Achieving success is a lot like walking up a ladder — a very, very tall and slippery ladder. We start the climb with a burst of energy and are usually able to maintain a good pace for a decent amount of time. But then our limitations kick in and we begin to feel a soreness in our forearms. After a while longer, our knees being to wobble and our ankles start to give. We slip.
If we’re quick and smart about it, we catch ourselves a few steps down. If we are less lucky, we slip to the bottom…sometimes, sad to say, never to attempt the climb to the summit again. Endurance is the name of the game and the men or women that are patient and focused enough to push themselves forward continually are the ones that are most likely to be successful.
We all know that being successful — reaching our goals — is not an easy task. Anyone who has attempted such a feat understands all too well just how tall that ladder is and how slippery it can get, especially when it rains. The ladder itself poses an optical illusion; while at the bottom, the peak of the ladder seems not too far off, however, as we begin to climb and climb, we notice that the goal rarely seems to be getting any closer. Although we are constantly climbing, putting one arm and leg ahead of the other, the distance between us and where we want to be seems fixed — the goal unattainable.
Success means different things for different people. Most associate it with fame and money. Others don’t like the attention and aren’t in need of many material possessions and prefer to live a simpler life filled with simpler goals. Simpler goals are more readily achievable than those involving riches and fame — for a simple reason: the larger the goal, the more money or fame you are looking for, the more people you have to connect with in order to achieve that goal.
If your goal is to get married, start a family and be the best father that you can be, then I promise you it will be a whole lot easier than making your first billion dollars. This is not to say that one purpose is better or more honorable than the other. However, when your goals only involve a handful of people rather than thousands or millions of people the fact is that your task will be more easily accomplished.
It’s the goals that aim to affect or make a difference in the lives of masses that are the most difficult to attain — that have the longest ladders. I myself am attempting such a climb and I can tell you that it’s tiring. It’s frustrating. It’s stressful. It’s demanding. And the view — so far — isn’t worth the calluses. If you’re one of those hanging on to one of the ladders around me, then I’d like to share some advice with you because you’ll need it.
I know that you’ll need it because I need it and as much as I am writing this for you I am also writing this for myself. There are just some things that people like us need to hear or instead risk losing everything in the process.
Business requires money. Period. There are those who were lucky enough not to have to start at the bottom, those that have a safety harness tied around their waists by their parents or some form of inheritance or another. I’m not one of those lucky few and chances are that you aren’t either. Most people don’t realize how much money is needed to run a business.
You can calculate your overhead, your recurring costs, you can estimate some extra expenses that you are likely to have along the way, yada, yada, yada. What most entrepreneurs don’t calculate is how much money they need to stay sane — to live maybe not comfortably, but comfortably enough to keep their sanity and to allow them to continue their climb.
Writing a business plan will tell you how much startup cash you need to get the project going. It can also tell you how much you will need to put into the business weekly, monthly, yearly. What most people overlook, or rather underestimate, is the amount of money they need to stay happy enough to work efficiently. You will need to make cutbacks and I am sure that if you have any experience at all or did any reading, you already know that.
But do you know how much you can cut out of your life before it starts taking a negative toll on you and on your work? I am sure that you can live on dollar pizza for a year. You can stop drinking, stop going out, minimize the amount of time you spend with friends or lovers. But you can’t do so indefinitely. Although these things may seem to be less important to you at the moment, it’s because they are less important to you — at the moment. After months of depriving yourself of the little things that make you happy, your perspective will change and what you need will change.
You can’t cut out the smaller pleasures in life indefinitely because they are necessary. You can’t eat crap food forever. You can’t not see your friends or family forever. You can’t wear the same pair of jeans forever. Believe me, you can’t. I have tried and it simply doesn’t work. You can cut certain things out for certain periods of time, but eventually you will want them back and over time that want will grow to take precedence over your other wants.
The real problem only presents itself when you find that you have been cutting down on certain things for longer than you expected. You told yourself that you could live without A, B and C for a year or maybe even two if you had to. Yet, it’s now almost three years and although you are still climbing, it’s without A, B or C.
It’s a balancing game more than anything. For everything that you cut out of your life, there will be some sort of setback. Immediately you may get nothing but more time and money to invest in your climb towards success, but as time goes on you will begin to feel a need for those things. The longer you deprive yourself, the more damage you will end up doing until you find yourself at the point where deciding to allocate time and money back into those little pleasures will be more beneficial than continuing to deprive yourself of them.
But what if this could all be avoided? What if you can — in a sense — have your cake and eat it, too? Okay, maybe that’s taking it too far…but what if you could have your cake and dip your finger in the frosting from time to time? Wouldn’t that be amazing? A relief? I believe it’s possible as long as you have your priorities straight. And what should your priorities be?
Only you know that, but the top two have to be you, first and foremost, and your main goal or purpose in life. If you understand what you need to stay healthy and not unhappy and what you need in order to achieve that dream of yours, then the rest is what you can give up. Because what you and your goal require is most likely to be time and money, you should focus making as much money as you can in as little of the time that you have left.
You can’t do everything. You have to pick and choose and make priorities. Don’t get stuck working on things that don’t do enough to add to your well-being or the well being of your business. If you are working side jobs in order to support yourself, then only work those that have the biggest bang for your buck. The only point of such jobs is to support your main priorities — you and your business. Don’t work the jobs that are comfortable and low paying. Don’t work the jobs that are too demanding of your time and energy.
Find jobs that are easy to do, easy to hold down and give you the most for your minute. Too many people spread themselves thin because they put themselves into the work they are doing for careers they never want to have. Too many people are spending time and energy with those they don’t really care about and allow their health and dreams to suffer for it. Too many people choose instant gratification over fulfillment in the future. If you are climbing the ladder, then your goal should be to make that climb as comfortable as possible.
This does not mean that it will be comfortable — because it never is. But you can make it less painful for yourself. You just have to make decisions consciously and weed out the people and activities that are unnecessary. And, above all else, make that quick buck because that quick buck will do much more for you than that job you enjoy, but don’t love. If you are lucky enough to know what you want out of life, then don’t take anything short of it.
Do all you can to get there as quickly as possible because the longer you hang on, the more difficult it becomes to hang on. Most people fail because they become fatigued — fatigue that they could have avoided had they planned out their lives more efficiently.