People usually succeed in the long run.
This is the pattern I see in my long-term readers. They may
take a while to get moving on their goals at first. They may
endure some false starts and setbacks. They may
procrastinate now and then. But if a goal is important to
them, such as creating passive income streams or finding a
fulfilling relationship, they do eventually succeed.
Not all of them succeed of course. Some give up. Some get
sucked back into social groups that influence them to fall
off track. Some drift aimlessly without finding their focus.
But by and large, the people who persist do eventually
succeed. If they keep working towards their goals, keep
learning and growing, and stay conscious, they do make
progress, and they do achieve their goals.
Here are some of the patterns I see in readers who succeed
in achieving their long-term goals.
Take Goals Seriously
People who succeed take their goals seriously. They move
their goals out of the realm of fantasy and turn them into
practical objectives to be achieved.
One of the simplest ways to take your goals seriously is to
turn them into mental pictures and movies that you can
describe visually. If you can’t tell me what you’re seeing
on the movie screen, it’s a safe bet that your goal is just
a fuzzy fantasy.
Usually when people tell me about their goals the first
time, it’s a fuzzy fantasy. They list things like: make more
money, have more friends, and travel more. Does this tell
you what you’re seeing on the movie screen? Nope. Is it
clear if you’ve accomplished these goals or not? Nope. Do
these pseudo-goals let you off the hook and pretend you’re
making progress? Yup.
It’s okay to begin with a fuzzy fantasy, but don’t get stuck
there. Move your goal out of the realm of fantasy, and turn
it into a real-world experience. Frame your future experiences
the same way you frame your past memories. Memories are
events that happened. So turn your goals into similar events
that can and will happen.
A real goal will eventually be achieved, and then it will
become a memory. Memories involve sense perceptions, and
they’re mostly visual. So if you want to set a clear goal,
then describe the future memory. Traveling more or making
more money isn’t a memory.
If I asked you what you did yesterday, would you say, “I
made more money, had more friends, and traveled more”? If
you said something like that, I’d wonder that you might have
some brain damage. Don’t describe your goals like that
either. State your goals and intentions like you’re
describing a future memory. What are the actual events that
you’d like to experience?
A memory is something like going to the top of the Eiffel
Tower, enjoying the view of Paris, and taking a bunch of
photos while you’re up there. That’s a goal that can be
accomplished or not. It’s a goal that encourages real-world
planning and action steps. It’s achievable.
People who succeed tend to begin with modest goals and build
up to larger goals when they get some success going. Those
who fail often bite off more than they can chew.
For instance, instead of trying to earn R10,000 per month
immediately, successful people usually start with a modest
goal like creating a passive income stream of R100 per
month. They work on that goal first and do what it takes to
achieve it. Then they can apply what they learned to parlay
that small success into a bigger success.
The failure stories often inject neediness into their goals.
I get emails from such people frantically telling me how
they need to make an extra R1000 to R3000 this month in
order to pay their rent or bills. In 12+ years of blogging,
I can’t recall a single case of one of these people ever
emailing me back to say that they succeeded.
Neediness will only get in your way, create extra stress,
and delay real progress. If you need to let the old world
collapse while you work on your long-term goals at a
realistic and intelligent pace, so be it.
Bite off a modest piece of your goal, work on it, and
achieve it. This will do more to move you towards a
long-term pattern of success than frantic scrambling.
Have Compassion for Your Future Self
Have some compassion for your future self. At some point
you’re going to be 5, 10, or 20 years older, and that future
you will have to endure the consequences of what you’re
creating now. If you’re wallowing in neediness or drifting
aimlessly, you’re sentencing your future self to a crappy
outcome, and that future you may blame you for it.
Instead of screwing over your future self, take a more
sensible and compassionate approach. Work to create a better
reality for your future self. That future self is going to
be you someday.
People who succeed look to give their future selves an edge.
They seek to put themselves in a more advantaged position
down the road. They make small sacrifices today to alleviate
stress and enjoy more fulfillment tomorrow.
Don’t Go Dark
Almost everyone goes dark at some point, sinking into
aimless drifting for a while and losing sight of their
goals. Those who succeed tend to bounce back quickly though.
They recognize when they’re going dark and even give
themselves permission to temporarily wallow in this state if
they need a break. They know they’ll get back to working on
their goals soon enough.
Those who don’t succeed tend to spend a lot of time drifting
unconsciously. For such people the experience of setting and
working on goal is just a temporary blip against a
background of aimlessness. The lights go on occasionally
when they get a burst of inspiration (usually from an
external source), but most of the time, the lights stay off.
Those who succeed keep the lights on most of the time. They
do their best to stay conscious. They keep moving the needle
forward, little by little, tackling one small milestone at a
time. They aren’t so easily discouraged by setbacks.
People who get sidetracked often have a very rigid approach
to success. When their initial plans don’t work in the real
world, they keep repeating the same ineffective strategies,
stubbornly expecting that something new will happen
Those who succeed understand and accept that their initial
plans may not work. Each failure becomes a learning
experience. Successful people surrender their ineffective
approaches, so they can pivot towards new
Those who fail usually explore very little of the solution
space. They hide out in a comfortable corner where there are
few results to be had. Those who succeed almost invariably
explore more of the solution space. Even after they get some
success going, they keep exploring to further optimize their
approaches, especially to improve overall lifestyle balance.
Embrace the Growth Journey
It usually takes people longer than they expect to achieve
their goals, regardless of what types of goals they set.
When we set a goal, we can’t accurately envision all the
micro-steps it will take to achieve it. We oversimplify the
journey. We overlook many details, and those details will
People who give up often succumb to impatience. They go dark
when the path becomes longer than expected, even if they
were making modest progress. Sometimes they pressure
themselves to meet unreasonable deadlines and then burn out
after a while.
Those who succeed may succumb to the previous pattern too,
but eventually they get past it. These people progress to a
more mature, more balanced, and less frantic approach to
growth and achievement. Short-term scrambling gives way to
The key is to embrace the overall growth journey. See the
benefits not just in the goal to be achieved but in the
person you’re becoming along the way. The inner benefits are
more secure anyway. You can strip a growth-oriented person
of their external accomplishments and resources, and their
well-developed inner resources will help them bounce back to
their previous position and beyond.
Discover What Works and Repeat
Successful people sometimes find just one or two patterns
that work, and then they repeat. For instance, they may
create a R100 passive income stream and then repeat the
process dozens or hundreds of times. They also refine the
process as they go along, so each stream may be 10x more
effective after a few years of refinement.
Earlier this year I met a guy who keeps renting more
apartments in different cities and turning them into AirBnB
properties for a profit. He reinvests the profits in
securing more properties to create more revenue streams. I
believe he expects to make seven figures from his operation
this year, and he gains the added bonus of being able to
stay in any of his properties for free when he travels.