“Nothing is impossible for a man who refuses to listen to reason” was one of the favorite sayings of a legendary copywriter Gary Halbert. It’s one of the truths that guides my life, and perfectly explains how to achieve the impossible. When you read the history behind some of the big- gest achievements in human history, you’ll quickly notice how many of them were considered impossible. Even today, when you consider how much the world has changed since the last century, it sounds impossible. You have access to all of the world’s knowledge in your smartphone. You can get to virtually anywhere in the world in a day or two. People live longer and in much better health than ever before.
How much of this vision would come true if the people who are behind it listened to reason? Would we fly planes today? Would there be cars everywhere? Would so many people work from the comfort of their homes, con- ducting transactions with people from the other side of the world? If you want to think bigger and be extraordinary, you’re bound to hear from other people to get real. It’s also likely you’ll hear it from yourself – the limits of other people will affect your thinking. People told me that fasting every single day is unhealthy. Yet, I’m healthier and fitter than ever (note: I don’t claim intermittent fasting is for everyone; it just works for me). I believed that I would never deal with my shyness. Yet, today I’m an extremely confident person.
People say that you can’t learn a foreign language in a few months. Yet, I was easily able to get by in Spanish after just a couple of months of studying.
The Secret of Achieving Ambitious Goals
The secret to achieving bigger and bigger goals is self-efficacy – the strength of the confidence in your abilities. The more you believe you can achieve big things, the easier it will be to achieve the impossible. Without delving too deep into the concept of self- efficacy (I wrote a book about it – Confidence: How to Overcome Your Limiting Beliefs and Achieve Your Goals), there are three things you need to know about it. First and foremost, the most effective way to develop your self-efficacy is through achieving small wins and persisting in face of obstacles.
You can’t exactly start with nothing and build a billion dollar business right away, or become a professional bodybuilder after a week of exercising. It takes blood, sweat and tears to get to this point – even when you disassociate effort from reward, challenges still await you. Secondly, another effective way to develop more confidence in your skills is to watch others achieve success and model your behavior after them. We already covered how to do it. You’re much more likely to think bigger and achieve big things if you’re surrounded by people who strive to grow every single day.
Last but not least, although self-efficacy is task- related (meaning that confidence in your ability to build a business doesn’t directly translate to confidence in your skills to lose weight), your past performance affects all areas of your life. The more success you achieve in one thing, the easier it will be to achieve it in other areas. For instance, the catalyst for all changes in my life was working out and overcoming my shyness. Making my body stronger and becoming a self-confident person increased my confidence in the general ability to achieve success. It translated into success when learning foreign languages, building a business, and learning other skills like writing. Self-efficacy is the starting point for all achievements in your life. Without the belief that you can achieve a certain goal, you’ll subconsciously sabotage yourself, either by putting too little effort or not even planning how to reach your objectives. I strongly suggest learning how to overcome your
limiting thoughts and gain more confidence in your skills. Bold thinking requires bold attitude, and you won’t exhibit it until you learn how to believe in yourself.
It’s All about Your Track Record
All successful people started with small things and then turned them into bigger and bigger things. If you have big goals but lack experience, don’t just wait until you magically gain it. Many people wish to start a business, but they constantly postpone their decision while looking for a perfect business idea that will make them millions. That’s not how entrepreneurship works. Anything – including selling things on eBay or opening your lemonade stand – is better than inaction and looking for the perfect idea.
Richard Branson started with breeding budgerigars (small parrots) and growing and selling Christmas trees. Both businesses failed, but the experience he gained from these ventures helped him later on. A lot of people would like to write a novel. However, they never get around to it because they believe they need a brilliant idea and incredible writing skills. Guess what... There’s no author in the world whose first work was good. Writing takes practice, and the best course of action for most novice writers is to start with short stories and slowly progress to novellas and then novels. Once again, waiting is detrimental to your success. It’s the same with every achievement. If you want to lose weight, you don’t need to wait until you’re fit enough to run for a mile or longer. You start with short walks, gradually increase the speed and move on to jogging. It’s hard to find an obese person who believes she can lose all excess weight – until she focuses on the process and gradually increases her confidence. Moving from one small thing to a bigger one builds your self-efficacy, while also helping you gain experience and push your limits further and further. Establish your track record, no matter how small your current achievements will be. Bold goals will come later.