Ten years ago when I turned 30, I was driving to my family’s business, Wine Library, and I looked at myself in the rearview mirror and said, “You are full of it.”
I realized that nothing I had been doing over the last five years was putting me anywhere close to my lifelong goal of buying the New York Jets—a billion-dollar sports franchise. So on my 30th birthday, I had a difficult and honest conversation with myself. If owning the Jets was truly my North Star, then I needed to shift my behavior and start putting in the work necessary to achieve that dream.
I had to keep in mind that putting myself on the path to success wasn’t just about having an “I can do it” mentality. I had to be honest with myself about who I am and if I am willing to put in the required work. I had to eat a ton of humble pie and start asking myself the right questions.
No matter what your life goals are, you must be able to honestly assess and position yourself to get there. Once you become self-aware by taking stock of your strengths and weaknesses, you’ll know where to put forth the work necessary to attain your endgame.
Related: 10 Steps to Achieve Any Goal
Here are the four steps I would recommend to anyone who wants to start auditing themselves to realistically attack their goals—steps that will allow you to focus your time and energy into the best outlets that ladder you up to what you want in life:
1. Become more self-aware.
If you don’t have self-awareness, one of the ways you can gain it is by getting other people to give you the data points. The people who know you best often see the things you can’t see for yourself. Please remember that you’ll need to be mentally prepared to hear both the good and the bad. Either way, you’ll learn more about yourself than you could on your own.
When you’re ready, take the two to five important people in your life, create a safe space for them to be candid and ask: “You’re going to hesitate, but I need you to be honest: What do you think I’m good at and what do you think I’m bad at?” Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will help you figure out your next steps.
2. Play to your strengths.
Once you find out your strengths, list them and then figure out how they can map to your goals. You might know you’re a great student, and even though you might not be interested in something directly related, like academia, you have to ask how those skills can be useful elsewhere. For example, curiosity and attention to detail are traits that translate to many other industries. Your talents will serve as the blueprint to reach your North Star.
Your strengths and natural talents will tell you what routes to pursue, while your weakness will help dictate what to avoid.
3. Respect your weaknesses.
One of the biggest mistakes I think people make is putting effort toward making up for their flaws. In America, we’re sold every day on trying to “fix” the attributes we don’t have or the skills we think we need. Instead, respect your weaknesses, but don’t waste time dwelling on them.
I could fill up pages with my weaknesses, but I don’t focus on them. I’d rather concentrate on my strengths and the opportunities at hand. To win, you need to be your biggest fan. Everyone has weaknesses, but the people who win respect their strengths more.
4. Stay in your lane.
If you can play to your strengths and respect your weaknesses, it will give you the confidence to put yourself in winning situations. For example, you can become part of relevant conversations or business decisions where you can provide the most value.
I’m a salesman and a business builder. I’ve been doing it my whole life. So when I talk about business, or marketing, or wine, or the New York Jets, I have nothing but confidence. However, you’d be surprised how quiet I am around the dinner table when the conversation turns to politics or the latest episode of a popular TV show. I can be loud and proud in my areas of expertise because I stay in my lane.
That day 10 years ago, I had to make a big decision on defining what my personal success would look like. But ever since I started being honest with myself, it was clear to me what I had to do and will continue to focus on in order to get what I want. I don’t know if I’ll end up owning the Jets, but I know that I’ve put myself in the best position to make it happen. I made a personal assessment, and I still do every now and then, to make sure I’m still on the right track.
Even with these steps, there is no secret formula and there are no shortcuts. You have to put in the work if you want success.
Related: 6 Ways to Act on Your Ambition
Gary Vaynerchuk builds businesses. Fresh out of college he took his family wine business and grew it from a $3 million to a $60 million business in just five years. Now he runs VaynerMedia, one of the world's hottest digital agencies. Along the way he became a prolific angel investor and venture capitalist, investing in companies like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Uber and Birchbox, before eventually co-founding VaynerRSE, a $25 million angel fund.
Gary also currently hosts The #AskGaryVee Show, a way of providing as much value as possible by taking questions about social media, entrepreneurship and family businesses, and giving his answers based on a lifetime of building successful, multimillion-dollar companies.