By Bud Hennekes
What do Bill Gates, Mark Cuban, and J.K Rowling have in common?
They each have a net worth of over a billion dollars.
Want to know what else they have in common?
They read. A lot.
The other day, Bill Gates joined the Reddit community to participate in a Reddit thread Ask Me Anything. In it, he shared a list of books he has recently read and reviewed.
The list went on and on and on.
How can that happen? How can a guy as busy as Bill Gates find so much time to read?
Or better yet, why does Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban insist on spending three hours every single day reading?
Because successful people read.
Growing up, J.K Rowling would read everything she could get her hands on. No surprise she was able to become the first billionaire writer ever.
Thomas Edison loved reading. So did Albert Einstein. Hilary Clinton too.
Pick any person you respect and admire and I’m willing to bet a significant amount of money that they spend an incredible amount of time reading.
Even branding legend Gary Vaynerchuk, who has openly admitted he’s not a fan of reading books, spends hours each day combing the web to stay on top of technology and marketing trends.
Coincidence? I think not.
Sure you have to work hard, make the right connections, and have an element of luck. But reading is a must.
Will it guarantee success? Of course not. Does reading take time? Yes.
The reality is: successful people read. Period.
What’s your excuse?
By John Steely
Many people, in many places, teach how to reach goals. Among the practices taught, writing goals down is one of the most repeated instructions. There is ample evidence that written goals are attained more often than goals not written down, and this fact is all that is given to explain why to write goals down. However, very few people attempt to explain why writing goals down works, so let us investigate that aspect of attaining goals.
What Is Written Down
When you are told to write your goals down, you need to be clear on what is being asked of you. What is it that you are supposed to write down? The most common instruction is to write down the SMART properties of your goals. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, As If Now, Relevant, and Timely.
A Specific goal is one that you clearly understand and which can be clearly explained to another; the more details you have about the goal, the more specific the goal. A Measurable goal is one that you can decide quickly and definitively whether you have attained the goal or not; while a path of progress is not required, it can be very helpful in making a goal measurable. A “As If Now” goal is one you feel you have already attained; the more you visualize the goal as being achieved, the more this “As If Now” quality is present. A Relevant goal is one congruent with your beliefs and principles. Finally, a Timely goal. is one with a deadline.
So writing a goal down means to the work at and write out, to the best of your ability, each of these five qualities of the goal. The format you use is personal; what is important is that you write them down.
Writing Involves Senses
Writing something down involves several senses, which means that several physical parts of the body are engaged. By engaging the hands, eyes, and maybe the ears, you are providing activity which can be remembered at a physical level, which improves the mental memory strength. You can take advantage of this strength through strong visualization, since an imagined event has the same impact on the nerves and muscles as a real event.
A logical, or even emotional thought, affects the memory from a single direction, the mind. When the body is involved through action, whether that action is real or imagined, the memory is affected from a second direction, which increases the probability that the goal will be retained in memory.
Writing Demands Clarity
By writing the goal down, you are forcing yourself to make the goal clear enough to put into words. By using words, you are making the concepts involved clear to you; if you want to really take advantage of this characteristic of writing, imagine that someone else, someone you do not even know, is reading and explaining your words.
Many people have a good idea, but they cannot express that idea in words. By going through the effort to get the words, you make the ambiguous aspects specific, and the unclear characteristics become known. Again, to take full advantage of this technique, have someone else read what you have written to check your clarity.
Writing is Permanent
By writing your goal down, you are making the goal a (somewhat) permanent part of your existence. You are giving a level of commitment to that goal. You have staked a claim. You may change your mind later on, but for right now you have made a commitment. This permanency makes the goal more powerful and a stronger part of your existence. That means you are more likely to give the time, energy, and effort needed to reach the goal.
For these reasons, and more, a written goal is much more likely to be achieved that a goal that is merely stated to someone else. Take advantage of this fact and make your goals more likely to be achieved, and thus you will lead a more successful life.
By Youarn Bell
Think about a goal that you’ve set and that you either haven’t reached or took much longer to reach than really necessary. Was everything that you did taking you in the direction of your goal? When you did something that took you in a slightly different direction, did you course-correct or did you continue on that course? Did you take responsibility for not reaching your goal, or did you look to blame it on something or someone else?
Here are the keys to keeping yourself on track, to making sure you’re on the right path to reaching your destination as quickly as possible.
- 1. Choose and be extremely clear on your goal. The more you understand what your goal is, why you want it, what achieving it will do for you and those around you, the easier it will be to keep an arrow-like focus on it. Ask yourself the questions that give you an emotional response so you can see, hear and feel what the end result would be. What would you be telling yourself when you achieve it? This kind of clarity is what keeps you on course when the hurdles and challenges come up. This process is deciding on your destination.
- 2. Plan the path you need to take to travel to your destination. Plan the path that directs your journey in the most fulfilling and enjoyable way to get to your destination. It’s no good planning a path that is unsustainable or not enjoyable - you’ll do it for a day or so and then quit. Conspire for your success! Plan a path that is ecological - good for you, good for others and good for the greater good. This process is deciding and understanding your direction.
- 3. Continue to remind yourself why you’re striving for your goal. This is so important. This, I believe, is where people fall down most - forgetting their ‘why’. The more often you are reminded of why you are doing something, the more often you can see yourself having achieved it, the more often you can feel what you would feel when you’ve done it - the stronger the chances are that you’ll keep pushing towards your goal.
- 4. Course-correct if you hit a hurdle. Hitting a hurdle doesn’t mean failure. When a plane flying to Hawaii hits turbulence and is bumped off course a little, they don’t abandon the flight or turn back and start again. The pilot re-adjusts the course of the plane so that they still arrive at Hawaii. The hurdles are built in to life. If you hit a hurdle, acknowledge the hurdle. Learn from it. Adjust your course and remind yourself of your ‘why’.
- 5. Never, EVER give up! You created the goal for a reason. You created it because you wanted something better in your life. Something to aspire to, something to claim victory over - yourself or something external to you. Your reason is why you start, continue and finish. Never lose sight of it and never give up. Giving up will allow you to make excuses and leave you crawling rather thanwalking.
I guarantee that if you follow these 5 keys to achieving your goals, if you remain clear on your ‘why’, travel in the direction that leads to where you want to go and course correct when needed, as long as you don’t give up you’ll be reaching more goals more often than ever before.
Now get up off the floor and start walking!
Many people, while trying to achieve their goal, forget the objective for which the goal is pursued. They largely focus on the goal itself and ignore the “objective” for which they are trying to achieve that particular goal.
Goal can be described as something you want to acquire or achieve, but objective of the goal is the “purpose” for which you want to achieve or acquire it.
For example, one’s goal could be to earn a lot of money, own a big house, a big car, have comfort and luxury, have a name, fame, status, recognition etc., but the objective to acquire these things is to gain happiness and live peacefully.
The question is: is everybody who has earned a lot of money and who owns a big house with all the possible luxuries happy in life? Or is it that the people who do not own any or all of these things are unhappy? If there is clarity on the objective for which a goal is being pursued, then irrespective of whether or not one earns a lot of money or owns a big house, one will still try to be happy as s/he knows that life’s objective is to be happy and not merely to be content with materialistic things.
One might have chosen money, bungalow or career as the medium to be happy. But if that does not give happiness then acquiring them becomes a waste. Once we realise that these things are just the “means” to be happy and not the “end” in itself, our happiness will not depend on them.
Another example could be when you have to travel from point A to point B in your city. Ideally, you may choose a medium to reach your destination in the shortest time and in a comfortable manner. But, eventually, your goal is not the medium through which you may travel but your destination. So even if you are not able to get the fastest mode of transport and a comfortable one, it should not matter how you reach your destination. You could go in an an autorickshaw, taxi, Mercedes, or it could be on foot. What should solely matter to you is the objective — getting to point B.
Hence, it is imperative that more than the goal to acquire something the objective for acquiring it is more important. This should be crystal clear. We need to consciously gauge ourselves — are we, unknowingly, assuming our path to be our objective? If yes, we need to correct it and remind ourselves of the ultimate objective.
By Jim Rohn
Of all the things that can have an effect on your future, I believe personal growth is the greatest. We can talk about sales growth, profit growth, asset growth, but all of this probably will not happen without personal growth. It’s really the open door to it all. In fact I’d like to have you memorize a most important phrase. Here it is, “The major key to your better future is YOU.” Let me repeat that. “The major key to your better future is YOU.” Put that someplace you can see it every day, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, at the office, anywhere where you can see it every day. The major key to your better future is YOU. Try to remember that every day you live and think about it. The major key is YOU.
Now, there are many things that will help your better future. If you belong to a strong, dynamic, progressive company, that would help. If the company has good products and services you are proud of, that would certainly help. If there were good sales aids, that would help, good training would certainly help. If there is strong leadership, that will certainly help. All of these things will help, and of course, if it doesn’t storm, that will help. If your car doesn’t break down, that will help. If the kids don’t get sick, that will help. If the neighbors stay halfway civil, that will help. If your relatives don’t bug you, that will help. If it isn’t too cold, if it isn’t too hot, all those things will help your better future. And if prices don’t go much higher and if taxes don’t get much heavier, that will help. And if the economy stays stable, those things will all help. We could go on and on with the list; but remember this, the list of things that I’ve just covered and many more—all put together—play a minor role in your better future.
The major key to your better future is you. Lock your mind onto that. This is a super-important point to remember. The major key is you. A friend of mine has always answered when asked, “How do you develop an above-average income?” by saying, “Simple. Become an above-average person. Work on you.” My friend says, “Develop an above-average handshake.” He says, “A lot of people want to be successful, and they don’t even work on their handshake. As easy as that would be to start, they let it slide. They don’t understand.” My friend says, “Develop an above-average smile. Develop an above-average excitement. Develop an above-average dedication. Develop an above-average interest in other people.” He says, “To have more, become more.” Remember; work harder on yourself than you do on your job. For a long time in my life, I didn’t have this figured out.
Strangely enough, with two different people in the same company, one may earn an extra $100 a month, and the other may earn a $1,000. What could possibly be the difference? If the products were the same, if the training was the same, if they both had the same literature, the same tools. If they both had the same teacher, the same compensation plan, if they both attended the same meetings, why would one person earn the $100 per month and the other person earn the $1,000? Remember, here is the difference: The difference is personal—inside, not outside, inside.
You see the real difference is inside you. In fact, the difference IS you. Someone once said, “The magic is not in the products. The magic is not in the literature. The magic is not in the film. There isn’t a magic meeting, but the magic that makes things better is inside you.” And personal growth makes this magic work for you.
The magic is in believing. The magic is in daring. The magic is in trying. The real magic is in persevering. The magic is in accepting. It’s in working. The magic is in thinking. There is magic in a handshake. There is magic in a smile. There is magic in excitement and determination. There is real magic in compassion and caring and sharing. There is unusual magic in strong feeling. You see, all that comes from inside, not outside. So the difference is inside you. The real difference is you. You are the major key to your better future.
By Frank Purdy
Have you ever heard that “Success is a journey, not a destination” ?
It is very important to have a law of life to base your life on. A law of life that means a lot to me is; Success is a journey, not a destination. It means that what matters is not necessarily where you are at the end, but what you accomplish while you are trying along the way. It means that no matter what, as long as you try, you can never fail. It means you can learn from your mistakes and continue on the next journey a little wiser.
One person I believe that shares my law of life is Mark McGwire. He didn’t get caught up in the home-run chase in the 1998 season, but instead played every game in the best way he could. And, most of the time, he helped his team. He didn’t just go out there and hit home runs because he wanted to be ahead in the end, but because he wanted to make it a good season for his teammates and him.
I also think the 1999-2000 St. Louis Rams as a whole are utilizing my law of life. They play every game with their full potential instead of letting a few winning games go to their heads. They stay focused on playing in the Super Bowl. They know that even if they don’t go journey. Even though they lost some games, they didn’t give up.
It doesn’t matter if you do not have the ability to be on top in the end, to win the championship; all that matters is that you worked hard the whole time. There are a few people in the world who already understand what it means. They understand that success is a journey, not a destination. But wouldn’t it be a much better world if everyone did, if everyone would realize that someone will win and someone will lose, but what’s important is that both sides need to try their best? After all, it’s not who wins or loses, but how well you play the game, and I hope I have applied this in my own life.
By Jean Chatzky
Think, for a minute, about what goals are. At the most basic level, they’re wants. Not wants like “I want a Coke.” Or “I want to see that new Richard Gere movie.” They’re bigger than that. They’re your aspirations for the future. For my friends Don and Paige, one goal is to spend the summer of 2005 traveling– literally–around the world. My brother Dave and sister-in-law Ali want to leave the city behind and buy a house in the suburbs. My husband and I would like to put an addition onto our house. Goals, in other words, are uber-wants.
And setting goals–whether you do it on a piece of paper or on a computer screen or in a conversation over dinner with a nice Cabernet–helps you see them clearly. It helps you flesh them out. It helps you realize the steps you’d have to take to accomplish them. It helps you figure out what achieving your goals might cost and whether the trade-offs are worth it. And–oh, yes–it makes you happy. Goal setters are happier with their finances and less likely to worry about their money.
What’s the best way to set goals–and be sure you achieve them?
The four steps of setting goals
1 SEE WHAT YOU WANT. Visualization is step No. 1. Sit in a chair and imagine yourself happy five or 10 or 25 years down the road. Be specific. Be clear. One big reason people fail to reach their goals is that those goals were amorphous to begin with. A goal like “buying your first house soon” is too wishy-washy. Deciding that you’d like to buy a three-bedroom Cape on a half-acre within 30 minutes of your workplace before the next school year is much better. There’s no need to be practical about this–think big.
Once you have your vision, focus on how it makes you feel. As the research of Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert has shown, you’re likely very good at identifying the things you believe you want. But when you get them, they often don’t make you as happy as you thought they would.
To become a better forecaster of your own happiness, think about how you’ll feel if you get what you think you want. What kind of emotions will that elicit? How long will they last? Try to imagine as many aspects of the outcome as you can. Even winning the lottery has its hassles–cold calling from brokers, newfound dealings with the tax man, tension in families.
2 WRITE YOUR GOALS DOWN. Like any good idea, goals need to be written down so that you can refer back to them every now and again. You may decide to change them or to abandon them. That’s your prerogative. But they need to be in writing.
Why? Because if you don’t write them down, you’re likely to forget them. When you see something, your brain holds onto that image for about a half-second. When you hear something, you retain it a little longer, say three seconds. Then you lose it, unless you make an effort to retain it, perhaps by repeating it to yourself over and over or creating an association (Mrs. Green has green eyes). To move a bit of information from your short-term memory into your long-term memory, where it can be available for you to recall, you either have to play with it–or go with the easier alternative: Write it down.
3 TURN EACH GOAL INTO AN ACTION PLAN. Break each goal down into the steps you’ll need to take to achieve it. Say your goal is to save $5,000 in the next year. That may sound daunting–but saving $100 a week for 50 weeks doesn’t.
4 UNDERSTAND THE TIME INVOLVED. We often overestimate how much we can accomplish in a single day and underestimate how much we can accomplish in a year, given just a little progress every day. That’s true whether you’re teaching a child to swim, writing a book or trying to lose 10 pounds. Quick fixes rarely work.
The six keys to achieving your goals
For setting goals, you get a substantial payoff. For working toward them, you get a greater one. Nearly half–48%–of Americans who are steadily working toward their goals or have already achieved them say they are very happy with their lives overall. A little over 30% of those who have just started to achieve their goals say they are very happy–and only 18% of those who haven’t identified goals or taken the first step toward them say they’re very happy. People who have at least started to achieve their goals are much more likely to feel useful, content and confident. And once you start to make steady progress, worry diminishes. How can you get to that point?
1 BEGIN. Once you know what your goals are, act on them. Many people are perpetual dreamers, who hope and hope but never implement. So take the first step, whether it’s opening an account at a brokerage firm for the $50 you plan to save each week or saying no when the dessert trolley passes by.
2 RECOGNIZE THE OBSTACLES IN YOUR WAY. Jim Ball, founder of the Goals Institute, who helps individuals and corporations structure and meet their goals, tells of working with a group of women in Omaha. One woman we’ll call Robin said she’d feel much better about her financial future if she could save $50 a month. The group named that goal Robin’s Nest Egg and figured out where she could come up with the money (biweekly instead of weekly manicures, double coupons). Then Ball asked her what barriers stood in her way. Robin answered without a second thought. “My husband,” she said. “He likes to spend money.”
Ball shook his head. “That’s not going to work,” he said. “He’s going to get in your way every step. Unless he has an interest in your saving–unless he sees that there’s some reward for him at the end of the road–you’re not going to be able to save without racking up additional debt. But if you can get him to buy into the program, perhaps together you can save even more.”
Once you’ve isolated your obstacles, it makes sense to avoid them. Manage your environment so that you have little exposure to the temptations that plague you–whether that means walking out of the path of your favorite shoe store or having coffee instead of dinner with the friend who believes you can’t get a good bottle of wine for less than $100. Condition yourself to ignore television ads. Then surround yourself with healthy examples–good money managers, sound eaters, avid exercisers or other people who embody the characteristics you desire.
3 BUILD BETTER HABITS. Most people make the mistake of looking at goals as a point in time some distance away. You’re better off if you can think about goals in terms of a series of lifelong changes that you have to make to achieve your desires.
Start by breaking old habits. When Jim Ball went through SmokEnders, the record he kept showed that he lit up after a swim. “What are you going to do after a swim when you can’t have a cigarette?” his counselor asked. Ball decided that he would go for a run. On the counselor’s instructions, he visualized it. He repeated it in his mind: Go for a run. Go for a run. Go for a run. It wasn’t until summer came around again nine months later that he got a chance to see if it worked. By then, he’d been off cigarettes for nearly six months, but he hadn’t been in the pool either. And wouldn’t you know it–he jumped into the pool, got out and had an urge to smoke. What did he do? “I went for a run. I laughed about the fact that I was probably programmed to want the cigarette,” he recalls. “But I did it.”
You can do the same with fiscal fitness. Say you and your spouse eat out twice a week, and each meal runs $75. If you decide to spend just $75 a week and invest the rest, you’ll save $3,900 in a year. Invest the money in a tax-advantaged account or a mutual fund that returns 8%, and 10 years from now you’ll have $67,877. Twenty years from now you’ll have $209,609. Thirty years from now when you retire, you’ll have $523,611–a half-million dollars just for skipping one restaurant meal a week. That’s how you begin to process a goal.
It’s important to replace your old habits with new, improved ones. The first time you skip that dinner out, you may find it tough to tell your friends you can’t meet them. The second time, it will be easier. By the third week, they may stop asking–unless you offer an alternative. Potluck at home?
4 AUTOMATE WHERE YOU CAN. You don’t have to do all the heavy lifting yourself. Most deposits into brokerage, savings and retirement accounts can be scheduled. You decide how much will be deposited, which shares it will buy and when the deposit will be made. You sign on the dotted line and then the transactions just happen. You can schedule your bill payments as well.
5 SET UP REMINDERS. Whenever you’re working toward a goal, if you can see it–clearly and often–you’ll be less likely to stray. That’s why people tack pictures of Britney Spears’ abs and Tina Turner’s legs on their refrigerator doors. And it works.
6 FOCUS ON TOMORROW. Look forward, not back. If you spend more than you’d planned or eat more than you’d planned, simply start again tomorrow. Reaching your 10-year goal in 11 years is better than never reaching it.
Focusing on the positive helps as well. Nobel-prizewinning economist Daniel Kahneman and his colleagues conducted an experiment in which they asked one group of subjects to submerge their hands in ice water at 14C for 60 seconds and a second group to submerge their hands for 90 seconds; during the first 60 seconds the water was 14C, but during the last 30 seconds it was warmed one degree. Although the second group of subjects had their hands in the icy water for a longer period, they remembered it as a less painful experience because it ended on an upswing. It works the same way with money.
Attaching numbers to your goals
Once you know what you want–and you’ll know after going through the above steps–it’s time to figure out how much those things will cost. Say you want to retire in Northern California. Only when you know what it will cost to settle in San Francisco can you determine how much of that cost your existing nest egg and projected Social Security benefits are likely to cover–and determine how much of a gap remains. Then you can figure out whether you’ll be able to cover it by investing, say, $400 a month at a 7% return or whether it’ll take $500 a month at a 9% return. For each goal, you need to run a separate analysis. Once you know the total you need to sock away, you can keep it in any combination of accounts you like.
There are plenty of calculators on the Web that can help you figure out how much money you need for just about any goal. Try Moneyville at money.com. Or Google it. You’ll see. But some people still prefer to work it out with pencil and paper. The worksheet at right is for you.
These practical tips on goal setting can help make it easier to set and reach goals:
1. Specific, realistic goals work best.
When it comes to making a change, the people who succeed are those who set realistic,specific goals. “I’m going to recycle all my plastic bottles, soda cans, and magazines” is a much more doable goal than “I’m going to do more for the environment.” And that makes it easier to stick with.
2. It takes time for a change to become an established habit.
It will probably take a couple of months before any changes - like getting up half an hour early to exercise - become a routine part of your life. That’s because your brain needs time to get used to the idea that this new thing you’re doing is part of your regular routine.
3. Repeating a goal makes it stick.
Say your goal out loud each morning to remind yourself of what you want and what you’reworking for. (Writing it down works too.) Every time you remind yourself of your goal, you’re training your brain to make it happen.
4. Pleasing other people doesn’t work.
The key to making any change is to find the desire within yourself - you have to do it because you want it, not because a girlfriend, boyfriend,coach, parent, or someone else wants you to. It will be harder to stay on track and motivated if you’re doing something out of obligation to another person.
5. Roadblocks don’t mean failure.
Slip-ups are actually part of the learning process as you retrain your brain into a new way of thinking. It may take a few tries to reach a goal. But that’s OK - it’s normal to mess up or give up a few times when trying to make a change. So remember that everyone slips up and don’t beat yourself up about it. Just remind yourself to get back on track.
By John Phillip
Many people embark on a weight loss program without a firm understanding of their realistic goal or the exact plan that will help them cross the finish line to weight loss success. Similar to any journey through uncharted territory you may make, the key to your weight loss success is to establish a realistic goal which you can maintain as part of your new healthy lifestyle. The power of positive thinking combined with the reinforcement you receive from tracking your progress each day provide the fuel you need to accomplish your goal.
Maintain a Positive Attitude
Regardless of the task you wish to accomplish in life a positive attitude is critical to achieve the desired result. You must begin by believing that the weight loss task you are about the begin will have a significant impact on your health and longevity, as research has shown that losing just 5 - 10% of your body weight can significantly lower your risk of disease. You should only begin your journey when you feel fully committed to finish, regardless of the inevitable bumps you’ll encounter along the way.
Defining a Realistic Goal
Once your mind is set you’ll need to put together a realistic plan and goal that will successfully lead you to the finish line and monitor your progress for encouragement along the way. The most important part of goal setting is to make sure that your target weight is attainable. Don’t feel you need to weigh the same as when you were 18. Many things change in your body over the years, and often people find they feel great and experience optimal health at a weight which about 10% higher than the lowest weight from your college years.
Monitoring Your Progress
Of equal importance to setting a realistic goal and positive attitude is tracking your daily progress with nutritional software or a food journal. The positive reinforcement you receive from monitoring your weight, exercise and food will help you to get by an occasional rough day where you stray from your diet or when you hit a weight plateau.
The results of a study published in the eHealth Journal of Medical Internet Research found that participants who recorded and tracked their progress using an online software interface were significantly more likely to stay with a weight loss plan and maintain their weight loss compared to those who didn’t monitor their progress. By nature, we’re goal oriented and a journal helps keep us focused on reaching a pre-established goal.
Write Your Plan on Paper
Before you start on your weight loss journey, write down the steps you’ll need to follow to hit your goal and the benefits to your health from meeting your target weight. Include diet, menus, exercise and how you will fit work, family and friends into your program. Make a list of the numerous health benefits such as improving heart health, improving immunity, increasing brain power, feeling great and the knowledge that you are lowering your risk of an early death.
The only way to successfully lose weight is to properly plan the steps you’ll need to hit your target goal and track your progress. Without these commitments, you’ll quickly veer off course the first time you reach a weight plateau or succumb to a sugary treat. By having your whole plan detailed in writing ahead of time, you can easily continue to reinforce your new lifestyle which will lead to vibrant health and your ideal weight.