If there’s anything we, in today’s society, have in common, it is the desire to be successful. Not just that – the majority, especially us Gen Y’ers, want success in minimal time.
As an illustration, one of Quora’s most popular questions is: “What can I learn/know right now in 10 minutes that will be useful for the rest of my life?” Another, along the same lines, is “What can I do for ten minutes every day that will change my life?” Essentially the question is, how can I know something important and useful, that might lead me to success for a lifetime, but in just ten minutes.
We live in a culture of speed. We walk fast, we talk fast, we take our coffee to go and our food in plastic take-away containers. Even self-improvement, success and meaning we want in just ten minutes a day. It is almost as if the very purpose for us being here is getting in the way of us living our lives.
I was (and still am) slightly sceptical of the idea that life changes could happen in just ten minutes, but nevertheless I answered the second Quora question (What can I do for ten minutes every day that will change my life?) as follows:
- 1. Decide what success means to you.
- 2. Do something towards that definition of success for those ten minutes each day.
The first step is the one that seems often missed.
Success is entirely subjective. One persons idea of success might be getting a promotion, another’s might be bench-pressing a certain amount of weight, a third person might wish to grasp meditation, their friend might be more interested in learning Chinese. While person A might feel successful when they have an apartment with a great view (I’m not looking at anyone in particular here), person B might feel successful living in cheaper accommodation with savings in the bank.
Don’t begin seeking success before you’ve even established what success actually means – not to other people – but to you. Would you begin running a race not knowing where the end point was? Or would you begin climbing a mountain without knowing whether there was even a summit?
Defining what success means to you is the only way to actually become ‘successful’. Only those with defined goals can actually achieve them and not defining what success means is a sure way to keep your goals in a holding pattern.
But what about those ten-minutes?
The flow-on affect of defining success is efficiency. Once goals are defined, the road towards them will be clearer and therefore faster.
Say person A (the one with the great apartment) wants to be more successful at work. Person A has had this goal for 3 months, but her efficiency, pay and work/life balance has not changed at all. Why? Because her desire to “be more successful at work” doesn’t really mean anything until she defines what ‘successful’ means.
Person A defines success. She says “I’d like to be more successful at work. Success to me means getting my work done by 5:30 so I no longer stay late and can spend more time with my friends and family.”
The steps for person A now become more clear than they were before. Success to person A is about efficiency and work/life balance. She can now implements steps like:
- 1. Archiving old emails for inbox efficiency.
- 2. Prioritising calls and meetings and
- 3. Delegating tasks.
Once automated, those tasks might well only take around ten minutes a day.
But it’s not work goals that these steps apply to – they apply to every single area of one’s life that one wishes to improve. Be it healthy eating, exercise, travel, education or relationships – the only way to improve if to know what improvement actually means. By defining our desires and goals we are able to create an efficient critical path to success.
Whether or not those steps end up taking just ten minutes a day might then seem irrelevant.
Until next time,