In search of the silver bullet

10 Feb 2015

By Chris Youssef

One thing I find really intriguing is the concept that there are products available that can instantaneously provide us with gratification - "the things we want". What I find even more fascinating is that people actually believe these "silver bullets" exist.

The most common examples I see include weight loss products and fail safe investments that can make you lots of money in a short period.

Smoke and Mirrors

Let's be honest, if it sounds too good to be true it usually is. If these quick fix products actually delivered there wouldn't be a need to spend thousands of dollars on advertising trying to convince you that they really work. The only people who are likely to benefit from these products are those actually selling them.

So, why do so many of us fall for these quick fix solutions? Probably because we like to think there is a simple solution to solve our problems and one that will give us the immediate result we're looking for.

So let's get back to basics and consider what you should be looking for. These techniques won't give you overnight results, but at least you can be safe in the knowledge that these techniques do work.

1. Knowledge is power

Whether it is saving, getting fit or losing weight, by understanding the theory and the "why" behind the changes makes it more likely you will persevere with what you are doing.

For example if you exercise more and decrease your food intake, chances are you will probably lose weight. If you spend less than you earn you will end up with more money in the bank. It seems so obvious but it is amazing how many people ignore the basics.

2. Change your activity

If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got. So if something isn't working than simply change it.

I remember going to the gym three to four times a week with the intention of getting fit and losing weight. I quickly got frustrated as I wasn't getting the results I wanted - I was bulking up but not shedding those extra kilograms. The reason – I was doing too much weight training (which I enjoyed) and not enough 'cardio' (which I didn't enjoy doing quite as much).

By changing how I was exercising within weeks I started to see results and eventually achieved my goals.

Albert Einstein summarises this very well, the "Definition of insanity, is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result".

3. Timings and progress

Set yourself realistic time frames and make sure you measure your progress along the way. Whilst there is nothing wrong with being ambitious and aiming high, but if your goals are too ambitious there is a psychological risk of believing that you can't achieve them. Results are incremental; you shouldn't aim to go from 0 to 100 overnight, so acknowledge that in your plan.

I find people who are training for a marathon do this very well. They start by running smaller distances and timing themselves. They then try to increase the speed over the same distance and then increase the distance accordingly. The key lesson here is that without measuring your progress it is very hard to hold yourself accountable and progress further.

4. This is your lifestyle

Any changes you make should be incorporated into your lifestyle. In my experience this can be very hard to implement but once you have these built these changes into your routine they become much easier to maintain.

A good example of this is when people arrange to have a portion of their income deposited into a separate savings account and then manage their expenditure with the remaining funds. If they were to spend first and save the difference it would produce a very different outcome. Over time people adjust and manage within their set budget and live their life accordingly.

Still looking for your silver bullet?

If we bring all these points together there is no escaping the hard work that's involved in achieving the things that are important to you. Don't look for shortcuts because, in most cases, they will probably just set you back in the long run. I know from dealing with people who have been successful in achieving the things that are important to them that the common denominator they have is "hard work". Just remember if something sounds too good to be true, it generally is.

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