There are two kind of people in the world, those with patience, and those without it. I’m part of the second group, and of course sometimes I wish I’d be more in the first one. My actions are mostly driven by curiosity, and curiosity is perhaps the biggest motivator for me.
Curiosity itself isn’t bad, on the contrary it’s a great way to discover and learn new things. It’s only when you’re trying to achieve something non trivial that curiosity might play a bad game on you. If you’re anything like me you know how easy it is to get sidetracked when you’re working on something hard and the first difficulty comes around. It’s easier to try something new rather than trying to make working what you already have. If I only could be more patient I would complete more projects and achieve more goals, or would I?
I thought a lot about the role of patience in achieving goals and I came to the conclusion that patience per se is not the missing ingredient. Achieving a goal is only a matter of figuring out exactly what you want as well as figuring out the single most important action that can bring it to reality. Let me elaborate on this last point.
Everything we get in life is the result of some specific actions that we or someone else did before. There are exceptions, but strictly speaking you or someone else has to do something if you want to see results. If you try to analyze a specific outcome, you’ll find that it is often the result of many sub activities, but only a few of them provide for the 80% or more of the outcome. The rest is only added noise that doesn’t directly help to achieve a goal. I like to call these activities core actions, because they are responsible for 80% or more of the outcome.
Identifying what these core actions are is the single most important element of success. Once you have a goal, ask yourself what is the core action that you can do to achieve that goal, and then make sure that you spend most of your time doing it. Now, this is easier said than done, most of the times the most important activities are the ones where we procrastinate the most. This could be caused by a lack of knowledge, or perhaps they’re really boring activities. In the first case you must fulfill the gap you have by studying and researching around the subject. You can’t skip this part because you’ll never be good at something unless you fully understand its core actions. It doesn’t matter if it takes a week or a year to learn about them, once you have acquired all the necessary knowledge you’ll be able to achieve success much faster.
If you don’t want to do some activities, you can always delegate them. Just make sure that you understand what it needs to be done and that the people working for you have the necessary knowledge. Delegating a core action frees you from your main job and in some cases it allows you to duplicate your efforts, but make sure you can trust the rest of your team.
Note however that you can’t always delegate to someone else. For example if you are a student it would be hard to delegate your study to someone else, same is for artists and writers. That’s not a problem however because you are providing value by focusing on core actions, so your efforts are still worth your time, plus chances are that you enjoy what you do.
It is clear that the quick fix does indeed exists, and it involves identifying and executing the core actions that will enable you to achieve a goal. It is quick because while other people are spending their time doing every kind of unrelated activity, you’re focusing your energies on what’s really important.
Now this may sound like a lot of theory, but in reality you can apply it to virtually every activity. Ask yourself what you want, and make a plan for it. Make sure that you spend most of your time executing your core actions and you’ll get what you want much faster than you ever thought possible.
As a final note, don’t make it personal when you try to identify your core actions. Pretend to be another person that is inspecting your business, and leave your feelings for later. This is sometimes necessary in order to avoid situations where you would tend to leave out some activities only because you don’t enjoy doing them. That’s a mistake that you want to avoid.