Everything I teach I had to first learn for myself, and as these things go, most of the lessons I have learned the hard way.
In getting to Wall Street and successfully building my career, I have done a lot of hard things, but by far the hardest thing I have done is learning to write my first book.
At first I started with all this naivety and fervor. I figured, although I had never written anything of substance, if I just sit and do it, of course I will write a great book.
For us smart successful people who have a knack for making things happen, it seemed like a reasonable idea, right?
Writing was incredibly difficult for me and it wasn’t just the craft I needed to learn, it was the discipline it takes to sit and write. When you are faced with an enormous (and often over-whelming) task, it is simply too easy to find reasons to avoid doing it, and learning to write required me to first learn how to move through that resistance.
Of the many lessons I learned the most important is what happens first.
A reason most of us never get what we want is because we never get started.
In one of my favorite books, Think and Grow Rich, Naploleon Hill boils down success to two concepts. First, he says, you must focus on what you want. Second, you must develop a definite plan of action for getting it.
It is stellar advice, but unfortunately, it will fail most of us. Here’s why.
Although most of us can conceive some goal that matters to us and what is required to get there, because all of the steps required to achieve our goal can seem over-whelming, often we fail to even take the smallest step.
The problem with all the books on having a plan and taking action is that, like all those amateur business books that suggest crafting an elaborate business plan to start a business, you never need to know all of the steps.
Instead, you merely need a direction and a loose plan, and most of all, you just need to get started taking steps.
While it might be helpful to you if you can identify all of the steps required to get what you want, you only ever need to be focused on taking the next step that is right in front of you.
It’s like walking down a long and winding staircase. Sure, you might feel good being able to see the bottom and some people might like to count the steps as they go down, but, if you just focus on that one step under-foot right now, the next step will keep taking you where you need to go.
At every point in time you only need to be focused on one single step. In taking that step right in front of you, you build momentum, and it is through that momentum you are well on your way to getting what you want.
Like an avalanche gobbling up trees as it thunders downhill, once you get moving, your momentum builds more momentum. With that momentum, the next step, and the step after that, and after that, feels like a natural progression, and that goal that once seemed so far out ahead of you has merely become a series of small steps.
Looking back from that point, you see, really, all that mattered at every point in time is you determined your next step.
AND THEN YOU TOOK IT!!
So think about this right now. Just pick a goal that matters to you. Perhaps it is getting paid more, or getting promoted, or making a transformational move in your career. Now, imagine for a moment how it will be when you have reached your goal.
Really step inside the feeling of how you will be when you reach your goal. Imagine how you will feel when you get that whopping bonus or the list of promotions floats around with your name on it, or how you will feel when you have actualized your potential and you are sitting in the career you dream.
How does it feel? Is it exciting? Rewarding? Does it come with a sense of satisfaction? Do you get inspired by what achieving that goal enables you to do? Whatever it is for you, keep sitting with that feeling and really build up inside you the emotion of having what you want.
Now, with that feeling, just imagine the one next step ahead of you. It might be really simple and small, and seem insignificant, but by taking that step you are setting yourself up to keep moving.
Say for instance, if you are looking to transform your career and go after the job you truly want, you might begin by setting aside ten minutes to sit and scheme and dream. Then, after you have considered your alternatives and how you might take action, you might set aside another ten minutes to begin drawing up a couple of action steps. And, from there, you might see that, ha, really, you know, that career you truly want is actually in reach if only you can keep taking small steps every day. From there of course you’ll have more energy and excitement to take your next steps, and so on.
So, just for a moment, imagine having taken your first step and feel what it is like to be on your way. Then, take it. And, whenever you feel like it, repeat this process and take another step, and another, and another, all the way to getting what you want.
The best way to give yourself the discipline to take these steps is to schedule your time and set up a structure that works for you.
To build momentum and keep working on my writing, I began by putting in my calendar an appointment and reminder for 7.00am every day which reads: Start the day WRITE!
And I know that just by getting focused and getting started every day I am off to the races.
The same is true with my private clients. The reason they can easily make transformational change in their career and life is because over the year we work together, we set up a process that enables them to structure their time and make steady progress every day.
In this way, investing one hour per week, they are able to make enormous leaps. Literally, it is getting what you want in ONE STEP!