Sunday, October 19, 2014

What If I'm Only One Page Away?

What if all that were between me and the fruition of my goals was one more blog?  What if all I needed to do was write a few more pages in my journal?  What if the life-changing insight I needed was just a few pages away in the book (or, more accurately, one of the books) I’m currently reading?   What if I were that close?  Would I do what it takes to write that blog, finish those pages, or read that book?
Could I stay focused?  Could I put away the distractions?  Could I turn off the TV?  Could I ignore my e-mail, or the online games?  Could I look at my comic books later?  Even with this motivation, it’s a challenge to stay focused.  It’s a challenge, but it’s not impossible.  If I knew, really knew that I was that close, I’m sure I’d do whatever I needed to get to my goal.
The problem is we don’t know.  I could reach my goal tonight, tomorrow, or a year from now.  It’s a matter of time, but it’s also a matter of effort.  The more effort we put in, the sooner our chance of reaching our goals.  When I speak to job seekers, I say, “The more time you spend looking for work, the less time you’ll spend looking for work.”
This is true of most things.  The more time we put into reaching our goals, the less time we will need to reach them…maybe. 
Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours.  Brian Tracy says an hour of study a day is required and in seven years you will be at the top of your field.  I’d like to put in an hour a day of studying how to be a better writer.  I’ve read a few books on writing and they’ve all been helpful.  But I knew I needed to read more.  Then something happened. 
The other day, after some hesitation, I went to a bookstore near work.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go.  I’d been there once before, but the store was dusty, disorganized, and chaotic.  In addition, the owner was doing his best to sell to me, a habit that makes me want to run screaming.  But for some reason I felt I needed to give the store another try.  It was still dusty, disorganized, and chaotic, and the owner was still trying to sell to me, but there was a cart of books outside, all on the topic of writing, and they were $4.00 each.  I bought five.  I don’t think this was an accident or a coincidence.  Maybe the books I bought will bring me closer to my goals.  Again I use the word “maybe.”
Here’s the thing: success is not guaranteed, not even for the diligent worker…but it’s far more likely for the diligent than the lazy or neglectful.  And while it’s not guaranteed, it’s highly likely.  How do I know this?  Because I’ve seen it.
I’ve done a lot of career coaching.  I’ve met hundreds of people and never once did I see someone fail to get a job if they didn’t apply themselves and the correct principles to the job search process, principles that I taught.  Some people got jobs sooner than others.  Some got jobs that didn’t work out and had to start the process again.  But just about everyone got a job.  The two or three people who didn’t get work had some severe personality disorder that kept them from following my directions.
Though I’m not perfect, I don’t think I have a severe personality disorder, so I think reaching my goals is a matter of time.
When I speak of time, I mean it in two ways.  First, I mean the length of time.  for example, cooking something often takes a certain length of time and the process can’t be rushed. Likewise, I may need a certain number of months or years before I am ready for the success I want.  Sometimes when success comes to soon, it becomes a bane not a blessing, like someone winning the lottery without knowing how to manage money, and then soon loses it all and more.  When I started my first book, I left it several times because I just didn’t have the knowledge required yet. 
By time I also mean the amount of hours I put in each day.  The more I put in, the faster the process can increase.  Professional writers say anywhere from three to six hours a day is optimal.  I can’t do that yet, but the more time I put in, the sooner I can reach my goal.  If it really takes 10,000 hours then putting in two hours a day will obviously get me there faster than putting in one.   This is why I work nights and weekends.  I could be doing something else, but not much else is as important as this.
What if I’m only one page away from success?