The Five Stages of Achievement
“I want to gain 10 kg of lean muscle and become an Instagram model”.
“I want to create an online business, to thrive and to become a world reference”.
“I want to become the greatest online coach in dating women”.
The list could go on and on.
But there is a common thing to every goal one sets to himself: the results are not immediate and all of these challenges require the same steps in between.
(Attention that I am defining a goal as something difficult to achieve and something that will somehow change your life. Eating ten hamburgers in a row, kissing five girls during the Brazilian Carnival or buying thirty supermarket items with less than 30€ are amazing things, however not worth to be included in this list).
And whenever someone is about to set an objective for himself, he usually tends to see just the positive side of it.
You are a smoker for more than ten years and suddenly you want to quit smoking? “Yeah, I will do it after the new year, you can trust me!”.
Or maybe you are a zero with women, you buy a couple of dating/self-help books and suddenly you start envisioning all of those of hotties lining up and craving to be with you.
Or perhaps you have your first job in a big company and you already see yourself as the CEO in five years time. “I have what it takes”, you think.
What usually happens is that 99% of people only see the event.
To become rich. To become famous. To get strong and in shape. To get successful with women.
What they do not see, or tend to despise or even to ignore, is all the process that makes it possible. Yes, that’s right: all those hours of hard work, despair, solitude, doubt, anxiety, stress and uncertainty which one needs to go through if he wants to succeed in any endeavor.
Since I am someone who has already fallen (many times) into this event trap, allured by promises of quick gains or easy paths, being nonetheless also a person who has already achieved a couple of important things in life, through this time-consuming path of effort and commitment, I have noticed a pattern which is necessary if you want to achieve any goal. These are, therefore, what I call the five stages of achievement:
“Everything starts with a dream”. This nice, however empty quote, is the juice which every self-help coach or guru likes to serve and almost every person loves to consume.
Sure, everything starts with a dream, something which our brains magnifies with no boundaries, an idea which gives us all the hope in the world.
In the beginning, everything looks perfect. Let us say you want to quit your job and start the business you have always wanted to. You immediately start visualizing that lifestyle, as if you could feel it already.
Oh the convertible car, the freedom, the hundreds of happy customers, a true value offered to the market, invitations to podcasts, YouTube videos and even TV interviews. All evidence of a real successful person!
So you get excited and it is exactly this force, this dream, this desire which makes you start, leaving your apathetic self behind. All the doubts and concerns are swept under the rug and replaced by an unshakable enthusiasm.
This is the phase you will listen to nobody – especially the naysayers or relatives who tell you how crazy or bold your idea is – but to yourself. And this is a good thing! After all, if mankind would have listened and followed what was rational, logical and “the right thing to do”, then the sun would still revolve around the earth and America would be a fantasy continent.
Furthermore, this is also the stage where you do not let yourself be affected by negative thoughts. Sure, you still put the question “what could go wrong?”, but deep down you only see your new goal in a positive way, as if nothing could indeed go wrong.
After the initial phase of excessive thrill, you prove not to be like almost everyone else and you actually get down to business, start giving life to your plan. Congratulations! More important than coming with a dream or with an exciting idea, is actually to put it into practice.
So let us say that you want to start to dance salsa or to train Muay Thai, to become a national champion in two years time. Or maybe to learn Russian, in order that in three years you will talk like a native, being also able to find a job in Moscow, the city of your dreams.
Whatever the case is, you begin attending classes, watching all the YouTube videos and practising this activity at home almost every day. Most of your free time is used to learn and get better at it!
But then, especially when you look at the others, you realize how much you suck. And after some more months of hard training and acquisition of the basic skills and technique, you get even more aware of the reality and start to understand how difficult it will be to reach this goal.
“There are so many dancers, more skilled, more experienced and faster than me. Plus, they somehow seem to improve and to learn in a much more natural way than me!”
This is a phase where most of the people give up, by realizing how difficult, even impossible, it will be to reach the goal they had set for themselves. So they go back to their comfort zone, a reality which they already know and therefore will not bring them any disappointments.
It seems that you have overcome the reality “check” and that you are still here. Good. So from now on, you have a clear goal in mind: to work hard and, no matter what it will cost, to achieve it!
Does it involve learning HTML, CSS and Java, in order that you website looks clean and interactive? “Bring it on!”
Does it involve growing your email list, by being active in social media and writing hundreds of emails to influencers, while getting rejected and ignored by 99% of them? “No worries, I can do it”.
Or does it involve studying a range of products, diving deep into a specific market, knowing which players are there, what customers want and what are the best raw sources to obtain and produce those items? Yes, you will need to lose dozens of hours, frying brain cells in the meantime, but you take the challenge with no hesitation!
This is the phase in which the real entrepreneur/fighter/dancer/achiever starts appearing and growing within you. Until now, it had all been a child’s play but from now on you begin to realize that this is no longer a joke. That you have taken a serious decision and that it will be part of you.
But you also know the rules and the conditions of the game: you have to commit, to give all of yourself, in order to succeed. Fortunately and hopefully, by now you have understood that if you do not go the extra mile and do what almost nobody else is doing, then you will never leave the average behind.
It is also in this phase that you will literally develop yourself, by learning skills and refining your way of working and operating. Since you are on the ground, on that relentless battlefield which is expecting you to fall and to vanish like dust, you know exactly what you need to do so that you can proceed to the next level.
Skills and competences which now make total sense, not like the theory you learned in school and thought that would not have any utility. So for instance, now you dig deep into programming language, web design, shopping carts and the like, in order that you can have a complete, appealing website to sell your products.
So maybe you have worked really hard and pulled out all the stops but somehow you are not having the success you had expected (perhaps “desired” applies better here) in the first place. Not even close.
You trained really hard for this kickboxing competition, you could beat many strong opponents before but, when the big day came, you could not even reach the last 32. Or what to say when, after three months of releasing your e-book about financial help, only your best friends and your dad have bought it?
Well my friend, this is where the real men rise and the weak boys fall. This is where you need to pull all of your inner strength, to be resilient as hell and to just keep going. This is almost a leap of faith, in which you will be heading towards an uncertain destination, a place of success which goes against all the odds.
Because neither your friends and family nor the market itself believe that you will actually succeed. Basically, you are the only one able to keep the boat afloat, moving towards a dream which may never come true.
This is a stage where a second wave of quitters show up and abandon the game. But not like the first ones, who retire after the first adversities and reality checks. No, these ones leave the arena crestfallen, totally frustrated and resigned, a feeling they will keep until the end of their lives.
But I can also tell you one thing: if you survive this phase and keep moving forward, by learning naturally from your mistakes and by improving, changing or even starting from scratch again your current model, then you are destined to success.
Have you reached this phase? Great, it seems that you are a more resilient motherfucker than Rocky, Rambo and John McClane all together. If you are here, it is because you have been able to survive the storm, where the worst has passed already.
Behind you lies a path of questioning, self-doubt and even desperation, where your confidence, belief and even faith almost disappeared. But somehow you kept going, believing that there was indeed light on the other side of the tunnel.
Maybe among days of silence and no feedback, you suddenly got that email from a reader praising your good work. Or maybe you were able to sell ten products of your website within a week. Or you could bear a fight with your karate master, where you were also able to hit him for a few times.
And right now, you start seeing the results, the REAL proof of something which you have always deep believed in but had never come to the surface before. And so you start looking for strategies to grow and to make you more visible.
For instance, let us say that your e-commerce website already receives about thirty visits per day and that people show some interest in your products, asking about some details via email.
So you engage with some influencers, whom you have regular contact with and have even praised your work, and they give you that extra hand. Luckily, there is one day when one of them hosts a podcast and you are the guest speaker, to talk about your business which suddenly starts having thousand of eyeballs on it.
Or maybe, even after some defeats and disappointments in competitions, a tv producer spots you dancing salsa in a local club, with such a passion and intensity, that he hands you out his card for you to contact him later.
Whatever is the thing you are working on, you are already way beyond the basics, so you know and are aware of your limitations but also of your capabilities, what you need to improve and what can be put in the background.
In addition, the feedback you already receive, even if being still little, already gives you powerful clues to guide and show you which path to follow.
The world is made for you to fail. To keep you being one among the herd. To live a normal, relatively happy life, so that you feel secure
However, if you want to achieve anything which is a little bit out of the ordinary (in a good way), then let me tell you that it will be, at best, just long-lasting, and worst case scenario, something which you will never achieve and will destroy you both mentally and physically.
But that is the price to pay when you want to reach a place which very few do.
To become a champion.
To become rich.
To become famous.
To become successful.
If such things were easy, then such words wouldn’t exist either, and the world would just be an indistinguishable place. Luckily, they are possible, but you need to give everything you’ve got and commit as if your life were dependent on it.
It will not be easy, it will be not be immediate but, the good news is that it is mostly dependent on you. Even if circumstances and luck play a role, if you want it badly and keep pursuing it, overcoming all the adversities, barriers and problems you will come across, then you will reach the other side of the tunnel.
How much it will take, I can not tell, as it depends on various factors (in which stage are you at right now, how much are you willing to commit, also what are you willing to sacrifice, etc) but if you have the “nothing will stop me” mindset, at least you will reach a better place than the one you are currently at.
And whenever you think about giving up, just imagine yourself as the big loser who wasn’t resilient and strong enough to endure such a demanding trip. That for itself, will make you keep going.