How many times do you find yourself saying ‘well, if it sucks I can always do something else’? This is where I used to find myself all the time. I would try something I wanted to be good at and then convince myself after a few hours of struggle that I could try something out. I thought I was giving myself options. I thought I was reducing my fear. Turns out I was just wasting my life.
If you don’t fully commit to something, you won’t succeed.
Mental Excuses Will Break You
Giving yourself an out from the beginning means that you start something thinking of the exit. This means you won’t put in the effort to make sure it succeeds. After all, why work hard at something if you can just do something else?
Warren Buffett has talked about this in the context of investments: If you could only make 20 more investments for the rest of your life, you would likely change your approach. You would do more research, you’d be more selective. And when you decided to do it, you’d be all in.
Why is this so important?
So often, we stop when it gets hard. But since when does success not require work? Edison didn’t figure out the lightbulb on his first try. Michelle Pfeiffer’s first role was a minor one in a made-for-tv movie. No one hits it out of the park the first time they pick up a baseball bat. It’s the commitment to make something work that sees you through the setbacks and self-doubt.
It’s natural to be scared of something that’s asking you to commit for the rest of your life. It seems like an awful lot to ask. What if you change? What if something better comes along?
But investments, careers, marriages, and parenting, these things have a greater chance of success if we don’t start by designing the exit strategy. Maybe this is why arranged marriages last longer.
If we go into it with the goal of forever we will make better choices because we will take the time to gather the info we need, make sure it aligns with our values, and that it’s a step on the path to our vision of our future selves.
Think about it. There are a lot of people you could easily sleep beside for a year. Far fewer than you want to look at every day for the next 50. Likewise, there are a lot of jobs that would be interesting for a few months, significantly less that will challenge and excite you until you kick the bucket. So choose for the long term.
Why? Because when we go all in, when we commit to the level of who we are, we are willing to ride the waves of ups and downs. We are willing to work through problems because we see how amazing it will be when we find solutions. We work with others, helping them be better so we can all be better. We give all of our investments a chance to compound.
When viewed this way, what jumps out is what we stop doing. We stop being waylaid by flashes in the pan. We stop going after the easy. We don’t turn over what we have, discarding what we obtain. We own our achievements and derive real satisfaction from them.
“It is the same everywhere; difficulty gives value to things.” — Montaigne
Make your goals difficult by committing to them. Pursue the real difficulty of long-term success instead of the slightly hard one night stand.
Check out my new book, The Decision Checklist: A Practical Guide to Avoiding Problems,