The common way to achieve more is to work harder: longer hours, faster weeding, doing extra favors. The problem with this approach is that it has limits: you can only do so much. Then when you hit the limits, it is easy to get discouraged, to think “I’ve gone as far as I can go.” You’re already working harder than you can keep up, so the only way to go is down. Clearly, this is not a workable approach to greater success.
Granted, if you have a passion to totally excel at something, working harder at it will lead to improvement. Ask any Olympic skater. For most people who live balanced lives, however, another approach is far more effective. The workable way to increase success in your life is to do things better.
Whatever you are doing, do it a little bit better. When you write an e-mail, look it over before sending it to catch any stupid mistakes. It takes a few seconds, but the result is higher quality. If you are washing dishes, wash them well. Actually look at them to make sure they are clean. No matter what you are doing, you can achieve a higher quality level. Perfection is not impossible, but it is not the goal. The goal is improvement.
Funny thing about improvement: it adds up. Do a lot of things a little better, and suddenly you have a lot of better in your life. Keep it up, and future small improvements build on the higher quality you have already achieved. You will start to see changes. People will notice. Opportunities will begin to open up that require the higher levels of quality you are demonstrating.
At the very least, you will feel better and better about yourself with every passing day.
This principle applies to any area of life, from home to office to relationships. Are you a parent? Do it a little bit better, giving your kids a little more time and attention. Are you dating? Treat him or her a little better. Do you mow lawns for a living? Practice law? Teach? Whatever you do, take the few seconds or minutes to be a bit more thorough, or accurate, or neat.
Some people may try to talk you out of your campaign to do things better, or make fun of you. One phrase you will hear is “Why bother?” The reason to bother is to achieve success. It won’t happen overnight, but if you keep increasing quality in all aspects of your life, one little change at a time, it will happen, for certain.
Oh, and that little extra time it often takes? You will find that you spend far less time correcting errors, and will get more done overall. Win-win.