2014 was the best year of my life in terms of personal growth and success:
- I sold more than 35,000 copies of my first book, Mini Habits.
- In 5 months, I have more than 1,700 students in my video course, Mini Habit Mastery.
- I took my fitness to the next level with consistent exercise; I’m even developing somewhat of a six pack now. I’m not magazine-ready or anything, but hey, when I flex my abs, there are shadows! In 2015, I expect to get stronger.
- I consistently published blog posts every Monday and sent longer Tuesday emails while making progress on projects.
- I moved twice in 4 months because I’m more decisive about what I want and I’m not afraid to change course to get there.
- I read more books this year.
Regardless of if you find these results impressive or lame, they are fantastic for me, a recovering lazyholic. Progress is personal—there’s no benefit to compare our results with one another.
What was the key for my unusually great year? Patience to build a foundation for success.
2013 was the first full year I had mini habits, which created the solid habitual foundation for my progress in 2014. My success is wholly due to these mini habits, which require a patient view of progress (when you aim for one push-up a day, you’re obviously not doing it for a short-term gain).
Impatience Is Like A Top-Heavy Shopping Cart With A Bad Wheel
I used to be wildly impatient about reaching my goals, and I even thought this was a positive thing. What do you do when you’re impatient? You try to get what you want faster. Trying to reach your goals faster seems like a great idea, but it’s just like a mistake I made at Home Depot.
Loading customer vehicles at the Home Depot was my first job. We mainly loaded lumber, but occasionally, we’d load concrete, tile, and even those massive railroad ties. One day, a customer wanted tile, and I was tasked to load it into a cart and then into her vehicle. I knew a flatbed cart would work best for this as it’s low to the ground and stable, but for time and convenience, I loaded over 100 lbs. of tile into a shopping cart.
The loading area leading out to her truck sloped downward, and as I tried to turn the cart left, the force I exerted combined with lousy wheels caused the top-heavy cart to tip, not turn. The weight of the tile and the angle of the ground were too much for me. I grimaced as the customer’s already-purchased tile crashed to the ground.
Unsurprisingly, some of the tile cracked. The customer couldn’t believe it. It was awkward.
Using a shopping cart to transport the tile was the faster, more convenient choice at the time, but it was a poor choice. Everything seemed great until the top-heavy shopping cart tipped instead of turned. The mistake people make with goals is believing that faster is better. It seems better, until it topples down under its own weight.
The Lie Our Instincts Tell Us About Making Progress
When you want to accomplish something—whether it’s getting rid of clutter, losing weight, getting fit, writing a book, learning guitar, or learning a language—it’s instinct to want it ASAP.
A problem is created when we look at the benefit we want without considering the surest way to get it.
Trying to do something too fast is a “top-heavy” move for your brain. Reaching a goal quickly is wonderful, and desirable, but it’s not always possible (or sustainable). Think about it: every New Year’s Eve, people make the same New Year’s Resolutions as the year before, meaning something isn’t working!
It’s really important, however, to understand that there is logical reasoning behind impatient goal-seeking decisions.
Poor Decisions Can Be Logical
Poor decisions are often due to sound reasoning with the wrong focus. It’s absolutely logical to pursue good things faster if you’re focused on results. But to get results, it’s better to focus on the process. When focusing on the process, it’s more logical to choose a process you can replicate consistently, and so the swiftness of your results is no longer the main priority.
Those who want amazing results quickly and fail repeatedly are not dumb, incapable, or broken. These are smart, capable, and ambitious people with a lot of potential; they just need to follow a better process to reach it.
I know that the mini habits process works because of my and now thousands of others’ results. As I enter 2015, things are different because I’m thinking about maintaining this positive momentum rather than dramatically changing my life. That’s a great sign that I’m already headed where I want to go.
All of this success depends on your ability to be patient, because when you lose patience, you’ll frantically adopt a losing strategy; you’ll put 100 pounds of tile in your brain’s shopping cart.
How To Be Patient With Your Goals
Patience is a function of time—it’s the ability to wait. The inherent resistance we have to being patient probably comes from a false association of it being passive. Consider that when you need to be patient, it means that further action will not help your situation and could possibly harm it. Imagine a soldier rushing into battle too soon—he’s better off waiting for the rest of his squad.
Impatience does not mean action, either, it only means feeling agitated that something is taking too long to happen. This is common with goals because they’re often things you’ve already wanted for years. The effect of impatience with your goals is like the soldier rushing into battle too soon—you lose.
Here’s how to be more patient with your goals, employ a winning strategy like mini habits, and get the lasting change you’ve craved:
1. Understand that you don’t have time to employ a dumb strategy. Impatient goal seekers want to lose 200 pounds yesterday, but trying to do that is a complete waste of time, because any short-term progress will be offset by the fact that the pace is unsustainable. If you really want to get results, think about the value of your time in the long term. Do you really have time to waste on unlikely goals when you could be taking sure steps toward lasting victory?
2. Project actual long-term results. Impatient goal seekers don’t actually think about the long-term. Sure, they picture themselves in 2 years having achieved their goal, but they don’t do a good job of projecting real life results. They greedily project fantasy results of what they’ll look like after 3 hours of gym training every day. In reality, they’ll be back to square one after they burn out. To be patient with your goals requires you to understand the benefit in doing so. Imagine yourself one year down the road, having a rock solid habit in the area of your goal. This habit can be your new “ground level” and you can build from there. That’s much better than the on/off goals that set you back to the start each time.
3. Consider the compound effect. I’ve noticed that when doing anything for the long term, it can almost seem as if you’re not making much, if any progress at first, and later, it comes in bunches! When I did one push-up (or more) a day, I wasn’t blown away by the early results, but I gradually became stronger, mentally and physically. Later, I had some big breakthroughs in gym workout frequency and quality that surprised me. For the first two years of this blog, I did not have a lot of readers, but the reader base gradually grew and then took off to the point that I gain 20-30 subscribers every day without doing anything and have 8,500+ subscribers. These types of breakthroughs can only happen with a long-term, solid foundation!
If you can think in this way and apply the concepts from Mini Habits, you won’t just have a great 2015, but you’ll set yourself up for a great 2016, 2017, and beyond!