When I was in middle school I had a dream of being an NBA point guard when I grew up. I’d practice basketball an hour or two everyday and I went from being absolutely horrible to being an above average player within a year.
After that year I realized that although I enjoyed shooting and playing 1v1 with my friends I didn’t really like playing full court 5v5 so I gave it up to focus on soccer. I’d been playing soccer since I was in first grade, but I’d never taken it seriously so I when I joined a club team in eighth grade I was the worst player.
By the end of the season, however, I became coach’s favorite option off the bench, and by the next year I made my way into the starting lineup and was even voted captain for a game.
I hung up my cleats for soccer last month, so I could focus on the community here, and juggling, but there was something I was able to learn from basketball and soccer over the last few years. The power of the fundamentals.
While most kids my age were spending all their time on three-pointers, and fadeaways I was developing a mid-range jump shot and ball handling skills. While other kids were practicing scissors and dribbling moves, I was learning how to protect the ball, and developing an uncanny ability to always get the ball to the open man.
I understood that 80 percent of your results came from 20 percent of your effort and that was key. A lot of the other kids had been playing travel basketball and soccer way longer than I had, but I was able to pass the majority of them within a year by focusing on what I knew would produce the greatest results in the shortest amount of time.
I wasn’t even conscious of it at the time, but looking back I’ve done the same thing with personal development.
I put my energy into what produced results, rather than learning “productivity systems” and because of that I’ve been able to completely turn my life around in the last two or three years. I’ve still got things that need patching up of course, but here’s the process I’ve used to skyrocket my results over the last couple years.
Identify The Fundamentals
Regardless of what you’re working on you need to spend some time identifying what’s going to produce the most results in the least amount of time. If you’re trying to become a better soccer player you’d be best off doing dribbling, passing, and shooting drills rather than practicing cool tricks you saw your favorite player do on TV.
If you’re trying to learn a language you’ll probably be much better off learning the 1,000 most commonly used words, rather than random animal names. Also, don’t worry about creating a perfect plan out of the gates either.
If you’re trying to become a blogger pick a niche, start a blog, and get writing. Don’t worry about printing off business cards or getting the “perfect domain name.” You can optimize your plan as you go along, but as long as you’re headed in the general direction of your goal you’ll get there a lot quicker than someone who never starts.
Work Your Plan And Optimize As You Go
As I said in the blogging example above it’s better to work a good plan, than to waste the rest of your life trying to come up with the perfect one. Also worth noting is it’s a lot easier to develop an awesome plan once you’re in motion.
You could spend years trying to think of the perfect niche, and unique selling point for your blog, but ultimately someone who’s taking action and is reasonably intelligent will probably be able to build a blog with an income that can sustain them before you even get started.
It’s hard to develop a perfect plan when you’re working from theoretical knowledge. You can research the perfect juggling practice regime for as long as you want, but if you actually practice you could produce results, AND find out the best strategy for YOU in the process.
Also, research and taking action isn’t an either or predicament. You can do both, and that’s actually the best option of all. I just stress the importance of taking action because I’ve found that a lot of people who are interested in these types of posts are more preoccupied with coming up with the perfect plan rather than actually doing stuff.
I think taking action vs researching is a great place to apply the 80/20 rule. Spend 80% of your time taking action toward your goals and the other 20% finding ways you can make your actions more effective.
Add The 20% When Necessary
Regardless of how long you’ve been working on your goals the fundamentals should be your main focus, but at some point it’s important to implement the other 20% as well.
Take blogging for example. Writing great content may be 80% of the battle, and you’ll be far ahead of most bloggers if you do, but there’s a good chance your masterpieces will never be discovered if you just wait for people to find them.
At some point you need to get the word out. Whether that’s through guest posting, Twitter, or forum marketing is irrelevant. You’ve got to let people know you exist.
If you’re a soccer player it’s crucial to be able to receive passes and shoot, but once you possess those skills the thing that’s going to separate you from everyone else is being able to scissor around other players and create opportunities for yourself.
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