By Steve Tobak
What if the key to becoming successful and happy is to quit trying to be either? Would that throw a wrench into your career goals? Make a mess of your life plans? If so, then you need to read this.
Here’s the thing. Never before have there been so many people spending so much time searching for the secrets to a successful career and a happy life. Which is really a shame because they’re not going to find either, at least not that way.
There are lots of reasons why that is, but the most glaringly obvious one is that nobody ever got anywhere by doing what everyone else is doing.
Think about it. The world has never been more competitive. If you want to have a fulfilling career and live a good life, you’ve got to get ahead of the competition. The only way to do that is to do things differently, to find your own unique path that works for you.
Here are six ways to do that, to become successful and happy.
Build real relationships. What a novel concept, right? While everyone else is wasting their time developing their personal brands and building huge online networks, get out and spend time with real people in the real world. One-on-one in real time. That’s the only place you’ll find real opportunity and friendship. And that’s where success and happiness comes from. No kidding.
Groom yourself. Want to know how great companies that churn out hundreds of future CEOs develop their talent? They identify and recruit up-and-comers and then groom them by moving them around into different areas and situations. That’s how they learn a broad range of skills. Experience. Get out in the world. Try different things. Get your hands dirty. That’s how you’ll find opportunity and figure out what makes you happy.
Do nothing. So much of life is out of our control. We never seem to have enough information to solve tough problems and make important decisions. When you need to gain some perspective, resist the urge to seek out more information. Turn off all the sources of communication, all the noise that distracts you. Just be quiet and listen to your own inner thoughts. Don’t judge them; just listen. The answers to life’s most difficult challenges are always there.
Work for a great company. Everybody wants to be an entrepreneur these days. Here’s a novel thought. Go work for a great company. Learn from people smarter, more accomplished, more experienced than you. Learn from the pros. Find a mentor or two. Learn how business works in the real world. Figure out how you can help that company be even better. What you can bring to the party that really matters and nobody else is doing. If you’re meant to be an entrepreneur, an opportunity will come to you. And you’ll be ready for it.
Do one thing at a time. Everyone’s so distracted with social media and all their slash jobs these days, try picking one thing you really want to do and just get it done. Prioritize. It’ll provide a sense of accomplishment and control. It’ll help you build confidence. Even if it fails, you’ll learn from the experience. And you’ll gain strength from knowing that failure didn’t kill you. That will make you more resilient and give you courage to tackle bigger things.
Be good to yourself. Most people who want a lot out of life are their own worst enemy. They take themselves too seriously. Judge themselves too harshly. Expect too much out of themselves and others. If you can learn to let go of all your expectations, quit trying so hard to get somewhere, you’ll learn that just being you, present in this moment, is all that matters. That’s what life is all about. And that’s when all good things will come to you. Success, happiness, everything.
As a life and executive coach I work with a lot of people on their goals. Setting goals puts you in the driver’s seat, giving you the power to transform your life or take a company into the future. As enticing as that sounds, it is more common than not those goals are abandoned. To be successful, check your goals against my ten steps to help ensure you accomplish them.
1. Belief. The first step to goal setting is to have absolute belief and faith in the process. If you don’t believe you can absolutely transform your life and get what you want, then you might as well forget about goal setting and do something else. If you are in doubt, look around you. Everything you can see began as a thought. Make your thoughts turn into reality.
2. Visualize what you want. Think of what you deeply desire in your life or where you want your company to be a year from now. What changes have to take place? What do you need to know or learn? What spiritual, emotional, personal, financial, social or physical properties need to be addressed? The clearer you are with each of these dimensions will bring your vision into sharp focus. The clearer you are, the easier it will be to focus on making it happen.
3. Get it down! Writing down your goals is key to success. By writing down your goals, you become a creator. Failure to write down your goals often means you will forget them or won’t focus on them. Have them written down where you can see them every day.
4. Purpose. Knowing why you want to achieve your goals is powerful. Identifying the purpose of your goal helps you instantly recognize why you want that particular goal and whether it’s worth working toward. Knowing why you want something furnishes powerful motivation to see it through to the finish. After all, if the purpose of earning a million dollars is to put it in the bank for a rainy day, you probably won’t be as motivated as you will if you need it to pay for your child’s cancer treatment.
5. Commit. This might sound obvious to you but it’s a step that has disastrous consequences when it’s taken lightly. Write a few pages about why and how you are committing to each goal; why it’s important to you, what it means to you, why the outcome is necessary and what are you going to do to make it happen. Without strong commitment you aren’t likely to follow through.
6. Stay focused. By focusing on your goals, you manifest. You may not know how you’ll reach your goals but when you make a daily practice of focus, they become easier to reach. Having your goals written down somewhere where you will see them each day is a good idea. Your mind will notice that there is a discrepancy between where you are now and where you want to be which will create pressure to change. If you lose focus you can always bring it back. Without a regular practice of focusing on your goals you may be distracted by something.
7. Plan of action. Being really clear about what you want, knowing your purpose, writing your goals down, committing to them, and staying focused gives you the power of clarity to write down a list of action steps. You may not know all the steps ahead of time but you will know the next steps that take you in that direction. Having goals without a plan of action is like trying to complete a complex project without a project plan. There is too much going on, it’s too disorganized, you miss deadlines and you don’t have priorities. Eventually you get frustrated and the project/goal fails or collapses under its own weight.
8. No Time Like the Present. To show how committed you are to your goals, think of something you can do right now that will get you moving toward fulfilling your goals. Even if it’s just making a phone call, do it now. You will be surprised how this simple step reinforces all the previous steps and gets you motivated and moving toward what you desire. If you are not motivated to do something right now, how are you going to get motivated tomorrow?
9. Accountability. To push through when things get tough, you have to hold yourself accountable unless you bring in outside help like a coach who provides it for you. It makes sense to have someone beside yourself who can provide valuable feedback at critical junctures, like a friend or a mentor. Telling your friends and family about your goals may give you the accountability your need.
10. Review. Make it part of your day to review your goals and take action. This keeps your goals alive and top of mind. It’s a good time to convert the over all plan into discrete action steps that you can take through out the week. It will also help you be aware if one goal feels stuck and you are over compensating on another goal.
By following these steps and practicing your goals each day, you have all the elements you need to succeed and achieve your goals. It isn’t always easy to push through. Some days will be easier than others but if you keep focused on your goals you will be amazed at the progress you will make. Remember, almost everything begins as a thought. You can be what you imagine if you follow these simple steps.
In one of my recent posts, I wrote about the importance of focus on achieving a successful life and also laid down a few tips to improve your focus.
However, developing focus is not an easy task.
It is not something you can achieve overnight.
It calls for a set of actions that you follow regularly.
Here are six more tips that can help you strengthen your focus and in turn, help you achieve your goals.
1. Set a Schedule
When you have vague goals and plans, it is not easy to work towards achieving them.
So, the first step in improving your focus is to make sure your goals are clear and your plans are well thought out and most importantly, that you have a schedule for every step of the way.
For example, saying you want to spend more time with your parents is vague – write it down as “I will call my parents every Wednesday and Friday and meet them on Sunday.”
A schedule ensures you have a clear picture of what you need to do and this makes it easier to focus and actually perform the necessary actions. Some people even find that using their Smartphone to set reminders or alarms for a particular task work out very well.
2. Stop Procrastinating
When there is something you need to do to achieve a goal, do it at once. Stop procrastinating.
Doing something right away is beneficial in two ways – for one, it allows you to get the task done and more importantly, you do not block valuable mind space with thoughts of having to do the task you postponed doing.
Often, it is the starting that is difficult; once you begin, the actions just flow and before you know it, the job will be completed.
If you have decided to write a few lines in your diary every evening, don’t postpone it until after you watch your favorite late-night show; take a few minutes before the show and get it done and over with.
3. Focus on Less
Having too many things to do is a sure fire recipe for a lack of focus – no sooner do you start one task than your mind starts thinking of another. This eats away at your time as well as your concentration.
If you face this problem, make it a habit to jot down the tasks that come into your mind and pick three or four that are the most important right now.
Of these, take up one at a time and focus on accomplishing the goals related to the task; once that is over, move to the next item on your list.
4. Get Back on Track When You Slip
You wake up early and exercise for about a week. Then, because you work a lot, you “forget” to exercise for three days.
Your mind will tell you that you have ruined your wonderful routine and trick you into pushing off getting back to your routine until the next week, or until this important project is over or….you get the idea; before you can realize it, your focus is gone.
The best way to avoid being trapped like this is to tell yourself it was a busy three days, but now, you have to start exercising again.
5. Learn to Delegate
If there is an event and the organizer tries to do everything himself, do you think he can really focus on all the tasks?
Definitely not – that is the reason why there are committees and sub-committees to whom the organizer can delegate tasks while he focuses on the larger picture. Doing something well does not mean you have to do it on your own. In fact, this approach is often counterproductive because of your inability to pay attention to so many jobs simultaneously.
Instead, identify the jobs you are good at doing and focus on them. For all other areas – delegate.
6. Team Up
Sometimes, it can be helpful to work with a friend or a relative who is also trying to build focus. Tell each other about your goals and plans and set up a system of catching up a few times a week to see how well each one is sticking to their decisions.
Often, this external motivation will help you develop focus faster than working on your own.
As most of us realize in hindsight, it is not important to merely have goals – you have to actually take action.
Think well and think hard about why you have something on your goal list. Write down these reasons.
Read this list frequently to get the motivation you need to stick to your quest for success.
By Jim Rohn
Awhile back, I went into the studio and created a 56-minute video for teenagers called “Three Keys to Greatness.” Although my focus was for teenagers, the principles I shared certainly apply to adults as well.
Recently I was asked to list these three things using one to two sentences for each. Now for your benefit here they are again.
1) Setting Goals. I call it the view of the future. Most people, including kids, will pay the price if they can see the promise of the future. So we need to help our kids see a well-defined future, so they will be motivated to pay the price today to attain the rewards of tomorrow. Goals help them do this.
2) Personal Development. Simply making consistent investments in our self-education and knowledge banks pays major dividends throughout our lives. I suggest having a minimum amount of time set aside for reading books, listening to audio cassettes, attending seminars, keeping a journal and spending time with other successful people. Charlie “Tremendous” Jones says you will be in five years the sum total of the books you read and the people you are around.
3) Financial Planning. I call it the 70/30 plan. After receiving your paycheck or paying yourself, simply setting aside 10% for saving, 10% for investing and 10% for giving, and over time this will guarantee financial independence for a teenager.
If a young person, or for that matter an adult, focused on doing these three simple things over a long period of time I believe they will be assured success!
Just wanted to give you a quick update on what’s new with the GoalsOnTrack. We have made some improvements to the goal progress tracking functions so that now you can specify a starting point for your goal. Once you enter a start progress, your accumulative progress percentage will be based on that, toward your goal progress target.
This will be convenient for setting goals like savings goals. For example, if you set a goal to save $10,000, but now you already have $5000 saved before you start this goal, you can then put $5000 as the progress start.
We have also added an option for you to manually update a goal progress, without using the task outcomes. This will be useful if your goal’s measurable progress doesn’t exactly correlate with task completion. For example, for most weight loss goals, you can manually enter your exact weight as a way to update the goal progress. Or for goals like, reading a book, you can put the exact page number as the goal progress.
These new features are entirely optional, and if you don’t need to use them, do nothing as they will not affect in any way how your goals have already been setup.
By Jason Selk
The habits of highly successful people allow them to consistently perform behaviors that breed success. Everything from eating well to responsible spending to task completion and beyond requires habits that make such behaviors part of our daily life. Michael Jordan spent his off seasons taking hundreds of jump shots a day. Cy Young award-winning Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay routinely does a 90-minute workout before practices. The young Venus and Serena Williams would wake up at 6:00 am to hit tennis balls before school. Highly successful people have learned to develop good habits, and it takes discipline, courage and hard work on a daily basis to keep those habits in place. It makes perfect sense to adopt habits that will facilitate success, yet, why are some so difficult to adopt?
Most people believe that habits are formed by completing a task for 21 days in a row. Twenty-one days of task completion, then voila, a habit is formed. Unfortunately, this could not be further from the truth. The 21-day myth began as a misinterpretation of Dr. Maxwell Maltz’s work on self-image. Maltz did not find that 21 days of task completion forms a habit. People wanted it to be true so much so, however, that the idea began to grow in popularity.
Tom Bartow, who successfully started advanced training for Edward Jonesand has since become a highly sought after business coach, developed the following model of what habit formation really looks like:
The 3 phases of habit formation:
Phase 1: THE HONEYMOON
This phase of habit formation is characterized by the feeling of “this is easy.” As all married people will tell you, at some point even the greatest honeymoon must end. The honeymoon phase is usually the result of something inspiring. For example, a person attends a highly motivational conference, and for the first few days after the conference the individual is making positive changes in his or her life.
Phase 2: THE FIGHT THRU
Inspiration fades and reality sets in. A person finds himself struggling with the positive habit completion and old habits seem to be right around the corner. The key to moving to the third phase of habit formation is to win 2 or 3 “fight thru’s.” This is critical. To win the fight thru, use the following techniques:
- RECOGNIZE: Recognition is essential for winning the fight thru. When you have entered the fight through, simply say to yourself, “I have entered the fight thru, and I need to win a few to move past this.” Winning each fight thru will make it easier to win the next. Conversely, when you choose to lose a fight thru, you make it easier to lose the next one.
- ASK 2 QUESTIONS: “How will I feel if I do this?”and “How will I feel if I don’t do this?” Bring EMOTION into the equation. Let yourself feel the positive in winning the fight thru and the negative in losing.
- LIFE PROJECTION: If the above 2 techniques haven’t moved you to action, then imagine in great detail how your life will be in 5 years if you do not begin making changes. Be totally honest with yourself, and allow yourself to feel what life will be like if the changes are not made.
Phase 3: SECOND NATURE
Entering second nature is often described by feelings of “getting in the groove.” Once in second nature, the following are 3 common interruptions that will send a person back to the fight thru:
- THE DISCOURAGEMENT MONSTER: An individual allows negative results discourage him or her into thinking, “This isn’t working, and there is nothing I can do.”
- DISRUPTIONS: An individual experiences significant change to his or her current pattern (e.g., vacations, holidays, illness, weekends).
- SEDUCTION OF SUCCESS: An individual begins to focus on positive results and begins to think, “I’m the special one. I have finally figured out how to have great results with not so great process.”
If a person experiences an interruption that sends him or her back to the fight thru, winning 2 or 3 fight thru’s will bring him or her back to second nature.
Most people want positive habits to be as easy as brushing their teeth. HELLO…LET’S BE ADULTS HERE…being great isn’t easy. In fact greatness requires sacrifice. It requires doing things that others won’t or can’t do. GREAT HABITS ARE FORMED DAILY. Truth be told, good habits require consistent commitment. Highly successful people have learned to develop good habits. Make the commitment to make it past the fight thru, no matter how many times you go back to it, to reach new levels of success.
It feels good when a goal is achieved.
However, the commitment and patience it takes to stick with a goal and then see it all the way to the end is not trivial. It takes courage, faith and a little goal setting know-how to keep the good feelings coming.
Achieving your goals can provide the energy and the confidence needed to continue setting more goals. Goals help you see where you are today and where you want to be in the future. Goals are the fuel that keeps you moving forward.
Goals can vary in size and effort, but successful goal setting relies on the following six factors. When you combine these simple, yet effective factors and allow them to work together you will find lasting goal setting success:
- It’s conceivable
If you can think it, you can likely achieve it. Must goals start with an idea; a vision. Goals are dreams you want to accomplish. When you use your senses to see, hear, smell or touch your goals then they become more tangible; more approachable and more real.
The first task in goal setting is to clearly visualize what you want to achieve. Spend time considering what you want and then burn this goal into your mind. Once there, the chances of success increase significantly.
- It has to be believable
After conceiving a goal, your excitement runs high. You can see the thing you want to gain and with a large dose of enthusiasm you set out to get it. But something terrible can happen along the way – you allow others to tell you that you can’t do it.
It only takes one or two negative people to put doubt in your mind. An often inaccurate belief system kicks in and you start believing you can’t do it either. Old tapes play in your head; the tapes that say you are not worthy or smart enough to have what you want.
Learn to replace these lies with the truth. The truth tells you that you are worthy to have whatever you conceive. The truth tells you to believe in your goal because you breathed life into it when you imagined it.
- It must be achievable
Successful goal setting is about achievement. The goals you set are intended to be achieved. To do so, be certain to make them achievable. This starts with being realistic.
Even though you have conceived a goal and you believe in its value (and in yourself), now it’s time to be practical and put together a plan to attain it. The expression, “You can’t an elephant in one bite,” is especially true in the context of goal setting. Make a plan to eat the whole elephant (your goal), but begin by taking small, deliberate and calculated bites.
See the whole picture first and then put together this plan with the knowledge gained from past experiences. When an obstacle lands in your path, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Just as there are some negative people in your life, there are also well-meaning people who care about your success. Reach out to these people and allow them to be a positive, helpful influence.
- It must be measurable
Goals need to be specific and measurable so you can gauge your progress and know when a goal has been met. Asking questions like, “When,” “How much,” and “How will I know it has been accomplished?” provide the most common units of measure when assessing goal completion.
If you are a freelance writer, for example, a measurable goal might be something like, “I want to publish two articles in Vanity Fair and GQ by May 1.”
This measurable goal has three important parts: (1) It states how many articles; (2) indicates where the articles are to be published and (3) provides a timeline for completion. In this example, the writer will know exactly when the goal is accomplished. Measurable goals not only provide direction; they also give closure so you will know when to move on to the next one.
- It must be stated with no alternatives
In war, when lives are at stake, there is no alternative to victory. Seldom is there the same life and death consequence in the business world, but the stakes can feel just as high sometimes.
When setting a goal, it must be stated with a firm “all-or-nothing” way of thinking. A soft goal isn’t really a goal at all – it’s a hope. You can hope to be successful or you can plan to be successful. Setting goals with no alternatives leads to the success you deserve.
- It must be something you want to do
At the end of the day, successful goal setting is about passion. If you have passion for a goal then you are more likely to accomplish it. Your passion gives you the energy to keep moving forward in spite of the negative voices you hear or the obstacles you encounter.
Generally, people don’t do anything until they are ready. When setting a goal, if your attitude is anything less than passionate, then you have probably set the wrong goal.
How do you know if you have passion for a goal?
The answer is simple: Make a list of the major goals you want to accomplish. The one that jumps off the page and lands right in the middle of your heart is something you may want to do.
Believe in this one. Make a plan to achieve it. Measure your progress as you go and be resolute that there are no alternatives. When you do, you have mastered the simple factors of successful goal setting.