The Common Theme in Every Success Story

2 minute read

I’ve just finished reading Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biography, Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story. It’s an inspirational story which chronicles his rise from rural Austria to bodybuilding champion to real-estate millionaire, movie star and Governor of California. How did he do it? By having a clear vision of what he wanted to achieve and being consistent in working towards that vision. Or, as he puts it, doing reps, reps and more reps. It occurred to me that this is a common theme in every success story I’ve read about over the years.

Consider this:

  1. Nathan Barry set a goal of writing 1000 words a day and credits this with being the spark of his success. He even developed an iPhone app called “Commit” to help others commit to doing something consistently.
  2. Stephen King writes every day. Even on public holidays.
  3. Tim Ferriss has consistently produced amazing thought provoking content. His writing advice is to write two crappy pages a day.
  4. James Clear set himself a target of publishing great content twice a week. He had almost 8 million unique visitors to his website in 2016.

I first heard about this when I read an article on comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s “Don’t break the chain” productivity secret. You can read the full story here, but the summarised version is that Jerry Seinfeld would write jokes every day and mark a cross on a calendar for that day. His goal was to create a chain of crosses and to never break the chain. James Clear explains it best.

In 2017, I plan to use this theme of consistency to achieve my goals. I haven’t fully worked out the how and when just yet but if this blog remains empty for rest of 2017, then I would’ve failed.

Now, the analytic in me says: Yes consistency is important, but there are things which are just as important.

  1. Having a clear vision of what I want to achieve.
  2. Setting aside time each day to work on it.
  3. Being able to focus intently during the time set out.
  4. Structuring the learning sequence to achieved a meaningful progression.
  5. Tracking progress.
  6. Setting up end dates.

But to focus on all of them at this moment would send me down paralysis analysis avenue as has happened before.

James Clear said it best. Mastery follows consistency. Simple to define but not so simple to implement. We want instant success, and we cannot see the compounding effect of daily marginal gains, maybe because we focus on the outcome rather than the journey.

This year I plan to enjoy the journey as well as the outcome. I will focus on one big goal, and that is to write. I will write every day and understand that writing every day does not mean publishing every day. I will write about coding, design and animation for the web, desktop and mobile. I will strive to keep the chain unbroken!

Here’s to a productive 2017.