What does it take to become successful--at anything?
I'll tell you what. It doesn't start with taking the summer off. That's for sure.
Summer is nothing more than a change in temperature--and if you live somewhere like California, then summer is even less noticeable. Sure, there might be once-a-year events that are reserved for those prized months of May, June, July, and August. But aside from a few overly hyped social gatherings, "summer" is just another excuse people use to avoid digging in and getting to work.
Now, when I say "work" I don't mean slaving away at the office. I mean working on the things that actually mean something to you. It's amazing how many people say they want to spend more time doing X, and yet find every possible reason why they can't. Summer, for example.
Anyone who has become successful at anything will tell you that a summer well spent is one in which you were able to make great strides toward (what Napoleon Hill would call) your Chief Aim. Your primary goal. That big, audacious dream you keep telling people about.
So, how do successful people spend their summers? And, more important, what do they do differently from everyone else?
1. They become their own boss, with their own agenda and their own deadlines.
While most people are out sipping mimosas over brunch, talking the talk about all the amazing things they're going to do one day, these oddballs are getting to work. They've set an alarm. They've planted it in their minds that they're going to be at a coffee shop by 8 a.m. to start working on their side hustle. And on a big whiteboard in their apartment they've got goals--lots of them--with due dates.
Do this for an entire summer and watch how quickly you start to gain traction.
2. They put time on the calendar to get out of their comfort zone.
Growth doesn't happen accidentally.
Like I said, a summer well spent is one when you've decided what it is you're going to work on, and then you work on it. Simple as that.
What that actually entails is blocking off time each week to do something you've never done before. Something you need to do to move to the next level. Maybe that's going to an event. Maybe that's signing up for an open mic. Maybe that's running up and down the beach. Whatever it is, just know why you're doing it--and then do it.
3. They make a list of things they don't like about their current situation.
Hate your job? Tired of being out of shape? Frustrated by how little you read?
These are all things you can change.
However, to change them, you're going to need to do a little self-audit. Take a look at the aspects of your life that bring you dissatisfaction, and then figure out what you need to do on a day-to-day basis to change them.
Keep that list handy. It's going to be a focal point of yours this summer.
4. They stop doing the same worthless things over and over again.
How many 3 a.m. bars do you need to go to before you realize that's a poor use of your time?
Becoming successful doesn't mean you have to give up your social life entirely. But successful people are aware of how their time is spent, and invest it accordingly.
Each and every hour matters. So if you continue to invest your hours in something that doesn't move you closer to where you want to be, then be prepared to stay stagnant.
Every once in a while is fine. Four nights a week is not.
5. They set lots of mini goals.
Successful people love mini goals. It's a way to stay focused and in the zone while the bigger goals are manifesting.
An example of a mini goal would be sitting down and telling yourself, "I'm not going to get up out of this chair until I read 20 pages." Or "Today, I'm going to push myself to write 2,000 words." Notice these goals don't stretch any farther than the present day--and that's the point. Mini goals help you strengthen that muscle of setting your mind to something and then achieving it.
The more mini goals you set (and reach) on a daily basis, the easier it will be to achieve the big ones.
6. They detox.
Remember when you were a kid and your parents used to send you to summer camp? Or remember when you would pack up the car for a long road trip? These were opportunities to get out of your comfort zone and to experience new things, but also to detox.
We vastly underestimate how the redundancy of our daily lives ends up affecting our mood, our thought processes, even our ability to be creative.
Successful people, then, use their summers as an opportunity to detox. Whether that's nutritionally, digitally, or environmentally, they know the value of intentionally stepping away--and then do so.
Don't spend your summer the same way you spend the other nine months of the year. Change it up.
7. They push themselves to wrap up any remaining projects.
I've lived in Chicago my entire life. And I will tell you that summer feels very different from fall. The seasons prompt very different experiences, and make you feel very different emotions. What you're inspired to create in the months of summer will probably not carry over into fall, and vice versa.
That in mind, it's crucial that the projects you started in spring and have carried over into summer get finished. Summer is a great block of time to push yourself to finish something strong, so that you can enter the remaining part of the year with a fresh canvas.
This article originally published on INC.com by Nicolas Cole