5 min read
I think everyone has a future version of themselves they would like to become. This future version is often wealthier, healthier, and happier than the present-day version.
I think most people know what they need to do on a daily basis to become this future version of themselves.
Yet, very few people actually do what is necessary to become that future version.
The problem lies in the execution.
Executing is Hard
It’s easy to read about diet plans and exercise tips. It’s hard to physically go to the gym.
It’s easy to watch a video on real estate investing. It’s hard to convince yourself to invest.
It’s easy to listen to a podcast about the benefits of meditation. It’s hard to meditate.
It’s easy to announce your new blog on social media. It’s hard to write a blog post.
Learning is easy. Planning is easy. Strategizing is easy. Executing is hard.
Yet, execution is all that actually matters. The only way to become a healthier, wealthier, and happier version of yourself is to take action.
Reading is pointless if you never use that knowledge to execute. Taking courses is pointless if you never put those skills on your resume and send out your application. Watching motivational videos is useless if you never use that motivation to take action.
Looking Back on 2017
If you didn’t experience progress in 2017, be brutally honest with yourself.
Did you acquire new skills? I bet you did.
But did you take action to put these skills into practice? Did you start a blog, write an e-book, pay down debt, implement a savings plan, start a side hustle, develop a meditation practice, join a yoga class, try out Toastmasters, or contribute to your 401(k)? What action did you take?
Compare the amount of time you spent watching Netflix with the amount of time you spent on self-improvement. That ratio might be a wake-up call.
I think 100% of people want a higher quality of life.
I think about 80% are willing to take courses, read books, watch videos, and pick up new skills.
I think about 25% actually physically take action to improve their life.
I think about 5% consistently take action for a year or more to improve their life.
How do you become part of that 5%? There’s a few things you need to do.
The 5% Club
Just to clarify, joining the 5% club doesn’t mean you’ll experience success as soon as you want. It just means you’re making the commitment to enter the arena, face your goals head on, and risk failure.
People in this club love execution, whether the results show up or not.
Here are five truths that have personally helped me get better at execution.
1. Recognize that learning is easy, but executing is hard.
Step one is to admit that learning is the easy part. Anyone can watch a video or read a book. To separate yourself from the pack, you have to admit that executing is hard. Execution is the real obstacle. Once you define the obstacle, you’re far more likely to overcome it.
When you set up that new savings account, drag yourself to the gym, or curb your excessive spending, you’ll be met with inner resistance. You’ll try to talk yourself out of execution. When you hear that voice in your head say “This is too hard”, respond with a simple “Yeah, I know it’s hard. Real nice insight, self.”
Mock the resistance. Then do that thing anyway.
2. Recognize that being in the arena is always better than sitting in the bleachers.
When you make the choice to be vulnerable, you risk failure. When you apply for internships, ask for promotions, email potential clients, publish articles, try new side hustles, or whatever else, you’ll get kicked in the mouth. A lot.
Yet, it’s always better to try and fail than to not try at all. Those who live in fear and never enter the arena are the ones who live with regret. They’ll always wonder what if?
What if I actually started that blog?
What if I actually applied to my dream job?
What if I didn’t care what people thought and I bought that tiny house?
What if I started that non-profit I always dreamed of?
Choose to be in the arena. Choose to execute on your goals. You won’t always succeed, but you will learn and grow more confident with each attempt. The failures will either fade away, become funny stories, or act as necessary learning moments.
3. Throw your Book of Failures out the window.
Most of us walk around clutching a personal book of failures close to our chests. This book contains all our past failures written in excruciating detail. We often flip to random pages just to remind ourselves of all the different times we have tried something and failed.
This book is toxic. It constantly reminds us that we have failed in the past and that we might fail again in the future.
What most people don’t realize is that you can throw this book out the window. You don’t have to carry it around. Nobody on earth is aware of all your failures except you. You’re the only person keeping your past failures alive.
Once you get rid of this book, you give yourself permission to execute more often without fear of failure.
4. Kill your ego.
This is the hardest truth to swallow. Most people aren’t even aware that their ego is preventing them from taking action.
Your ego is the little voice in your head that says:
I don’t want to fail.
I don’t want to be seen as inadequate.
I don’t want to risk applying for that job and getting rejected.
I don’t want to ask that question because people will think I’m dumb.
I don’t want to publish that blog post because people might not agree with me.
I don’t want to try a new path in life because I spent so many years in college pursuing this field.
I don’t want to email someone more prominent in my field because I’m scared they’ll reject me.
That’s your ego talking. Ego is a dream-killer. That’s why you must kill your ego. Recognize that you’re not as important as you think. Recognize that failures aren’t permanent. Recognize that your obsession with your identity and your reputation is preventing you from executing.
5. The more you execute, the more natural it feels.
When I first started this blog, I was scared to publish certain posts. I feared what people would think of my opinions. I was scared people might send me hate emails. But the more I wrote, the less I feared. The more content I produced, the easier it became.
In my first three years of college I applied for zero internships. I was deathly scared of being rejected. I was making the classic mistake of thinking that everyone would be aware of my failures. This fear prevented execution.
Now, only two years later, I have learned that the easiest way to advance through life is just to make more attempts than everyone around me. This past summer I applied to 10 different jobs. I got rejected by all of them except one. All those failures mean nothing to me now. The fear of failure has lost it’s grip on me because I have learned to love execution. Execution kills fear.
Get What You Want
In summary, here’s how to get what you want:
1. Admit that execution is hard. Mock your inner resistance, then execute anyway.
2. Choose to be in the arena. Better to be vulnerable and fail than to play it safe and never grow.
3. Throw your Book of Failures out the window. Stop letting your past failures define you.
4. Kill your ego. Drop the obsession with your identity and reputation. It’s preventing you from realizing your potential.
5. The more you execute, the more natural it feels. Execution kills fear.
Now, stop sitting around. Go get what you want.
Zach is the author behind Four Pillar Freedom, a blog that teaches you how to build wealth and gain freedom in life.
Zach's favorite free financial tool he's been using since 2015 to manage his net worth is Personal Capital. Each month he uses their free Investment Checkup tool and Retirement Planner to track his investments and ensure that he's on the fast track to financial freedom.
His favorite investment platform is M1 Finance, a site that allows him to build a custom portfolio of stocks for free, has no trading or maintenance fees, and even allows him to set up automated target-allocated investments.
His favorite way to save money each month on his recurring bills is by using Trim, a free financial app that negotiates lower cable, internet, and phone bills with any provider on your behalf.
His favorite micro-investing app is Acorns, a free financial app that takes just 5 minutes to set up and allows you to invest your spare change in a diversified portfolio.
His favorite place to find new personal finance articles to read is Collecting Wisdom, a site that collects the best personal finance articles floating around the web on a daily basis.
Full Disclosure: Nothing on this site should ever be considered to be advice, research or an invitation to buy or sell any securities, please see my Terms & Conditions page for a full disclaimer.