What is the Greatest Predictor of Success?

Success – How do We Do It?

We all want to succeed, but how do we do it? Yesterday I began by quoting Lao Zi:

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

I was continuing with my recent theme of using the Flu Manchu lockdown to find opportunities for self-improvement.

Rule #1: small steps

  • Pick a goal
  • Choose one very small step in that goal
  • Perform that step daily until habitual
  • Build from there

In addition, I cautioned about overkill; don’t get so excited about reaching your goal that you do too much right away. If you do, you suffer the dangers of complacency (oh, I’ve done lots, I can skip a day) and burnout (oh, I’ve done so much, I’m bored).

So, Rule #2: stay hungry

I’ll return to my top goal for the lockdown. Goal:

I want to be a better, more consistent writer and content provider.

Over the years I’ve been building this little blog I’ve learned that I:

  • Can do research, and produce content almost at will.
  • Have no problem generating ideas for content.
    • If anything, my problem is the opposite, I have so many ideas I can’t get to them all
  • Lose focus and get off track
    • Usually just as my readership starts to rise

One of the causes of my getting off track seems to be burnout. I’ll generate a ton of stuff, and then start to feel complacent, “Meh, I’ve put up lots recently, I’ll skip today and get back to it tomorrow.” Problem is, just like with New Year’s Resolutions, that first crack in the wall, that first skip, is the start of letting it all slip away.

So this time, I’m forcing myself to stay hungry. No over posting. I’ve got at least 5 things I want to write, and I’m not doing them all at once, I’m saving some for later.

Robert Heinlein was called “The Dean of Science Fiction Writers.” Phenomenally prolific and incredibly influential, he never actually intended to make his living as a writer. He just wrote a story once to make a few bucks to pay some bills. But, as he described it, then he got a monkey on his back, and the monkey wouldn’t go away until the next story was written.

I’m cultivating that monkey. Feeding him a little, but not enough for him to get full and complacent, and go to sleep. I’ve got ideas formed, a list ready, but I’m not fleshing them out, not writing them. Not yet, anyway. Gotta keep Bonzo hungry.

But, what does this have to do with your goals?

Well, you can do the same.

  • Want to get fit? Start small, take a brisk walk, every day at the same time. Don’t go out for a 5 mile run. Over train and you’ll be stiff, sore and ready to quit.
  • Want to lose weight? Swap out your morning bagel/muffin/bowl of cereal for a hard boiled egg. Don’t go on a crash diet that just starves you to the point where you gorge yourself on junk.
  • Want to learn to meditate every day? Learn a short breathing exercise (there’s a good one here) and do it every day at the same time.

Once you’ve got your new habit started, you can turn the dial up. But never satiate your desire, always stay hungry, so you keep coming back for more.

So there it is. How do you succeed? By succeeding. I know it sounds simplistic, even stupid, but it’s true:

Nothing succeeds like success.