Taking massive action consistently is the key to achieving success in any field. It doesn’t matter how smart you are or how many qualifications you have, if you don’t take action, you will not be successful. I know plenty of really smart people who have achieved very little in their lives because they never got anything done. They all suffered from procrastination, lack of ambition or just sheer laziness. What a waste.
I used to be lazy. I consider myself to be of above average intelligence. I did very well in school, passing all my exams with little effort and then went to university to get a degree in IT and learned French at the same time. I did well when at school and living at home because both my teachers and parents were pushing me. There was structure, a routine, deadlines and discipline imposed by others. Then when I left home and education to start my career in London, all of that structure was gone. It was all down to me to get up in the morning, to eat well, to get to work on time, to work hard, to manage my finances, pay my bills etc.
I was now officially an adult and I was responsible for everything. I no longer had my parents or my teachers to push me into action. Unfortunately, my default behaviour at this time was to just coast along. I didn’t really set any goals. I was just plodding along doing my job but nothing else to improve myself or situation. That’s the trouble with being “smart” – you seem to think that success is guaranteed, that you are owed something. I was waiting for my success to fall into my lap instead of making it happen.
It took me several years and a complete change in my life (new job, new country, new outlook) for me to realise that being smart is worth nothing without action. The old adage “Hard work beats talent when talent isn’t working hard.” really is true. Brian Tracy, the author of many books on the subject of productivity sums it up well when he says “It’s not the smartest people who achieve success. – It’s the people who procrastinate less, make fewer excuses as they take actions every day towards the goals they want to achieve.”. Once I realised that the world owed me nothing and that I was 100% responsible for my future success or failure, then I began to set goals and to discipline myself to get things done. I became proactive instead of reactive. I took control.
I am of course human and I do still struggle on occasions to stay focused and to not be lazy. Along my journey, I have discovered and learned a few techniques to stop me from procrastinating and to push me into taking action again. (I refuse to call them “hacks” – I hate that term!) I have found that just starting a task is the hardest part and these techniques are designed to give you that push you need to get the ball rolling. I hope that these techniques will help some of you. Procrastination will kill your dreams and goals. You must overcome it. By the way, I am not a guru or coach. I’m simply sharing what works for me.
Someone you admire is observing you
I know that sounds weird but hear me out. Think of a well-known successful person that you admire. It must be someone that has a big work ethic. He/she needs to be someone that is highly productive, gets a lot done and hustles. Somebody who has achieved so much that you don’t know how they even find the time. This person is a massive inspiration to you. They are your idol. Now, imagine that you recently met this person and that they gave you a 7-hour coaching session during which they gave you some excellent insights into how they get things done along with some advice and words of encouragement for you. They say they will be in touch with you regularly in the future to see how you’re getting on.
Now the important bit – Imagine that there are cameras in your home and following you around if you go out. Your daily life is being filmed 24/7 and guess who is watching? That’s right – your idol is watching you via live feed. Imagine how lazy and guilty you will feel if you’re wasting time watching TV, surfing the internet, playing video games etc. Now you will feel accountable. Nobody wants to look like a loser in front of their idol. He/she wants you to succeed and you don’t want to disappoint them. You want to be part of the successful club.
This is a powerful technique I use when I feel in a slump. I imagine that Arnold Schwarzenegger is watching me via live feed. His work ethic is off the charts. It doesn’t matter that I have no desire to be a body-builder, movie-star or go into politics. It’s the work ethic and attitude to taking massive action that is important here.
For this technique to really work, you need to know quite a bit about the life of your chosen idol. I do this by reading their autobiography / biography. For example, by reading Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography, I was blown away about how he manages his time. There is so much information in his book about his life that I now feel like I know him personally. Imagining that he can see what I’m doing (or not doing) is very effective in getting me to stop procrastinating.
Here is my list of best autobiographies of successful people for inspiration. Every one of the books on that list is about highly productive people. I’d recommend you read at least one of them to get inspired. Remember it doesn’t matter if they are not in your chose field. It is their work ethic that matters here and they all have lots of it. Even if you choose not to do this technique, reading autobiographies and biographies is one of the best ways to “spend time” with successful people.
Create your own rags to riches documentary
This is another technique I use. I can’t take credit for this one. This one comes from Joe Rogan.
Before I explain the technique, let me explain why it works. – Have you ever watched a fly-on-the-wall documentary about a successful person that shows how they got started and the daily grind that they go through in order to maintain their level of success. Documentaries about successful athletes are good ones. For example, I recently watched a documentary about the swimmer Michael Phelps and he explains how he has been training every day, 365 days a year since his teenage years. Documentaries like this show the journey to success, not the end result. What is the most empowering part of these stories? It’s not seeing them win the gold medal. That part only takes a few minutes. It’s seeing them training alone, well away from all the cameras, fans and media and doing it repeatedly day in day out for months on end. No exceptions. That is where success come from.
It’s empowering to watch the grind and it can also be empowering to act out and that is the whole point of the technique. What is your goal? What is your gold medal? What will it take to get there? What do you need to be working on every single day, out of sight of most people? What time should you getting up in the morning to work on your business or writing your book or training for your marathon? See that grind as an adventure. Feel empowered by it and do the work as an inspiration to others. Imagine there is a film-crew following you around. They know you are going to be a huge success and they want to document it. Imagine they are filming you every day doing your work. This is your documentary. This is your Rocky movie. This is your story. Don’t be afraid of the grind. Embrace it.
The final part of this technique is to imagine that your documentary will be shown to your kids, your grandkids and even to millions of others who would like to replicate your success. You want to inspire them, right? You want your family to be proud of you, don’t you? You want to leave a legacy for future generations. So, get after it. Do the daily grind. Forget Michael Phelps. This is your success story.
So those are 2 strategies I use to keep me on track and focused on my goals. I know they sound stupid to some people but I don’t care about haters and neither should you. The techniques work for me and that is all I care about. I’d love to get your feedback. Let me know in the comments below about other strategies for getting things done.
Finally, don’t forget to check out my list of favourite autobiographies.