Thursday, July 9, 2009

Keys To Happiness #3 Build Momentum

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don’t much care where--" said Alice.
"Then it doesn’t matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"--so long as I get SOMEWHERE," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you’re sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."

-Alice in Wonderland

We’ve talked about finding your passion and investing in others as two keys to happiness. Let’s explore the next key which is having a road map. I have never been one to write down goals growing up. In fact organization has always been a personal weakness. Hence the goal board 30 day experiment. I recently re-implemented the goal board as having my goals in writing holds me accountable and serves to keep me on task.

Now that you have identified a passion how do you plan on achieving it? What steps can you take today to move towards your goal? Let’s take an example. Suppose your goal is to open your own bakery. Wow that’s a big goal and it’s not happening tomorrow. Jim Collins would call this your BHAG or Big Hairy Audacious Goal; something that will take time and lots of effort. How do you even begin to tackle a project of this magnitude? Let’s make a list of things that need to happen prior to the bakery doors opening.

• Go to Culinary School
• Obtain Financing
• Choose Location
• Open Bakery

These are four very large macro goals that are most likely necessary to opening up a bakery. So let’s tackle the first one on the list: Go to culinary school. Are you going to quit your job right now and start going to school today? Obviously not, so let’s ask ourselves what we can do today. Something that is very manageable to do right now would be to look up 6 culinary schools and request additional information on their programs. Obtaining the materials will probably take 3-5 days. In that time perhaps you do a little further research, and you start a blog on baking documenting your baking endeavors. Then once the materials come in the mail maybe you set up a goal of eliminating 3 schools within 48 hours and then perhaps make a phone call on a Friday to ask questions of the remaining schools. Continue down this path of elimination until you have selected a school.

School will also cost money. So you set yourself a daily goal of saving $17 dollars a day or $500 dollars a month so you can help pay for school up front. Just thinking of a paycheck with $500 less a month is intense. Yet, accomplishing our dreams takes sacrifice. As Seth Godin would say, this is your dip, the crux that will make you or break you. The valley before the mountain of success. The tough and painful drag yourself to the other side moment. Often times we push this part off as long as possible. It’s usually the most unrewarding (in the short term) and challenging part of the process. It’s also usually right in the beginning.

Everyone knows about the Beatles, the most successful band of all time. What they don’t know is that they spent almost a decade playing show after show (often multiple shows a night) in Liverpool honing their skills. The Rolling Stones and Aerosmith went through similar experiences. They made next to nothing. Richard Branson sold records out of his car (which also served as his home) for many years. Adam Sandler spent years doing comedy show after show before he hit it big. Kevin Durant after being selected in the draft was interviewed and the sportscaster commented on his physical attributes. Durant didn’t attribute that to his skill instead he credited the 10 hour a day work outs he had maintained since he was 11. The funny thing is when you watch interviews with these guys; the part they enjoy the most upon reflection is the dip, because that’s when they were running off pure passion. That’s when they separated themselves from the pack and became great. Before there was any money attached to the result, it was all for the love of the game. You become great in the trenches.

If you don’t start now then you will never start. The hardest turn of any engine is the first, because it’s before you’ve built any momentum. By breaking up your dreams into manageable pieces you can start today.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen “Up” but it gives a great illustration of always putting off your dream. You put off and put off until eventually you’ve passed your life away never pursuing your passion. The time is never going to be perfect to start. So start today. Always ask yourself what you are doing today to build yourself the best life tomorrow. By putting it to paper and holding yourself accountable you will take the journey the only way you really can. One step at a time.


  1. Ha, too funny. My husband has been reading Built to Last (already read From Good to Great last year) and just wrote down his core theology and BHAG's last night. :) How did the Crown Financial thing go with you?

  2. We haven't started a class yet. I recently switched to a client that has a summer year end so I am coming up on a busy season.

    My dad and I were going to teach at Sagemont, but they asked us to wait until they could identify needy families. They apparently have identified two but wanted two more. We haven't heard back from them. I am still hoping it will happen eventually as financial freedom is something that I am really passionate about.