The Secret to Everything You Ever Wanted

No gimmicks. This is how it’s done. You get to choose what you want. Following these simple instructions will get it for you. Just send $5 dollars to… just kidding (about the money part, but not the rest). Here’s the formula.

Choose What You Want

This can’t be taken lightly of course. “Oh, I want to be young, rich, and famous and have sex with beautiful people all day long!” Really? Did you even think about that? Choose ONE, not three. We get to have one thing, not EVERYTHING.

Analyse, Imagine, Dissect, Contemplate

Why do you want this thing? What will you get out of it? Will it bring happiness? Skipping this phase of self-contemplation means the rest of it won’t work. The thing is, people don’t really know what they want. The same thing happens to me. I’ll see a hamburger on TV and think “MMmm that looks so good” even though in reality I haven’t eaten at McDonalds in years and don’t plan on eating there again if I can help it. I see actors and sports stars on TV and I think “Wow they’re good at that. I wish I were that talented.” In reality, I don’t want to be talented in that way. I don’t want a sports-star life because then I would have to spend much of my time playing some game just to make a living, my earning potential would be directly linked to my age, and I might not be respected for my mind. Besides all that, can you imagine all of the time I’d have to spend practicing both before I became a professional and afterwards? Criminy what a commitment! No thanks.

An exercise I appreciate for this is to imagine myself with my goal already reached. What would my day be like (daily activities etc)? This has always worked well for me because what could be more fun than imagining already having exactly what I want? This meditation should take 5 to 15 minutes and be as detailed as possible.

Often the results of this are more interesting though. For me, it turns out I don’t usually want what I thought I did. Usually I want a small by-product of the goal I had in mind. Instead of wanting to be ridiculously rich, for example, it turns out I only wanted to have money because I assumed it would bring me happiness, so I wouldn’t have to worry about my car breaking down, and so I could stop working for the man.

This contemplation is important, because if our goal isn’t truly what we want, then there’s no reason to follow through on achieving it. It can also be eye-opening and reveal what sacrifices may be necessary to get to where we want to be.

How to Get There

So how can a blog article be so general as to explain to everyone reading it how to achieve their goal and at the same time be so specific as to speak directly to individuals about it? Well, there is really only one path to achieving anything in life, and that’s learning how to do it. Generally after high-school or college people stop learning. Of course, they’ll learn something new at a new job, they’ll watch Jeopardy from time to time, or watch the news. Unfortunately none of these things improve the person as a whole, spiritually or educationally, so essentially no progress is made. There are tons of things that aren’t taught in schools or in job training that are still worthwhile, and achieving your own personal goal is one of them.

Luckily, although your own personal goal is very personal and feels very personal, you’re not the only one who’s wanted it or who will achieve it. There are books and classes on literally every subject known to man that will allow you to learn how to be a successful actor, become wealthy, become more charismatic, write killer blog post titles, have successful relationships, travel the world, etc. All you have to do is actually find and read these books and participate in the classes.

Tried and Tested

How could that work” you ask? “It’s not that easy” you say? If that sounds like you, be careful! It sounds like you have an extreme case of excusitis. I don’t read one book and expect to become an expert at something. I expect to be horrible and worse-than-completely-useless at something before I know what I’m doing. I expect that it will take many books and much invested time to become an expert. Regular and repeated failure is normal 90% of the time. Education works this way. We wouldn’t start taking Algebra and throw up our arms in disgust after the first day, first week, or first month when we were still learning. Algebra takes an entire semester to learn. After that, there’s Algebra 2! In college the teachers were there to help and the books had much of what you needed.

How long would it take to become an expert at something? According to the American school system, roughly five to six years of university. For Computer Science it’s six: four for the Bachelor’s Degree and two more for the Master’s Degree. Are you willing to put in the time necessary to accomplish your goal? If you get halfway there, would you be happier or better off than you are now?

An Example

Martial arts aren’t taught in traditional schools (save in some Asian countries), so it’s a perfect example. Being able to defend yourself in an unexpected bout of fisticuffs is a respectful goal. Karate is a perfect example because becoming an expert

  1. is not taught in traditional schools, and
  2. it takes about five years to get a black belt.

There are few ways to truly become a black belt in karate. All of them involve a commitment to learning. Also, you get your butt kicked (in a controlled fashion) during those 5 years of study (in other words you are failing over 90% of the time).

Choose One

It’s surprising that more people don’t go after their goals and try to achieve something great. I think one of the major obstacles is choosing one thing. We can’t have it all of course. You can’t be a black belt, a master chef, a famous basketball player, and a relationship expert. Time, and more importantly energy, are limited. You get to choose something to focus on; and with study, you will improve. Your success at attaining any given goal is directly linked to the effort you expend pursuing that goal. Mastery by George Leonard is a great place to start.

What will you master?

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