Here's a Great First Step Towards Success
Think of days you've had where you've managed to invoke Your Most Successful Self. You flew through your tasks, you felt light and smart! There was no sign of those other versions of you: the unmotivated one, the self-sabotaging one or the confused one. You weren't distracted, you focused. You knew where you were going and you went there.
The author of How to Change Your Life in the Next 15 Minutes [Self Help 101] knows why that happened and how to make it a regular occurrence. His name is Rahul Badami and his dream is "to provide value to others through my writings. I have a dream of reading a billion words and writing a million."
Crisp, Clear and Short
There's nothing particularly unorthodox about the advice he gives. But I think he's found far better ways to express it than many writers. Because it's so clear and crisp - and so short - it's much harder to lose the thread of his argument. He's found a fast and easy way to explain what needs to be done and how to go about it. There's no pretence: it's obvious that he's lived the same struggle to turn dreams into reality as his readers have.
I'm drawn to this book by that kind of realism about how people operate in real life. Despite the emphasis he places on focus, consistency and persistence, Rahul recognises that we live in a world of distraction. At one point in the book he says: "Here's how I define success: Attainment of one’s goal by focusing back on it even after getting sidetracked multiple times."
Learning to re-focus attention is also the underlying process of mindfulness, which helps to build concentration and de-stresses the mind. It's a very useful life strategy / belief. But concentration needs to be aimed in the right direction. He believes we need a good fit between our identity and our goals. He says we need to ask ourselves: "Why should I take action towards this goal?" Or at an even more primary level, "Is this the right goal for me?"
In a way it feels like he's talking to his younger self, who wasted so much time dreaming rather than doing, as many of us do. But he writes with kindness, not exasperation, because even today, he still has to remind himself what needs to be done.
What are you good at?
I'm not sure he really nails the bit about working out what you're good at. He does admit that it involves trial and error, but I think he could have gone further and suggested a strategy of 'successive approximations' or iteration - just trying things out and keeping the bits that work. I mean maybe you never really know unless you have a bit of a play and try different things, without taking it too seriously.
That's essentially what Rahul is pointing to in this quote about writing the book for himself:. "I decided it doesn't matter if no one reads my book. I will write this book for my own self. To inspire myself. To tell myself what I need to do to steel my belief. And if others read it, I would be happy when they find value in my strategies to change their lives."
The critical point is to take action. It's a constant theme in the book and you end up with an action plan of your own, which has a clever twist to it. There's also a link to an affirmations mp3 - which I'm trying out - it isn't something I typically do but it was there so I'll see what it adds to my day.
[Sidenote - I read a tweet somewhere the other day by a young freelancer writer who said she'd decided after graduation that she was going to try to fail 20 times - to inoculate herself from ever feeling devastated by it. Unfortunately she'd failed to fail any more than 6 times but had had a whole lot of things published. That will be such a great humblebrag for any future interview where a recruiter asks what her greatest failure has been.]
I think if you approach Rahul's final exercise in the spirit of experimentation, you may surprise yourself. I did. In my version of Kindle I couldn't see all five steps so I probably set different goals than I would otherwise have done if I'd read the whole section first. But it worked out well - one of my decisions was to write this blog. I haven't written about success on this blog as much as I'd wanted to, but this was a very good opportunity to do it, and I have.
The book is How to Change Your Life in the Next 15 Minutes by Rahul Badami