Why Action And Tenacity Are Not Enough
Here’s what else you need to cross the finish line and get what you want
The Squirrel Problem.
All action is not equal. Action, without a laser focus on the thing you want more than everything else, is just busy-ness. Your days are spent running around, like the squirrels in your yard. It seems like you’re accomplishing a lot, but you get no closer to your goal. You may be on the road to achieving what you want, but you might also be in the weeds, from which you may or may not return.
The Sprinter vs. Marathoner Problem.
Tenacity, defined as persistence in seeking something desired, means that you are not giving up on your goal. Being tenacious in achieving a goal doesn’t guarantee that you’re not simultaneously working against yourself. You can also be tenacious in wishing for your big goal but not in actually pursuing it. You do it in short bursts (sprinter) when what you must prepare for is the marathon. Achieving a goal takes endurance since most goals are not achieved overnight. You must want to learn, grow and change your habits to support getting what you want, even when you don’t feel like it, but the passion you feel about the goal keeps you going.
Achieving a goal and getting what you want is more complicated than one word descriptors like action and tenacity.
So how do you get there?
1. Know your goal so clearly, precisely and passionately that it is your constant companion. Your goal invades your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical space so completely that you do not see the distractions that would have previously led you off the path. You have affirmations, post-it notes, a vision board and a detailed, multi-page description of what it is, how you will feel when you have it, what you see, hear and smell around you once it’s yours. More detail is the key. Mentally spend time in your new life, as if your goal is already achieved, through meditation, talking to yourself about it, reviewing your vision board in detail, rereading your story, saying your affirmations, expressing gratitude for each part of achieving it and talking to God about it, every single day. Every day.
2. Think about each task and decide if it directly, indirectly or does not, contribute to your goal. If it indirectly promotes your goal save it for later and if it doesn’t contribute to your goal, remove it permanently from the to do list. Review all actions before placing them on a daily task list and in your overall action plan. Even small steps off the path delay your timeline and deplete your energy. You will eventually give up on the goal if you can’t stay focused on it.
3. Make sure your thoughts are consistent with your actions and that all conflicts are resolved. You cannot want to attain wealth, for example, if you do not mentally embrace the idea of being wealthy because subconsciously, you think money is the root of all evil or have some inherited, negative image of rich people. If you cannot name a rich person you respect within a second or two, but you want to have enough money that you no longer worry about money or retirement, you have a tangle in your thought patterns that you must resolve before your current paycheck to paycheck situation will change. It is necessary to believe that anything is possible and that you can change, before long-term change is possible.
4. Make sure you are unhappy with where you are right now. If you are comfortable with the way things are, you are less motivated to change. So, the unhappier you are, the more likely you are to change. You can be content with other areas of your life, but you must be unhappy with the one you want to change. Make certain you are not deriving more benefit from your current situation (empathy from friends, significance as a problem-solver and so on) than you think you’ll get from achieving your goal. The difficulty is that you are more familiar with your current situation, which may have persisted for years, than in your new situation you have yet to experience, which is why step one, being crystal clear and intimately involved with you goal, is critical.
5. Believe that you can change anything with additional knowledge, skills, effort and passion. Your belief in your ability to change, learn, grow and a willingness do the work necessary to achieve your goals is far more important than your belief in your current talent, skills and intelligence. You may be talented or intelligent, but that is only the beginning. According to psychologist and success researcher Angela Duckworth in her book Grit, The Power of Passion and Perseverance, if you focus on your intelligence and talent, you will lose interest and quit when the work becomes challenging because you will not risk failing and disproving the natural abilities upon which you rely. If you can see challenges as learning opportunities rather than failure possibilities, you will get past the challenges. Only you label something you do a “failure”, so you could choose to label it “growth” instead.
Action and tenacity will not lead to success without you being wholly committed to what you want and in such a way that all your senses and the corresponding parts of your brain are activated. Your brain sees thoughts and dreams as reality, the same as it does with what you physically see, hear, taste and smell.
Correspondingly, your brain works to advance what you focus on. Determining whether what you are about to do gets you where you want to go is as simple as asking yourself, “is this action directly consistent with achieving my goal or not”? If not, skip it or place it on a to-do-later list. Take the shortest path possible to your goal. If you are taking direct action and still not getting closer to your goal, consider the possibility of a subconscious tangle that is subverting your effort. Examine your beliefs about the possibility of change and what you can achieve with effort.
If your happiness depends on achieving your goal and you believe in your ability to change anything with some effort, focused action and long-distance tenacity, you have what it takes to succeed. You will get what you want.