Do you sometimes have goals, but not enough drive and motivation to achieve them? Do you sometimes have plans, but not enough grit and perseverance to go through with them? Do you sometimes have dreams, but not enough guts and energy to make them reality? How can you get on your path and stick to it?
Know that whenever you quit or even fail to start, you didn’t want it badly enough. That’s a simple truth. So it seems that all you can do is to fatalistically accept your state of will, whatever it may be, right? No! Because you can make yourself want something more badly, and I’ll tell you how.
What you need is to build a strong will, which consists of two things: (1) the willpower to control your passions and (2) the passion that fuels your will. I used to call the second aspect ‘pride’, but the passion that drives you to do what you truly want to do is about more than just pride. It is also about being invested. To stoke the fire that makes you succeed, you need to become invested in your goal.
Everybody who sets out to do something is likely to quit. This is not because there is something inherently wrong with people. People are all right. They simply stick to things they’re highly invested in and usually give up when they’re not. It’s human nature. And being invested can actually be bad if it creates a rigid focus that leads to bigotry, ideological tribalism, and irrationality (e.g., sunk-cost fallacy). But if you know that your purpose is good, you want a rigid focus. So you want to be highly invested. The key to goal achievement, therefore, is to invest as much as you can as soon as you can.
Waiting and hesitating only motivates you to look for excuses, desperately hoping for an obstacle that gives you a reason to quit. If, however, you start to invest time, energy, money, thoughts, and emotions in your mission, you cement your commitment like nothing else can. Let me give you a personal example:
- I’ll be having my first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu match this Saturday. A month ago I wasn’t really committed and constantly making up excuses to myself: “I can’t fight because my shin is damaged, because my shoulder and elbow hurt, because I don’t have the time, because I need to work on my business, because I’m not good enough yet to win anything, because I have nothing to prove, and because and because.”
- But then I casually decided to go on a diet to fit in the proper weight class, just for the unlikely event that I would happen to compete after all, though mostly because I wanted to go back on keto and intermittent fasting to regain my sixpack. The diet was my first investment. Then I started to have more and more thoughts about fighting (= second investment: mental). Then I decided to take a week of vacation to have more time to train (= third investment: economic). Then I really did train hard during that week (= fourth investment: energy). Then, with still little confidence that I would actually compete, I signed up for the tournament and paid the entry fee (= fifth investment: financial). Then I told my friends that I’d be competing (= sixth investment: social and emotional). Then I bought a train ticket and booked a hotel room (= seventh investment: more thoughts, time, and money).
- If I hadn’t made all these investments, I’d surely have been thrown off my path by the obstacles I had to overcome: fear, fatigue, minor injuries, missed business opportunities, losing too much muscle mass, and more. But with every additional investment, my doubts about competing grew weaker, my commitment grew stronger, and I made up less and less excuses to quit. Now I’m at the point of no return. Nothing will be able to keep me from fighting. Nothing can push me off my path.1
This is how you, too, can stay on your path and accomplish your mission: take small steps forward by gradually investing more and more in your goal.