Imagine that you’re the star of your very own reality show. It’s a tasteful show, more of a dramatic documentary, really. It’s about how an average person overcame their problems and became a superstar. Everything you see, every opportunity you encounter, every possible action you can take is put there for that specific reason.
That cute guy on the corner? Potential love interest. The new boss? A fresh ear for your improvement ideas. That accident you suffered? Just enough pain to give depth to your creative streak. Everything you see, everything you do, has been put there by the show’s producers in order to give you the highest chances at becoming as great as you can in every area of your life. And yeah, you’re not supposed to know. But you’ve figured it out.
Imagine what would happen. Imagine what you’d do if you knew that, no matter what happened, it was put there to be an educational, interesting step on your way to your heart’s desire. All you needed is to begin and you will succeed. Not immediately, that would make for poor TV, but with some, in hindsight, dramatically correct obstacles.
Knowing that you’ll succeed, would you be more willing to try? Would you be more willing to do more, risk more, achieve more? Would you start? Start right now?
Predestined for Greatness
There’s a branch of Calvinism (a Christian Protestant denomination) that believes that some people are predestined to enter heaven. The way they know is by succeeding in life, in business, in society. So devout Calvinists are supposed to apply themselves to building a better society, to bettering themselves and to working diligently at whatever craft the choose. And since they are good, devout Calvinists God has chosen them to succeed. They cannot fail. It’s predestined.
Calvinism, and Protestantism in general, is often credited with the success of industrialization and the generation of wealth in North-Western Europe due to the work ethic it fostered*. In short, because they believe that they couldn’t fail, and in fact if they didn’t try and didn’t succeed that was a sign of God’s displeasure with them, they worked hard, took risks, strove to better themselves and their world.
A lot of them achieved their dreams, whether it was to become rich, to find religious freedom by crossing the Atlantic to the new world or to rise in society.
You can do the same. All you need is to believe that you will succeed.
Aim Low and Dream High
I’m not telling you to abandon all you’ve got and go of to a writer’s commune in the jungle where you’ll eat breadfruit and crank out the Great American Novel. I’m saying start.
Start with what you’ve got. Want to paint? Doodle for ten minutes a day. Want to write a novel? Write two sentences on your way to work. Want to make a blockbuster game? Code for fifteen minutes a day.
Aim low. It’s all it takes.
I’m not saying to dream low. If you want to write the Great American Novel then write it. But don’t expect to write it all at once, in a fit of divine inspiration from a cup of laced coffee. Aim for a few minutes a day. Everyone’s got a few minutes a day to spare.
91 Hours in 15 Minutes a Day
Drink one less cup of coffee and take that time draw. Eat your lunch slightly quicker and take the remaining time to study. 15 minutes a day for a year is 91 hours a year. That’s two full weeks of work. What do you accomplish in two weeks of full time work? What can you accomplish in two weeks of full time work if it really mattered?
Aim low and dream high.
Those 91 hours are only your active time. You’ll find that you have a lot more time than you think, a few minutes to dream here, a moment to plan there. Sometimes you can even use those times to create more. Petter V. Brett wrote his hit novel “The Warded Man” on his phone while commuting to work. Now he’s sold millions of copies, sold the sequels, been translated to languages such as German, Polish, Cantonese, landed a movie option and much more.
All from a few minutes a day, every day, for a few years.
* There is some debate amongst historians whether the Protestant/Puritan/Calvinist work ethic contributed to the development of industrialization or whether they just happened at roughly the same time, lacking causality. But debate is what academia is all about.