At the beginning of the year, discussions about resolutions, goals and the pursuit of success are common. Everyone wants success, or at least they say they do, but what is success? Success is a moving target. The path to success is often non-linear as not all roads lead to success and neither is there a clearly marked single lane leading to success. Leaders with an entrepreneurial vision are not afraid to travel the paths that are unmarked, offer no guarantees and are less traveled by those who would rather talk about their plans for the pursuit of success.

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.  - Colin Powell

Because there are no shortcuts, the personal investment in success requires payments made in sweat and time, both of which will test your perseverance. Progressing through layers of success is often determined by what we do when everyone else is doing nothing as well as our ability to endure failures. There are only so many hours in the day, so we must be effective with the time we spend on the clock and creative with the time we have off the clock. Entrepreneurs are no strangers to the smell of oil burning at midnight.

Sports anecdotes are common in business as we enjoy the correlations of working hard as a team, being motivated by inspiring hard-nosed figures, fighting to the last minute, practicing our craft and being rewarded for our efforts. In the archives of iconic coaches and historic motivational half time orations, there may be none more revered than Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi.

“The will to win is not nearly so important as the will to prepare to win.” – Vince Lombardi

Who doesn’t want to win? Who doesn’t want to succeed in their entrepreneurial efforts? As you fantasize about your dreams of business accolades, do you find yourself declaring among friends and co-worker about how good you could be at something? Do you ever find yourself stating, “If I only had the time …or the money …or this one tool.”

Perhaps you are not the most objective person to be answering this question. If you don’t have the ability to be honest with yourself, perhaps you should ask an earnest friend. While the effectiveness of resolutions is arguable, there is value in setting goals. If you want to take yourself to the next level in your personal and professional development, it’s time to make a plan for how you are going to use the hours that you have — make a plan for what you will do with the hours everyone else is wasting.

If you have a family that should come first in your time off of the clock, family is the component of life that will be there whether you succeed or not so don’t burn those bridges or lose valuable time in caring for those relationships. Your values should always be God, guns, glory — wait, that’s a different article. We understand that athletes have to put in the time lifting weights, running sprints, practicing the minutia of their profession, but somehow we don’t apply this mindset to business. The will to prepare to win as laid out by Vince Lombardi involves those sacrifices that an individual makes when they are not required to be working in a structured environment. Whether you have 30 minutes a day or several hours, be intentional about making a plan and executing to the best of your ability.

The difference between knowing what you should be doing and starting the process of achieving it is one step. Stepping forward does not guarantee that you will succeed, but standing still guarantees that you won’t. If success is a moving target, how will you train yourself to hit the target that you have set for yourself? If success has many paths, and no path is guaranteed, what will you do to start moving down the road? If success is an investment in personal and professional growth which requires payments in sweat and pain, when was the last time you did so? If success is determined by what we do when everyone else is doing nothing, when are you going to get off your butt?