What do you want to be when you grow up? If you listen to yourself or others talk, you’ll probably hear things like “One day I want to start investing. One day I want to get into better shape. One day I want to start training in martial arts or create a golf course lawn.” Ok maybe that last one is just me. You get the idea though. We all have things we want to achieve that we’re holding back on. I’ve definitely been guilty of it on more than one occasion.
The question we all have to ask ourselves is why haven’t we gotten going as yet. I mean if what you want has been on your mind for a long time, why not go for it? Why not go find your personal acres of diamonds? Let’s take martial arts as an example since it’s something I have personal experience with.
My Martial Arts Journey
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved karate and it’s something I always wanted to do. Once I became an adult and was able to make my own decisions, I still never got started. Then one day I woke up in my 30s and realized that I wasn’t getting any younger. If I was ever going to have a shot at realizing my goal, I had to get going. I think what held me back is probably what stops most people. The time commitment, fear of failing, and knowing it would take several years of consistent effort to be able to test for black belt.
I guess it’s true that wisdom comes with age. I looked back over my professional career and realized that none of it came easy. The late nights studying for certification exams. The expense associated with books, training and travel. It wasn’t something that just happened without sacrifice and focused effort. I guess the question I finally asked and answered for myself is why should martial arts be any different? I already knew that anything worth doing takes time.
The fact that earning a black belt would take 3 – 4 years of consistent effort suddenly didn’t matter anymore. I mean I was planning on being around 3 – 4 years from then, so what difference did it really make? Time was going to pass whether I trained or not. So, I decided then and there to get started. I signed up and have been training ever since. The years flew by and as I write this I’m about to enter my 8th year as a martial artist.
Time Waits for No One
I share this story to impress upon you that the time is going to pass. If you’re still around 10 years from now, the primary difference between where you are now and where you are in 10 years is what you choose to do with your time. The best part is that it’s not nearly as hard as you’re telling yourself. Maybe your goal is to build an investment portfolio or play the piano. It doesn’t matter what it is. Get started today.
You’ll make mistakes and have failures along the way but that’s part of the process. Babies don’t walk on their first try. You probably didn’t ride a bicycle very well the first time you got on one. Reaching your goal isn’t going to be any different. The battle scars are part of the process. They build character and help shape you. At the very least, they make for a great story.
Importance of Consistency
The hardest part is taking the first step. Once you do, don’t stop! Consistency wins over sporadic bursts of activity every time. It’s better to exercise 3 times per week for 20 minutes than once per month for 4 hours. Even though the time you spend is the same in both cases, the results you’ll achieve won’t be. Apart from getting into better shape, you’ll prove to yourself that you’re someone that can set a schedule and stick to it.
You’ll build momentum which is huge when it comes to achieving anything. You know the saying that “winners keep on winning”? Momentum built up through consistent activity is how they do it.
Once you’ve started and have your consistent routine, don’t let anything side track you. The only thing worse than never starting towards your goal is starting and then quitting. Once you start, go all in. Burn the boats. There’s no turning back. In a world of starters, make sure you’re a finisher.
Acres of Diamonds
The 19th century author, Russell Cronwell wrote “Acres of Diamonds” which is an essay about achievement and taking stock of what you have right in front of you. Since its lesson is so valuable to our discussion, I’ve added a copy of it here.
Acres of Diamonds is about a farmer who heard tales about other farmers who had made millions by discovering diamond mines. These tales so excited the farmer that he could hardly wait to sell his farm and go prospecting for diamonds himself. He sold the farm and spent the rest of his life wandering the African continent searching unsuccessfully for the gleaming gems that brought such high prices on the markets of the world. Finally, worn out and in a fit of despondency, he threw himself into a river and drowned.
Meanwhile, the man who had bought his farm happened to be crossing the small stream on the property one day, when suddenly there was a bright flash of blue and red light from the stream bottom. He bent down and picked up a stone. It was a good-sized stone, and admiring it, he brought it home and put it on his fireplace mantel as an interesting curiosity.
Several weeks later a visitor picked up the stone, looked closely at it, hefted it in his hand, and nearly fainted. He asked the farmer if he knew what he’d found. When the farmer said, no, that he thought it was a piece of crystal, the visitor told him he had found one of the largest diamonds ever discovered. The farmer had trouble believing that. He told the man that his creek was full of such stones, not all as large as the one on the mantel, but sprinkled generously throughout the creek bottom.
The farm the first farmer had sold, so that he might find a diamond mine, turned out to be one of the most productive diamond mines on the entire African continent. The first farmer had owned, free and clear … acres of diamonds. But he had sold them for practically nothing, in order to look for them elsewhere. The moral is clear: If the first farmer had only taken the time to study and prepare himself to learn what diamonds looked like in their rough state, and to thoroughly explore the property he had before looking elsewhere, all of his wildest dreams would have come true.
What Will You Do?
Don’t let that be you. Once you start digging, studying, reading, exercising, training, investing, don’t stop. Realize that we all have more going for us that we often give ourselves credit for. You just have to take advantage of it. Go get that prize you’ve been dreaming of for all this time. Along the way remember that achievement on a large scale is a marathon instead of a race. The grind is worth it.
What’s that thing you’ve always wanted to do? Are you going to start on today?
Let me know in the comments below!