Although I am a little bit addictive to the genre of inspirational/get organized/hustle/win books, I sometimes find myself a little annoyed by the premise that if you just work hard enough you’ll be successful/happy/rich/whatever. The fact is, sometimes you can work really hard and want something really badly and not get it.
I was starting to feel that annoyance as I read Amazing Things Will Happen, but then it occurred to me that perhaps the key is in how we define success and what we view as the prize. If we only measure success by wealth or prestige, then some of us are never going to get there no matter how we hustle. However, if we broaden our definitions to encompass non-monetary rewards and a mixture of current acclaim with future legacy-building, we can all probably agree that being focused and determined will help us toward our goals, whatever those may be.
Once I got past my irritation at the “if you want more money and a job you love, you only have to work hard” mantra, I did find some helpful thoughts in Amazing Things Will Happen. For example, the author advocates doing a “Three Word Exercise” to boil down your priorities for a given year or month. Similar to the word-of-the-year concept, the three word exercise forces you to think about what you really want to accomplish, see commonalities between goals and projects, and then helps you to focus on actually accomplishing something rather than spinning your wheels on a myriad of different projects. The idea is similar to Gretchen Rubin’s idea of focusing resolutions by monthly topics, although Rubin’s description is more in-depth and I found it more helpful.
Another good point was the author’s reminder that before making any major changes or taking on new directions, it’s critical to determine for yourself “what in your life can be sacrificed and what can’t.” I have found this to be very true and important in my own life. Instead of thinking of all the things I could be doing but am not accomplishing, it helps me to remind myself that although I could do X, because it conflicts with my priority Y, I am not going to pursue it right now. It’s the difference between saying “I can’t” and saying “I’m not choosing to make that a priority right now.”
Similarly, with your goals and projects narrowed down, you have a better view of what might be standing in your way. If the obstacle is not one of your higher priorities, you can devote time to thinking of ways to offload it or circumvent it. I think the author is correct that in many cases people don’t accomplish a goal because they never get around to removing an obstacle that could have easily been set aside.
Overall, Amazing Things Will Happen is a very short read (the chapters read like blog posts–have you noticed how many books feel structured that way these days? I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that) and in the short time it will take you to read it, you might find enough encouragement or helpful hints to make it worth your couple of hours. Although I didn’t find it very different from other books of its type, if you enjoy reading about goal setting, organization, and life hacks you might find this book enjoyable.
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