“First Effort, Plus Time” by Nancy Lloyd.
The key to success in any endeavor is sustained effort over time.
Intelligence, creativity, inspiration… these all play a part as well, and can dictate the scale and originality of the endeavor, but they will not get anything done. Inspiration needs to last well beyond the point of inspiration in order to be of any use.
To maintain a consistent level of effort in a single task over weeks, months, years… this is the defining quality of success in any project. Musicians recording albums or writing songs, authors writing a novel, actors auditioning week-in and week-out… down to the businessmen who need to arrive on time, and provide consistent results, for years at a time.
Bursts of inspiration and effort are easy, and common. But to maintain an effort over time is a more rare and valuable trait that only the successful possess.
Here are 4 things you can do to keep yourself on track:
1.) Set goals for each week – On Sunday night, figure out one or 2 things you need to get done that week. Make sure you’re not overloading yourself–just assign yourself essential goals to reach by Saturday (finish 1 chapter, mail sendouts to 20 prospects, finish song, create 3 website designs, contact 4 casting director, etc…)
2.) Set a schedule – Keep a consistent schedule every week, and stick to it. Use a calendar application or notebook to keep errands and tasks from interfering with your essential goals and activities that week. Maintaining a consistent schedule is the most important thing you can do to keep from getting distracted!
3.) Stay inspired – This is a slippery one, but can be achieved by re-watching a movie or musical performance, or reading a chapter of an inspiring book every day. Find the thing that gets you charged up, and go to it whenever you feel yourself slipping into “TV mode” and putting things off.
4.) Schedule your “TV mode” – Zoning out, being lazy, and relaxing is crucial to sustaining effort over time, you just need to make sure it doesn’t take over your life. So keep it in check and schedule it for a particular day, or particular time of day. This gives you something to look forward to, and it makes your zoning out time even more fulfilling. Just make sure you set an end time!
Remember: Sustained effort over time. That’s the secret.
That’s all it is.