Success in 2020? The “Trade-Off”
By Stephen Doherty
“What the new year brings to you will depend a great deal
on what you bring to the new year.” —Vern McLellan
I have big plans for 2020! 2019 ended with huge momentum but more importantly, I was introduced to a new way of approaching life and success and happiness that has already begun yielding positive and impactful changes. Like many of us, I had explored the carnival tents of Brian Tracy and Les Brown, and Tony Robbins, and the hundreds of other motivational and evangelical carnival barkers out there who, like preachers, take us to great heights of hope and excitement for positive change. And much like a rousing church sermon belting out fire and brimstone, the lessons and the excitement quickly diminished upon exiting as life continued its normal course. That was until I ran into the following passage that made more sense to me than anything I’d ever read!
“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you want to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.” -James Clear (Author-Atomic Habits)
Boom! There it was, as clear as day. Success and happiness are not about the pursuit or the journey or the accomplishments. Success and happiness are not about drive or discipline or will or motivation. Success and happiness are tied to our ability to change the environment we live in and operate in via changes in what we DO! A directional change of inches may not seem significant, but over time can completely recalibrate your destination and ability to get there. Some small modifications to our life that we can adopt as habits will yield huge results over time–IF we can exercise enough discipline to do them every day for the 66-days (on average) it takes to acquire a new habit. The acquisition of new or better habits is the key to happiness and success. Simple–but not easy.
“We are what we repeatedly do.
Therefore, success is not an act but a habit!” -Aristotle
For me, like most of us, these habits were pretty fundamental and as perennial as spring flowers. In my life, business activity drives my income, spiritual awareness keeps my soul balanced, and diet and fitness provide the health benefits necessary to enjoy all the rest. Yet armed with this knowledge, I find multiple avenues of dissipation away from the targets and mission that make no sense. I still do very “well” but as a wise man once said, “compared to what?” How many of us turn in “C” efforts and get “B” outcomes and claim success? It sounds impressive but it’s a scandalous betrayal of our potential for better things.
So I’ve added something very simple to my life that puts these new habits on center stage. I’ve begun trading, one-for-one, things I need for things I can do without. The obvious first step was eliminating 60-minutes of television a day in favor of the gym. Same with work, it’s easy to find 30-minutes of newly honed productivity if one ignores distractions. The grocery store is a huge challenge–but 66 days of trading donuts for fruit or vegetables, will begin to take root and generate positive results. Getting up a half-hour earlier generates all kinds of new possibilities. The positive results come fairly quickly which serves to buoy continued commitment and persistence. It’s a process born of a more positive and conducive living and working environment.
In closing, I’ve discovered a new reverence and respect for the tortoise over the hare. Life is not a sprint, it’s a very long haul and success typically goes to the grinders, the plodders, the pushers and diggers who leverage a lifetime of consistent effort over sporadic bursts of genius coupled with crippling dissipations – like the hare. The only metric that matters is knowing at the day’s conclusion, that you’ve made progress. With the acquisition of good and productive habits–success and happiness will take care of themselves.
“The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they become too heavy to be broken.” -James Buffet