“Instant results! Instant results! Instant results!”—That’s what we’re promised in every advertisement from weightloss to get rich quick books and marketing schemes.

We love idea of instant results so much that we’re willing to be super hardcore and kill ourselves for a short period of time to get them.

But here’s the thing:

Most people’s love of instant results never, ever gives them instant results—or any results, period!

People who read books that promise to make them six figures in a week are still dead broke after five years. People who starve themselves to get skinny usually rebound and gain more than they lost.

And for everything we’ve ever tried to learn fast or succeed in immediately…there’s probably a disappointed version of ourselves sitting in our chairs right now and regretting the fact that we never got what we wanted.

In the vast majority of cases, getting what you want takes time and consistency. It’s a process. And if you try to rush the process by putting more stress and expectations on yourself than is realistic, which most of us do very early, then you’ll burn out and stop the process dead in its tracks until you find a more balanced and methodical approach.

Balanced and methodical…

Those aren’t sexy words. People don’t want to hear them. But they’re exactly what you need if you want to get sexy results—like that body you’ve always wanted, or the solopreneur career you know is within reach.

Take my story for example.


I’ve wanted a six pack since I was fourteen. (What guy doesn’t?) But no matter how much effort I put in, which was a ton, it’s taken me till today at age 28 to get the physique I’ve wanted.

It took me fourteen years to realize that working out two or three days a week every week for the long haul would give me more results than working out every day for two weeks and then quitting for a month because I was mentally and physically fried. (Better late than never!)

I wanted the instant results like anybody else, and I considered myself “hardcore” because I worked out like a beast for weeks at a time. But I never actually saw results until I was consistent in the work I put in.

For me, that consistency meant dialing back my expectations and my intensity, and just focusing on accomplishing a reasonable amount without stressing myself: pushups, pullups, the occasional sprint. Nothing too hardcore.

But this soft-core approached was exactly what I needed to stick with my goals for long enough to get hardcore results.


From the moment I knew I’d be a writer, “hardcore” me thought I had to write a book to be successful.

I remember writing 10,000 plus words a day for two weeks straight compiling what I thought was the holy grail on relationship advice (but what I now consider to be the biggest pile of shit in all literary history). I didn’t get the publishing contract I wanted. And when I self-published on amazon, the only sales I got were extorted from loving friends and relatives: “Hey, do you want to buy my piece of shit book to validate me?”

That wasn’t the worst part though.

The worst part was being so incredibly burnt out from the writing process that I took a month-long break before I started writing again—a break in which I was neither learning nor improving. I worked my ass off in a hardcore way because I wanted results. But it was impossible to get results when I wasn’t writing and refining my craft.

Fast forward two years.

I had now been published in several major magazines and had earned a full-time freelancing contract with a major men’s publication called the CheatSheet. It wasn’t because I was busting out 10,000 words per day…or 5,000, or even 2,500. I made a very achievable goal of writing one 500-to-800 word article Monday through Saturday. That’s it. I also committed to reading one chapter per day out of the best writing book in the world, ‘Writing Tools’, by Roy Peter Clark, which took all of five minutes.

Within three months of adopting this softcore strategy, I had worked my way onto several smaller market publications, which was the start of my portfolio, and I leveraged that portfolio to earn some really incredible writing jobs that paid hardcore money.

Today I get to charge a buck and up per word not because I’m a hardcore writer…but because I’m hardcore consistent.

I used this same softcore approach to learn French after five years: I went from demanding daily lessons, burning out, and quitting for a year to settling for 1-2 lessons a week and sticking with it over the long haul. Ditto for getting healthy after years of chronic digestive issues: instead of taking every supplement known to mankind over two weeks and quitting, I committed to a very few changes over the course of half a year. Now I can sleep and be a functional adult.

Softcore works when you’re consistent.


Now if my story resonates with you, then you’re probably a little bit of a badass who prides his or her self in throwing the kitchen sink at your goals and problems. You’re also probably lacking the results you crave. So here’s the question:

Do you want to think of yourself as the hardcore mother —– who goes all out, or do you want to think of yourself as the methodical, balanced person who goes all the way?

It’s a big change, for sure. But it’s one that promises real results—none of that instant shit. All you have to do is stick to a reasonable goal for several months.

Getting started

Take your current plans for success and cut them in half (at least). Dial back your workload, dial back the intensity, but dial up the consistency. If you wanted to get into writing, for example, you might start off with writing for one hour 2-3 days per week and reading about the craft as many days—spread it out. I know…I told you that I got results with once per week. But that was after over a year of writing sporadically (2-3x per week on average) and knowing how much I loved writing and that I could stick with it.

Base your goals off of very simple weekly plans that include only your essential goals. Then once you spend a month or two hitting your realistic goals for your career, fitness, etc., reevaluate and see where you can up the intensity. Aim for daily work. Experiment. Challenge yourself. But never, ever sacrifice your consistency—because that’s where hardcore results comes from!


Taking this balanced, methodical approach to your goals will completely change your life. Since your expectations are lower (read: realistic), you’ll start being much easier on yourself, which will help you stay consistent for long enough to reach your goals.

You’ll enjoy the work you put in much more than when you identified as “hardcore”, because again, the expectations aren’t so high—you can relax more and grow a genuine love for what you’re doing.

Finally, you’ll feel the personal growth than can only come through consistent effort over time: discipline, patience, perseverance. And that’s really all that we want. Growth.

So grow yourself. Drop your hardcore identity and learn how to be consistent. Set realistic goals. And get results.

Oh—getting someone to keep you accountable helps, too!


  • Daniel Dowling

    Performance Coach, Writer for Greatist, Fitbit.com, Mindbodygreen, and FastCompany.

    Dan Dowling, here. I was the poster child for lost millennials - couldn’t keep a job…addicted to relationships…constantly checking social media and email. But when I got hungry enough for success as a writer, I gave up my distracted lifestyle and adopted one daily goal that changed my life forever: Do. Your. Best. Today, five years later, I’m a productivity coach who’s published on the world’s biggest sites (including Entrepreneur, Fast Company and Mindbodygreen), and I’m transforming lives through the best-effort, zero-distraction lifestyle that worked so well for me. Come and and learn how to always give your best at Millennial Success!