As the New Year rolls around and we sit back and reflect on what we’ve accomplished the past 12 months, many of us will be demoralized and beaten down. Using the short context of the last 12 months will leave you thinking that you are completely unable to accomplish any of your goals.
And this is why so many people get stuck in the soup of mediocrity. The vast majority of Americans let themselves settle because they don’t believe they can be successful. “I can’t even lose 10lbs, so why should I think I can run a business” they might say.
But I think this word “context” is important when it comes to truly seeing and understanding what we have done and what we might actually be able to do if we put our full potential into a task. If you want to keep showing up, you have to open your mind to more than the normal “what you see is all there is”.
Gary Vaynerchuck, Tony Robbins, Jim Rohn and many others like to say “we completely over-estimate what we can do in a year and completely under-estimate what we can do in a decade” (or some variation of this). A year is just a flash in the pan. The older you get, the more you come to truly understand this statement. So basing your progress on what you’ve accomplished in such a short amount of time doesn’t make sense from this perspective.
This is directly related to anybody’s pursuit of health and vitality. We have such a short-sighted view of what we should be able to accomplish immediately that we overlook what we can accomplish in the long run.
For instance, cleanses have become a huge hit over the past couple of years. It’s hard to open a health magazine or watch a talk show without hearing about some new cleanse product. The main reason cleanses have become so popular is because of their attraction as a quick weight-loss product. And most of them will get you exactly what they promise (give or take a couple of pounds). If they say you’ll lose 10lbs in 10 days, odds are that what ends up happening. And in the instant gratification world we live in (and the reward system our brains have evolved over time), we become satisfied and happy about the accomplishment at hand.
What you won’t directly pay attention to is what happens next. Once you’re finished with the cleanse and go back to your normal way of life, every bit of weight comes right back on (and some for many). The short-term gratification you got from losing 10lbs is erased in 2 days. It’s at this point that people start to convince themselves of their mediocrity.
Now, I’m not arguing against any other possible benefits that a cleanse may offer. I’m sure there are products out there that will give you more than just simple weight loss. What I’m showing is the lure of short-term results in lieu of long-term achievement. Although you may have lost the 10lbs you were hoping to lose in that time, you didn’t make any sustainable change to reinforce the achievement.
This weight-loss story in analogous of many other scenarios in our lives. Whether you’re checking things off your to-do list or playing the lottery in hopes of a big cashout or pumping steroids to get a head up on the competition, short-term gratification is appealing in so many different ways.
And, like I mentioned above, this short-term thinking is not sustainable without some sort of change. And this change is what is going to move us towards our bigger-better goal than simply towards something that is going to give us a quick dopamine hit.
I like to call this 10X thinking VS 10% thinking. Many of us have 10% goals. Whether you want to get a 10% raise in pay or get 10% stronger in your deadlift or lose 10% of your current weight, we all have tiny steps that we want to achieve. And these 10% goals are necessary in order to move forward and make progress. After all, it’s (almost) impossible to jump from $30,000 a year to $3,000,000 dollars a year without taking some steps in between.
But what we didn’t believe that it was impossible to do these things. What if we didn’t set limitations on ourselves and actually aloud our minds to dream and fantasize in wonderful ways? At one point or another, the masses thought that most of what we’ve accomplished or know today was impossible. 100 years ago, people believed it was impossible to go to the moon. 50 years ago people believed it was impossible to communicate instantly without being face-to-face. And 10 years ago, people believed it was impossible to print full-sized objects from a printer. And yet, all of these things have been accomplished.
So if we can go to the moon or communicate instantly without being in-person with somebody or print 3D objects, why is it so hard for us to believe that we can lose 50lbs or that we can be in the best shape of our lives regardless of your age?
As silly as it sounds and as much as it doesn’t make sense, what holds many of us back from achieving our 10X goals (which many of us have), is the fear of success.
We’ve all had achievements at some point in our lives. Whether it’s winning a math contest in high school or scoring a big deal for the company, most of us have had some level of achievement that we should be proud of. What we’ve also felt or realized is, what happens after achievement or success? What happens after we win the gold medal or make $1 million dollars? Since you’ve reached your goal, what is there to do next?
It is changing you definition of success that will help you truly be comfortable with pursuing your 10X goals (and this is where this whole mess of ideas comes together). Success is not the end game. Success is not the victory itself. Success is not the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Success is progressive journey you take towards the pot of gold. It is the act of pursuing the medal. As Shakespeare said “things won are done. Happiness, then, comes in the doing”.
So take your 10% goals that you’ve used so far to achieve instant gratification and build them into your 10X goals that you’ll use to change the world. Understand that success is not the accomplishment itself, but the progress you make towards the accomplishment. And, finally, play the long game. The short game will burn you out and leave you ragged. The long game, on the other hand, is where the magic happens and life is limitless.