More often than not, getting what we want is simple; it’s just not easy. For example, there is a simple action you can take to avoid the long lines when renewing your driver’s license: be the first one there. Now this may require waking up earlier, arriving a few minutes before the BMV opens and perhaps standing outside of its doors in unpleasant weather. I know that none of that sounds exciting, but that’s exactly what allows you to avoid the lines — the fact that you are willing to put up with the mild inconveniences that others won’t.
The same idea is also true when it comes to our work and self-development. Most people want to excel in whatever they do. So why isn’t everyone succeeding? The number one reason I hear people give for not excelling is lack of time. Now, lack of time is an easy problem to blame seeing as it requires no action on our part. Each day has a finite amount of time. And if it’s not enough, there’s simply nothing you and I can do to add more hours to the day. Although we can’t prolong our days, we can become better stewards of the time we do have, and this is where the willingness to put up with mild inconveniences comes into play.
In his book The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy discusses reaping big rewards from small, seemingly insignificant actions. He proposes that Small, Smart Choices + Consistency + Time = RADICAL DIFFERENCE. For example, let’s say you decide that every weekday you will carve out a few extra minutes in the morning to read 10 pages of a good book. It’s a small and seemingly insignificant commitment that requires little time. But if you keep this up, in 24 months you would have read nearly 30 books – just think of all that you can learn from reading 30 books! The mild inconvenience of constantly taking a few minutes to read could result in you gaining that extra knowledge or new ideas that may greatly benefit your life.
So it’s wise to make a practice of asking ourselves “what mild inconveniences can I embrace today that will help me reach my long-term goals?” For me it’s waking up an hour early each weekday and spending that time reading, writing and planning out my life. For you it could be something as simple as carrying a sketchbook everywhere you go, or maybe challenging yourself to complete a personal creative project every month for a year. Whatever it is, these small actions may feel insignificant in the moment, so it’s important to have a long-term vision of what it is you’re inching towards as motivation to keep going.
Now taking on a challenge isn’t easy, but that’s not a bad thing. Opportunity is often barricaded with difficulties and barbed-wired with inconveniences, and not everyone is willing to go climbing over all those barriers to reach their goals. So, if you embrace challenges, your willingness alone sets you apart from the herd. It’s safe to say that there will always be backed up traffic at the intersection of “easy” and “comfortable”, but the wide and clear pathways of “slightly difficult” and “mildly inconvenient” is where true acceleration can take place.
I hope by now I’ve convinced you that reaching your career and personal goals isn’t all that complicated; it’s just slightly difficult and mildly inconvenient. It requires developing a habit of embracing challenges and faithfully committing to small, consistent efforts that will in time yield big benefits. In other words, doing what others don’t to get what others won’t. So I encourage you to identify the small challenges you can embrace today that will in time make your dreams and goals a reality.