Have you ever had problems reaching your goals even though you were working harder than ever?
A couple years ago I wasn't progressing at the gym at all.
It seemed as if nothing was working. And it didn't matter how hard I lifted, how much I ate, or what supplements I took. I looked and I weighted the same month after month.
I spent hours researching new programs, different tactics, and small "tricks" I could use to gain more muscle, all while ignoring the one big problem that was staring me right in the face.
I simply wasn't sleeping enough.
Instead of fixing this giant problem, I focused on the smaller, easier to fix things as if they were the most important things in the world.
Maybe I need to increase my protein intake by exactly 19 grams per day... Or I just need to add another exercise to really make my muscles grow... Or maybe I need to add this magical potion to my morning smoothie and everything will be perfect.
All of us do this in some areas of our lives.
We ignore the big, and the difficult problems, and we magnify the small, and the easier ones, because in many cases, convincing yourself that you are "working" on the problem, is easier than actually fixing it.
If you're not seeing progress at the gym, it's easier to focus on insignificant changes in supplements, exercises, and protein intake than it is to consistently stick to a healthy sleep schedule.
If your business isn't making as much money as you'd like, it's easier to focus on making your website perfect or trying to increase conversions by 1%, than it is to go out and try to sell to 50 new people every day.
The solutions to the big problems are often simple, but not easy, while the solutions to the small problems are often complicated, but easy.
Everyone knows how to get more sleep. You go to bed earlier, you wake up later, or you do both. Simple.
Everyone also knows how difficult it is to get more sleep. Your work is piling up, your friends are calling you and asking to hang out, you need to go to the gym, read all these books, play video games, take care of your kids, it doesn't matter. Everyone's lives are filled to the brim, and losing an extra hour or two of so called "productive time" to sleep just seems unfathomable.
We start making up excuses. I could do X, Y, and Z if I just slept an hour or two less tonight!
Sure... You could. But will you actually?
For me, a lot of the time when I stayed up to do something "productive," unless it was something I needed done by tomorrow, I pretty much ended up not doing it at all and wasted time watching YouTube or Netflix.
I wasn't productive, AND I was losing out on sleep!
Since the less you sleep, the less productive you are, the easier you get distracted, and the less you actually do. I ended up being in an infinite cycle of needing to sacrifice sleep in order to finish all my work, and repeating it day after day.
I was trying to use all of these different productivity hacks I found online, when in reality all I needed was to get more sleep.
I kept looking for small, bandaid fixes, when what I really needed was a full on surgery.
And this isn't to say that those small fixes aren't valuable. A 10% or even a 1% improvement can compound greatly over time, but the problem comes when you focus on these 1% improvements before taking advantage of the 50 or 100% ones.
It's simply a waste of time.
What's an area of your life where you're focusing on small problems and ignoring the huge one staring you in the face?
Is it your health? Productivity? Relationship?
How would your life change if you conquered the big problem head on instead of wasting time on the tiny ones?
I remember going to the gym for the very first time.
I had dreams of becoming super buff in less than 3 months and every week, I looked in the mirror, disappointed with the results I was seeing.
I couldn’t see the incremental progress, because I was too close to the fire. I wanted to be buff FAST. I didn’t want to, and I didn’t notice myself, gaining a tiny bit of muscle every single day.
I was blinded by the promises of 6 pack shortcuts, buff guys who have been training for YEARS, selling a program to look “just like them” in just a couple months.
Little did I know, that the human body has biological limits on how fast we can gain muscle.
As a guy, I could only gain about 1-2 pounds of muscle every MONTH. That’s right. That’s 2 pounds every MONTH, and I was expecting to gain 5, or even 10 pounds per month which is nearly 2 pounds per week.
I wanted fast progress, instead of settling in for the long haul.
You can probably guess what happened.
I ended up not following through with the program, being disappointed with my results, and coming back to it time and time again, only to repeat the same exact mistakes.
And 2 pounds per month might not seem like a lot, but if I consistently worked out, ate right, and slept well for a year, I would gain 12-24 pounds of muscle.
After a month of progress, I would look very similar to how I looked when I started, but after a year, I would be nearly unrecognizable.
Many of us overestimate how much progress we can make in a week or a month, but underestimate the progress that we can make in a year or 5 years.
And this doesn’t just apply to the gym.
How many people do you know who jump from opportunity to opportunity, certain that THIS IS THE ONE, and never end up going anywhere?
They see people who have worked for YEARS to get to where they are now, and they want to be at the same place where those people are, but without putting in the same amount of work.
One concept related to this, is called $0/hour work. (Which is an article by Billy from ForeverJobless linked in the description below.) (Billy has a lot of unique ideas, so I recommend you check out his blog.)
The basic idea is this:
When you’re just starting a business, you might have to put in dozens, or even hundreds of hours, before actually getting paid.
You might have to research the target market, figure out their true needs, create the right solution, prototype, experiment, and break barriers to solve the problem that people have.
Someone who you see earning hundreds of thousands of dollars online, might have spent months, or even years, on figuring out how to solve the problem they’re solving to make that money.
Or maybe they had to spend months on figuring out how to build an audience, or how to find the right audience.
Either way, it doesn’t matter.
What matters is that most people aren’t willing to do this $0/hour work, and most people aren’t willing to think long term.
So… What does this all mean for you?
If you are able to overcome your natural tendency to be drawn to short-term gains, you might lose out on money NOW, but it’s likely that you will be better off in the long-term.
You are a thief.
You don’t rob houses or banks. You steal ideas, concepts, and knowledge.
However, you’re not stealing from the person you got that idea or knowledge from.
You’re stealing from the people who would have first encountered this idea from you. From the people who needed a reminder of this specific concept today. From the thought leader who might have stumbled upon your publication and influenced the lives of hundreds or thousands of people by sharing it with them.
Sure, you might be reiterating an idea you got somewhere else a couple years ago. Combining ideas. Or even repeating a story you just heard today.
But most things in life have already been said by someone smart. There are no ideas in the world, where everyone who needed to hear them, has heard them.
That’s why you’re not stealing from the person you originally got the idea from. (Although you should still cite them/link to them if you know who it was.)
Take a look at the following list:
All of them are rock-stars within their niches, but you probably haven’t heard of ALL of them, and even if you have, you likely haven’t heard every single important message every single person on that list wants to convey.
If someone has an audience of 100,000,000, there’s still nearly 7,500,000,000 people on the planet who haven’t heard their message.
Is their message important to every single person on the planet?
Most likely not.
But could it be important to 1/10 of everyone on the planet?
If we assume their message is important enough, then they’ve only reached 15% of all people who could benefit from it, and for most people hearing it once isn’t enough. To truly understand the message, they need to hear it multiple times throughout their lives.
Maybe they’re more mature now. More understanding. More compassionate.
Maybe they’re willing to listen more. Accept other people’s advice. Be humble.
It doesn’t matter.
You are just like the celebrities who haven’t spread their message to everyone who needs to hear it.
There is knowledge inside of you, begging to be let out.
Maybe this is knowledge you obtained today. Maybe it’s knowledge you’ve had for a while. Or maybe, just maybe, it is knowledge that you and only you could’ve come up with. (An insight so rare that it only happens with 1/10000 or 1/100000 people.)
Don’t bottle up your knowledge even if you think it’s been said already.
You never know who might benefit from it.