How does the dialog play out in your mind when you consider pursuing a goal? Winning that state championship or getting promoted to brown belt?
“What’s it gonna take?”
“What do I have to give up? What sacrifices do I have to make?”
“I need to do [X]. I need to stop [Y].”
Maybe this is a goal you can live without. Do you really need to lose that last two pounds of fat? Gain that last five pounds of muscle? Shave off those extra few seconds off of your mile split? Maybe the answer is no.
But what if it’s something that you can’t live without? What if you were addicted to the idea of what your future self could be, or absolutely captivated by the potential of having achieved something so challenging and meaningful? Would you accept anything less than your best effort? Would you be okay with letting your discipline slide? Understandably, we’ll never live “perfectly”, but the answer is definitely no. Especially in something you can control.
There’s something magical that clicks in your mind the moment a “should-have” becomes a “must-have.” The moment you realize that if you want to achieve what you truly want, you can no longer live your current life or walk on the same path that you’ve always been walking on.
Here, you’ll see two different perspectives on the same principle: committing to a goal and getting after it. One is passionate and the other is calculated, but the underlying message is the same. Make your choice and relentlessly pursue.
“What I’m telling you is, you can’t count the cost. When you want something bad, you can’t count the cost, because if you count the cost and you see how much it cost, you might quit, so you gotta go in, knowing that I don’t count the cost. I’ll do as many push ups as it takes, as many situps as it takes, as many reps as it takes, I’ll study as long as it takes, I’ll pay whatever the price is. Why? Because if I start counting the cost, I might quit, I might give up, I might surrender. Don’t count the cost. You don’t count the cost on this one!
You don’t count the cost on this one. You, you just do what you gotta do on this one, and then you look back when it’s all over and you see the rewards. You look back and you see the accomplishments. You look back and you see that you succeeded.”
“Dealing with the temporary frustration of not making progress is an integral part of the path towards excellence. In fact, it is essential and something that every single elite athlete has had to learn to deal with. If the pursuit of excellence was easy, everyone would do it. In fact, this impatience in dealing with frustration is the primary reason that most people fail to achieve their goals. Unreasonable expectations timewise, resulting in unncessary frustration, due to a perceived feeling of failure. Achieving the extraordinary is not a linear process.
The secret is to show up, do the work, and go home.
A blue collar work ethic married to indomitable will. It is literally that simple. Nothing interferes. Nothing can sway you from your purpose. Once the decision is made, simply refuse to budge. Refuse to compromise.
And accept that long term results require quality long-term focus. No emotion. No drama. No beating yourself up over small bumps in the road. Learn to enjoy and appreciate the process. This is especially important because you are going to spend far more time on the actual journey than with those all too brief moments of triumph at the end.
Certainly celebrate the moments of triumph when they occur. More importantly, learn from defeats when they happen. In fact, if you are not encountering defeat on a fairly regular basis, you are not trying hard enough. And absolutely refuse to accept less than your best.
Throw out a timeline. It will take what it takes.
If the commitment is to a long-term goal and not to a series of smaller intermediate goals, then only one decision needs to be made and adhered to. Clear, simple, straightforward. Much easier to maintain than having to make small decision after small decision to stay the course when dealing with each step along the way. This provides far too many opportunities to inadvertently drift from your chosen goal. The single decision is one of the most powerful tools in the toolbox.”
-Christopher Sommer (in an email to Tim Ferriss)
For another perspective, read Berton Braley’s poem, “The Will to Win“.
So, what now?
Take action, plan the next steps, make adjustments as necessary, and, every now and then, give your body and mind enough time to heal up to return to the action with more resolve, conviction, and strength than you had before. Maybe it really is that simple. It sure as hell isn’t easy though.
When was the last time you approached something with such conviction and determination that the cost or the consequences of pursuing something didn’t matter?