Work hard, yes. But on what?

The premise that you work hard with success to follow doesn’t address what you should work hard ON. Here’s a technique that I’ve found some success in.

I have racked my brains out looking for ideas on different businesses ideas and have set up some, ranging from successful to failures. I, being an ambivert, used to an office environment even started a busy dessert shop in an even busier shopping centre, which I eventually sold because I was unable to give consistently to the constant customer interaction. I’ve started a logistics company, which although presented a good opportunity, now take a behind the scenes role because I just don’t take enough interest in the industry and environment. After nearly seven years, I still run a few simple businesses like ticksymbol.com that generate a few pounds.

I’ve used CrunchBase to spot well-funded start-ups in other countries and using those as a basis to generate ideas or models to adapt in my country. I’ve studied emerging trends and reviewed top-performing stock and ETFs over long time horizons to understand where current and future opportunities lie.

Given all of that research and analysis, there is one constant for me: enjoyment and skill-fit are important. If I am to build something over the long term, I need to enjoy it and it should require a skill set that I have or am interesting in developing.

Aristotle gave us the following wisdom:

Using our habits as a starting point can help us figure out what we are likely to persevere with once we need to cross the chasm. Here is a simple approach that has helped me:

  1. Remove macro ambitions of “wanting to be rich” or “wanting to be famous” — they’re generally useless and of no practical value.
  2. Understand the themes of what you have been doing over a minimum time-horizon of 1–2 years. What have been the natural things that you have gravitated towards and what things have you signed up to — charity work? interning at a startup? being part of a public speaking group?
    Why not even consider what you are reading or who you subscribe to on YouTube — maybe James Frank? Matt D’Avella?

This list will be the basis of figuring out what you can do that will remain sustainable based on the things that you already do and gravitate towards naturally.

Naval, presents the wisdom that you should do things that feel like play to you but look like work to others. By understanding our “habits” and natural inclination towards certain themes or things gives us insight into what “play” is to us.

Basing success on habits and play makes things easier for us and we increase the probability of success by orders of magnitude because it is natural to us and more enjoyable for us, as opposed to running a logistics company that we know very little about, which although seems to have the seeds of success, is stressful, tiring and frankly, not sustainable.

I have an interest in frameworks; models; optimisation, systems and processes and somehow, I have landed a role in line with this. I would consider myself extremely good at my job and often find myself taking leadership roles on projects on this basis. I have worked on developing systems and processes as part of my extra-curricular work and this has often been the most successful dimension to the businesses I have started, with me wanting to work on this day and night.

I hope you’re able to use this approach to find something that is based on your habits to create something that you feel like working day and night on.

Join me at my blog at www.najhassan.com or let’s connect on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Writing while walking.

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