The 3 Year Rule: How to Commit to Your Plan And Get Things Done

This article is inspired by one of Matt D’Avella’s recent videos. I find what he says in this video really interesting and motivating. As always, take what you need and leave out the parts you don’t, always strive to do what you know is best for yourself. What matters is the results.

Most people don’t follow through with their aspirations because they’re afraid.

  • Afraid people will judge them
  • Afraid they’ll fail
  • Afraid they’ll make the wrong decision
  • Afraid they won’t be able to go back

So instead of taking actions, they don’t do anything. They don’t quit their job, start their business, go on that trip or make that phone call. Instead of suffering from the pain that can come with change, they get paralysed by focusing on avoiding it.

But the truth is, how we look at failures can tell us a lot of what we need to know about success.

Everything takes time

Making something meaningful takes time, much more time than most people are willing to wait.

Following your dreams and making something meaningful starts with 2 things:

  • Giving yourself the opportunity to succeed. At least try.
  • Realising that it’s going to take much longer than you think. Don’t give up.

While the first step is daunting to most people, the second one is plain inconceivable for almost everybody.

We expect things to happen overnight, not overtime. But success will only come through a combination of 2 main elements: patience and persistence.

One of the reasons most of us aren’t willing to put in the work and are expecting everything to happen overnight is because the ideal we’re being sold and advertised doesn’t match the reality of the task at hand.

On blogs, social media, TV, in the news, all we see is:

  • The 20-something who sold his app for 10 million dollars
  • The author who sold 1 million books
  • The blogger who got 100K subscribers
  • The artist who has 3 million followers on Instagram

Social media and the news show success without the 2 most important ingredients: patience, and persistence. They show success without the failures, the do-overs, the desperation, the sleepless nights… They present a vision of success that is completely distorted and only show the end product.

On top of that, those platforms output data at an insanely fast pace. Everything is searchable, likeable, shareable, mailable. Everything happens with the touch of a finger or the click of a mouse. We develop a craving for instant gratification, an expectation for things to happen quickly.

Except the gratification you get from getting an instant reply to your latest comment on Instagram won’t take you far up the success road. It takes a lot more than that.

Creating a long term goal

Long-term perspective is one of the fastest ways to success. But there are no shortcuts. Fast is relative, and the fastest can still be very slow. Creating a long term goal has a ton of advantages.

Failure becomes relative

The longer the timeline, the smaller failures will appear. When you you’ve given yourself 3 years to try something out, most failures won’t matter as much, most mistakes won’t feel as bad.

You enjoy your success more

By measuring your success over the course of the next 3 years instead of the next 3 weeks, you will no longer identify yourself based upon your short term failures, and you will enjoy yourself a lot more. Because when you succeed after 3 years, you most likely deserve it.

It is a lot easier to get organised

When you already know your timeline in advance, all you have to do is fill it up with tasks and goals. 3 years is 156 weeks, 1095 days, or 26280 hours.

Choose your timeline scale, and fill it up with your milestones, your deadlines. It’s so much easier to organise because you just have to stick to the plan for 3 years. Stick to what you said, and you’ll already be doing a lot better than average.

You always have something to look forward to

When you have a plan, by definition, you have something to look forward to. You know what tomorrow will consists of. You start building your environment rather than simply reacting to it.

The risk factor is much lower

3 years means that the risk is temporary. When it’s all said and done 3 years will be a small percentage of the bigger picture. No matter the outcome, you will still have a lot of room for other projects, for trying other things.

The biggest risk is taking the job because it feels like the easy thing to do, giving it 10 years, and realising that it’s actually not what you wanted in the first place.

You can cure your need for speed

As we said before, we have a constant urge for things to happen quickly. But when you force yourself to commit for a relatively long period of time, your perception of time will change, and you might start taking things at a more normal pace.

The time unit itself is arbitrary. You can commit to 2, 5, 10 years. It doesn’t really matter. The point is to commit, and to not stop until you reach the end of the timeline.

Committing to the goal

People are always in a reactive mode. They’re always available to opportunities, which drastically reduces their ability to focus on one thing.

It’s good to be open, but there are a myriad ways to be open, and constantly going from one project to the other depending on what comes to you is not a good way forward.

So pick one thing, and give it a solid effort for at least 1 or 2 years. And then:

  • If you don’t see any kind of growth.
  • If you don’t get any clearer idea of where you are going.
  • If you don’t start feeling more fulfilled, happier, and motivated by what you do.

Then reassess, and potentially change path. But if you pick your project right, these 3 things are very unlikely to happen.

Continue to push forward until you reach the end of your timeline. Your vision for the next few years should be non negotiable.


Rules are extremely powerful, especially when you pick less than 10, and not 100. Select a few that are extremely important for you, and never ever break them. Like principles.

Here are few principle examples:

  • The 2 day rule. Never skip 2 days of a habit in a row.
  • Listen more than you talk.
  • Don’t promise when you’re happy. Don’t take a decision when you’re angry.
  • If it’s not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend 5 minutes overthinking a setback.
  • Acknowledge luck but don’t rely on it.
  • Read 1 book a month for 2 years.
  • Practice what you preach.

Success is never guaranteed, especially if you choose something to do that is unconventional. But if you enjoy the process, if you’re happy with creating for years without expecting success, then you might have what it takes.

So go out there and do it.

  • Pick a timeline: 1, 2, 3, more years.
  • Pick a project.
  • Setup a plan combining the first 2 elements.
  • Execute.
  • Don’t stop until the end of the timeline.

There will be ups and downs, there will be hard times. But at the of the day, it’s those who keep going who reach their goals.

Be one of those rare people who don’t know how to quit.

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