As of this writing, I’m 22. In the last 12 months I’ve generated a million dollars in commissions in one of the most competitive industries on the planet, where my average competitor is at least double my age with 10 times the tenure in the business. I have a master’s degree from a prestigious university, which I received when I was 20 after fast-tracking four years of school. I’ve traveled to more than 50 countries, completed 13 triathlons and have an extremely happy, stimulating life.
Things are very good -- but the future wasn’t always so bright.
When I finished graduate school, I moved to California's Orange County to launch a new office for my family’s commercial real-estate business. The first couple of months were brutal, and I quickly came to the conclusion that the success we’d have (if any) would be astronomically more difficult than I could ever have imagined. Despite being an overachiever all my life, I found myself wondering how to truly excel in the real world when it all finally mattered.
After reinventing the wheel for myself time and time again I’ve come to realize that the secret to millennial success in the business world is a combination of grit and creative thinking. Here are the seven mental shifts I implemented to turbo-charge my growth.
1. Age is just a number.
Embrace your youth wholeheartedly. If you spin your age as an asset, which can be done in a variety of ways, it can be an extremely powerful differentiator. The moment you begin to give yourself an excuse for not being successful is the moment of almost certain failure.
If you believe you can really make it then you will make it. Besides, there is nothing people want to see more than a hard-working, intelligent and dedicated young professional who succeeds. Create a snowball of momentum that makes people want to be a part of your life.
2. Reinvest in yourself.
The safest investment I’ve ever made is in my future. Read at least 30 minutes a day, listen to relevant podcasts while driving and seek out mentors vigorously. You don’t just need to be a master in your field, you need to be a well-rounded genius capable of talking about any subject whether it is financial, political or sports related. Consume knowledge like air and put your pursuit of learning above all else.
I also believe that it is critically important to spoil yourself to a healthy extreme in order to reward your hard work and avoid burnout. Consider splurging on memorable experiences and luxuries that will enhance your lifestyle. I get a weekly massage like clockwork, and it is one of the best productivity hacks I employ.
3. Avoid decision fatigue.
Attention is a finite daily resource and can be a bottleneck on productivity. No matter the mental stamina developed over time, there is always going to be a threshold where you break down and your remaining efforts for the day become suboptimal.
Conserve your mental power by making easily reversible decisions as quickly as possible and aggressively planning recurring actions so you can execute simple tasks on autopilot. I know what I am wearing to work and eating for breakfast each day next week. Do you?
4. Build a resilient mind.
The biggest differentiator between mediocrity and meteoric success is the ability to work productively for hours at a time. These long stretches are when important work is almost exclusively completed. Focus is paramount and, without intentionally developing mental stamina, you won’t be able to effectively compete with those who have systematically built up their endurance over decades in the business world.
Fast track your skills by being mindful of distractions and recognizing when you begin to wander out of focus. Perform a thorough analysis of your daily activities each night and aggressively seek opportunities for improvement.
5. Think big. Be big.
The science behind goal setting and its remarkable ability to accelerate success is infallible. If you don’t already have your one-, five- and 10-year goals written out and visible to you on a daily basis, do so right now. I read mine the second I wake up every single morning. Now ask yourself, what would have to happen to accomplish your 10-year goals in just one year?
The inherent power in maintaining consistency with your acknowledged goals can work both positively and negatively, and is cause for concern if you anchor yourself to a slower timeline of achievement. Be mindful and diligent in charting an optimal path that pushes you to your limit.
6. Be methodical.
Plan your work and then work your plan. Perhaps my biggest breakthrough was large-scale automation of my marketing systems. I created a process that allowed me to quintuple my marketing output while increasing my conversion rate considerably.
The simplest way to put your own content plan in motion is to create a multi-step campaign that touches a prospect through a variety of different mediums every week for at least a month. Follow a logical order and craft your content in a persistent way, while never becoming annoying.
Not in a sales role? You can take a similar approach to any analytical, creative or administrative position by developing rigid organizational systems that help improve your efficiency when faced with repetitive tasks.
7. Believe in yourself.
If not you, then who? Someone has to make it, and nothing is stopping you from being the person who accomplishes your wildest dreams. Nearly every person who has ever failed has had an excuse. Successful people have stories of the challenges that they overcame with creative solutions. The moment you confidently feel that there is nothing you can’t learn or develop to solve the most complex of problems is the moment of guaranteed greatness.
If you still aren’t sure how to begin, start with a promise to work towards the achievement of consistent excellence each moment of every day. This is the basic building block and mentality with which I am building my career.
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Keep it simple and remember that success is not an entitlement. If you really want to excel, you have to get out there and earn it every day for the rest of your life.
This piece was originally published on Entrepreneur.