Newton’s First Law states that an object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an external force.” Don’t worry, this is not a science lesson, it is a life-lesson. And, trust me, I have been at the receiving end of this law many times.

And the “external force” that Newton refers to, is commonly known as effort. We all have dreams and aspirations. And these almost always motivate us to set goals. And some of us even turn these lofty goals into action lists. But, this is still not the effort that Newton’s external force envisaged. Effort is a totally different thing altogether, as I will explain below.

We are all familiar with personal goals. I have yet to come across someone who has not, at some time or another in their life, had dreams and goals. These goals often include very personal things such as health and fitness, and often also personal wealth goals. Whatever our goals may be, they share one characteristic, they are things we stated that we wanted or wanted to achieve. I am confident that I am not the only one who got caught out by believing that once we have designed and carefully crafted our plans to get what we want, that it is easy from there. Surely, we believe, the careful planning we did will get us there?

This is where things get a little bit complicated. Let’s say our goal is to shed 10 pounds before our birthday or get fit enough to run a distance of 5 miles in one hour. Great goals, well articulated. Let’s say we wanted to run 5 miles in one hour. One of the first decisions we had to make was whether we are going to run on the road or join a running club or even a gym. I have seen many great goals (and wants) end right there, since it may be dangerous to run on the road and quite expensive to join a running club or a gym. But, we persevered and we find a solution to the challenges. Then we start running and discover that since we last ran in high school, 15 years ago, our body is not as athletic as it used to be. And after a week of trying, our body is sore and we missed our favourite show on TV.

And right there is where our goal flies out of the window and we always knew that “running was not for us.” Replace the running with any other goal we have ever chosen and chances are that the story is the same. We gave up at the point where Newton decided to complicate the picture – effort. Imagine if he had never invented that stupid law! We would not have needed any effort to succeed at our goals. But he did, and now we do need effort to succeed. And lots of it.

It is wise to remember that effort is investment. You invest effort every time you spend any time and energy in the pursuit of your goals (and dreams). And the market for effort investment is not a roulette wheel. To succeed, we need effort. And usually lots of it. We need to spend the time and effort necessary to ensure success, it does not come from too little investment in effort.

I would like to leave you with some words of wisdom that I still use regularly when I don’t succeed at something. It inspires and motivates me to try again, and try harder. Go ahead, try it. Effort is a worthwhile investment. And if you are willing to really put in the effort, you will be amazed at how much further you can reach.

Failure is an essential part of success

– Ryk Neethling

On a personal note, the story is real. I decided to make it a personal goal to run 5 miles in one hour. I am now well past that mark and have not stopped running. My goal has now changed to be able to run 8 miles an hour. And the positive effect that reaching a personal goal has had on my career is amazing. Go ahead, put in the investment and effort necessary to reach your goals and dreams.