C = A + B

If you visit the self-help sections of any major book retailer or city library, you are bound to be overwhelmed by attractive titles from gurus and authors deemed apt to solve your problems or maximize your effectiveness. While turning the pages you subject yourself to data, case studies, and interviews often resulting in nothing more than educated opinions dictating what approach to take to succeed. I have read a countless amount of these books, from bestsellers to lesser-known titles, some being genuinely insightful and others (most) being utter wastes of time and energy. The problem I have found with the majority of these works is that the point is rarely clear and concise. A 250+ page book could really be summed up in a single paragraph, sentence, quote, or even a word. Chapters and volumes are filled with pontifications intended for that very purpose…to fill.

I like things given to me straight. Advice, counsel, and the expression of ideas, if truly valuable, are best received if communicated in a manner that is short, effective, sweet, and efficient. With that, I’m going to take on the role of life coach for a minute and share a profound idea that has recently made itself absolutely indispensable in my life and meditations as I contemplate what to do, and I’m confident it will help you as well. No frills and excess. No 300 page essay. The idea is based on the following equation:

C = A + B

In this elementary equation, C represents your desired end, aim, result, or goal. A and B represent what you do to achieve it. Easy enough, right? Apparently not, because countless people have no idea what I mean. This is not advanced algebra here, people. It’s the simple formula for success, published prior as muddled and complicated on millions and millions of pages. The truth is that in order to achieve your goals, you must adopt and employ other series of steps, actions, and behaviors. If these actions do not point to your desired end, or if your A and B do not point to your C, you are not doing it right, and likely wasting valuable time, money, relationships, and opportunities. And that, to me, is heartbreaking.

The reason this is so important to understand is because so many people have goals and dreams but do absolutely nothing to achieve them or make them reality. If, for example, you have a goal to lose 20 pounds by April and have resolved in 2017 to do so like millions of other Americans, but you eat out three times a week and neglect regular diet and exercise, you obviously are not interested in losing the weight. If you aspire to be a great novelist but haven’t opened a recreational Word document on your computer since the seventh grade, you must not really want to be a writer, and you are cheating yourself. No buts about it. Make sense? Like I said, many people will smile and nod and look at me like I’m Captain Obvious, but if you consider this concept in the context of your own life, you will be surprised and perhaps even discouraged to uncover how fast your wheels are spinning, and how slow you are actually moving.

My point, though, is not to discourage, but to encourage. For most, course corrections are pretty easy, or at least easy to identify. If you want to run a marathon but none of your actions or behaviors involve jogging or conditioning, you might need to make an adjustment. If you want to be a competent pianist, you might consider purchasing a piano and investing in lessons, dedicating time daily to practice, etc. Your A and B must point toward your C. The C very rarely just happens to anyone, but is built and created through countless hours of the A and the B activities. Think of something you want (C). Now think of what you have spent your days doing in the last two weeks. Think of what fills your schedule today (A) and think about your agenda for tomorrow (B). Do they align? Do your actions point toward your goal? If not, make the change. The results will inspire you. 

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