Update: This post was originally published in June 2011 (back when I was still in my job and hadn’t made a cent online) — it was in fact the first ever post published on Leaving Work Behind. While I have edited it in parts, it remains largely intact, and thus serves as a strong example of how far your convictions can take you. Enjoy!
If you’ve been reading Leaving Work Behind for any length of time, you’ll know that I don’t preach about getting rich quick.
Yes, that old nugget. That whole area of “teaching” is utter rubbish. Quite frankly, I am not qualified to teach on the subject. I don’t believe that anyone is — sudden wealth is the bastard child of luck, and luck cannot be taught.
Having got that rant out of the way, I am happy to say that there are riches to be had. Wealthy and successful men and women do not get to where they are subsisting solely on a diet of good fortune, and more often than not, they are not extraordinarily special people. Many of my successful peers in online blogging will attest to that.
So, without further ado, here are the five fundamentals of success that I try to follow religiously.
1. A Solid Work Ethic
Ah yes, old reliable. Work hard and you will make it.
But it is not actually that straightforward. I know plenty of people who consider themselves very hard workers, but as far as I am concerned, they are applying themselves in completely the wrong fashion.
If you sit down to work on your blog and find yourself two hours later browsing YouTube, you’ve achieved nothing. Don’t try to tell yourself otherwise.
Stop procrastinating. Right now! Finish reading this article then close down Twitter, Facebook, your emails, and any other distractions. Write down one thing you can do, in that moment, to advance your efforts. Then do it.
Success has a lot to do with focus. I can sit down to write an article and spend thirty minutes staring out of the window, then be frustrated with myself for just working so damn hard and not getting anywhere.
No more excuses — get your head down.
How badly do you want it? I do not care what “it” is — that isn’t relevant. But you are going to hit stumbling blocks. There’s no avoiding it. And at times you will want to give up. Those are cast-iron guarantees.
One of the biggest defining factors between success and failure is determination. The ability to keep plugging away, despite seemingly endless rejection and failure, has bred some of the finest entrepreneurs in the world. There are countless stories of how vastly successful people fought tooth and nail to get to where they are. Not convinced? Read this.
So how do you maintain determination? How do you persist against all the odds?
Start by surrounding yourself with like-minded people. Share your successes and failures with them. Most importantly, hold yourself accountable. Tell people — family and friends; people who care — what you are trying to achieve. Surround yourself with those who believe in you and encourage you. Join us on the community forums — you’ll find we’re very welcoming!
Finally, give yourself a light at the end of the tunnel. If your sole aim is to build up a net worth of a million dollars, you will probably never succeed. Set incremental goals. Plot a path to where you want to be, then follow it. If you can’t plot the path all the way there, aim for a milestone along the way, and figure out how to advance once you get there. As I said in my post on How to Succeed, “Make sure the cracks aren’t chasms.”
You are going to struggle to succeed if you do not have passion for what you are doing.
That can be in the form of the content you are writing, the rush you get from producing a product, or countless other things. Not everything in your business will give you joy, but you do need to find joy in your work.
Passion is determination’s best friend friend. Nurture it, and it will in turn feed your determination. A healthy passion for what you are doing will carry you through the low points. If you are not emotionally invested in your efforts, it will be all too easy to give up.
Intelligence is underplayed as a key cause of success. I am sorry to break it to you, but you will need to know what the hell you are doing.
I am fed up of the many internet entrepreneurs out there, selling something or other, saying “If I can do it, so can you!” We can only do it if we take ownership of what is required and execute.
You can stumble into success, and it does happen. Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income is a great example of this — I won’t get into specifics as he has already chronicled his remarkable story far better than I can on his blog. But when he was offered the opportunity for success, he grabbed it with both hands and owned it.
That took nous. The guy knows what he is doing, make no mistake about it. So don’t you dare count on luck to carry you through.
Last but certainly not least, we have our most valuable commodity.
I’ve got more bad news for you — you are not going to wake up a millionaire tomorrow. The world does not move that quickly. After all, if it were that easy, why on earth isn’t everyone rolling around gleefully in giant mountains of cash?
Once you have effectively combined and actioned the four key fundamentals above, you are going to have to let time work its magic.
Now is not the time to sit back and wait though. Keep pushing and developing your income streams. Walk hand in hand with time as your partner. Do not leave it to do all the work by itself — it can’t.
Create Your Own Story
It’s easy to write about what to do in order to become successful; the difficulty is in the execution.
You may already have the potential to follow through on what I have covered in this article, but you need to combine them as ingredients so that you can produce a delicious success cake, with a thick layer of wealth icing (and a fulfilment cherry on top, as a finishing touch).
The fundamentals I discuss may be screamingly self-evident to you, but do not blast me for stating the obvious. The fact is, if we all adhered to the above fundamentals to our maximum potential, we would all likely be in much more affluent positions.
Remember this: pride has no place in the journey to becoming successful. No one person has all the answers and that is not what you should be aiming for. No matter your position in life, moving forwards with the five key fundamentals above in mind may galvanize you onto greater things.
There are some guys and girls out there with truly remarkable stories. But they created their stories — they weren’t born with them. Their stories were borne out of sweat and tears. If you want what they have, all you have to do is follow the key fundamentals above. It may only take months, or it may take years, but stay the course and you will see it through to the end.