Even if someone doesn’t ask the question out loud, they often think about asking it. Especially when they find out that I have a full-time capital markets position, a family (including three boys), and that I write on weekends and evenings. I am impressed by others who do this with more success like my former business school prof, Michael Mauboussin. He’s the author of Think Twice, More Than You Know, Expectations Investing, and The Success Equation: books which I pride myself on being disciplined enough to read (which I haven’t yet), let alone write in the time that he has outside of his demanding professional and family life.
Still I get asked, “What is the secret?” We all want to know. We want to do more and be more with what we have. We want to maximize / optimize / make the most of our lives and our time. It’s not a one-word answer, but there is a good tidbit that I read recently on Psychotactics.com blog: “The Best Way To Fail, Is To Stop.” Simply stated, just keep going. Sustained effort is not enough on its own, but you can’t succeed without it. In my opinion, most people who make a substantial effort toward a writing goal can actually do it. It’s the idea of seeing it through that throws many people off. Here is an excerpt:
I’ve seen people who could be exceedingly good writers, artists etc. And yet they stop. Then they lose momentum. And they possibly never regain that pace and momentum again. The interesting part is that they don’t intend to stop forever. They just stop for a day, which turns into two, which snowballs into weeks and months. And then it’s just too hard to recover. I know this because I’ve done it often enough. I’ve drawn cartoons for a little over 30 years. You could say I’m pretty good at it. But all I have to do is stop. Suddenly I lose the ability to draw. I look at the paper. I look at the pencil. The paints are tucked away somewhere in the deep recesses of my desk. And the days and weeks slide into oblivion until it takes enormous effort just to get started again. And this is with something I love and am very capable at doing.
I know it’s not easy, but it is (at some level) simple. What are your thoughts?
What have been your biggest challenges to pressing on? What tempts you to “stop” as opposed to continuing on the course?