“I am a slow walker, but I never walk back.”
– Abraham Lincoln
How to measure your progress in life
We’re approaching the New Year and everyone wants to take action. “I’m going to lose 30 pounds!” “I’m going to learn French!” “I’m going to save money!”
People want change and they want it fast.
But sudden action won’t really do anything for you. Losing 30 pounds in 30 days might sound like a great goal, but it’s going to leave you burnt out and bitter. It’s the same as when guys say, “I’m going to take $20 and turn it into a million dollars next year.”
Great. Having goals is nice, but things don’t happen that quickly.
No one does anything notable with one afternoon’s worth of effort.
What a skinny guy can two with two years of improvement
Here’s a picture of me hiking in Nicaragua during June of 2012:
That shirt I’m wearing is a small and it’s still too big for me. I am a naturally skinny guy.
I started lifting weights six months later. There was no noticeable change when I started. No miracle bulking, 60 pounds of lean muscle in 60 days, or anything else. I just looked like a skinny guy.
Had I based my goals on short-term gains, I would have been disappointed. But I didn’t. Every week my only goal was to add a little more weight. Lifting the bar was a struggle initially. But eventually moving 315 pounds became easy.
In about two years I went from being a twig to developing some muscle.
At the gym my only expectation was to do a little better than I had done before. If you’ve never lifted putting 600 pounds on the squat rack is going to kill you. Trying to compare yourself to a professional bodybuilder or athlete leads to disappointment. Saying, “I’m going to lift five more pounds tomorrow is a more realistic goal.”
How I went from making $19,200 a year to being location independent
I used to make $400 a week putting pants on the shelves of a clothing store for rednecks. That pencils out to less than $20,000 a year.
Where I grew up having an office job at the cubicle farm would be considered a luxury. Kids grow up dreaming of becoming a middle manager at some corporation in Des Moines. If that’s success you can imagine what everything else is like.
While I did fall for my fair share of get rich quick schemes, my main business goal was to try and make a little bit more money than I had during the previous day. If I earned $1.00 off the Internet on Monday, I’d try to make $1.25 on Tuesday. Within a year I was making more of freelance writing and blogging than I had at my 9 to 5 job.
If things go according to plan, I’ll have set foot on almost every continent before turning 22.
What have you learned?
Having a goal and a plan is nice. But don’t try to be too hard on yourself. Strive for incremental success. James Altucher calls this the “1% rule.” Try and get 1% better at something every single day.
If you want to write a book don’t try to pump the whole thing out in one sitting. Write 2,000 words a day until you meet you goal. Same with lifting or making money. Trying to spend five hours in the gym once a week is less productive than going every day for 45 minutes. Making 15 one page websites in an afternoon won’t do as much as building one site for a year.
Progress is slow. It takes month, or even years, before you can actually hit your mark. Don’t try to rush things. Pace yourself and aim for a little growth each day. It will take you farther than any massive work binge could.