When I tell people that I’m a writer by profession, one of the things people commonly reply with is “I’m going to write a book someday.” Although I grin and nod enthusiastically as if to say “wow, that’s amazing!” I secretly think in my mind: “Sure. Whatever.” Many people say they will write a book but never do. They say they want to write a book but, in reality, they are content to watch So You Think You Can Dance every week. What’s important to them? I can tell you that the book is not as important to them as relaxing in front of the TV.
Of course, this is not the only time this happens. Here are a couple of other scenarios that might be familiar to you:
One of my clients works with aspiring entrepreneurs to educate them about how to start a business. He offered a webinar recently and I sat in as a silent observer to do some background research on his target market. I was fascinated to see the interactions of the many attendees who aspired to start their businesses but, when pressed by the host about why they hadn’t, provided a series of excuses about being too busy with work or trying to find a job. They say they want to start a business (and certainly some people from that webinar will) but most of them are content with the security of a regular paycheck.
Another entrepreneur I know is working on her business plan and asked me about how she can get unstuck on a particular section of it. Since the information was very specific to the municipality she was lives in, I gave her the website, phone number, and address of the government agency she needs to visit to get her answer. Months later, she is still stuck and hasn’t visited because she feels she can’t take a day off of work to do it. She says she wants to finish her business plan to start her business but she really just likes the predictable daily routine of her current job.
I’m not just picking on other people here. I’m equally guilty of this same “disease”: Although I’ve ghostwritten books for others, my first and second books took a LOOOOOOONG time to write because I was busy with other things. And although I did a lot of work in the real estate investing industry and desired to invest in real estate myself, I took a LOOOOOOONG time to pull the trigger. I said I wanted to write a book and invest in real estate but I loved the cash flow of serving clients instead of giving up that time to focus on these other goals.
We all have goals and dreams and aspirations but only some people will achieve some of those goals/dreams/aspirations.
Why do people desire to write a book or start a business but never cross those things off of their bucket list? Why do people set the goal of working out daily but fail to do so? Why do people commit to dieting but gain weight? Why do people set resolutions and dream dreams but never see those things come to fruition?
Because of this one sentence.
“You invest in the things that are important to you”
You invest your time, money, attention, focus, and effort on the things that are truly important to you. Forget what you say you want to do or what you dream of achieving. That investment of time, money, attention, focus, and effort is where your real desires are.
This sentence encapsulates everything about productivity, goal setting and achievement, time management, and success. It optimizes every single time management system or process ever devised.
This is a grim wake-up call to… well… every single one of us. We all HATE hearing this sentence, especially when we realize that our words and our actions do not always line up. We might say we want to get out of debt but we’re buying grande mochachinos at Starbucks everyday. We might say that we wan to write a book but the TV is on every evening. We might say that we want to start a business but we’re not willing to get out of our comfort zone or risk our regular paycheck.
(The critiques will read this and say: “But my family is important to me so I can’t give up my paycheck, which means I have to pursue my goals in my spare time”. This is true. In this case, family is important to you — more important than your other dreams, apparently. There’s nothing wrong with that. But now it’s time to take a very clinical look at how you spend your spare time and how you can get more of that time to help you pursue the other goals you claim are important).
The people who we hail as successes — whether in business or in life or as someone who has achieved a goal or dream that we share — they gave up something and invested in the thing that was truly important to them.
Remind yourself daily that you invest in the things that are important to you. If your investments of time, money, attention, focus, and effort are not on the things you desire then they aren’t as important to you as you claim they are.
Ask yourself these questions hourly: What did I invest in last hour? What do I want in life and how can I invest the next hour in those things?