In April 2017, my wife and I had just moved to South Korea to teach English, and we were overwhelmed: new food, a new language, new job, new apartment, new culture, new continent.
My real goal had always been to be a successful writer. But after several years of blogging, I’d never gotten any kind of success. I had no readers, no money, and no plan. The truth was, I had never really committed to writing. But when I moved to South Korea, I remember being struck by a scary thought:
If I didn’t make it as a writer here, then I’d never be a writer.
I knew if I didn’t make writing work, I’d have to come back to America and continue the cycle of terrible desk jobs I’d been stuck in for years. I had a make-or-break moment in my life: become a writer then, or I’d probably never make it.
So I fully committed. Desperation is a powerful motivator, and I desperatelydid not want to go back to telemarketing and other terrible jobs I had.
I started waking up before my teaching job to write. I spent most lunch breaks writing. Most of my free time on evenings and weekends went to writing. I immersed myself in my craft.
Not 6 months later, and I made my first sale for any product I’d ever had, ever. It was $27 for an online course on behavioral change. I remember biking down to the river in our city on a cold South Korean winter night, and marveling that I’d finally made money from my work.
Success brought more success. I was offered my first book deal. International magazines and news websites were coming to me (after I’d spent 5 fruitless years trying to work with them) asking to publish my work. I started making hundreds, then thousands of dollars a month.
Looking back, I see just how valuable my mindset was:
If you want world-class results, you need to put in world-class work.
Unless You’re 100% Committed, You’ll Always Be Hesitant, Insecure, and Ineffective
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.” -W.B. Murray
When you begin to read autobiographies, interviews, and memoirs of some of the world’s most successful people, you realize how committed they were.
- Phil Knight (founder of Nike) grew Nike from a small shoe store into a world-famous dynasty because he believed.
- Ray Allen (hall of fame level basketball player) was fully committed to his craft, practicing for thousands of hours over decades in sweaty, dusty gyms.
- Tina Fey had immense competition to get on Saturday Night Live. Her commitment to reaching that goal never wavered — she was committed.
- Steve Martin spent nearly 15 years of repetitive, constant practice before he became the top comedian in the world.
These, and countless other stories of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs, performers, and leaders, all share that theme — they were committed while others were merely “interested”. They didn’t quit when everyone else did.
Of course, commitment in itself is no guarantee to success. There are countless Olympians, singers, actors, writers, and entrepreneurs who are fully committed to their craft, yet haven’t achieved their goals yet.
That’s OK. Although commitment doesn’t guarantee success, a lack of commitment guarantees no success. You can’t be successful if you’re not committed to your craft first.
You can have whatever you want — if you do whatever it takes.
Tim Grover, a personal trainer to athletes like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, once wrote:
“People are always asking me about the secrets and tricks I use to get results. Sorry if this disappoints you: there are no secrets. There are no tricks. It’s simple: ask yourself where you are now, and where you want to be instead.”
Success actually isn’t that complicated. Frankly, success is relatively easy to set up — it just takes time. One of the most fundamental principles of succeeding is this: you need to fully commit to your task.
In Ryan Holiday’s book Perennial Seller, he talks about the mindset you need before you start on a huge project like a book or business or piece of art. He explained you need to be fully immersed in your task, ready to do whatever it takes to complete it. Otherwise, he said, you’ll never be able to avoid distractions and put in the work you need to succeed. Your project takes far longer and is much harder to complete.
Instead, you should put your full focus on it. Multitasking almost never works, especially when it comes to high-level goals like these. You must commit to the task at hand, and set aside everything else. Only then can you expect to see the results you want. As Tony Robbins once put it:
“If you want lasting change, you have to give up this idea of just trying something, and you have to commit yourself to mastery. That means not just “dabbling,” but fully immersing yourself. Because your life is not controlled by what you do some of the time, but by what you do consistently.”
You Are What You Do Every Day
Tell me what your behaviors are, and I’ll tell you who you are.
In Matthew 6:21 of the Bible, it reads: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” This age-old wisdom means that what you cherish is what you’ll focus on. Be careful what you cherish — money, entertainment, and relaxing are all fine, but they can begin to control your life if you over-focus on them.
I once wrote an article called “If you can do it every day, you’ll be enormously successful.” It’s one of the most popular articles I’ve ever written. Tens of thousands of people read and highlighted it. As my colleague Zak Slaybackonce said:
“You’re not an X-er unless you regularly X.”
The truth is, writing one article doesn’t make you a writer.
Learning “Smoke on the Water” on YouTube one afternoon doesn’t make you a guitarist.
Playing on DuoLingo for an hour doesn’t mean you can speak Spanish now.
You have to do it every day if you want to be enormously successful.
I’m not saying this is easy. In fact, most people are terrible at consistency.
But if you can do something every day, you’ll start to see real success, because real success is based on consistency. It’s one of the most fundamental virtues of your success.
This is why I write so much about making small progress, every day. For me, it’s not about goals — goals aren’t that helpful to me. I usually get behind schedule immediately, feel guilty about it, then get frustrated about feeling guilty, which is exhausting. It’s hard enough to achieve goals, and “setting goals” usually makes it worse!
Instead, I focus on systems, where I do small bits of work almost every day.In his book How To Fail At Almost Everything and Still Win Big, Scott Adams recommended that the best amount of work to do each day is the amount that lets you have enough energy to work again tomorrow.
Going to the gym once and exhausting yourself so that you can’t go for several more days is pointless. It’s about consistency, about the things you do each day that ultimately create your life.
You reap what you sow; you can’t get oranges from an apple tree, and you can expect good results if you’re constantly practicing bad habits.
You Are What You Do Every Day
Chipping away at another chapter of your book…
Doing more 50 half-pushups…
Jogging for a mile around your block…
You won’t see people bragging about that on social media. Making small progress every day — being consistent — will make you feel like a loser.
But it’s the only way forward. In fact, it’s one of the fastest ways there is.
I’ve modeled my life after this principle, and I’ve been able to achieve truly enormous goals I never thought possible. I wrote a book, I built an online business, I’ve created huge online courses that sell for hundreds of dollars each.
I never really set deadlines or goals for my work (although some people find that helpful). Usually, I just wake up, plan to do some small amount of work towards my current big project, do the work, then go to bed that night.
I just do that every day. The other day, my wife told me I work 7 days a week, and I was surprised. At first, I didn’t believe her, but…she’s right. It’s not a ton of work each day, but it’s small progress towards big things.
I do this every day. Over and over and over until the work just blends in with my life. And some days, I sit back and think “Holy shit, I just created something again. It’s a new income stream, and it’s going to help my family. Huh.”
Then I go back to work.
You are what you do every day. Even if it’s just a few small steps forward, it works. Trust me.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” -Chinese proverb
Ready to Level-Up?
If you want to become extraordinary and become 10x more effective than you were before, check out my checklist.