They say every journey begins with a single step. And in the words of one Bilbo Baggins, “if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
The same is true of success – the only way to reach it is to keep moving. Even when it’s tough, even when you feel like turning back, even when there is no more drive left in you, and even when all you’d want to do is hide under the covers and cry.
The road to success is a thorny path, and in order to walk it, you need to get your feet ready to be hurt. The first thing that constitutes the difference between you and Bill Gates, George R.R. Martin, Steve Jobs, Leo Messi, or Donald Trump is not talent. It’s drive.
I believe drive is a habit you can grow into. I believe you can teach yourself to put it into high gear when you’d rather be in reverse. I believe success is one third mindset. You are, in fact, as successful as you think you are.
Success is not measured in dollars, pounds, number of bathrooms, number of Manolo Blahnik’s. The unit for success is steps taken from starting point to finish line.
In order to help you unglue your feet from the ground, I give you five habits that those who have no lack in drive often list as the boost to their forward motion.
Your body your temple
Successful people know that their body is what keeps them going, and treat it accordingly. They don’t let it suffer without fuel, they don’t drag it around, they don’t let it fall prey to utter exhaustion.
I am not implying that successful people eat only organic food, exercise every day, sleep eight hours a night and don’t drink or smoke. What I am saying is that they try their very best to do right by their body.
This can translate to the little things – make sure you eat one piece of fruit every day. (Well, one piece if you are going for an apple, one raspberry won’t actually cut it.) Try to stay clear of pre-packaged foods and foods loaded with fat and sugar. Make sure you exercise. You can choose to sign up for a yoga class, or try doing yoga at home. You could join a gym, and treat yourself to some gym wear that will help keep you going. You can decide to walk every day. You can try to put in six or seven hours of bed time on most nights.
Your focus your salvation
Successful people care not a penny about what others think about either them, their lifestyle choices, their career choices, their appearance, or their life goals. They live their own life, and let others live theirs. They don’t meddle, and don’t waste their attention or time on petty arguments.
They know there are about a million opinions on every subject, and they are perfectly content with their own.
If you let yourself be bothered about the world, and do what you do only to get recognized for it by others, chances are you will stray off the road pretty soon. You will not reach your goal, whatever it may be, if you wait for praise. Whether you want to be the CEO of a successful startup, or a stay-at-home mom, you will find success only if you arm yourself against outside forces, which will try to weigh you down. Chances are someone is talking about you right now – not being bothered about it is all you can do.
Your bookshelf your inspiration
Successful people read a lot. A lot. I mean – a lot. Whether it is science fiction, historical biographies or the latest NY Times bestseller – find the time to read.
Books will open you up to new thoughts, new ideas, new ways to deal with situations. There is nothing you can’t learn about both the world and yourself from a book. There is no question, mediocre or transcendental, that you can’t try to find the answer to in a book.
Reading on a daily basis has so many benefits that I’d need to write an entirely new piece on the subject to cover them all – but suffice to say that every single year I make the same resolution. Read every day. And this is the one I always keep.
Apart from everything else, reading is a great way to de-stress and clear you mind. If you haven’t already, buy a Kindle, join a local library, or go out and buy one of those books you must read in a lifetime, and get cracking.
Your rules your life
Successful people make their own rules – not in the sense that they are all non-conformist law breakers who live in an imaginary world ruled by leprechauns. In the sense that they view their success as their own personal agenda, and act accordingly. Just because everyone else is doing it so and so, it doesn’t mean you have to do it too.
The word I am looking for is innovation. If all our thoughts were stuck in the same box, we would probably still be hunting for our dinner every night.
If you have an idea that you think is a bit ambitious, and might even sound a bit crazy – go for it. You can never, ever, know what will come of it. Don’t let the fact that no one else has tried it before stop you – pioneers have always been the ones who dared to take the first step, come hell or high water.
Your plan your roadmap
Finally – successful people plan. They have daily, weekly, monthly and yearly plans. Some even have plans for the next decade.
If you have a certain goal in mind, the Holy Grail of success to you, write your own map to getting there. Set yourself tasks, don’t do it on a whim. Yes, improvising is welcome and appreciated, but not all the time. You may wing it now and again, but you still need to have some sort of sense of direction.
Write down what you want to achieve, and the steps leading there. Write yourself motivational letters. Write down the things you are thankful for. Write down what you could still do to improve yourself, and get to it.
Like I’ve said – you won’t get anywhere by sitting on the couch. Only if you leave the couch firmly where it belongs, will you ever be able to follow in Bilbo’s steps, and get to Rivendell and beyond.