Ryan Adams is one of the most prolific musicians in modern music. In the last eight years he averaged a release of one full studio album per year. In one year alone, he released three albums! Since 2000, he has contributed to dozens of other albums and movie soundtracks. One night I stumbled on one of his televised performances, which involved a question and answer session with the audience afterwards. One fan asked how he could write and release so many songs. His answer summed up his work philosophy, one we should all adopt if we want to be successful with our personal goals.
(I am paraphrasing what Adams said because I wasn’t recording the show.) When asked how he manages to write so many songs, he said:
What I do and what all musicians do is easy. All we have to do is sit down for a couple hours a week and write a song or two. That simple task is all the world asks of me, so I do it. The other musicians who don’t are just lazy, because again, we aren’t being asked to tar rooftops or clean out dumpsters. We just have to write a couple songs!
Think about your #1 goal for a minute. What action does that goal ask of you? Is it asking you to scrape sludge out of cesspools? I would hope not. Instead, you picked something you want for yourself. As such, the goal asks you to take a consistent but easy action.
- A goal to write a book only asks for a page or two a day. It doesn’t demand you get a job making the pulp that produces paper
- A goal to lose weight only asks hour in the gym and light meals. You aren’t asked to dig the iron and melt the alloying elements to make the steel for the gym equipment.
- A goal for getting straight A’s in your classes only asks you to study for 2-3 hours a day. You aren’t asked to lay the bricks that make up the University classrooms.
If you look a little deeper into what Adams said, it makes a strong implication for those who don’t take action. Yes, he calls them lazy. But there’s a deeper meaning. It implies that if you don’t take the simple action, then you cease to be. A song writer who doesn’t write songs ceases to be a song writer. An author who doesn’t write ceases to be an author. A non-smoker who doesn’t keep cigarettes out of his mouth ceases to be a non-smoker.
In other words, consistency is required for success. He didn’t say “To be a musician you have to write 6 songs and quit.” Nope—he left it open-ended. He says write a song or two each week, consistently.
What we can take from this is a new perspective on our goals. If you take a careful look at your top goal, what action is it asking you to do? Is the action easier than loading semi-trucks full of nails? Ok, then get to it!