Success can be elusive, which has prompted many to conclude that there is no success formula. Sometimes it happens that you know what you want from life. And you know what you want to do. And it’s something that you really love and are good at. Plus, people really need what you have to offer. You have also made your plans and have set your goals by the book. You invested your time and started taking action. But somehow … things still don’t work out.
If this has ever happened to you, you are not alone. I have been in this situation myself, more than once.
So many people say they want to be successful but then their lives do not change. Some success gurus have gone as far as to suggest that the reason people in this situation don’t succeed is because they really do not want success.
Why? Because, the gurus argue, to be successful, you have to abandon the level of comfort you are presently living in. That you could be talking about becoming successful but what you are really saying is that you want to be successful without doing anything about it!
Don’t reject this argument out of hand…
The truth is that in order to be successful, we must first be willing to do whatever it takes. This is what studies and biographies of the most successful people in the world have revealed time and time again.
And it all boils down to this: the only difference between people who begin to move towards success, and those who don’t, is that people who do not succeed do not have the will to do whatever it takes.
What this basically means is that to succeed you must be willing to endure a certain level of pain before achieving your desired goal. That success without commitment is impossible.
What does it mean doing whatever it takes? Here’s a Kobe Bryant quote to show you the level of commitment to success of this American sports icon:
Here’s someone who obviously had the success mindset – something easy enough to understand: Figure it out what you have to do to get it, and then do just that, whatever it takes.
The 2-Step Success Formula
I know you really want to become successful with your goals in life, whatever the gurus might say. And in this first step of the 2-step formula to fail-proof your success goals, let’s see what you have to do to infuse yourself with will and gusto… so that you can commit to doing whatever it takes.
Step 1: Understanding What Is Required for Success & Committing to Doing What it Takes
First I want you to understand something really important. I’m sure you have been told that the first step to success is the setting of goals, creating a plan, and getting motivated. But even more important than all of these is learning what is necessary to succeed. This is true whatever your goals are.
Only after you understand what is required for you to succeed can you then judge whether or not you are willing to pay the necessary price.
Going with the Kobe Bryant example, how much are you willing to sacrifice, how much pain, embarrassment, frustration, discouragement are you willing to endure? And are you ready to delay gratification for the short term, in order to live the life of your dreams?
To succeed you must be ready to use pain and pleasure to motivate you. And the first step in this 2 step formula is all about committing to the pain. Doing all it takes means being ready to embrace the pain, real or imagined that may come with getting out of your comfort zone. When we fail to follow-through on our goals it’s usually because we are associating pain to actions which will help us to reach those goals, and this in turn prevents us from taking action.
Affirming that “I’ll do whatever it takes” amounts to a shift in thinking, but mark this carefully: when you say that you’ll do whatever it takes, that nothing will get in your way, you turn the tables on the number one enemy that stops people reaching their goals – and suddenly you have stacked the odds in your favor. Here’s how:
Now you are not so much concerned about how to get there exactly, because that is now a flexible construct. You will figure it out and find a way. You are now more flexible and this simple positive affirmation typically spells the death of any self limiting beliefs you may have had.
The other thing is that now you are dealing with an absolute certainty – that is, “I will succeed.” Success is not in question anymore because you have committed to do whatever is needed to make it a success. This state of mind as you will find is very uplifting and motivating in itself.
The other advantage in committing to “I will do whatever it takes” is that once you adopt this mindset you become more resourceful. Your energy level goes up you will be excited and energetic. This comes from the feeling that you will need the energy.
And lastly when you say to yourself “I’ll do whatever it takes” this opens up all sorts of new possibilities. You begin to get new ideas; you begin to think out of the box and stop being boxed in, and you will be more receptive to looking at areas for help that before just weren’t “on the cards.” All this translates into a new freedom you didn’t have before, as well as an urge to go for it – and to act. You can’t wait to get going (positive momentum) to make the positive changes that came simply with internalizing the idea that you will do whatever it takes!
Step 2: Leveraging the Pain of Failure to Keep You Motivated
Before we continue it is important to note that doing whatever it takes to succeed means a lot more than uttering this simple slogan. At a basic level it means not quitting when times get tough. This sometimes means you will have to endure great discomfort even when you don’t feel like it. If your desire to succeed is not enough, it will be difficult to do whatever it takes, and so, to persevere, follow through, and do ”whatever it takes” you will require the necessary achievement motivation.
Motivation works best when the pain of failure becomes unbearable. And the evidence of unbearable pain is that you are willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.
It is only when you want success more than anything else that you will start making progress towards your desired goals. You must have compelling reasons that will overpower any doubts you have, push you beyond your comfort zone and trounce your lack of confidence stemming from your past failures. You may have heard it said before, that “You can get anything… if you want it bad enough.” Or, to put it differently,
“You can achieve everything you want, when you control pain and pleasure”
Here’s what Michael Bolduc wrote in “Power of Motivation”, that:
The pain of loss is the quickest way to motivate you and anytime you have something to lose if you don’t succeed with your goals then you will be compelled to follow through. It is that fear of pain that creates the power of motivation.
In step 2 of this 2-step formula for reaching your success goals we are going to use the fear of losing money (from breaking a promise to yourself) to compel you to act and follow through on your personal objectives. It doesn’t have to be money though, although money is the easiest. It can be anything of value to you and others.
Fear is a very powerful force because typically it is urgent and pressing. Desire (your goals and dreams for instance) inspires you; fear, on the other hand, compels you.
Let’s co-opt pain and fear to ensure you can follow through on those goals of yours for bettering your life and the lives of your loved ones.
It starts with disturbing your personal level of comfort – by fixing certain painful consequences onto yourself for not following through on your personal commitments. Would the thought of losing $100 today for not meeting your daily goal you’ve set yourself compel you to follow through? I know it would compel me!
Fix a painful price to pay for not following through on your personal goals – a high enough price that will disrupt your comfort zone.
The point however is not to cause too much discomfort because then you might begin to link pain to growth and success. The key with this self motivational scheme is to identify a balance between that pain which has the power to shake you out of your comfort zone and cause you to take action, and that level of pain which can potentially immobilize you.
What we are doing with this scheme is to “use pain to create pleasure.” Here’s a great quote from Brain Tracy
At the psychological level, what this trick does is to give you the discipline to delay gratification for your greater goal or dream.
Achievement motivation soars when you can couple an association of pleasure to achievement with an association of unbearable pain to failure. This means you will be willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.
And that, my friend, is the secret to achieving success.
How to implement Step 2
If you have read Top 10 Reasons Why People Don’t Reach their Goals in Life then you know the importance of setting daily goals. And here’s the thing: If you have clear, specific goals that are measurable according to your daily schedule, then the only thing that is going to prevent you from succeeding is a lack of motivation.
To ensure you have sufficient achievement motivation in store so that you can follow through on a daily basis, you will have to set up your daily motivator. Personally I use a financial penalty for not following through.
As I write this I can see that I’m almost clocking 2,000 words I set myself as my daily writing goal. It means my $10 penalty I have set as my daily motivator looks safe for now. Days when I fail to meet this daily writing target (about once in the last 2 months) I give the money to the neighborhood scoundrel, a 19-year-old young man I suspect spends it on marijuana and booze.
Oh, losing the money aside, it’s not an experience I look forward to. The last time I handed him the money on the pretext of asking his assistance so the two of us could clear the driveway for an old lady who lives down the road, he looked at me queerly, as if to suggest I was a lecherous old guy… and he was onto me!
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