So have you quit already? Have you thrown in the towel on that life-changing New Year’s resolution? Have you decided it’s just too hard to get to the gym during the work week? Did you already slide off the diet wagon and land in the vanilla pudding? Are you still taking loads of abuse from your lazy, sadistic boss? How about your love life? Have you tossed in the towel there as well?
Wow. You didn’t even make it to February.
No matter what your New Year’s promise to yourself, the question you’ve got to consider is: “What has happened in my life so far that makes me give up so easily?” Seriously, when we scan the panorama of human achievement – both personal and professional – we see a refusal to break, bend or quit. We see a seemingly insane determination to succeed. Why is this “success gene” missing from your DNA?
It is a question worth considering. For most of human existence life has been hard. For the vast majority of our ancestors, just surviving was hard. Scratching a living from the land required back-breaking labor, and you had to pray that your harvest was sufficient to cover the months of winter. Disease ran unchecked throughout communities, taking both young and old.
The life expectancy in 1900 was 48 years – which meant two things:
1) Large numbers of people died in infancy.
2) Once the nagging conditions of old age set in, your goose was cooked.
U.S. men born in 2008 have an average expectancy of 80.8 years, and most of those will be healthy and disease-free.
Nowadays life is so easy. In this country, we’re so free from real fear of starvation, disease and deprivation that you’d think most people could channel their commitment and energy into chasing down the less difficult goals of life – health, relationships, success.
So, what is it with you?
Why have you decided you just can’t have the thing you want so much? Before you toss in the towel, consider these three points.
1. First, watch this video from University of Wisconsin-Whitewater senior Matt Scott.
2. Have a straight talk with yourself.
The people who are willing to make massive changes almost always succeed in this life. Your failure to succeed is probably linked to your failure to change some part of your life.
What are we talking about? Well, if you have decided to go to the gym four days a week this year, that’s great. Of course, you’ve probably already missed most days, and each time there’s a different set of circumstances that make it “impossible” to go.
But it’s a fact that if you were willing to do “anything,” you’d make it to the gym. If you were willing to quit your job, you could spend eight hours a day at the gym. If you were willing to get up at 4am, you could probably get in two hours of exercise before work. If you were willing to get home at night at 9pm, you could go after work. You get the idea.
So, right now you’ve decided, perhaps subconsciously, that you want other things more than your gym time. Maybe your decision is valid. Maybe you want a job, eight hours of sleep, time with your children, a family dinner hour, and some television time, more than you want to go to the gym. You can certainly make a case for those preferences. But if you really want to go to the gym, you’ve got to give up something, and the more you’re willing to give up, the more certain you are of success.
So start right now. Stop what you’re doing and ask yourself the question, “What Am I Willing to Give Up to Accomplish This Goal?” If the answer is “nothing,” then be at peace with that choice and drop the silly resolution. You don’t need it anyway.
3. Persistence is the ONLY thing that matters.
Calvin Coolidge is one of those presidents that no one remembers. He was in office from 1923 to 1929, and earned the nickname “Silent Cal.” But Cal knew a thing or two about what it takes to succeed.
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence,” he said. “Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
Print this quote out and tape it to your refrigerator. Let your children read it every time they grab a soda. Make these words your creed and guiding light.
If you have a goal for this year, persistence is the only thing that matters. If you have persistence, nothing else matters. If you don’t have persistence, nothing else matters.
So, here you sit. You’re at the crossroads of the rest of your life. Whatever you want to do can be yours. After all, your ancestors crossed oceans, overcame a hostile universe and struggled to simply survive. What are you doing? You can have whatever it is that you want. It really just depends on how bad you want it.