to achieve, because odds are, it’s been done before. You want to be a millionaire? Great, there are literally 15 million of them in the world. Go ask one of them how they did, then do it yourself. Want to lose 50lbs and keep it off? Wonderful, there are probably 30 million people who have done that (myself included). Go find one of them and then replicate it.
So the strategies to do what we want to do are there. The problem is, everything worth doing in life that is lasting, takes time. And the THOUGHT of taking the time and effort to figure out what we need to do to achieve our goal is painful in and of itself. Because we know, intuitively, that people who made millions of dollars had to go through some pain and suffering to get there. And we know that somebody who has lost 50lbs and kept it off had to figure things out along the way. And because we know that it takes some pain and suffering and figuring and waiting and uncomfortable situations, we don’t take the time and effort to move towards our goal.
So I want to challenge you do to 2 things. Number one, I want you to figure out what you’re True North is. Why are you hear? What impact do you want to have on this planet? What purpose do you want to be involved in that’s bigger than yourself?
Once you have that figured out, here’s your second challenge. Decide to take action. And not just any action. Action without purpose is a complete and utter waste of time. Figure out what you can do to move you FORWARD. What action can you take to move you a step closer towards your goal? To whom can you reach out to find out what strategies may work and what may not?
The answers are out there. The strategies are out there. It will take time. It will be uncomfortable. There will be pain. And in the long-run, there will be absolute, sustainable pleasure.