I’m a recovering productivity junkie.
I’ve been around the productivity world.
It’s weird since I also consider myself a minimalist.
Sometimes it mixes. Sometimes it doesn’t.
I do think efficacy will always be important. If you know me, you know I’m all about intentionality, even though the meaning of that word is being lost on modern culture. It’s overused.
But intention and efficacy are two sides of the same coin.
For the sake of efficacy and intention, I want to give you a few rules to live by that really stood out to me in the sea of productivity. These are principles taken from the book, The Slight Edge. Now, if you read that book, it’s quite… salesy. There’s a lot of bold text, all caps, and exclamation points. For some, that’s an immediate turnoff and I get that. But give this one a chance. It’s actually full of helpful, practical knowledge.
As a reminder, I have the 30 foundational principles I live by… and I stand by those, but these are rules for success, as a minimalist and a Christian. In addition to those 30 rules, I’ve found these seven rules to be a great complement.
1. First, you must show up
In The Slight Edge, this is merely called, “show up.” As simple as this principle seems, this is actually where most people fail. We spend years doing research on something we want to do and never take action. Why? Because action is the hard part.
But the thing is, action cures our fear. If we don’t know where to start and we get started anyway, the fear will start to fade.
That means this is really a point of action. Take action.
That’s always the first step. It’s the hardest. It’s the most important.
2. And then, you must be consistent
So far I feel like the two quotes I’ve shared are two of the most shared quotes on any blog ever. There’s a reason for that. Don’t overlook them.
It’s true, you are what you consistently do.
Two things make consistency possible and much easier:
- Start small. The smaller you start, the more likely you are to stick with anything. If you don’t know where to start, you can “show up” by just taking the smallest possible first step.
- Identity-based habits. If you want to start a new habit, a new business venture, or a passion project, you have to identify as such. Identify as an athlete as soon as you start working out, or at a minimum identify as a person who goes to the gym regularly. Identify as a business person as soon as you file for your LLC. You get the idea.
3. All the while, keep a positive outlook
Positivity can’t cure a terminal disease, but it can make any situation more productive and pleasant.
There’s been a cultural shift lately where often we’re hearing the term “toxic positivity,” but I’m going to assume you’re mature enough to know when the positivity isn’t helping and when it is, so we won’t address that here.
Our perspective is everything.
That’s why happiness around the world isn’t tied directly to money or success.
The counterargument here is always, “so you want me to pretend like I’m not broke, struggling, etc.” and the answer is “absolutely not,” but it’s also not going to help you to wallow in whatever you’re going through.
When I say “there’s no such thing as a good excuse,” what I mean is, there’s no such thing as an excuse that’s actually going to help you or anybody else get through anything.
Drop the excuses. Stay positive. See life as an opportunity.
4. And you must be committed to the end
I always say some of the greatest artists and musicians will never create anything great for lack of commitment. Creativity often requires discipline to make something great.
It takes commitment to write a book, or an entire album, or to start a business.
Talent isn’t as important as commitment. Neither is intelligence or even competency. If you’re not committed, the other traits won’t matter.
5. Along the way, feed your passion and your faith
In the book, this principle is called, “cultivate a burning desire backed by faith.”
Passion is important.
Following your passion isn’t always going to lead to the best place for you, but becoming passionate about what you’re doing will.
Saying “follow your passion” has caused a lot of people a lot of problems.
That doesn’t mean passion is bad. That means we often do it wrong.
You have to find something you’re passionate about that you’re also capable of doing and committed to. You can be passionate about singing all day, but if you aren’t able to develop the talent you want to be a great singer, you’ll have to find another path to get where you want to go.
6. But make sure you’re willing to pay the price
In the book, Olson says, “anything worth having is worth working and paying a price for.”
And on the flipside, anything worth having is typically something you have to pay a price for. There’s an opportunity cost to everything.
If you want to be healthy and fit, you have to pay the price of eating well and exercising. If you don’t, you pay the price of being out of shape, overweight, and constantly tired.
You get the idea.
7. Finally, remember nothing matters without integrity
Integrity is the building block of your character.
Who are you without integrity? Probably someone you don’t want to be.
You’ve heard that integrity and character are about doing the right thing when no one is looking. That means it’s about your heart. Doing a good thing with a negative motivation isn’t actually a good thing.
There are few things in life that can’t be taken from you. Integrity is one of them.
If you feel like you lack integrity, start by working on your heart.
Go Slowly, But Go
Those seven principles can change your life if you implement them, but if you just skim this article and then go read another article about how to get better, you’re going to be stuck somewhere before the first principle.
Remember, moving slowly and starting small are the keys to growth, improvement, and ultimately, success. But if you’re moving slowly, it’s assumed that you are… moving.
That’s how true success is created.
Focus on creating small habits that turn into life-changing habits.
Further Book Reading
- The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson