When you succeed, it’s easy to romanticize the process looking backward. You tend to smooth out the rough edges of your story.
I write personal development books. I’m in the business of giving advice through my experience, but I can only tell you what I’ve done, what I’ve learned, and what I’ve experienced.
You may take the exact same steps I’ve taken and end up in a different place.
You can give the same amount of effort as someone else and not do as well as them.
No successful person rushes to admit how much of a role luck played in their success. They’d rather tell you they knew it would work all along.
Not me. Today, I’m pulling back the curtain and talking about the path that got me here today — you’ll see the effort, trial, tribulation, and luck that comes with being successful.
It was 2014. I was 24 years old and lived in a dorm room.
I should’ve had my degree and a nice job by then. The college town I lived in should’ve been a distant location in my rearview mirror.
Instead, I was stuck in that town without the degree, without the job opportunities, and without hope.
All my life I was told how much potential I had, how smart I was, and how successful I’d be. But there I was…a nobody. Throughout my life, I had ups and downs in motivation.
There were times I did well — really well — but I’d always fall into a hole of laziness. I was in the hole again.
How did I get out?
I Genuinely Got Fed Up
Your life won’t change until you say screw this. Inspiration works well enough, but being truly fed up gives you superpowers.
It wasn’t like my life changed instantly, but I recall everything getting better after the day I literally said out loud, “I’m not going to live this way.”
I had just got a job as a manager at a video store. To prepare myself to become a better manager, I started watching videos on Youtube — TED talks, interviews with
successful people, motivational speakers, etc.
I came across Tai Lopez and his videos on his “steps to live a successful life.” He had a bunch of free videos on different personal development products. At the end of the videos, he prompted you to check out his program — 67 Steps to Building Wealth.
I was lost, stuck, frustrated, and didn’t want to live this way anymore. I decided to put my skepticism aside and do something to change my situation, so I bought the program.
The Learning Phase
The program was 67 days long because research shows it takes 66 days to build a new habit — he added a bonus day for fun.
It came with a recommended reading list of 150 books. I bought ten of them right away.
Each day consisted of a new video on a different personal development topic. First thing in the morning, I grabbed a pen and paper and watched the video while taking notes.
I’d spend my mornings watching the videos and reading books from the recommended list. I had a fifteen-minute walk to work one way (I had no car at the time) and I’d listen to audio versions of the lessons on my phone on my way to work and on my way back. I listened to the audio while going to the gym, when I walked around town, basically whenever I had a spare moment.
67 days later, I wasn’t a millionaire, but I had a new lease on life, a healthy reading habit, and hope for the future.
As luck would have it, I found the perfect opportunity when I was prepared for it.
Opportunity + Preparation = Success
People have a hard time with uncertainty.
Think about it. If you could look into a crystal ball and see an amazing end result, you’d have no problem taking the steps in between. Since you don’t have a crystal ball, you can feel stuck because you’re not sure what direction said steps will take you or if they’ll even take you anywhere.
Whenever I receive a message from a reader I tend to respond with something along the lines of start learning. Start doing, preparing, reading.
I know they want the exact steps, but I don’t have them.
I do know this — it won’t matter if the right opportunity comes if you’re not prepared for it.
How do you prepare?
Learn. Learn. And then Learn some more.
Read as many books as you can get your hands on. Reading gives you magical powers. It just does. I’m not going to get into the details but I can attest to the power of reading a ton of books.
Find people you look up to and learn about their stories.
Keep a journal and take notes on what you’ve learned, what you want to do in the future, goals you have.
I don’t believe in the law of attraction in the most literal sense, but the universe does have a way of catching up to your effort. If you simply commit to trying to be better, you’ll sharpen your opportunity spotting vision.
How Lady Luck Found Me
I was nearing the end of the personal development program. Around that time, a friend of mine asked me to write articles for a website he just started.
See, during the process of learning new concepts and trying to improve myself, I’d been sharing these ideas on Facebook, except they weren’t normal statuses. They were like small essays.
I was writing.
Had I not been trying to develop myself, I wouldn’t have been sharing my ideas. Had I not been sharing my ideas through writing, no one would’ve noticed my message. If no one noticed my message and gave me an opportunity, I don’t know if I would’ve started writing — which was something I’ve always known I wanted to do deep down.
See how that works?
I wasn’t directly preparing for a writing career. I just wanted to be better, smarter, ready.
In a way, I’m lucky. The arrows of cirumstances aligned and gave me the passionate path I’d been looking for. But I wouldn’t have been ready for the opportunity had I not already been working on mysel