With the debut of my first book, Making Work Work, less than 30 days away (woohoo!), I’ve been asked a lot of questions about the book-writing process.
I was thinking about writing a blog post to specifically answer those questions, but I don’t want to bore the good folks reading this who have zero interest in writing a book (and I wouldn’t blame them!) But seriously, if anyone is interested in the nuts and bolts of the process, I’d be happy to write about it one day.
Until then, let’s talk about the part of the process that affects everyone. It’s the advice that I wish knew prior to starting, and as usual in my life, it’s advice that I ended up learning the hard way:
If you want to achieve your life’s dream, you must make peace with the fact that you’re going to have to give up something in order to achieve it.
Maybe We Can’t Have it All
I’m 41 years old, and I have been following motivational/inspirational authors and speakers ever since I was a little kid.
For years, there was one message that I heard over and over again that has always drawn me in:
“You can have it all.”
Well…I’m here to tell you that this is not true.
At first glance, this may sound hopelessly pessimistic, but it’s not. If anything, it will save you an enormous amount of pain and frustration once you accept it. Something will have to give if you want to do something big.
Speaking of which–once you decide that you really want to go after a big dream (start a business, lose weight, write a book, etc.), it’s time to draw a clear line. On one side are the things that you are unwilling to compromise or give up in pursuit of your dream. Here’s my short list:
- Quality time with my family
- My productivity at my day job
- My overall health and well-being
On the other side are the things that you enjoy, but will temporarily be put aside in order to make your dream a reality. Here are a few things from my list:
- A full night’s sleep, every night
- Watching my favorite DVR’ed television shows
- Going out with my friends
No, I didn’t give up resting or having fun while I was writing my book. I still slept, watched TV and hung out with my buddies…but I did it far less than I normally did. Most importantly, I knew that there was no way that I would be able to fully do all six of the bullet-points above, and still reach my dream of writing a book.
Some tough decisions will need to be made on the road to our dreams, and until we’re ready to temporarily give up something that we enjoy, our dreams will remain a dream, and not a reality.
I’m speaking from experience on this one, and as I mentioned earlier, I learned this the hard way.
Fortunately, all that we have to do is turn on our televisions for the next few weeks to see the better way to do this.
The Olympic Spirit
I absolutely love the Olympics–the competitiveness, the coming together of the entire world, and most of all, I love the stories.
If you examine the backstory of any Olympic gold medalist, you’ll find something very common and interesting about that person.
Besides a gold-medalist’s incredible talent, she likely gave up a lot to get onto the top of the medal stand.
While everyone was out partying, posting duck-faced selfies on social media, sleeping, watching all five box sets of Game of Thrones for hours, or playing Pokemon Go until they caught them all, she was in the gym/pool/track grinding it out like a boss.
Would she rather be asleep or at the bar drinking with her buddies instead of killing herself in preparation for the Olympics? Probably. But she chose to push herself anyway.
That’s what I wanted to tap into–the ability of Olympic champions to give up “the good” in order to experience the great, consistently.
I think that I know how they did it.
The Keys to Keep Going: Vision and Service
Since I was unwilling to give up quality time with my family, or write my book while I was at work during the day, I decided that in order to make my author dream a reality, I would have to give up one of my all-time favorite pastimes:
I would set the alarm on my Apple Watch for 3AM, and when it vibrated, I would drag myself out of bed in a stupor and write until it was time to get my daughters ready for school and myself ready for work.
I did that for nine months.
Admittedly, it wasn’t a lot of fun–but even so, each time I woke up, it did make me feel really good about myself. I was in good company too, because I’m assuming that practice for any high-achieving Olympian isn’t always fun either. What kept them (and me) going was the vision of the finish line.
For them, the “finish line” was wearing a gold medal and hearing their country’s anthem as they stood on the medal stand. For me, it was writing a book that could help people all over the world–and I was willing to temporarily give up pretty much anything to experience it before I died.
That’s why having a compelling vision is so important.
If the vision is to be the coolest guy in your hometown, to have more social media followers than a Kardashian sister, or to have enough money that you could fill up your backyard pool with $50 bills, then don’t bother.
None of that silliness will wake you up at 3AM, I promise.
But service will do it.
Whether it’s service to your family, to people in need, to your country, or to a cause that’s special to you, those are usually the things that will keep you moving forward, even when you don’t feel like it. That’s the secret sauce.
It’s also the secret that will inspire you to give up the things that are good, in order to experience the great.
And there is no doubt that you deserve to experience all of the greatness that the world has to offer.
The only question is, what are you willing to give up to get it?
Have you ever had to give up something in order to experience some better? What are you willing to give up in order to experience your life’s dream? Jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!