This post was supposed to be about success, but getting into it I realized how abstract the word success is. It means different things to different people. To me, success means you stopped wishing, and started being proactive about making your dreams a reality. It means you wanted to do something so you did. Simply saying “work for your dreams” doesn’t cut it. I know lots of folks who work hard and get nowhere! “Work smarter not harder” is easier said than done. Let’s talk about what I know about success, and how to get there as I’ve learned so far.
Success starts with today and tomorrow. It’s a one day at a time thing. If you have small triumphs from day to day, those weekly, monthly, and yearly successes won’t be far behind! Okay but that isn’t enough. I’ve hinted at this in other blog posts, but It’s been weighing on my mind a lot lately so I thought I’d hash it out more thoroughly. Not only is it the time well spent in the day, but also the time idly spent that shapes who we become.
If you could see a pie chart of how you spent your time, what would be at the top? What do you do when you have ‘free time’? There is a little something called the compound effect. And no, I didn’t just make up that name! Feel free to look it up! It’s the idea of having great success over time from many small smart choices that add up. The most common illustration of the compound effect is exercise. Sure, a fifteen or twenty minute workout won’t do much for you, but if you step back and look at that same workout repeated over the course of several months, you will definitely see a huge change. So what is that one workout? That is where success is. It’s in those habits that you form. Below is what has been my favorite quote, which I’ve loved ever since I heard it as a kid, since it illustrates how the little things matter.
“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
This is why a routine is so important, and what we let cloud our thoughts with is crucial. If, when we think ‘I’m bored’ we turn to Facebook or a random show… We are being influenced by that time. Now, I’m not saying such things are bad, but I am saying all things in moderation. You shouldn’t be run by these things or just turn to them by default. Scrolling through Instagram photos or snap-chatting with strangers aren’t exactly what I would call very original hobbies. That being said, 95% of you guys reading this only know about my blog because I posted about it on social media (Gosh Charity, such a hypocrite). I’m not kidding though, the little things we fill our time with and think about shape who we are.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Watching your thoughts is that first step…God gave us a pretty cool brain, and we choose how we use it, or if even use it at all. We get to determine what we fill our heads with.
You may say you want to write a book, start going out more, become financially independent, learn a language, get fit… but what does your day to day say is important to you? 20 minutes a day working on learning french might not seem like much, but doing that for three months straight? That’s 30 hours of french learning, and I’ll bet you anything you’ll know a lot more than bonjour, merci, and croissant. If that was your goal, what would be stopping you from spending a mere 20 minutes a day? We are all given 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We choose what we spend our time on, and yes, if you choose something that just sucks ‘all’ your time away (such as work, family, or school), that’s your choice, but there’s usually an extra minute here and there that compound over time could be super valuable! “I don’t have time!” Is a flimsy excuse. For many of us that 20 minutes is easily lost in television, social media, clicking snooze on our alarm, or other mind numbing activities. Even things that could be educational, like your job, after you get over the learning curve you should be considering what other things you can incorporate in your life so your mind doesn’t turn into a raisin. The average person spends a lot more than 20 minutes on social media (Yes, I’m picking on social media because it just happens to be one of the top time thieves other than sleep, work, school, and television), and that 20 minutes? That’s a whopping 30 hours in 3 months, (Once again that’s only saying 20 minutes a day!) but what do you actually have to show for it?
“Woah, look I’m good at social media….” Unless you are a social media marketer or other such person, that sounds just a tad bit sad. So you posted 5 times this month, commented on 10 things and liked or loved 200 other posts… Congrats. You must be so proud.
I can’t pull myself out of this group. In fact me thinking that I need to cut back even more on social media is what prompted this post. There are a lot of great things that come from social media, keeping in touch with family, friends and building relationships is one thing. But hey… that’s not mutually exclusive with Facebook. That’s stuff you can do outside of it too (Even though Facebook is super convenient) Lucky for me I didn’t grow up on social media, so it’s easier to cut back.
Whatever that item is for you that sucks away your time, think about what it will do for you in time. Will it add value to your life, or is it only a thief of time that offers you nothing in return?
For further reading, here are a couple of my favorite books that helped me spend my time more productively. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Peoplewhich is a great one for focusing and turning your life from meh to wait I’m actually doing something (it’s been on the Bestseller list for awhile). Then there’s The 5 Second Rule which has become one of my all time favorites! It’s about how the minute we have a great idea that is even remotely challenging, we start to talk ourselves out of it, whether it’s getting up out of bed the first time that alarm rings, applying for jobs, or riding an elephant… Whatever it be, there’s a 5 second window you have to shut off those inner voices (Talked about this is Do hard Things) If you’re too busy to spend a few minutes a day reading the hard copy, you can listen to the audio book while you workout, on your commute, or heck, even twenty minutes in the morning. I listened to that last book on 2x the speed (Don’t judge me!) on my morning runs last fall.
I believe success is measured by a day, who you are in the short term helps shape our long term. What we spend our time on and think about throughout the day, will help mold our character. Those little triumphs and go-getter attitude will come in handy for bigger opportunities staring us in the face. Sometimes even for those bigger items that seem overwhelming, a few minutes a day working on it is better than no time at all.
I’d love to hear what you guys think you could do with that 20 minutes a day! Or if you have other books on success or time management that you’d like to drop in the comments I’m looking for another good one!