The Secret to Success – For Everything!

secret to successSit back, close your eyes, and imagine yourself being successful at anything and everything you do. It does not matter what it is – pick anything. I mean it, literally anything on the face of the planet. Ignore your fear of failure and instead visualize finding success. It can be something important to you that you have wanted to be successful at for a long time. Conversely, maybe there is a new endeavor you would like to undertake and you do not even know where to begin.

Perhaps you want to lose weight and get into amazing shape? Maybe you want to master your cooking skills and become a culinary expert? Excel at personal finances? Master a new hobby like painting or skiing?

You can become a success at whatever you are envisioning. Seem too good to be true? Well, it’s not. I promise.

There is a secret to success and I am going to share it with you.

Success and our Society

Our society values success immensely. We look up to those who have mastered their craft or honed their abilities to perfection. Businessmen like Warren Buffett and Steve Jobs garner attention (even posthumously as in Jobs’ case). Successful athletes like Peyton Manning and Lebron James dominate headlines. The same goes for famous actors, musicians, etc.

The success of non-famous people is respected as well. The local business people, community leaders, politicians, artists, etc. – virtually anyone who has found success in their chosen pursuit – is viewed favorably. Why? Because being successful is a good thing. We all want to be successful in as many things as possible.

Here is the rub: while we admire success, we often distort what it takes to achieve it. Our culture has morphed into linking success and instant achievement. Take a moment to think about all the headlines you see online or in print such as in magazines. The vast majority read something like “Lose 20 Pounds in 10 days” or “Earn $100,000 While You Sleep” or “Attract Your Soulmate Instantly “ or maybe even “Lose 20 Pounds in 10 Days While Earning $100,000 in Order to Attract Your Soulmate Instantly”!

This mentality is pervasive in our culture nowadays. No one has patience anymore. Modern technology does not help matters either since we can instantly get any type of information or shop or do whatever with a few keystrokes. Technology also allows us to be constantly exposed to images or stories of others’ success. This bombardment reinforces the belief that success should be quickly achieved or it is not worth it.

It has become all about the “now”, the present moment. Thus, if success does not arrive within a short period of time after trying whatever it is we want to be successful at, we either straight give up or slowly abandon our efforts.

Savvy marketers prey on our vulnerabilities and create an awful feedback loop which only serves to exacerbate the “find success now or give up” mantra.

It is no wonder New Year’s resolutions come and go with short-lived or zero success gained. People are well-intentioned and might try hard for a while, but so many ultimately give up and fall short of success.

The Secret to Success

Maybe you know where I am going with this, but the secret to achieving success is: time. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers: The Story of Success, popularized the theory that 10,000 hours of time spent in an activity will make you an expert. Now, this theory has since been debated by academics that claim 10,000 hours does not automatically turn you into an expert. Whether 10,000 is the magic number or not is irrelevant. The more time you spend doing something the better you will become at it and the chance for success continues to increase.

However, I contend that it is not simply just about total time spent. It matters how you deploy the time you spend trying to find success. For example, let’s say you want to get into amazing shape and you enthusiastically decide to take the bull by the horns by working out for 24 hours straight. If you instead worked out one hour for 24 straight days you will achieve way more success. It is the same amount of time, but the latter approach is more effective.

That example is a silly exaggeration since no one would workout for 24 hours straight. The point to be made here is that when you try to cram too much into too little time you encounter the law of diminishing returns. In this situation, in layman’s terms, diminishing returns means you accomplish less the longer you push yourself in a single session. For example, if you do a marathon 5 hour study session, you will retain far less new material in that fifth hour than you did in your first or second.

This means that cadence and repetition is crucially important in achieving success.

Hence, we arrive at what I call the Law of Daily Increments. Wait, to accommodate those with a scientific background, let’s instead call it the Theory of Daily Increments.

The Theory of Daily Increments holds that if you devote smaller amounts of time at frequent, regular intervals (preferably days) then you will be gradually but powerfully building toward successful results.

Want to learn to play the flute? Practice for an hour each day. Become proficient in a foreign language? Immerse yourself in studying for 30 minutes daily. Transform yourself into an investing guru? You guessed it – set aside a bit of time every day to soak up as much knowledge as you can.

Secret to Success: the Theory of Daily Increments

This “secret” that I am divulging may not seem like earth shattering news. Maybe you are even rolling your eyes and thinking how this is all common sense.  I agree the concepts I am putting forth are straightforward and simple to grasp. Yet, as I alluded to previously, we are not conditioned to think this way with our hectic lifestyles and culture of instant gratification. In other words, this is not a secret to success in the sense that no one knows about it. Instead, it is a secret because most people do not take the time to internalize this thought process on a regular basis and, as a result, they do not practice or follow it.

If you do, then you can and will start becoming more and more successful. The key is to understand the theory and, since life is not a race, do a little each day. Do not succumb to the “get rich quick” or “get in shape in 3 days” line of thought or gimmicks. Be patient. Be dedicated and diligent. The small, regular intervals (once again, preferably daily) help to keep you on track and to prevent you from losing focus.

You may be able to find so-called “success” in other, quicker ways. Most likely that is not true success and instead is either luck or effort not rooted in the fundamentals (meaning you are highly likely to soon regress). Even those who seemingly come out of nowhere, the overnight wonders, still spent lots of time working to become successful.

Think about it as making a little deposit into the bank each day. Great things take time. Remember, Rome was not built in a day.

What do you think of the secret to success that I have shared? How about the Theory of Daily Increments? 


Image courtesy of Riebart at Flickr.

3 Responses to The Secret to Success – For Everything!

  1. DC @ Young Adult Money September 18, 2015 at 9:55 am #

    Loved your example of working out 1 hour a day versus 24 hours straight for 1 day. I have implemented this approach and honestly feel like it applies to a lot of things I do. I spend a little time blogging over a long period of time, a little time learning about Excel over a long period of time, etc. and eventually it leads to success, or at least gives me the best chance of success. It’s interesting how little our society values spending time on things over a long period of time. We are all about “instant” success.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…10 Ways to Stay Busy When You’re Bored at WorkMy Profile

    • Mr. Utopia September 20, 2015 at 7:15 pm #

      Thanks, DC. It truly is amazing how much society is about “instant” success. It has become so prevalent. Even if it takes a while to manifest, those that realize it takes regular, dedicated time to achieve success have such a huge advantage over everyone else.

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