For whatever reason, this quote stuck with me over the years. For me, it instills a very specific point, if you want to be somewhere different two, five or ten years from now, you start today. Not a week from now, not next year, NOW. It also suggests, that humans are a very distracted set of algorithms. If you don’t constantly advertise to yourself what you’re spending time on and what you WANT to spend time on- you’ll almost NEVER get to where you wanted to be.
If I want to learn about Africa, I put a map of Africa up in my garage. This way, my eyes scan it every time I get in and out of my car.
Today, I have an average of ten simple printouts, reminders and project ideas I want to remember hanging on my wall. The most important one:
Another great example is from Will Smith:
How many times have you wanted to do something life changing, but got caught up in all the “what if’s”? Those risks, worries, unknowns all add up and become overwhelming to us simple humans and they’re really REALLY hard to overcome. The easiest way to eat a whale? One bite at a time. Afraid of skydiving? Start small.. Learn to fly, then go base jumping. You don’t have to learn it all at once, but if your goal is to sky dive in 10 years, start out with baby steps.
My family and I love camping, kayaking and backcountry adventures. A few months ago, as I was googling for equipment to take the kids kayak camping a really neat YouTube series popped up:
This wonderful person decided one day to hike the AT and DOCUMENT IT. Is this the first time anyone’s hiked the AT? Nope. Is this the first time anyone’s GoPro’d their hike? Nope. The VALUE in this documentary is the fact that she didn’t really know what she was doing but was willing to show us how SHE figured it out.
She decided “I want to hike a 2200+ mile trail”, so she did it. She’ll even be the first to admit- she’s not special, she just wanted to do it. This should be inspiring because if SHE can, ANYONE can. She even makes a special effort to document when she meets a 50, 60 or 80 year old on the trail as a reminder, you’re the only one in your own way. This inspired me to tell my wife; “hey- in 10 years we’re hiking the AT, start prepping!”.
After she stopped laughing at me, we started coming up with a plan (and somehow I agree’d to 5 trips to Disney World in the process). We’re not dropping everything and going hiking (we have kids, a business to run, etc), but it changed my attitude towards the environment around me. I started downloading apps and googling for hiking, biking and kayaking trails in my area. I even took my dad on an early morning 8mile hike, on an awesome trail that’s been in my backyard my ENTIRE LIFE! With all that I found in our region, it’ll probably take me 10 years to hike, camp and backpack the stuff right in my backyard anyway.
There are more in my office- and they rotate from year to year. I can say- thanks to Mr Gates, that they’ve had a profound impact on my work and my life. Over time, these “advertisements” act as a constant reminder, not for the weeks when things are humming along gracefully, but as guidance for the weeks when it seems like everything is falling off the rails. They remind me what’s important, to “Get things Done” and most importantly, take everything in small steps if you have to. The worst thing in life is waking up one day and regretting what you didn’t do.
Plan for where you want to be in ten years, break it into a series of baby steps and just start. If you want to do a 2200 mile hike, walk a trail every month or two. If you want to write a book, start with a blog post each week. If you want to be a billionaire, make a small trade every day, if you want to work from home start building a platform. In ten years from now, you’ll be less afraid as your are now. You can bet on it.
Also, ignore everyone else who suggests something is too hard- they don’t know what they’re talking about.