What To Do If You Want To Underachieve

I read somewhere that the key to success is to “start with the end in mind”.  The argument was broadly that unless you know where you want to end up, how can you possibly get there?  After all, the organisers of a marathon can only plan the entire route by deciding first where they want it to end and then working backwards.  You can only hit a target if you know where it is.  You don’t get on a plane unless you know where it is going.  You get the drift.

Decide where you want to end up and then plan a route to get it.

I’m not sure where I stand on this.  Actually I do.  I don’t agree.

I’m not saying I don’t agree with planning.  Obviously planning is a good thing.  You can never guarantee to achieve anything in time unless you plan it.  But I’ve long thought that if you plan too much you can become too focused, miss opportunities and even limit your potential.  

And then I got an email which seemed to back me up. 

In this email, the writer told the true story of a conference for online marketers, in which the six successful speakers were invited declare how much they had earned online that year as inspiration for the masses.  Although they were all sole traders (it was the early days of the internet), and spent similar amounts of time online, it turned out that one person had earned more than the other five PUT TOGETHER.  When they compared notes, the ONLY thing that this super successful person seemed to have done differently from the others was NOT set a target for their online earnings.

The others had all set an earnings target at the outset and so had seemingly “capped” their online potential.

I think this is a recurring truth.  “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right”.  “Careful what you wish for, you might get it”. “You only find what you look for”.  They all say the same thing.  You get what you plan for. 

But you can’t plan everything because you don’t know what is possible. 

Imagine you are walking along an unfamiliar crescent (road).  You cannot see the whole road from the start because it curves out of sight.  You want to go to the end house.  You know it will be the highest number on the road.  You just don’t know what the highest numbered house will be.  As you walk along the road, you see the numbers getting increasingly higher.  And as you reach the middle part of the crescent you have a much better view of the whole road.  You might even be able to guess what the highest numbered house might be.  But you won’t know for sure until you get there. 

Sometimes you have to trust the next step will eventually get you to the right place, even if you don’t know exactly what the right place looks like when you start.  Having a map helps, but you can only take the photograph when you get there.

Planning is good.  But don’t let it limit where you get to.

Do You Need To Ignore Your Lover?

I believe a positive mental attitude is key in achieving success, however you define success.  But getting and maintaining a positive mental attitude in the face of doom merchants and naysayers can be hard, even downright difficult.  One of the commonest blocks to success has got to be the negative attitudes and projections of the very people you would expect to be your strongest supporters.

Your spouse, your parents and your best friend.

Don't ListenThink about it. If you are trying to make a change in your life, improve yourself in some way, change career, start an online business, lose weight, stop smoking, write a book, or anything at all, there will be a time when you need to change the way you think and move outside your comfort zone. This can be scary and is the time when you are most vulnerable. It is the time when you need the support of your nearest and dearest.

And it is exactly this time when your loved ones can pour doubt and derision into your brain instead, sabotaging your positive mental attitude and with it, any chance of your success.  Why would they do this?

Simple. Your success affects them in a negative way.

Every relationship can be thought of as a see-saw in equilibrium. Both sides are balanced. It doesn’t matter how unequal the relationship is. It is what it is. And for as long as the people in it keep doing whatever they usually do, it can be thought of as “in balance”.

But when you decide to change yourself and do something different, this alters the equilibrium of every close relationship you are in. The see-saw becomes unbalanced.

This feels odd, uncomfortable and scary for the people in the relationship. To regain the relationship balance, or to get the see-saw back into equilibrium, the OTHER person must ALSO change, and they may just not want to. After all, THEY didn’t want to change in the first place. So they do the next best thing.

They try to stop you from changing. Instead they force you back into the box you are trying to get out of. They sabotage your chances of success by filling your mind with doubt.

Unless you are very strong, you listen to your loved ones. You listen as they tell you how worried they are that you will fail. You listen as they explain it isn’t for you and isn’t it just better to stay where you are? You start to believe them. You bury your dreams and go back to living the way you were.

OR you realise they’re scared for you, for themselves and what the new you will mean to your relationship and home life.  If it will help, talk excitedly about your project to drum up their enthusiasm if you can.  Show them your resume if you’re changing jobs.  Explain how much time will be involved if you’re following a course.  Reassure them you will still have time for them.  Do everything you can to explain how you’ve minimised your risk of failure.

But accept that sometimes it’s just too hard for your loved ones to accept the changes in you.  That’s why friends and family members “grow apart”.

If it’s your spouse who is the doom merchant and naysayer, you need to tread more carefully.  If you KNOW that what you are doing will improve the lives of you both, then do NOT seek their approval.  If it’s a big thing, like moving house to get a job, or stopping smoking when both of you smoke, then fight your corner but be prepared to compromise on things like timing. However, if you’re trying to make a success of a personal goal, like losing 30 lbs weight or learning to write poetry, find a support group and just go for it.

Sometimes your nearest and dearest just do NOT have your best intentions at heart, however much they think they do. Sabotaging your positive mental attitude by sowing doubt is one way to keep you from ultimately forcing change on them.

And vice versa.

So remember that next time YOUR loved one asks YOU to support a life change!