What I’m about to write may not be what you were hoping or expected to hear. However, my goal is to help as many people as I can. It’s not writing what they want to hear so I can go viral. Here it goes. The hustle culture that promotes working 25-hour days 8 days a week is absolutely wrong when it promises that it will all be worth it.
I heard Nathan Caldwell, author of Empowering Kindness: Why Unlocking Power in Others Will Be Your Greatest Success, capture this point perfectly when he told the following story.
Caldwell recently had the opportunity to interview a world-renowned public speaker with a massive following. Caldwell asked this highly influential public figure for some advice on how to land more speaking events himself. The man explained that when he was first starting, he quit his job, took out a mortgage on his house, and had just enough money to survive for 18 months. He knew he had to work hard to become successful before the 18 months were over. He told Caldwell that he achieved success within that time period by working non-stop. However, he also went through a divorce and lost touch with his kids.
What good did wasting all that time and severing the ties with his family do? What good is having all the money and fame in the world when we give up two much more valuable parts of our lives (time and relationships)? Sustainable happiness cannot be found unless there is a balance in our lives. There’s nothing wrong with making millions of dollars or being highly influential. The problem arises when we sacrifice what truly matters in the process. No matter how ambitious the goals are we accomplish, they will not bring us happiness unless they align with our true values.
Relationship of Goals and Habits
For any success, there isn’t just one tactic that will get you there. Successes are intricate processes made up of many essential components. Two of the most essential aspects are goals and habits. Goals and habits are meant to live in harmony. The goal is the finished structure of what we want to accomplish, and the habits are the bricks we lay to finish it. One without the other leads to a site that will remain under construction for years until it finally falls apart.
Fortunately, like any architect, we can be trained in the proper procedures to build the most magnificent structure that our minds can dream up. Success is a learnable process.
We all possess habits; some help to serve us well while others hold us back. We are the culmination of our habits. What we do every day is an immediate impression of the state and nature of our lives. So, it’s a given that individuals who need to improve their lives and accomplish their objectives need to make and implement a well-crafted set of habits. As one of my truest friends, Noah Hightower, once said, “Successful people make a habit of doing things that others are unwilling to do.”
No matter what our goal is, all the facets of our life will be affected by it to one degree or another. The habits that build up each pillar are interconnected, creating a compounding effect on the success of the goal we are currently achieving, and any goals to come. For example, our physical health has a dramatic impact on our mental health, which in turn affects how we treat others around us, how well we perform at work, our ability to serve our social roles such as mentoring, volunteering, and so on. Our financial status can affect what types of foods we can afford. The more money we have, the more freedom of time we have to spend with our family and friends if we so choose to. There are many other connections that I’m sure you can make yourself. From this, you can also see how the habits have a compounding effect on goals we will be working towards.
Every goal is different and will, therefore, require different habits. Listed below are habits that are so fundamental that they will likely affect whatever goal it is. They will all either save you time, give you more energy, reduce your stress, give you a vast amount of freedom, or provide more than one of these benefits.
Live an Intentional Life
Because we have a limited amount of time, money, and energy, how we allocate them is incredibly important. If we make our decisions based on what is popular around us and what we believe will make us appear successful to others, then no matter what we achieve, we will always feel a sense of inadequacy. Success looks different to all people, and therefore we will never be able to please everyone. In my interview with Roger Bartlett, the original guitarist in Jimmy Buffet’s Coral Reefer Band, he addressed this issue in the best way possible with his following analogy.
“Success is a relative thing. If a hedge fund manager were to come to me and say, ‘you’re not a successful guy, you don’t have any money like I have.’ I would say to him, ‘No, you’re not a successful guy because you don’t have any Gold Records and you can’t play any instruments. It’s all what you value. People see things through the prism of their own experience, so whatever you value, you tend to impose on other people to judge their success, but I think that is a false equivalency.”
What brings you fulfillment in all the facets of your life? Are you happy with the balance that you currently have? If not, then change it based on your core values. We find fulfillment when our values inside our minds are in alignment with the reality on the outside. We will need to revisit this alignment from time to time as we mature because our core values will, in turn, mature with us.
What success is can look different to anyone, but these habits are necessary to lay a solid foundation on which we can build our goals.