Moderation is a very popular word. People advise you to eat in moderation, drink in moderation, work in moderation. But what happens if you have an addictive personality and are completely driven and focused on achieving a set goal?
To understand what moderation is, first we need to define it.
Is moderation one piece of chocolate or only half a bar? One glass of wine or not going for that second bottle? Would you be living in moderation if you limited yourself to working for eight hours a day, or if you stayed up finishing an urgent project until 10pm and then took the next day off?
Does finishing an interesting book in one go show a lack of moderation? Or working six days a week trying to get your business off the ground?
If you have heart disease but really like junk food, is only eating one McDonald's burger a week moderation? Is it okay to have "moderate" heart disease or is it better to reverse the problem by trying to stay away from the things that caused it in the first place?
Everyone will give you a different definition depending on their personality and experiences.
It's common for people to justify their bad habits by appealing to moderation. Why do it in the first place if it's not good for you? Especially if you are a personality whose brain just isn't wired for balance.
How many successful people – inventors, athletes, entrepreneurs, activists – put their achievements down to a balanced lifestyle? More often than not, these personalities go to extreme lengths to be at the top of their field, dedicating hours to their craft.
Sometimes it's necessary to take things to the extreme to achieve extraordinary things. Some things, like setting up a successful business, take a lot of time, dedication, sweat and tears to achieve – something most people are just not prepared to commit to.
If you want to win the Tour de France, you cannot train in moderation. If you want to be the best parent, you cannot give moderate quality time to your kids. If you want a successful business, you need to work extremely hard initially – you can't offer a moderate service and expect your business to thrive.
If you want to be promoted, you can't be a moderate employee. You must stand out, do more than others, otherwise you will remain an average member of staff.
If you want to cure a disease, you cannot smoke, drink or eat in moderation – giving yourself moderate amounts of poisons will not help. You need to stop certain things altogether rather than constantly fight your cravings.
Devotion and dedication to your passion will not come in moderation. You need to go 100% at it to achieve it. But you also need to be smart and not let yourself burn out. Most of the time when you are working on something you are passionate about, you feel energised and inspired to continue working just that little bit longer. But if you hate your work, you will burn out very fast.
I can't say that I'm a very well-balanced person. I tend to get obsessed with new goals and challenges. When I started my business, I worked very long hours, late nights and weekends until I no longer had to. When I started training, I signed up for the hardest triathlon I could – the IronMan – and trained extremely hard. When I changed my diet it was overnight, not slowly and with moderation. When I took up Spanish, I spent a few hours every day until I could speak it after seven months. When I quit alcohol it was overnight and I never had another drink again. When I started meditating I went to a silent retreat with nine hours of meditation to learn it fast.
When I set myself a target and get to work, I can completely focus on the task at hand. I don't allow myself to get distracted by small things like checking my phone or getting caught up with a TV.
I believe in total immersion, especially if you are trying to achieve something difficult. If you throw yourself into something, your mind will be much more focused and you will achieve your goal more quickly. Of course, you should not neglect your family or your health, but there are usually a lot of things you can give up to create more time. TV and social media are not really a necessity. Dedicate that time to your passion instead.
To succeed, you need to give more than what's expected of you. You must give what others are not prepared to give. I learned a lot about this mindset from Jim Rhon's book "The Power of Ambition" – I highly recommend it.
Moderation does have its place, but if you really want to achieve extraordinary results, moderation will not always work.
Sometimes you really need to throw yourself 100% into what you are doing, put yourself out of your comfort zone and be totally immersed in your goal.
- Written by Anna Bastek: multi-award winning entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, owner of Wolfestone, VoiceBox and Robertson Languages International, Welsh Government Dynamo Role Model, Ironman triathlete, traveller.