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Here’s How You Can Do Anything You Set Your Mind To

You can do anything you set your mind to.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

It always felt good to hear this phrase growing up. I mean, who doesn’t remember the naivety of childhood where anything and everything feels possible?

But as you get older, this phrase starts to lose its shine. You start to realize that your dreams of being a professional athlete or an astronaut might have been a little far-fetched.

And at a certain point, you begin to wonder if everyone who said that to you growing up was full of sh*t.

Well, they were only kind of full of sh*t. Your brain is a magnificent organ that can rewire itself to learn new skills, develop new personality traits, and achieve great things.

However, there are factors outside of your control that limit your potential. And it’s important to recognize this before you choose what you’re going to dedicate your life to.

In this article, we’re going to unpack the phrase, “you can do anything you set your mind to,” and talk about the right way to internalize it.

Then more importantly, we’re gonna cover actionable strategies that you can leverage to max out your potential in any given domain.


Is It True That You Can Do Anything You Set Your Mind To?

Let’s get right to brass tacks by answering the crucial question — is it really true that you can do anything you set your mind to?

Well, theoretically the answer is yes. 

Obviously, this excludes questions that have a ridiculous premise like, “Can I learn how to jump 20 feet high?” or “Can I become a billionaire in six months?”

Within reason, you can become great at anything you practice repeatedly. 

If you want to climb Mount Everest, you can learn the intricacies of climbing and train your body to withstand high-altitude conditions.

If you want to become an excellent communicator, you can expand your vocabulary and practice your verbal skills until you’re better than 98% of the population.

If you want to become a professional tennis player, you can spend thousands of hours perfecting your craft and make it to the professional tour.

However, there’s one big caveat — the level of work required to achieve mastery in any field is directly correlated to your genetic makeup.

The game of chess is a perfect example of this. If you look at the top chess grandmasters over the last 100 years, many of them have an IQ score that’s above 150. 

Magnus Carlsen, who many people consider the greatest chess player of all-time, possesses an IQ of around 190. For context, the average IQ is about 100, and anything above 160 is considered a genius level IQ. 

Yet, there’s also world renowned chess grandmasters who have a pretty average IQ score. Take Nigel Short for example, who only had an IQ of 110. He possesses the third highest rating of any chess player who’s ever lived.

Haruki Nakamura is another non-genius that’s currently the world’s no 3. ranked chess player, with an IQ that’s only around 110-120.

But while there’s exceptions to the rule, it’s well-documented that having a high IQ is a significant advantage when learning chess, or really any other skill.


chess board


Stand-up comedy is another great example of this.

If you listen to most stand-up comics talk about their childhood, they’ll usually say that they always had a knack for making people laugh. It’s not like they were studying the intricacies of joke writing in 7th grade, so they clearly had innate cleverness and wittiness that made them funnier than their peers.

Does that mean every stand-up comic was born funny? No, but it does mean that most of them had a head start because of the traits they were born with.

So the takeaway from this is yes, you can do anything you set your mind to. But if you want to become a master at your craft, accept that you’re gonna be competing with people who possess superior potential.


Accept Your Ceiling, But Max Out Your Potential

We’ve already established that you can do anything you put your mind to. (within reason)

However, it’s also true that you were born with certain traits that will make it harder/easier to excel in certain things.

If you want to become socially charismatic, you’re gonna have a much harder time developing your social skills than someone who was born with natural wit. 

If you want to become a professional athlete, it’s gonna be harder for you than someone who was born with an abnormally high number of fast twitch muscle fibers.

This shouldn’t dissuade you from going after what you want, it’s just meant to ground you in reality before you commit to a path. I think that a helpful mindset in any pursuit is the following — accept your ceiling, but max out your potential.

There’s literally people out there who workout once a month, yet they have a perfectly toned chest, abs, and triceps.

Does that mean you accept that you weren’t born to get ripped? Of course not! It just means that you can’t get the body you want by working as hard as they do.

So as you think about what you’re pursuing right now, here are some important questions you want to ask yourself:

  • Do you feel like you have a natural gift for what you do? 
  • Do your genetics make it easier to succeed at your chosen field?
  • If you’re not wired for success, are you willing to put in significantly more work than your peers to become great?

If you answered “no” to all three questions, then you might wanna consider choosing a different pursuit.

If you answered “no” to the first two questions, but “yes” to the last one, then by all means continue moving down the path of improvement.

If you answered “yes” to all three questions, then you’re in the ideal position to reach greatness.


dna sequence


You’ve Gotta Get The Reps In

When talking about how you can do anything you set your mind to, it’s mandatory to highlight the power of neuroplasticity.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term neuroplasticity, it simply refers to the brain’s ability to change and adapt due to new experiences. When we attempt to learn new skills or put ourselves in new situations, our brain literally rewires itself and forms new neural connections.

Isn’t that pretty f**king cool? For all of the talk about how your brain stops you from reaching greatness, this is one of the major areas where it’s your best friend.

With that said, what do you need to achieve neuroplasticity? Well, you need two ingredients — deep focus and repetitions.

The repetition part is pretty self-explanatory. All of you reading this know that in order to improve at something, you need practice.

But the more overlooked part of this equation is deep focus. In order to learn something at a quicker rate than your peers, you need to consistently get yourself into states of intense focus.

This means no distractions, no getting side-tracked, no starting and stopping, and no multitasking.

If you truly want to level up quickly, you’ve gotta master the art of focusing on one thing for an extended period of time. All of the research out there suggests that this state of intense focus triggers greater neuroplasticity.

Now the next question you probably have is — how can I train this skill on a daily basis?

Well let’s face it, you’re not gonna develop monk-like focus overnight. However, there’s an awesome exercise that gradually builds your focus muscle so that you can improve neuroplasticity and shorten your learning curve.

It’s called the The Roosevelt Dash, and it comes from Cal Newport’s productivity classic: Deep Work: Rules For Focused Success In A Distracted World. 

Here’s how the exercise works:

  • Pick a high-priority task that you need to get done, or a skill that you’re looking to improve
  • Go to the place where you do your best work.
  • Set a timer on your phone for 15 minutes, and then put it on do not disturb.
  • Once the timer starts, focus every ounce of your attention on learning that skill or completing that task.
  • Once the timer ends, take a break.

The beauty of this exercise is two-fold. First off, 15 minutes is a pretty reasonable timeframe. It’s a realistic target for focused work that almost anyone can accomplish.

Second, it trains your focus muscle through a short burst of intense work. And as you become more proficient with deep focus, you can increase these time periods incrementally.

Whether you’re looking to get better at chess, social skills, cold calling, graphic design, or writing, these periods of distraction-free work are crucial to maximizing neuroplasticity and getting ahead of your peers.


woman chanting you can do anything you set your mind to


Consistency Is Key

Earlier I said that it’s true you can do anything you put your mind to. 

Well, this is only half-true, because this is operating under the assumption that you’re consistently showing up every day. So I want to end this article with a dose of reality for those of you who want to do big things with your life.

You have to become the type of person who gets the f*cking job done regardless of how you feel.

The fact that you found this article signals to me that you’re not content with average. It signals to me that you want to get more out of life than 95% of people.

Well if you truly want an uncommon life, then you must be prepared to do uncommon things. And one of the most uncommon habits you can develop is to consistently get the reps in even when you don’t feel your best.

Because guess what? In whatever area of your life you’re looking to excel in, you’re only gonna feel motivated to work probably 20-30% of the time.

Motivation is not a permanent fix. I wish that motivation was sustainable fuel. I wish I could tell you that I’m sitting here jumping for joy writing this blog post, but I’m not.

It’s 10:10 pm. I had a really busy day at my sales job. I’m tired from the workout that I did a few hours ago. And honestly, I could probably fall asleep in five minutes if I went and laid down in my bed right now.

I don’t want to write right now, but I have to write right now. Because I’ve made a decision that this blog is going to become my full-time income, and consistency is the only thing that will make that a reality.

All of you reading this have a mountain that you want to climb. Maybe it’s building an online business, becoming more charismatic, or getting in better shape. 


tall mountain


Whatever it is, understand the only thing that will separate you from your peers is relentless consistency. If you just do the things you don’t feel like doing, then you’ll have everything you’ve ever wanted.

So as you set out to achieve mastery, recognize that the steps in the journey aren’t fun or sexy. They’re boring and uncomfortable, and you’ll rarely feel a surge of motivation to keep moving forward.

But if you just adopt the mindset of “I’m gonna do it anyway,” you’ll end up lightyears ahead of everyone else who wants what you want.

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