“The first and most important step toward success is the feeling that we can succeed.”
Choo-choo! Do you hear that? That’s the sound of the success train, leaving your life station as you stand there and wonder why you haven’t gotten on again this year. It’s not that the conductor doesn’t want to let you on, it’s that before now you haven’t learned what it takes to get yourself a ticket.
How many times have you made a series of New Year’s resolutions? Those 10-12 goals that you’ll get done this year – no matter what – be healthier, make more money, write a book, have more meaningful relationships with your family, etc.
If you’ve been ambitious enough to make goals, been haven’t been able to pull them off in the past, there’s probably something wrong – no, not with you, but with your approach – don’t worry, I’ve taken the a wrong approach for a number of years until I’ve found the one that works.
By following the principles outlined below, you’ll be able to enjoy a trip on the success train this year, and get the most out of your resolution.
Principle 1: Want Your Goal
“There is only one success -to be able to spend your life in your own way.”
This is nearly cheating, but picking a goal that you absolutely love, and are totally passionate about, will make working on that goal an absolute pleasure. This means that when choosing your goal you have to be ruthlessly selfish, ignoring the needs of family, friends, and society, and going for what makes you come alive.
There are many factors involved in failure, but one of the biggest ones is our lack of hunger. When we’re not hungry for the win, and don’t fervently desire to taste success. That’s because whatever we’re going for doesn’t fit with our definition of success.
What if you don’t see the value of money, if you aren’t attracted to the lifestyle, improvement to your well-being, or philanthropy? Then you wouldn’t be too excited about working harder and getting promotions at a boring job. On the other hand, if you have a family to support, a family that you love, then you’ll be willing to do nearly anything to make sure they have enough.
Each of our actions affect the big picture. This is why it’s crucial to know ourselves, as well as the things that are important to us. Not just what’s important right this second, but what’s important in the long-run. When you have a future to live in to, your whole present changes.
Principle 2: Just One Goal
“Only when your consciousness is totally focused on the moment you are in can you receive whatever gift, lesson, or delight that moment has to offer.”
~Barbara De Angelis
Our brains can only entertain a certain number of thoughts at any split second, and that number is one. When we’re flipping through thoughts as if they are bad TV channels, we’re never giving full attention and due diligence to the task at hand.
This is very clear on the micro-level. Our focus is shattered when we’re answering the phone, while writing an e-mail, and watching a video all at the same time. What you might not have realized is that this problem also occurs on the macro-level.
When you set a large number of goals, especially ones that require daily thought and action, you’re not leaving enough time and attention to give each goal special focus. This leads to one of two potentially detrimental conclusions; we either do a half-decent job at our goal that day, or we neglected them all together.
This year can be different, though. We can totally stop the overwhelm and create a synthetic attention surplus disorder. By creating just one goal, we’ll be able to harness the ‘mystical’ powers of single-tasking, and get the goal done. When, and only when, this happens, we’re ready to move onto the next single-goal.
Principle 3: Define Your Goal
“Clarity of mind means clarity of passion, too; this is why a great and clear mind loves ardently and sees distinctly what he loves.”
By this point we’ve picked a goal, and decided that this will be the one goal that we want to work on. After all, we’ll stop at nothing to get on the success train this year, because this year is our year.
Knowing what we want isn’t enough, we have to REALLY define, and be very specific about, what it is that we want. Saying ‘I want to be healthier’ is not a specific definition that can be broken down into action steps.
When we’re specific we can say something like, ‘I want to run a 6 minute mile.’ This is great, because you know exactly what this means, and anyone on this planet would be able to replicate your goal without confusion.
Being specific also let’s you take proper action without kidding yourself. If you’re currently running a 10 minute mile, that’s fine, just as long as you understand that you haven’t yet reached your goal.
This is where you can create daily action steps, to determine how much you need to run, and at what speed. You’ll set a date by when you want to run a 6 minute mile, and divide the existing time between that date and the present date. Then you’ll plan out a progression.
Somethings might not have a numerical value. For example, you might want to find love this year. This isn’t very specific. You first have to define love for yourself, which might consist of characteristics of the person you want to be in a relationship with. Once you know what you want, you’ll also know what’s not right for you, and this will be a great step in the right direction.
Principle 4: Measure Your Goal
With the case of the runner it’s easy to understand how to measure our progress. You just create a chart, and write down the speed and distance of each run. This chart will serve as your motivation.
Motivation is important. Left to our own devices our motivation can and will waiver. In a moment we’ll discuss what to do when motivation is depleted, but for now let’s look at how we can keep our personal motivation levels high.
Of course setting a specific goal you’re really passionate about is important. Measuring the goal, and physically looking at your progress over a week, a month, and a year is like putting your motivation on steroids.
Take a moment to visualize what I’m saying. Think about a calendar filling up with red ink, as you write down 1-mile in 10 minutes, 1 mile in 9.9 minutes, 1 mile in 9.7 minutes, all the way down to your 1 mile in 6 minute goal.
The other great thing about measurement is that it proves to you that you can do it. I recently started attending running events. One week I ran a 5k, which is 3.1 miles, and the following week I was scheduled to run an 8k, which is 5 miles. During the 8k race, I was coming up on the second mile, and my legs were fatigued. I knew this was all in my mind, and I just told myself “hey you lazy-butt, you ran more than this JUST LAST WEEK.”
I quickly agreed with myself. I even remembered that after I finished the week before, I told myself that I could have gone more if I had to. Well, now I had to. So I did. That’s the power of measuring your results, and it works for everything in life, not just running.
In the more ambiguous case of looking for love, measurement is also an essential tool. Keep a diary of the interactions you have with people, and the way they behave, as well as what they reveal about themselves. The time of decision making can often be cluttered with emotions, but when you have the facts that you’ve written down in a moment of clarity, you’re much more likely to make the best overall decision for yourself.
Principle 5: Kaizen
“Commit to CANI! – Constant And Never-ending Improvement” ~Anthony Robbins
The readers of this website are some of the most successful people in the world. Free thinking, opening minded, and motivated about getting the most out of life. That’s why you’ve probably read about these concepts before, or you’ve actually done them, without realizing it, and now you’re getting an ‘aha!’ moment.
Learning about CANI (aka Kaizen) is one such time when I had an ‘aha!’ moment myself. I can only imagine that people’s goals have been to have a better day today than yesterday, and an even better day tomorrow, since the beginning of time.
One of the healthiest things for our minds entails doing the best that we can. In fact, it’s easier to measure better than best. You can see that you’ve lifted a bigger weight today, than yesterday, but you have to feel if the smaller weight today consists of more effort than yesterday.
The simple concept of CANI was introduced into industry by the late Dr. Demming, an American who did consulting Japanese companies. As a result, you can see the powerhouse that Japan is today in the industrial world. This was done by concentrating on daily improvement on the employee level, each day, instead of just worrying about big changes or end result.
That’s why it doesn’t really matter what level you’re currently at. It matters that you KNOW the level that you’re currently at, and have a good idea of the direction you want to go in. If it takes you 30 minutes to walk 1 mile today, you can still put that goal of 1 mile in 6 minutes into your future. One step at a time, one mile a day, trying your best each time – that’s constant and never ending improvement – that’s the secret to getting on the success train.
Principle 6: Discipline
“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments” ~Jim Rohn
When motivation runs dry, discipline makes the differences between boarding the success train, or watching idly as it passes your station. I warned you that your motivation will waiver in part 4, and you can’t really stop that all together. By knowing this, what you can do is forge proper habits, which is like preventative medicine for your goals.
Say you run first thing every morning, and you’ve just woken up to the first cold day of fall. A little voice tells you ‘it’s so warm and bed, and so cold outside, stay here and be comfortable just a bit longer and run some other time’. The first time that happens you’re still motivated, so you quickly get up, lace up your shoes, and go for a run.
As it gets colder and colder, the little voice gets louder and louder. One day you wake up with a stuffy nose, and a bit of a headache, and the little voice tries to guilt you ‘look what you did, you big oaf, running in the cold has made you sick, now you better listen to me and sleep in’. That’s a bit harder to argue with.
You’ll probably feel better after your run, so the little voice doesn’t have a good argument after all, but it sure does sound nice, and it sucks away all your motivation. This is where habits and discipline come in. Discipline is when you don’t even stop to listen to the voice, it’s when you pop out of bed before the voice gets up, and you’re out there chasing your dreams.
Principle 7: Enjoy The Process
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” ~Herman Cain
All-Aboard! You hear that? That’s the sound of you boarding the success train. That’s what happens when you know what it takes to get a ticket. Better still, that’s what happens when you become the conductor of your own success train.
That’s what your future has in store for you. When you’re at the helm of your own personal success train you enjoy the ride. The journey is your life, and you’ll sometimes stop at stations, which are the successful attainments of your goals, and sometimes you won’t.
The key does not lie in the goals. Reaching the goals is but a moment. The rest of your life is in the journey. When you realize this, and begin to enjoy the entirety of the process, you can consider yourself already on the success train.
What’s Your One Resolution?
I’d like to know what your one resolution is. Where do you want the success train to take you this year? How much would it mean to you if you could finally get on? Share in the comments below!
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