My Biggest Superpower That Leads Me to My Dream Life
Think about the top 3 achievements you are proud of so far.
How did you achieve them? What got you to where you are today?
This is not to boast my abilities or anything (we all define success differently), but here’s mine:
- Pivoted my career from accounting to music therapy
- Becoming the fittest I’ve ever been
- Learning my 6th language
I’m not here to tell you “if I can do it, anyone can do it”. If that was the case, that would be a heavily biased post on hard work, ignoring my unfair advantages: like how I started learning piano when I was 5, how I already knew 3 languages before I was 13, my genes, and a bit of luck.
Think of this post as a case study. I’m using my own example to highlight a very important factor that contributes to 85% of my success. From there, you can apply that in your own life, on the goal that you’re trying to achieve.
I like to think of that as a superpower.
The good thing is, it is something you can cultivate too.
Look at those 3 achievements you just listed out.
Do you find any common theme?
For most people (including me), a very distinct theme stood out:
🪜 Consistency is Key
The behind-the-scenes are definitely not as glamorous as it looks outside.
And let’s be honest, everyone wants to hear about overnight success stories, not the blood, sweat and tears.
But I’m showing you how consistency landed me my dream life here:
I practised piano, guitar and singing so hard every day after I got back from work in order to get into the audition to study music therapy.
I showed up every day to train before work, instead of hitting the snooze button.
I listened to podcasts in foreign languages and practised on Duolingo (#notsponsored) every single day.
^ after a few unsuccessful trials I’ve finally managed to maintain this streak… not too bad eh? 🙂
Frankly, I’m proud of this superpower of showing up consistently more than those achievements since I know very well that when I do that, result is inevitable.
Want to be more successful?
Look back on your achievements.
Success leaves traces.
Yes, luck does play a role in your journey, but hard work always trumps.
Find the common theme that you can replicate. Again and again.
Of course, I’m not going to just leave you here and tell you to show up, work so damn hard every day.
When it comes to success, consistency has a best friend: a well-intended mind.
🏋️ Consistency, Persistence and Commitment
Why do you want to achieve X?
No, don’t give me that superficial answer. By that I mean those extrinsic motivation and reasons, like “showing off those 6-packs at the beach”, “getting a Lamborghini” etc.
Trust me, they won’t get you far.
We are not just talking about achieving goals that really matter to us, but also about sustainability.
Working out is good, but you will bounce back quickly before winter if your motivation is (just) to show off your summer body.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to earn 6 or 7 figures, but you need to factor in what you sacrifice, typically health and sanity (if you’re climbing a corporate ladder in a toxic work environment, for example).
Does the end result make you feel fulfilled in the long run?
Note that I did not use “happy” in the line above.
Happiness is temporary.
Who isn’t happy driving a Lamboghini? Oh wait, there are actually lots of people out there who will tell you happiness only lasted for a while after the purchase.
I wanted to improve young adults’ mental health through music therapy.
I wanted to improve my strength and endurance due to past events.
I wanted to see what the world has to offer, through travelling and connecting with different people.
And now, I have a healthy body, a career I care so damn much about, and the ability to communicate with different people especially when I travel.
The achievements I’m proud of are directly linked to my core values and beliefs.
My success enables me to live a life true to myself because it is aligned with who I am.
This is priceless.
This is why a well-intended mind is crucial to success.
When you have something worth fighting for, you naturally show up and do the work, and discipline takes care of itself. You persist through every challenge that comes your way because you care, and you want to do the right thing.
Heck, you don’t even need motivation. You just know you will show up.
It is not magic, or some supernatural power you have to be born with.
It is about knowing what you want and why you want it, and setting up a system to get it.
“Know what you want. Follow a trajectory where what you want is a possible outcome. Build a system to incrementally improve your ability to follow that trajectory. Trust yourself. Enjoy the outcomes. Repeat.”
– James Clear
💭 Long-term Thinking and Mental Toughness
This also implies that apart from a well-intended mind, we need to think long term when it comes to achieving goals and life planning.
Do you have a clear goal?
Do you have a clear picture of your future self?
Are you willing to ditch instant gratification?
Are you going to be accountable and ditch all your excuses?
Half of the battle is in your mind.
How many times have you given up repping it out before the timer ended because you thought you had “enough”?
I lost count of how many times I swore and thought to myself “I can’t do it” during my training.
But it’s also part of the reason why I love working out: it’s not just to train the body, but also the mind.
The brain is also a muscle we need to train and strengthen when it comes to achieving goals.
I like James Clear’s article on mental toughness – which you can read more here.
🏁 Consistency Beats Talent
Hard work compensates talent.
Not to discount the importance of talent (and luck), but as most things are skills you can learn, practise and get better at, I do place a high value in hard work.
Let’s talk about musical skills for a second.
You think most musicians are talented? Yes I agree. I spend a great deal of time wondering how can KHS, Jacob Collier and Peter Buka come up with brilliant ideas and honestly, I envy them. But back to my case study, as someone who’s not particularly bright (and certainly does not have perfect pitch), and someone who hasn’t really been playing the piano for 7 years after achieving a high grade, it was all hard work that landed me a change in career.
I practised every night after I finished work, and I doubled my effort on the weekends.
It was mainly the consistency that got me back to my previous musical level, a bit of cleverness to know what I should focus on, with a sprinkle of luck that eventually got me accepted to study music therapy, without a relevant bachelor degree.
Same as working out. I would go so far as to say I do not have a single sport cell in my body. I’m not particularly flexible or strong. I know how to swim and cycle, but as a kid my main activities outside school consisted of drawing, playing piano and pottery. Definitely a lot more sedentary than average kids.
But being healthy and fit is not really about talent here. Every single muscle in your body can be trained and strengthened. All I did was find the activity I enjoyed doing (which is boxing and HIIT in this case), and showed up again and again. My next goal is to do more calisthenics exercises, and I’m using the same formula to achieve my goals despite the fact that I’m not “talented”.
Now back to you – in what areas are you willing to put hard work in?
How are you going to show up consistently?
Choose your battle.
On a side note, I also think it’s important to spend time developing meta-skills that can be applied to many areas to increase your chance of success, like learning how to learn, public speaking or connecting ideas.
Most things are skills we can develop, which honestly is good news for average people like me.
💪🏻 Consistency Breeds Growth
When you keep showing up, result is inevitable.
Muscles will grow. Skills will develop. You will advance.
Along the journey, you will find out what works and what doesn’t soon, and you can tweak your process.
As long as you keep doing the work, you will grow.
I’m a strong believer of this.
However I’m not those productivity bros you find on Instagram or Twitter.
On rainy days, it’s important to slow down and address your needs first.
It comes down to prioritisation.
For example, when I’m exhausted or on my period, I take care of myself first, and might opt for a low-intensity exercise instead of following the usual program. I’m still putting in the work, and if you zoom out and look at your life, only one day of taking things slower per month is not going to impact much in your progress (even taking a break is fine. I learnt this lesson when I had COVID.).
“Most people overestimate what they can do in a day, and underestimate what they can do in a month. We overestimate what we can do in a year, and underestimate what we can accomplish in a decade.” – Matthew Kelly
Who do you want to become in one year? Three years? Five years?
What are you going to do today, and every day, to become that version of yourself?
We can pretty much sum up your journey to achieving goals in a formula:
Our unfair advantages + strong intrinsic motivation + consistency
As I always say, don’t forget to enjoy the journey.
Keep showing up. Keep tweaking. Keep growing.
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