Everyone aspires to greater things. Maybe you want to be a millionaire. Maybe you want to spend the rest of your life doing what you love. Or perhaps you want both, and more (that’s me – sorry for being greedy).
If you have ambitious aspirations, considering how to achieve them can be overwhelming. After all, how on earth do you actually become a millionaire? Despite what many of the snake oil salesmen out there would like you to think, no one has yet written an instruction manual.
In order to make sense of your aspirations, you need to map out a clearly defined path. That path will change as your journey develops, but the vital thing is to know at any point, in which direction you are heading, and why.
Success Is Like Learning To Play Guitar
Have you ever tried to learn to play the guitar? At first, it seems impossible. There seems to be no possible way to contort your fingers in the appropriate manner in order to produce a pleasant noise. However, you persist, knowing that many others have done it before you. If they can play guitar, why can’t you?
At some point, after a great deal of persistence, it begins to click. You can string together a few basic chords. Whilst it previously seemed to be nothing more than a chore, practice starts to become rewarding. With momentum on your side, you practice more and more, and your skills improve exponentially.
Over time, you might settle into a groove, happy with your ability. Perhaps you are perfectly content to just be able to bash out simple three chord songs. To maintain that level of skill is now easy.
Alternatively, you might decide to up your skill set. At this point, a new journey begins – you may be great at your three chord songs, but the “Stairway To Heaven” solo seems a long way off. But again, you know it can be done, and understand that all it takes is practice, time, and application.
Learning to play guitar provides a great analogy for the path to success.
How To Understand The Path To Success
If you are going to try to succeed at anything, you need to be aware of some key realisations:
- It can be done
- You can do it
- It is a process
If you understand and execute these three realisations in the correct fashion, you will succeed.
Accepting the first two realisations is based on having the correct mental attitude, and I am not going to discuss them in this article. What I am focusing on in this article is the process.
Make Sure The Cracks Aren’t Chasms
If you want to be successful (by whatever standard you hold yourself to), then it is vital to be able to visualise how you are going to get there. Many people fail in their aspirations because there is too far a gap between one progressive step and the next.
Visualise your success as a series of cracks in the ground. If they are just small cracks, then you can step over them and in time you will reach your target. However, if those cracks grow into chasms, you can no longer move forwards. One of the keys to success is to eradicate the impassable chasms, so you can step over the cracks with relative ease.
So how do we translate these analogies into practical advice? There is a rather simple process you can follow. It provides the framework for success. I will apply the process to my aspirations, in order to provide you with a practical example.
Step 1 – Define Your Endgame
An Endgame is something which makes a major positive impact on your life. To discover what your Endgame is, see my article “What Do You Want?” You may feel that you already know what your Endgame is – be sure to check the article out anyway – you may surprise yourself.
Your Endgame represents a long-term aspiration. It should be clearly defined and serve as a motivator. Here are some examples:
- I want to earn a million dollars by my thirtieth birthday
- I want to quit my job within two years
Endgames should be what drive you. If there is no Endgame, then you either need to check your pulse, or you need to realise that you already have everything you want from life (in which case, congratulations). Progressing will be awfully difficult if you don’t know what are trying to progress towards.
So what is my Endgame? Simple – as explained in “What Do You Want?”, my Endgame is to serve a letter of resignation no later than 23rd May 2012.
Step 2 – Define Your Target
Once you have defined your Endgame, you can define your Target. Your target is typically what is required to ultimately facilitate your Endgame.
Therefore, my Target is to grow an online income that is sufficient enough to support my quality of life. That will allow me to quit my job.
Now a path is starting to take shape. I know what I want, and I know (in broad terms) what I need to do in order to get there.
Step 3 – Decide How To Hit Your Target
This is a little more difficult to work out, but far from impossible. In fact, your strategy might be quite implausible, but that is okay. At this stage you are setting nothing in stone – the key is to be aiming for something. If you realise at some stage that your aim is unrealistic, then you know that you need to adjust accordingly. It is this kind of objective thinking that will keep you on the right path. It is very easy to criticise those who chase their dreams, whilst you chase nothing.
So, how am I going to hit my Target? Well I have around 11 months left, so it is likely that I will start other projects, but my only active project at this time is my niche site (Modeling For Kids). As such, that project needs to allow me to hit my Target.
Therefore, I need Modeling For Kids to generate an income sufficient enough to support my quality of living.
I should bring up a caveat at this stage. Relying on one source of income is very risky, and is not something I would recommend. In fact, in the back of my mind, I know that I would not be likely to stake my livelihood on one niche site. However, it can be very easy to overcomplicate your Targets, so I am keeping it simple. If I got to the position whereby my niche site was generating a sufficient income, I would then need to decide whether or not that was enough to consider having reached my Endgame, or whether I needed to adjust my Target. As stated above, don’t worry too much if your aim isn’t perfectly practical or realistic, so long as it is a movement in the right direction.
Step 4 – Define Actionable Goals
Saying that you need to achieve “x” is one thing, but figuring out how is something else altogether.
However, if you have a fundamental understanding of your undertaking, it shouldn’t be too difficult.
So let’s use my niche site as an example. I need it to generate an income. Therefore I need traffic (who will buy), and a product (to sell to them).
Traffic will bring newsletter subscriptions. I can then develop a product that my subscribers want, and sell it to them. It sounds simple, and it is, in principle. The difficulty is in the execution.
So, actionable goals are as follows:
- Produce quality content on a consistent basis
- Reach 1st spot on Google for my key phrase
- Build a subscriber base
- Produce and sell a product
You would likely develop these goals so that they are more specific. For example, I will need a large enough traffic and subscriber base (x thousand) with which to sell enough copies of my product in order to produce a sufficient income.
Step 5 – Consider Your Actionable Goals And Execute
We’re now down to the lowest common denominator – what can you do on a daily basis in order to achieve your actionable goals?
Well, I am already carrying out step 1, by producing three quality articles per week.
I am working towards step 2 by building backlinks, submitting articles, and ensuring that my site is well optimised (amongst other tactics).
Steps 3 and 4 are on the backburner, as they rely upon the results of steps 1 and 2.
The key is, when I set my tasks for the day, I am doing it with my Goals, Target, and Endgame in mind.
Your Path To Success Is Definable
By now you should be able to, in principle, see a clear path to success. It is highly motivating to know that the steps you are taking on a daily basis bring you closer to your Endgame.
Now it is almost inevitable that you will hit stumbling blocks and will have to reconfigure your steps to success, but as mentioned previously (and it doesn’t hurt to repeat it), the vital thing is to know at any point in which direction you are heading, and why.
Knowing that every positive action you take, on a daily basis, is taking you one step closer to your Endgame, is extraordinarily empowering. Harness that energy.