The 4 Steps to Achieving the Impossible

by Joe Barnes

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Inspiration

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Date: Jan 16, 2020

The 4 Steps to Achieving the Impossible

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
– Nelson Mandela

I did it!!! The picture you see above is of me holding my first ‘published’ book. While I signed the book deal with Watkins Media back in December of 2018, it wasn’t until I held a copy in my hand that it really sunk in.

I’m a published author.

I’ve done the thing I was told was impossible.

My Impossible

I was first told becoming a published author was impossible by my parents when I mentioned my plan way back in 2002. Later, it was reinforced by another author I met and a friend who worked for a major publishing company. Finally, and most convincingly, the general consensus opinion, gathered from reading The Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook, magazines and being influenced by the media, also indicated this was the case.

Getting a book published was impossible or, so difficult, it’s just wasn’t worth trying. Furthermore, the royalties were so poor that hardly any author could make a living selling books alone.  

Unfortunately, I believed what I was told. As a result, I was fighting two battles. Not only was I competing against authority figures, I was also competing against myself.

What do you think happens when you have to work against this backdrop of doubt?

16 years pass in between you accomplishing your objective.

I didn’t start writing in earnest until 2007. That’s 5 years of procrastinating because I didn’t believe it was possible.  Then, even when I’d completed my first book – Escape The System – back in 2012, I didn’t approach any publishing companies. 

Getting a book published is impossible so why waste time emailing publishers? That was my thought process and it lead me to self-publishing my first book.

More years of grind followed, as I attempted to build an audience and learn about marketing – something that was very alien to me. However, during this time, I learned a valuable lesson. 

Getting your book published is possible.

While searching the web, I started to hear stories of authors who had self-published their first book, built an audience and then used their following to leverage a deal with a publishing company. There was nothing special about these authors. Sure, their books were good but so was mine. Maybe I could do it. 

Then, in 2017, I met an author at a YesGroup meeting in London. His name was Brett Moran and his first book, Wake The F##k Up, was published by Watkins Media. I bought a copy, wrote him a review and asked if he would share the details of his contact at Watkins.

Fortunately, he agreed and I emailed them, asking if they’d consider publishing Escape The System. After reading the book, they declined but seemed genuine in their praise and request to hear from me in if I had any future projects. A year later, Do The Work you Love was complete and I sent them the manuscript.  

Was I surprised when they emailed me back offering a publishing deal?

I was delighted but only partly surprised. I believed in the book and, now that I knew it was possible to get a book deal, I adopted the mind-set of ‘why shouldn’t I have one?’ What once seemed so far away and incomprehensible, had now become ordinary. 

Can YOU Achieve your Impossible?

What about you? What are you currently struggling with that, so far, you’ve found impossible to achieve? 

Perhaps your impossible is based around your health and recovering from an injury or illness. Maybe it’s overcoming an addiction. Maybe it’s finding love or simply getting a girlfriend or boyfriend.

There are unique reasons as to why we don’t believe we can do certain things. What one person may find impossible, another finds easy.

Don’t be disheartened by this. The only person you’re competing with is yourself. We all bring different capabilities, and perspectives, to the task at hand. Where we all unite, though, is in benefitting from the experience of overcoming our respective impossible. 

With that in mind, ask yourself the following 4 questions. Answering them will let you know whether, you too, can achieve your impossible.

  1. Has someone else done it before? 

If someone else has achieved your impossible then you can do the same.

It has been done. Therefore, no matter how many people tell you that you can’t do it, another person has.

What’s so different between you and them? (Read steps 2 to 4 and you’ll discover that it’s less than you think).

Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his autobiography Total Recall, tells the story of the first man to clean and jerk over 500 pounds. Up until this point, it was viewed as impossible for a human to lift this amount. However, in 1970, when Russian weight lifter, Vasily Alekseyev, lifted 501 lbs, three other men broke the 500 lbs barrier within a year. 

Knowing that someone else has achieved your impossible awakens your mind to the idea that you might be able to do it. 

Even if it’s never been done, this shouldn’t stop you from trying. After all, the Russian weight lifter was breaking new ground. Why not you?

2. Do you have a natural talent for whatever it is you want to achieve?

I don’t want this step to be misconstrued. Talent is not the be all and end all. However, it helps. 

I’ve been a tennis coach for 17 years. During this time, I’ve seen again and again, with both boys and girls, that there’s a natural predisposition to the sport. Some young children can just pick up a racket and hit a ball. Most can’t. Those that can, learn faster and progress quicker than the others. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean that those without this talent will fail to become good tennis players. However, it’s harder and they’ll need to put in substantially more time to reach the same level as their more talented counterparts. 

Having said this, though, there’s a limit to what talent can achieve. Time and again, I’ve seen players with greater talent lose to, and fail to progress as far through the rankings, as a children who play more, are surrounded by others aiming to be professionals and are obsessed with reaching the top level of the game. Over a long enough time frame, desire beats talent.

What can you learn from this example?

Choose something you already have an aptitude for. Be smart and pick your battles. Maybe it isn’t wise to take on the world. Instead, find something you’re already good at, or know you’ll learn quickly, and make your mark in this area.

3. Are you prepared to move heaven and earth to achieve your mission?

It will take extraordinary commitment to achieve your impossible. After all, this is something that, at the onset, you can’t see yourself achieving. 

A mission like this requires everything you’ve got. You’ll have to think about it everyday. You’ll have to work on it almost every day. It must become your main life priority.

As a hypnotherapist, I’ve seen a lot of clients who struggle to lose weight. They would come to the session and tell me, for various health and personal reasons, why it was so important to them. However, when I’d tell them that, at least for the period of time it takes to form new habit – typically 66 days* – taking the steps necessary to lose weight would have to become their main life priority (above work and children), they’d baulk at the suggestion.

As a result, things might go well for a week or so but then, when their workload picked up, and they started having to stay late (and, as a result, fell back into bad habits like eating takeaways), they’d believe their failure was justified. Of course, it wasn’t, as we almost always have options (they could have refused to work past their contracted hours) if we’re prepared to take them and face the consequences.

Ultimately, they just didn’t understand the level of commitment needed to achieve their impossible. You have to be prepared to die for whatever it is you want to achieve.    

4. Will you ignore the Lies? 

What I was told by my parents, the other author I knew and the friend who worked at a publishing company, and what I heard in the media, was a lie.

Having now achieved my impossible, I realise I could have done so in half the time. My procrastination and doubt stopped me, not a real block that prevents people from becoming published authors.

Remember, other people, or The System you live in, are not the keepers of the truth. For whatever reason – sometimes they genuinely believe they’re protecting you, sometimes it’s because they’re jealous of you pursuing your dream – they are just promoting their scared version of reality. 

Don’t let it become yours. Ignore the lies and work towards your dream regardless. History reveals there are very few, if any, desires or ideas that are impossible to achieve. 

Final Thought

Achieving your impossible f##ks with your head in a positive way.

If you can do the thing they told you was impossible, how many of the other goals and dreams, that you were led to believe were off limits, can you also accomplish?

Achieving your impossible opens your mind to a new world of possibilities. It makes you realise that you, and you alone, are the sole determiner in how far you can go.

Do The Work you Love

My new book, Do The Work you Love, will be launched on the 11th February 2020. To pre-order your copy, click the link here

* Research undertaken at the University College of London in 2009

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