Generally speaking, I’m not a huge fan of lists that all start with the same letter (such as “The 7 P’s to Smart Investing” or “The 5 J’s to Awesome Hair”). They might be easy to remember, but they don’t always use the best words. Let’s be honest, what are the odds that the 7 keys to smart investing all start with the letter P?
Ironically, I woke up this morning with “The 3 D’s to achieve”. In my case, however, I didn’t notice until later that they all started with “D”. It was a stroke of insight (perhaps from a dream?) that I’d like to share with you now.
The 3 D’s: Desire, Direction, and Discipline
1) Desire: The sheer desire to achieve is a powerful force. It’s where our energy and motivation come from. The measure of how badly we want something is directly proportional to how hard we’ll work for it. For example, someone who wants a job might apply to a few places. Someone who really wants a job might apply to ten places. Someone who really, really wants a job might apply to fifty places, read a book on interviewing, spice up their resume, do follow-up phone calls, and learn some new skills. See the differences? The question always comes down to this: how bad do we want it? Most people have at least a small desire to achieve, but the bigger the ambition, the more desire we’ll need. Still, as we’ll discuss next, even the greatest desire needs to be channeled.
2) Direction: This is all about techniques and methods. For example, there are thousands of ways to get to Los Angeles from New York. Each way has its pros and cons. Some are quick, some are safe, some are enjoyable, some are a combination, etc. But you certainly wouldn’t want to travel east from New York (around the world in the opposite direction). That’s not efficient at all. You might still get there, but it will take ten times longer. Another good example of poor direction is an H&R Block commercial, in which they try to use a giant stuffed bunny as a wrecking ball. It just doesn’t work (obviously). The point is, we need more than just desire. Desire needs to work in conjunction with direction, which includes plans, tools, resources, and focus. You can’t chop down a tree with a tissue. Accordingly, you can’t achieve your goals if you don’t have the proper direction. After desire is established, focus on methodology. What different ways are there to reach your goal? What tools and resources can you acquire? What are clear, concise, and specific steps you can take that will get you closer? Once you have these answers, discipline enters the equation.
3) Discipline: Now that desire is established and an action plan is set up, we just need to stick to it. This sounds obvious, and it is. However, many people will get this far and fail. We all hear people vow that they will save money, lose weight, stop drinking, start running, watch less TV, wake up early and so on. Sadly, we know that most of these promises will never be fulfilled. Empty words are all around us, and they’re not going anywhere. Why, though? It’s not because people are bad, and it’s not because people are failures. It’s because discipline is hard! It’s hard to master self-discipline and stay adamantly committed to something. It’s hard to do homework when our favorite TV show is on. It’s hard to exercise when we’re tired. It’s hard to save money when the coat we want is on sale. It’s hard to wake up early when it’s so easy to press snooze. Of course these things are hard! But doing these hard things will make our lives easier in the long run. Discipline is necessary to achieve our goals; we must discipline ourselves to do what it takes to realize them. It may be hard, it may not be fun, but if we can master self-discipline and use it as our ally, no obstacles can stand in our way.
“Many people think they want things, but they don’t really have the strength, the discipline. They are weak. I believe that you get what you want if you want it badly enough.” ~Sophia Loren
Photo by ilco