The Only Way To Achieve Something Great (From Zero)

Do you have a burning desire to accomplish something great in life? May be you want to launch a viral product, write a bestselling book, be a celebrity or walk on the moon?

Are your role models Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Warren Buffet or so on? And you’re not satisfied with just earning a living?

Many want to be or do something big but aren’t ready to pay the price. Only a handful will even dare to get out of their daily comfort zones and give it a real try. If you’re one of them, read on.

#1 Know What It Takes

When you are really honest with yourself, you’ll be able to correctly answer two important questions:

  • Where am I now
  • What needs to be done

The first question is not so comfortable to deal with because it wounds your ego. The second question even more so because it asks for a sacrifice of what you have now for what you want.

But as with a bad, abusive relationship, if you don’t stand up to it, nothing is going to change. No matter what or how much of that what you need to start working towards your big goal, ultimately it boils down to time.

You may think you need more money, skills or other things before you can start working on achieving the big outcome that you want, but all that can be translated to mean you need more time.

To start practicing to become a great piano player, for instance, requires that you have a piano first. If you don’t have the money to buy the piano, it seems like what you need is money. But what you actually need is to put more time in order to make that money.

From the time you are born to when you leave the world, all you have with you is time – a limited resource. And you exchange portions of it for other things you want.

You give 8-12 hours daily per week to a job and exchange that time for money, which you trade for other material things like house, car and food.

A big part of remaining hours goes to friends and family, an exchange which fulfills your need for love and companionship. And the last part is yours, exchanged for a good night’s sleep, a hobby you enjoy or something else.

In other words, whatever you get from the world has a price. And you pay not with money, but your time.

Even after you buy the piano and start practicing, how much effort you’re putting in the practice will again be a measure of time – how many hours are you investing to master it. Assuming, of course, that each hour has the same level of your focus and productivity.

So as you think about the preparation for your journey to accomplish something big, ask yourself not just what you need, but also how much time you need to get what you need.

Looking to write a best-selling book? About 500 hours seems like a good guess. Learning a musical instrument? A thousand hours may be. Becoming a billionaire? Think 10,000+.

Of course, luck has a role to play, but we can’t count on it in the planning stage. We need to be ready for the worst. Hence these estimates may seem a bit conservative.

And what you’re good at also has a role to play. Because you’ll need to invest less time in learning and doing something you’re already good at, as opposed to something you suck at.

But keeping all exceptions aside, the biggest wall between the land of success and that of failure is total amount of time invested in the goal.

If you’re not sure about how many hours it’ll take to accomplish what you have in mind, look for people who have accomplished the same before you. Seek them out for inspiration and advice.

Time is the price you pay for everything. If you’re willing to give the required time and figure out how much will you needs, then go to the next step.

#2 Do What It Takes

All of us have just 24 hours in a day. No more, no less. And here’s a snapshot of how most of us spend it:

  • 1-2 hours: Travelling to and back from work.
  • 2-3 hours: Daily chores – cooking, cleaning, eating etc.
  • 7-9 hours: Sleeping or trying to sleep
  • 8-9 hours: Work. 50% productive. Rest in the office black hole.
  • 2-3 hours: Watching the idiot box that is TV

Even if you can take out just one hour every day to invest towards accomplishing something big, you have 365 hours in a year.

That’s enough to write a best-selling book, lose weight, or make significant progress towards whatever you want to accomplish.

When you’re hustling for the big stuff, getting an hour to spare every now and then isn’t going to work. Discipline and consistency are the keys.

Doing something every day, no matter how little, will eventually add up. If your goal is even bigger than the big goals, and requires 10,000+ hours (like being a rocket scientist or billionaire), then you need to be even more stern with your fickle mind.

That much time won’t come from just finding an hour to spare every day. You’d have to go all in, being as early in life as possible and give as much time you can.

7 hours a day for 5 days week, for instance, will get you 1820 hours in a year, and that much close you’ll be to your accomplishment.

You reap what you sow. There are no shortcuts. You can pass an exam by studying just the night before, or win a battle with a bit of luck, but shortcuts don’t win wars.

You can’t become a doctor in just a year, or write a best-seller in a spare weekend. The price has to be paid day in and day out, and the process followed. Not easy, but simple.

The best way to get something done is to schedule it, like you would a dentist appointment. And then try to stick to is as much as you can. Without a firm schedule, any dream fizzles out eventually.

Discipline and will power doesn’t come easy to many. If you’re just starting and working on improving on that front, it may be a good idea to have a support partner or group.

Writing a book, or losing weight, is easier doing with someone who has similar goal. You can keep each other accountable. You can find someone to team up with or join a group. Or you could consider hiring a coach to keep you on track.

You’ll Know When You’re Close

The initial hours will be really hard. It’ll take a lot of will power and discipline to begin and carry out the steps day after day. But the good news is that it’ll get easier as you get in the optimal zone.

Ever tried to brush your teeth with the other hand? When you first start doing it, it’ll feel awkward and uncomfortable for the first few days. But keep doing it for a month, and it becomes a habit. Doing the old way will now feel odd.

When you start paying the price for your goal, your efforts become the way of life. And this new routine breeds small successes the make way for the ultimate goal.

An writer aspiring to publish a bestseller, for instance, may start by publishing a blog post every day. Not only this gives him momentum to keep working on his book, but accomplishes small wins like growing readership and paid writing gigs.

Eventually your determination will snowball into such a force that you won’t need will power to carry on. Rather, you’d call upon it to stop and take a break.

You’ll be so engrossed in the love of your work that the distractions will start fading away. You’ll keep going without the need to externally motivate yourself.

Ask anyone who has put himself in his chosen zone, and you’ll know it’s true. Talk to someone with the habit of going to gym every day: how do they feel the day they don’t go? Like something is not right.

Discipline becomes habit. And habit breeds success.

Getting out of your present rut and changing a habit is a big price to pay. That’s why everyone isn’t ready or has the will to pay it. But that’s fine because everyone doesn’t dream of going big.

For those of us who do, I have shared this post. What you make of it is up to you. No matter what the end goal, what many of us want is to reach the limit of our potential. Would you do what it takes to reach yours?