Q. It seems that there are literally thousands of self-help books, videos and courses. In addition, tens of thousands of people want to be your life coach, success counselor, business coach or spiritual guide. It’s overwhelming. Do you have a perspective on what it takes to succeed?
A. We have spent much time listening to the likes of Earl Nightingale, Bryan Tracy, Deepak Chopra and Brendon Burchard. Many of their books and cassette tapes (yes, we are old, we have cassette tapes) still line the shelves of our office. After years of study, we have concluded that their messages are, in essence, all the same. The messages are packaged in different ways. They use different analogies, different acronyms, and tell different stories; but at the end of the day, they are saying the same thing. It all boils down to these four points:
1. Decide what you want – It’s been said that America is the land of opportunity, and in the land of opportunity, people can have anything they want. The trouble is that most Americans don’t know what they want because they have never taken the time to write down their goals. Success in any field begins by deciding exactly what you want.
The renowned philosopher, Yogi Berra observed, “If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” Too many people wander through life aimlessly—moving from job to job, relationship to relationship with no plan and no direction. They bounce from thing to thing just doing what comes next never intentionally changing the direction of their lives. In the end, they often become angry and bitter because they haven’t accomplished what others have. The fact is that they have accomplished exactly what they planned to accomplish—nothing…and they have no one to blame but themselves.
The first step on the path to success is to decide exactly what success means for you. Write your goals down.
2. Develop a plan to achieve your goals – If you have decided what you want and written it down, you are ahead of 90 percent of the population; but how are you going to get there? Goals, without a plan, are just dreams. Develop a detailed plan that includes each step on your path to success. Spell out exactly what you are going to do, by when you will do it and the resources you will use.
Identify the obstacles you will have to overcome. Develop a plan to get around, over or through them. There are always obstacles that stand between you and your goals. If not, why haven’t you achieved the goal already?
3. Execute your plan – To achieve any meaningful goal, you have got to take action. Knowing your goals and developing a plan to achieve them is important, but without action, you’ll go nowhere. There is no substitute for hard, hard work. There never has been and there never will be. At the counter of success, there are no discounts. The price has to be paid, in full and in advance, every time. No exceptions!
4. Periodically reassess – At least once a year, step back and reassess your goals and your plan to achieve them. Are your goals still the same? Do you still want the same things you wanted earlier? Are your goals achievable or do you need to adjust them? It’s fine to change your goals, but make it an explicit decision.
Is your plan working? Is it going to get you where you want to go? Even if you haven’t seen results yet, you may be doing the right things. Remember the stone cutter who pounded the rock 99 times with no apparent result. On the 100th swing, the rock broke. However, it wasn’t the last swing alone that broke the rock, but the 99 that came before.
On the other hand, if the plan you are executing is leading you away from your goals, change it. Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing and expecting different results. Regardless of whether you are seeing movement, it is critical to determine if the plan you are executing will get you to your goal. If so, stick with it. If not, make the necessary adjustments. Recommit fully and get on with execution.
That’s it. Achieving what you want in life is as simple, and as difficult as that. What are you waiting for?