I turn 40 in just over a month and as often happens with “significant” birthdays, I’ve been doing some thinking. Of all the thoughts I’ve had over the last couple months, the most interesting to me is the idea of how I’ve become successful in certain areas of my life.
Now let me start by saying what I consider successful is a little different from what others may consider successful. I’m not a millionaire, for starters. I don’t drive a Maserati or live in a mansion or hang out with celebrity friends.
On the other hand, I’ve done a lot of things that many people wish they could do and I spend much of my time doing things I enjoy. For me, spending my time the way I choose is a major form of success. I quit the job that I hated seven years ago and haven’t had to go back. I learned to play guitar and now I perform concerts on big stages in front of thousands of people. I lost weight and got in shape and I’ve maintained that lifestyle for over ten years. I married the girl of my dreams and we’ll be celebrating our fifteen year anniversary next year. I’ve written five books with more to come. Most recently, I got my black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
I say these things not to brag but to prove they all have one very important thing in common.
Not just occasional practice. Sustained, focused and consistent practice over long periods of time.
Ever since I quit my job, I’ve had to maintain a regular practice of hustle to make ends meet. (For example, the last couple months have been lean for both my wife and my businesses, so for the foreseeable future I’ll be driving Uber in my spare time to make sure I pay the bills.)
I’ve been practicing guitar for over twenty-five years.
Fitness is a consistent practice of exercise and eating well.
Marriage is an everyday practice of maintaining a solid relationship.
Writing is a sustained practice of putting words to paper. I aim for five-hundred words a day.
It took ten years of intense practice to earn my black belt.
Every get rich quick scheme I’ve tried has failed. All the little one-hit wonders that catch my attention for a short period before fading away have amounted to nothing. The only things in my life that are worthwhile are the things I’ve put lots of practice into, and I believe this is a big clue.
I’ve found my biggest success in the things I enjoy practicing.
Keep in mind, the inverse of this is true. No matter how much I want it, success is difficult to come by in things I don’t enjoy practicing.
If you think about it, everything we do is practice. Every day you go to work, you practice your job. You practice communication every time you have an interaction with someone. You practice exercise every time you go to the gym. You practice learning every time you read a book. These are useful practices. These are also practices we should refine so that we get even more out of the time we spend on them.
Practicing the wrong things, on the other hand, can have a detrimental effect. You also practice every time you play a video game. You practice every time you scroll through social media. You practice every time you buy something you don’t need with your credit card. You practice every time you binge of Netflix shows. Personally, while these things can be enjoyable, they aren’t things I want to be good at, therefore I do my best to limit the time I spend on them. This practice alone leaves me more time to practice the things I actually care about.
So what are your practices doing for you? Are they propelling you forward, or are they holding you back? The right practices can transform your life. The wrong ones can ruin it.
All that said, in order to help people practice the things that are important, I’ve once again created the Gentleman Badass wall calendar. The rules are simple.
1. Place the calendar on a prominent wall in your home.
2. Pick a skill you would like to improve.
3. Commit to practicing that skill for a minimum of 20 minutes a day, every single day, in 2022.
4. Place a red X on the calendar for everyday you practice the skill.
5. Try to create an unbroken chain of red Xs for the entire year of 2022. This will yield over 120 hours of practice.
The beauty of trying to practice just 20 minutes a day is that most people can easily find this amount of time in their schedule. Then, what often occurs is that the practice is enjoyable and continues for longer than 20 minutes, producing even better results.
2022 could be the year that transforms your life. You could emerge with an entirely new skill. You could get your finances in order. You could lose weight and get in shape. You could find the romantic partner of your dreams. All it takes is practice.
So what are you going to practice in 2022? Let us know in the comments.