Before I tell you what I think the key to success is, let me tell you a story.
My wife and I were shopping for a house in early 2009. We had been looking for more than a couple of years. It was at times a grueling experience. We often had to do this after work, dragging our two small daughters along, all of us tired and hungry. Tired and hungry kids in an empty house with nothing to do mixed with tired and hungry parents trying to talk to a realtor can be a lethal combination.
We looked at condos. We looked at houses with 1 bedroom and 1 bath and we looked at 2 bedroom, 2 baths. We looked at houses with big yards, little yards and no yard, garage/no garage, we looked at everything but couldn’t find someting we liked. It was at times very discouraging.
Most of the time I was highly resistant to the whole process. Although buying a house seemed like a good idea, it seemed to be almost not worth the hassle. My wife, God bless her, did most of the work, dealing with listings, realtors, appointments and paperwork.
By early 2009, the economy had gone to hell, and home prices had hit bottom. We stopped looking at condos and started focusing on single family homes. We looked at more houses: some with big yards, some with no yards, garage, no garage. It was then we decided that a yard was important for our kids and that a garage was necessary for storage.
To make a long story short, we continued to make decisions about what we were looking for. Eventually, we became clear about what we wanted: a two bedroom, two bath house with a yard and detached garage, and possibly a spare bedroom/office for the only guy in the family to go hide out in when the female energy got too intense. We submitted some offers. At this point, I made the decision to let go of my resistance to the process of home buying, and focus instead on the outcome: having our own home.
I believe it was in late February that we walked into a house built in 1946 that had two bedrooms, two baths, a large yard, a detached garage, as well as a bonus room that could be used as an office. We are living in that house today.
The moral of the story? The more clear we became about what we wanted in a house, the easier the process got and the quicker we moved towards getting what we wanted.
I believe that the key to success is knowing what you want.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet, I would say that very few people really know what they want. They are pulled this way and that way by the desire of the moment. They let their focus get pulled away from what they want by the multitude of distractions that our modern life offers. The key to living a successful life is to decide what you want and go after it.
What is success? I think the best definition I’ve heard comes from
Paul J. Meyer who says: Success is the progressive realization of personal, predetermined, worthwhile goals. According to this definition, if you know what you want, and are taking steps to get it, then you are a success.
Notice we are talking about the key to success. Knowing what you want is the key because it opens the door. But that’s only part of the process. The other part is you must take action by walking through the door. In other words, when you decide what you want, you won’t waste time on doors, or paths that don’t lead you where you want to go. The latin root of the word decide means to “cut away” This implies that you cut away various other distractions, alternatives, and temporary desires, leaving you to focus on one thing only: what it is that you want.
Spend some time thinking about what it is that you want. Write your thoughts down on paper or use a journal. I’ve been using a flip chart and a whiteboard which is really helpful since I tend to be visual.
In the coming weeks we’ll talk about the power of goals in helping you get what you want. Fow now, just remember, all accomplishment starts with a decision. Decide what it is that you want. That’s the first step.