What are you willing to do for success?
How hard will you work?
How much hustle will you invest in reaching your goals?
What if I told you you need to invest less?
What if I told you that you need to focus on doing the opposite?
Don’t get me wrong. I work hard. I spend a significant amount of time every week on work and achieving my goals. And I believe you absolutely achieve a lot by putting in hours of hard work.
But there’s a missing ingredient there.
And I’ve seen it too many times…
So driven to succeed that you’re bound to fail…
Let’s rewind. In 2009, I hadn’t made a name for myself as a copywriter yet. I had a few years experience in a full-time marketing gig. And I had a few freelance clients in my portfolio.
But I was serious about making copywriting work. As a freelancer.
I knew that within 12 months, I’d be moving across the country, with my wife and infant son.
I knew my full-time, in-person marketing job was going away.
I suspected the town I was moving to — Ames, Iowa — wouldn’t offer anything better in terms of a full-time job.
I had to make copywriting work.
So I went to the AWAI Bootcamp and Job Fair. And I worked hard to present myself well. I dressed my best. I put together a spiral-bound sales letter to sell myself. I did everything I could to make a good impression.
And it was difficult.
Mind you, I already had AWAI as a client. And in fact that connection, cemented there, was what I needed most to be successful in my first year as a freelancer.
But everything else about that first Bootcamp was a failure.
I tried too hard.
I wanted it too bad.
I was so driven to succeed that I screamed desperation, and failure was inevitable.
The next time I went — and every time after — it’s been 100% different…
Now I only ever wear jeans. Or whatever casual slacks I want. No tie. No suit. I usually wear a buttoned shirt, but I have it untucked. I’ll wear a jacket if it complements my look, but not out of obligation. My clothes fit and are well-kept, but casual.
This is my everyday nice wear. If I dress up to go out to dinner, it’s what I like to wear.
I’m comfortable, but I don’t try too hard.
This is also my attitude.
It’s light-hearted. Comfortable.
Situationally-appropriate, but also fun.
If I were speaking or putting on the event, I may dress nicer.
As an attendee — even one looking to get work from clients I meet there — I’m clearly neither trying too hard nor not trying.
This is attractive.
If you’re a 24/7 hustler, you make people uncomfortable…
When you try too hard, people think you’re trying to make up for some deficiency.
They question your motives.
And it hurts how they perceive you.
Ironically, the way to be more serious about achieving success is to be less serious.
Have more fun.
Lighten the pressure you put on yourself.
Play more games.
(If even the idea of working less hard makes you anxious, consider Charlie Hoehn’s book, Play It Away: A Workaholic’s Cure for Anxiety.)
You can get your playful juices flowing…
First, take an Improv class. Seriously. And if you find it hard, take it again. And again. And again. Most often, it’s being stuck in thought loops that creates anxiety and makes it hard to play. Improv forces you to do instead of think. To react in the moment, unscripted.
You can also play games and sports. It’s too easy as an adult to think we’re done playing games. Think again. This is a great way to find fun again.
Journal. I can’t quite explain this. Because the act of journaling itself isn’t playful. But if you’re radically honest with yourself in your journal, you can get your hangups out to make room for more play.
Answer silly and imaginative questions. Hollywood has just decided to use you as inspiration for a character in an upcoming movie — are you the hero or the villain and why? You have Jedi-level powers with The Force — are you dark side, light side, or conflicted? Imagine you’re an animal — which one, and why?
Stop working. Not for good. But schedule a time where you need to be done with work, and stop working at that time. Your to-do list still has things on it. They’ll be there tomorrow. Stop working for today though.
Or… What do YOU want to do to play? If I give you an assignment, you’ll treat it like work. Do you play music? Ride your bike? Create art? Whatever?
If it’s something you do for the joy of doing it (not because you’re trying to achieve a result), you’re probably doing some form of play.
Do more of that.
If you’re willing to do anything for success, start playing and stop striving…
You’ll bring a new lightness of being.
You won’t put pressure on people from your being too attached to the outcome.
You’ll actually put a smile on the faces of people you encounter.
And you’ll have more fun, too. Maybe even realizing that success has many meanings, including but not limited to the number in your bank account.
If you’re serious about achieving success, don’t be so serious.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,