In New York City you can feel the energy of people’s aspirations. It is one of my favorite aspects of the city, and something that I hope is rubbing off on me. But aspiration is not enough to get me there. Here are three steps that I use to help me achieve the aspirations that I have.
- Know that you can do anything:
I am currently reading a book called Mindset by Carol Dweck. Dweck outlines two kinds of “mindsets” that people have. One is the belief that one’s skill is a natural gift and cannot be changed (fixed mindset), and the other is the belief that one’s skill is learned and can be enhanced (growth mindset). She makes the argument that someone with a “fixed mindset” will not grow because they see failure as a reflection of lesser capacity, and are unable to learn from mistakes. Alternatively, someone with a “growth mindset” has the foundation to succeed because they embrace failure as a way to learn and improve.
The book has put a framework to something I strongly believe: I can learn anything. Whether it be mental, physical or a personality trait; I believe that everything is within reach.
This has to be step one to achieving a goal. You first must believe that you are capable of doing anything you set out to do.
- Know that it is going to take hard work:
The brain and the body are instruments that need to be refined and trained to produce a specific result. It takes time and effort. Skills are not created overnight, and having that understanding is important to being able to develop the path to achieve a specific skill. If I want to run a marathon, knowing that I will be able to is not enough. I also have to train, hard and smart, to be able to get to that point.
- Make the hard work easy:
This is probably the most novel idea for me. The hard work does not have to seem hard. There are a couple ways that I have been able to do this.
-Be inspired. I do this primarily through reading. There are amazing people that have done amazing things. Use them as inspiration for what you want to do. If they can do it, you can do it. Remember: you can do anything.
-Appreciate the incremental gains. Take time to look at what you have been able to achieve in your day or week of hard work. It is exciting to watch yourself learn something new. The effort becomes more fun when you are able to see growth on a regular basis.
-Don’t give yourself a choice. The goal here is to develop a habit of working on the task. Habits take out the need for constant decision-making. And the decision-making is what makes the effort seem hard. First leverage social leverage and accountability to exert external pressure. Then use that initial momentum to put in the effort in a very regimented way needed to develop a routine*. For example if you want to run a marathon. First tell everyone you know and find a running partner. Then when you feel the external pressure, use a training routine that has very specific days, times, and lengths for the run. The social pressure and running partner will get you through the first couple weeks, and by then, it will be a habit that you don’t have to think about.
That’s it. Now lets get out there, set some big hairy goals, and put in the work to get them done.
*The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg is a great book that helps explain how habits are formed