The Only Habit You Need to Succeed
By Jonathan Mead / Paid to Exist
I’m tired of seeing people ride the struggle bus.
Personally, I’d like to sneak in overnight to the parking lot, and just blow the thing up.
It gets really frustrating when you see people with so much talent, value, and passion continually struggle to create lasting momentum and generate enough money to become self-reliant.
So, I want to start a movement in defiance of the struggle, a counterstrike of fierce optimism and resolve to show up, even in the midst of doubt, overwhelm and uncertainty.
Think about it, if you master just this one habit, you can achieve anything. I mean, anything. If you can develop the habit of showing up, even when things are the hardest, you win.
I’m going to share with you a roadmap for mastering this one habit in this article. Here’s the deal though, after this, there are no excuses. If you’re not doing the work, you don’t get to complain. Got it?
So, what is this master habit, exactly?
Daily growth, no matter what.
That’s it. Focus on the direction of the most growth, every single day, no matter what. No matter how you feel, no matter how much other things you have going on, no matter how much doubt, uncertainty or chaos is in your life.
If you do this, you win. Forever.
It seems like a simple, straightforward habit, but there are some pitfalls.
Here are where most people get tripped up:
The last one is really The Big Clincher. The challenge of doing purposeful work is that it requires you to grow, and act courageously. It requires you to show up even when circumstances are undesirable.
Life will always be fucked up. There will always be something easier to do than actions that make you want to throw up.
You will doubt yourself, you will face uncertainty, you will face distraction and overwhelm.
When you start focusing on activities that really push your edges, the kinds of activities capable of creating real, significant results, that’s when you meet you real demons. These aren’t the everyday garden variety fears and doubts, these are the monsters that make you question whether your existence is even valid.
If you want to overcome them, you must learn to show up, and sit through their onslaught. They will sling the worst psychic shit at you, ask you to question why you’re even doing this in the first place.
If your path is related to a gift that comes from your soul, be prepared for them to use this against you. They know this is where you are most vulnerable, especially when you’re trying to get that initial confidence in your offering.
Be ready for them. Be ready to stand your ground and let them know you will not be backing down. You will continue to show up and do the work no matter what.
But most of you, you need to…
Know the monsters weakness
Your inner demons will seem relentless and all-consuming at times. They would like you to believe that there is no way to escape the shadow they cast.
But if you know their weakness, they will not be able to influence you as strongly. They may not go away, but they will get bored and tire in their quest to deter you.
Here’s what you must do: Starve the monster of its favorite food: time.
The more time you feed it — analyzing it, trying to fight it, agonizing in its presence — the stronger it grows. The beasts of doubt love to feast on time. Feed it, and your doubts will grow so large it feels as if you’ve entered a black hole.
Action in the face of their assault is their greatest weakness. The more detached you can stay, the more you can know that yes, your feelings are real, but you and your purpose are larger than them, the stronger you will become.
Which brings me to the next point…
Stop honoring your feelings
One of the monster’s favorite traps to set is the “you must resolve these feelings, before taking action” trap.
It tells you that the way you feel is important, so naturally, you should honor it. If you don’t feel good, or if you feel doubtful, you need to honor that, resolve it and come back to take action another day.
When you do this, the beast wins.
Feelings are real. Yes, you should be curious about them. And sometimes it is helpful to question their origins and get to the bottom of what’s causing them. You can learn a lot this way.
But more often than not, feelings follow actions.
Sometimes you don’t feel like going for a run or doing yoga, but you feel great after you do it, right? The same is true with taking action on your purpose.
You don’t need to feel good to take action. Often you just need a little bit of momentum, a small dose of action, then the good feelings start coming. Nothing feels better than knowing that you showed up, even when it was hard.
And nothing, I mean nothing, builds greater character.
Your feelings might be bullshit
If you feel doubtful, but the reason you feel that way is because someone told you that you had to follow a safe, predictable, secure path devoid of passion, should you really honor that feeling?
Personally, I think it makes more sense to say “fuck this feeling” and honor the way you really want to feel. You have the ability to choose how you want to feel, and go in the direction of that. It’s called emotional fitness, something distinctly different than emotional intelligence.
Fitness is the ability to thrive in your environment. If your environment is full of doubt and uncertainty, you can be really good at understanding those feelings, but not necessarily skillful at overcoming them.
The more you practice showing up and starting as quickly as possible, the more emotionally resilient you become.
Remember, feelings aren’t always an indicator of the truth.
Show up, even when you don’t feel like it, and you will become unstoppable.
But, what do I actually do?
Good question, and this is where it becomes very useful to have feedback from other people. The problem is, you might bullshit yourself about what is really going to move you forward with making a living from your purpose.
You might say that you need more education, when what you really need is to ask someone to be your client, because you’re afraid of selling. You could easily keep “showing up” and wondering why you’re not getting the results you want, when from the outside, it’s very simple: you’re not focusing on growth activities.
So, what is a growth activity?
Often growth activities have several things in common:
Let’s take a look at a few common challenges and what growth activities they match up with:
If you’re stalling on launching: The next most powerful growth action would be getting your god damn website up, and to stop messing around with tweaking your theme.
If you need more leads and traffic: It might be pitching yourself to the 20 biggest podcasts in your field to be a guest on their show.
If you need more sales and clients: It might mean talking to your people to get clear on their biggest pain, or booking as many free coaching sessions as possible.
Ultimately though, if you’re trying to get your foothold, you just need to be trying lots of really bold shit.
What’s the minimum dose for this habit?
I believe that you need to do this for at least one hour a day, with zero distractions if you want to get any kind of traction.
More, of course is better, but quality is the name of the game here. If you have a full-time job, and a family, you can still carve out one hour a day, even if you need to just give up an hour of sleep. I’m a big advocate for self-care, but sometimes you need to make temporary, short-term sacrifices for the long term benefit of your life.
When I was working to build my first business, I had a full-time job and went to school full time. And somehow, I still found time to work on it.
Here’s the thing, if you’re not willing to devote at least one hour per day to growth activities so you can make a living from your purpose, you honestly just don’t want this that much.
That’s no problem, but please, don’t keep complaining about how your work sucks. It’s up to you to change it.
The last resort of the monster: readiness
I believe that being “ready” is the biggest fucking myth there is.
I don’t even know what “ready” is. It’s a land where unicorns and dragons live. It doesn’t exist.
You don’t need to have it all figured out. You are where you are, most likely at the beginning, which means you need to spend a lot of time experimenting, exploring and trying things.
Don’t think that you need to be a master or have ultimate clarity about what you’re doing when you’re just starting. It will only paralyze you. However, you should be trying lots of shit at this stage. Action is the only route to clarity.
Make a habit of trying things. Put yourself out there and share your message. Do things that scare you. And please, get your fucking website up.
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