5 Simple Truths on Achievement

A monumental achievement. How about your life?

Welcome to my friend and first guest post contributor – Razwana Wahid, founder of Your Work Is Your Life.

This month marks the seventh month I have been living on my own in Paris.  On my own meaning I share the city with around 2 million other people, but I started off having no friends or family to welcome me when I arrived.  Being a little British-Asian girl from a small town in the north of England, and given that my sole purpose in life was supposed to be getting married and having children, this is quite an achievement for me.

I was never supposed to amount to anything.  Achievement or success was not on the cards.  In fact, the cards were of a completely different colour.  But as I grew older, I realised I had a taste for bigger things.  Well, pretty small things to most people, but big for me, given the expectations of me were so low.

So I left my small town, moved to London, had a blast, and then moved to Paris.

Pretty cool (for me).

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  I want to do more. I want to feel like I am growing – in physical strength, emotional intelligence, and self esteem.

Do you feel the same?  Do you want to do more with your life; making changes now that you know will change you forever?

I am marking 2013 as the year of achievement.  It’s the year we all set goals for ourselves and achieve them, with flair and style (and in heels if you’re anything like me).

But before you set out to achieve those goals, there are a few things to consider.  Five, to be precise:

1.       Courage comes after the act, not before

A common misconception about courage is that you have to have some before you do anything.

Au contraire.

The truth about courage is that it is built within you over time – as you are doing, not before you do anything.

Remember Popeye?  Those cartoons fed us one big, fat, lie.  He would eat a can of spinach to give him strength and courage, eliminating all his fear, before challenging his opponent.

In reality, the fear never actually goes away – you just have to channel it differently.

People we admire are as scared as the rest of us. Do you think Felix Baumgartner drank a dose of courage before putting on his space suit?  His courage was built as he remained committed to his goal.  If he had waited until he had the strength to achieve it (and it took him 7 years of planning and work) he would never have even completed the thought, let alone put on his suit.

The simple truth is: you don’t know what you are capable of until you test yourself.  You are capable of more than you realise.

So to be courageous – do more of the stuff you are scared of.

2.       ‘I don’t’ is more powerful than ‘I can’t’

One of those ‘I’ statements is empowering; the other is the beginning of excuses.

Let’s take vegetarians as an example.  Do you think vegetarians think to themselves:

‘I know I said I’m a vegetarian, but just this once, I will have a steak’


Their statement is simple: ‘I don’t eat meat’.

Saying ‘I don’t’ makes your intention clear.  You have made this decision.  ‘I can’t’ implies you don’t have the ability.

Now, of course, there are some changes that we make that do not necessarily mean we stick to them 100% of them time.  For example, I’ve made a commitment to wake up at 5.30am so I can work on my blog.  Will I do this every day?  Definitely not!

If you decide you are going to do something but will also take some breaks, then…

3.       It is not OK to take a break…

…when it is not planned.

We all have moments of weakness when we start something new.  But high achievers already know those moments of weakness will occur.  So what do they do?

They plan for them in advance.

Using the example of my goal to wake up at 5.30am without considering any moments of weakness:

My alarm goes off.  I open my eyes and evaluate how I feel on that particular morning.  Given that it’s still winter and dark outside, I will decide ‘well, just this once, I’ll press snooze; I can wake up early tomorrow’.  What are the chances I will actually get up when my alarm goes off tomorrow morning?  Pretty much zero.  This will continue on until 2 weeks have passed and I am feeling like a complete loser because I haven’t achieved my goal at all.

However, if I have planned which day I will not wake up early, then I know that that day is my ‘cheat’ day and I can stick to my schedule knowing I have a day of indulgence just around the corner.

It’s only human to fall off the wagon,  don’t use this as an excuse to slack off.  Plan your humanness into your schedule.

4.       The purpose of ‘what if’s’ is to ignore them

 What if I decide to have a Paleo diet and I then have no social life because all my friends like to eat is burgers and fries?

What if I go running every morning and eventually damage my knees?

What if I start my blog and nobody reads a word of it?

The ‘what if’s’ are also referred to as fears. Fears hold you back from starting anything.

The easiest way of managing fear is to listen to Vishnu – seriously!  Read this post on conquering fear here.  It contains all you need to know.

Yes, the ‘what if’s’ matter, but only when they don’t hold you back. Do think of the worst case scenario and consider what you would do if the worst case occurs. Is it really that bad?  No?  Then ignore this and move on to figuring out how you will achieve your goal.

But remember….

5.       Planning = Procrastination

There is a time to plan, and there is a time to do.

A plan is an obvious first step.  However, sitting and planning for weeks on end is comfortable and means you don’t actually have to do anything.

How do you feel when you tell your friends you your plans, like quitting your job or travel the world.  Doesn’t the mere concept of achieving something feel fantastic?

And how would it feel to actually achieve it?  10 times better, right?

So consider how you would feel if you talked about doing something, but never actually took one step towards it? Not so great, huh?

Are you ready to make 2013 the year of achievement?

Let’s make a commitment to test our abilities. Make it big or make it small. Anything.

Set a date.  Make a plan.  Get it done.

What fear is holding you back?  What will you do to curb the fear and get the achievement-train moving?  Please share your thoughts in the comment below.



Razwana Wahid is the founder of Your Work Is Your Life, a movement created around finding wildly wonderful work and a courageous career path you’re truly passionate about.  Read more at http://www.yourworkisyourlife.com



  1. Quite a move by Razwana from the UK to France. What an adventure!

    I’m a professional planner but usually fail to get things done. I need to learn to plan less, by which I mean procrastinate less. And do more with my goals and ambitions.

    1. A professional planner – I hear that, Katie! I am one myself sometimes – it feels so good to see a solid plan down on paper!

      What do you mean by ‘do more’?

  2. I am going to have to re-read this post often over the next few months, as a motivation for myself and my entrepreneurial plan that has been incubating inside my head!

    I definitely need to manage those “what ifs” and put my plan to work. I actually didn’t make a new year’s resolution this year, but I am now going to make it a memorable year of achievement.

    Thanks for the inspirational blog!

  3. You’re very welcome, Kwa.

    I love that you haven’t made any resolutions but you have a year of achievement ahead. Keep us posted on the progress 🙂

  4. Thanks for writing this guest post Razwana! Appreciate having you on the blog this week. You are not only writing about achievement but have achieved in your work life. And looks like on a journey to help others achieve their goals in their work life/career.

    Lot of good lessons here – the one that resonates most for me is courage coming from taking action and doing the act. While there is some courage that’s needed to take an action initially, we probably build up our courage reservoir by taking action! And our courage levels are much higher after having done something which terrified us.

    Again, appreciate you sharing these thoughts on achievement and for guest posting on the blog this week.

    1. I know exactly what you mean, Vishnu – waiting for the courage to suddenly take over and push me in the right direction is something I have done before also. But my natural impatience cannot possible wait for courage to show up!

      Thank you again for opening up your blog to me – here’s to many more!

  5. Awesome stuff Raz! I knew when you used to come into our coffee shop for a take-out coffee that you were meant for bigger things than Skipton! I must head over to your own blog to see what you’re up to work-wise as well.

    Earlier this month I committed to writing a blog post, reading and listening for a minimum of 15 minutes each (personal development, marketing etc) and marketing my post every day. Managed it so far! I am trying to find the time to prepare additional posts that can be scheduled for days when I know I will not be able to write one (or if I’m sick etc).

    We are obviously on the same wave length at the moment as I have just written a post entitled “Never give up on your dreams”!

    Look forward to following what happens next in your exciting life!

    1. Hi Jan! My goodness, those Skipton days seem to far away !

      That’s quite the daily commitment you’ve made. I’m impressed! What has kept you motivated?

      1. Raz, I’m so sorry, I just realised I hadn’t gotten round to replying to your reply!

        I am pleased to say I have kept it up since I posted the original comment.

        What has kept me motivated? The brilliant team I am a part of in the Empower Network blogging community (Team Inspire) and the belief that keeping this up for 90 days straight will mean success not only in my business but in all aspects of my personal life. We have some amazing audios in the EN programme which will gradually re-programme my brain from any negative rubbish to good positive stuff so I need to keep it up every day!

        Hope it’s nicer weather in Paris than it is over here today!

  6. OMG, what a post! Frankly one of the best reads ever.

    As I was reading your story, I thought, well, good going and loved the fact that you consider all your achievements big, irrespective of what others think, that’s great and I too do that!

    As I was reading the 5 truths, the titles were like, ‘What?! Am I seriously making that many errors?” but then when you explain it, I went ‘Phew!’

    The first one was simply superb, courage builds over time and I never really looked for life lessons in ‘Popeye’ but thanks to you, I’ve found one!

    You have to channel fear, that was my favorite line. Amazing points throughout, loved every single one of them.

    The tip about planning? Loved that!

    Thanks Vishnu for sharing Razwana! Awesome!


  7. Hi Razwana,
    I love how you have branded 2013 : “the year of achievement.” I have found that to be a very powerful way to influence the events of a year.
    Good for you for going after the kind of life you want to love. (Freuidian slip? I meant to type “live” !) You have already demonstrated a lot of courage. And to be living in Paris – sigh! I am so jealous! Already your life is a romantic story.
    I’m headed over to your blog now to see what you’re up to over there!

    1. The romance of Paris is most definitely alive!

      That’s the funny thing about courage – I don’t feel like I am very courageous, but want to live with courage – does this makes sense?

  8. Loved the post. I’ve moved between cities six times on the job, deaf to all the naysayers.

    Always I ask “If not now, then when?”

    Great to meet you Razwana. Love your site too! Checked it out first to get your twitter id. 😀

    Hugs! Looking forward to connecting more.

    Vishnu – thanks 🙂

    1. Wow Vidya – 6 times in the same job???? Now that takes guts. Your philosophy is totally right – no time like the present, and who knows how life will change tomorrow.

      Sees ya on Twitter 🙂

  9. Great post Razwana. “Courage comes after the act not before” particularly strikes a chord with me.
    It can be so easy to know what you want to do… and then not do it because of the “what-if’s” and “yes buts”.
    Sometimes when I’m nervous I try and project myself a few years into the future and see what my future-self thinks of today’s fear. Helps having a perspective that comes from a part of yourself that is distanced from the nerves.

    1. That’s a really great way of looking at things, Reeta. Trying to see how you would feel if you didn’t take action can be a great motivator to just get moving.

  10. Razwana, I totally agree with you that fear doesn’t really go away. In fact, I’ve come to realize now that when I feel fear about doing something, it’s an indicator that I probably should go and do it (I say probably because I think flinging myself from high places is still a bad idea). Thanks for a great and inspiring post!

    1. First of all – love your name Jammie!

      I never used to think doing anything that scared me was a good idea. And as you mentioned, doing something obviously dangerous is out of the question, but a little pushing of the comfort zone goes a long way (like your experiment in lifestyle design).

      Thank you for commenting!

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