Believe it or not, this is a quote from one of my most valuable influences. This quote is so simple, yet so impactful at the same time. In just two words it illustrates the difficulty and the simplicity of how to get where you want to be in this life. It’s applicable to practically everyone and will tell you all you need to know, without the frills of overcomplicating things just to make something sound appealing. Two words such as this may not be enough to be a quote, but to me when I hear these words play over and over in my head, all I can think about is Jerry Seinfeld. I’m an avid follower of his. Whether it’s his standup, or his TV series, or his podcast appearances, I just get something out of listening to him. More importantly, I get the most out of his interviews where he talks about his line of work and his relationship with work. This is where I first heard him say the big secret to becoming successful, “Just work.”
What’s the deeper meaning behind this quote? Well to me, the magic behind these two words tells me how simple being successful is. Now, simple does not mean easy. ‘Simple’ and ‘easy’ are two very different words here. ‘Simple’ is doing a little bit every single day. ‘Easy’ is doing something that doesn’t take consistent focus on. Becoming fit is simple. This is something that I’ve seen and know to be true with myself. To become fit, you need to exercise and eat right every weekday. Let’s just say weekdays are for work and weekends are for rest/play. There, I just told you how to become fit. I just told you how to lose 50 pounds of fat. I just told you how to gain 20 pounds of muscle. I just told you how to increase your 1-mile time or your 5-mile time or your 10-mile time. This is simple, but not easy.
This applies to everything. Want to build a successful business? You must work a little every single day on this. Being able to work nonstop for ten hours in one day may seem cool and productive and maybe it is for that day. But are you going to want to do it for five days a week, for 5 years? Maybe. But probably not. The beauty of the meaning behind “Just work” is that there is no official time requirement on how much work you do. It’s up to you to determine how much time you put into your dream. The only thing that matters is that you do the work day in and day out. As a writer, I write every weekday for one hour. This my goal. One hour every weekday. One hour is a long time to write. I used to give myself much less time because writing can be a difficult task. Nevertheless, for one hour I will sit down and write without any distractions. If there’s nothing that comes to mind, I will sit there quietly until something interesting does come to my mind. I’ll stare out the window, I’ll stare at the wall ahead, but I won’t look at any distractions like my phone or play around on my computer. I give myself one hour to write and whatever comes out, comes out. But for one hour, I only allow myself to write or to sit there quietly. This is how I’ve written over 500 articles and blogs. Because doing it everyday no matter what is more impactful than doing 3 a day some days and none on other days. A writer writes. An entrepreneur works. A fit person exercises. An artist paints. A cook cooks. A teacher teaches. We are all defined by what we do. So, depending on what you want to be, you need to do the appropriate work to become that person. And that means working at it daily.
Just work. This is so powerful to me. So simple, yet so difficult. But there are ways to make it easier on yourself. For example, the best way is to set bite-sized goals each day to get your work done. Don’t get caught up in working 10-hour days. You’ll burn yourself out, and potentially scare yourself away from wanting to do that work. If 10-hour days works for you then go for it. However, most people can’t operate sustainably this way. Instead, consistently do a little work every day. Give yourself a time limit to do the work where there is nothing you are doing except working. Make sure this time limit is manageable enough so you can do the work every day. This is your work time. Over time, you can always increase the time limit you give yourself. But when starting, it may be best to keep the time limits on the more conservative side. And after that time limit is done, it’s OK to give yourself a reward. Jerry Seinfeld says his greatest reward to his work is the feeling he gets after a good set on stage. He also says there’s no shame in getting an ice cream cone as well. You figure out what reward works best for you. But the important part is the consistency and breaking down each task you need to get done during your work time. Make it simple. Tell yourself or write down what you are going to do, then do it. Success isn’t easy, but it sure is simple.