I get the feeling we’ve all heard what it takes to be successful. We’ve probably heard it time and time again. I would go as far as saying there isn’t a secret step, ingredient, or set of bullet points you need to follow to be successful.
If you had the opportunity to sit down and talk with successful people and ask them whatever you wanted about their success, do you think they would give a lot of the same answers? Maybe they wouldn’t give the same answers, but how about what characteristics or the “how did you become so successful?”
If you asked any top athlete, leader of an industry, mogul, or anyone that has achieved a level of success, I would be willing to bet they would all say, “they did whatever it takes to become successful.”
They would all probably say, it takes dedication, self-discipline, desire, working tirelessly, focus, and a whole list of other attributes we’ve all heard before. But the bottom line is, they did whatever it took to achieve their level of success.
And I’m talking about self-made women and men, not silver-spoon kids inheriting their wealth. Sure, some people were in the right place at the right time, but they all inevitably had to make sacrifices.
Why you need to sacrifice the short term for long term
What I’m driving towards is you need to sacrifice short-term gratification for long-term wins.
Over the past several decades, there have been numerous tests on delayed gratification. You may have heard of some of these tests.
To summarize, they would bring kids into a room, with some cookies on a table. They would explain to the kids, they can have one cookie now, or, if they wait 15 minutes, they could have two cookies. Naturally, some of the kids couldn’t resist and ate the cookie immediately, while other kids resisted the temptation and received the reward of two cookies after 15 minutes. The study goes on to show, the kids that were able to resist the immediate gratification, tended to have better SAT scores, better social skills, and were likely to achieve a level of success.
As adults, we’ve all experienced this, and gladly accept the short-term gratification over the long-term benefits. We know that eating fast-food or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and not engaging in daily exercise is a poor decision, yet we still hammer down those fries. If we want to lose weight, we know that drinking soda, eating sugary snacks, and pizza will prevent us from reaching our goal. But so many people just can’t look past the short-term gratification.
In school, we know that keeping up on our studies will work better than cramming for a test the night before. Yet, we substituted watching a movie, partying, hanging out with friends, or whatever it was that brought us short-term gratification.
In the business world, if you’re self-employed, you don’t just work 8-5 Monday-Friday. You’re basically on call all the time. If you want to beat out your competitors, you need to be willing to do what your competitors won’t. If financial success or being on top is your end goal, you need to be willing to sacrifice weekend trips to the lake or watching the game on Sunday, or whatever it is that provides you immediate gratification.
It’s not a complex thought to realize if someone else is willing to do something you won’t because you’re playing golf, or drinking margaritas on the beach, they will take your spot. They will get the new business, and most likely the return business.
Top athletes constantly practice, workout, and study their opponents. They put in the work that will put them at the top. That trophy or goal at the end is what they strive for, so they delay the short-term gratification, put in the hard work, to get that long-term win. And that is what it takes to be successful.
How it’s relatable to your life
Finally, an example virtually all of us can relate to. Getting up early (like 5 am) seems to be a critical habit for successful people. If you work a normal 40-hour workweek with 8-5 normal hours, this means you have 15 hours where you’re not at work. Let’s subtract 8 hours for a decent night’s rest. This leaves you with 7 hours.
How much of that 7 hours is taken up via, watching tv in the evening? The average adult spends 4-5 hours watching tv, daily. Look it up. If you’re watching tv, relaxing, goofing off, then being successful is not as important to you, as you might think. You have to be willing to sacrifice activities that will bring you short-term relief or gratification. If you don’t, you’ll never hit your long-term goals.
A year from now, you’ll either be making strides to achieving your goals, or you’ll be sitting on the couch, remote in hand, wishing you would have started a year ago. Winning will always be achieved by sacrificing your short-term gratifications for your long-term goals!