If you could be celebrating some great big accomplishments of your own design just 90 days from now, how would that make you feel?
Or you could be looking back at another quarter of mediocre results, still hoping that next quarter will be better. (I like to think in quarters because years seem to be going by so quickly and I reckon if things are not going as well as they could be, the sooner we change it the better.) Unfortunately, most people are in the latter camp and just struggling along in the same old way.
You may have heard it said…“If things don’t change they will stay the same.”
Its really up to you whether or not you stay with the apathetic majority or decide to change things and become the individual you were born to be.
Let me ask you a question…
What could you DO differently, starting RIGHT NOW that would make the rest of your life bigger, brighter, better, and more profitable than you have ever thought possible?
And don’t panic, it’s doesn’t have to be such a big thing. Don’t say I’d like to do something different Rob but it’s a bit frightening what you are saying. I will come back later when I have time to read this properly.
If you haven’t got time now you won’t have time later either, you are really saying I am going to stay the same…and that’s OK by me, if you are comfortable, you stay there. But remember, great accomplishments are not generally found in the comfort zone.
So Let’s Make a Start
About 600 years before Christ Lao Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
I don’t believe he was thinking about walking a thousand miles so I will assume it was his way of saying however big the goal, whatever it may be, you will need to get started.
Mary Poppins said “Well begun is half done.” (Actually she borrowed that from Aristotle.)
And the rest of the journey will also be made up of many tiny steps too: so every day if you make a step in the right direction you can be pleased with yourself. If you take no step at all or worse, take steps in the wrong direction you know you have to make some changes.
All great achievers know that they must meet with setbacks along the way. Even at the thousandth step they may meet with danger or difficulty but there will come a time when success is just around the next bend in the road; just a few more steps, but unless they take that next step, unless they go round that bend in the road they may never know just how close they were. The road is littered with the corpses of those who never took another step, those who lost hope and gave up on their dreams.
Achievers are always willing to take another step, and another and yet another until the goal is accomplished.
Dreamers fantasise about the expected rewards but never actually get to hold them in their hands because they are not willing to do the hard mental work to achieve them, and most of the work is mental. I think we have all been dreamers at times, thats why I am talking about change.
Achievers know they must first look in the mirror to understand where they are. Then they form a clear picture of exactly where they want to be. They meditate on the goal, they focus on it until they can see it, until it is real in their spirit and they approach it with a definiteness of purpose that will make them unstoppable.
Because those two ends of the journey are firmly fixed it all the various ways to get there just seem to come into their minds and as they decide which is the best way for them right now they are already taking the first physical steps on the journey. Each subsequent step becomes automatic because progress becomes habitual. When we do something repeatedly it becomes easy, when it is easy it is a pleasure to do it and when we do something with joy we do it well.
We are taught and we have tended to believe that we have free will but actually we are all slaves to our habits whether they are good or bad. If you are going to be a slave it is better to have a good master. Benjamin Franklin observed “It is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.”
When you look in that metaphorical mirror you might ask your self some questions. Here are a few which may seem trivial, but could possibly be foundational examples…
•Am I getting enough physical exercise?
•Am I eating for pleasure in the moment or with an eye on tomorrow?
•Am I reading regularly and is the quality of the material building me up?
•Do I work on improving myself every day
•Am I using social media well, is it the best use of my time ?
When I asked myself those questions a while back, and no excuses, I had asked them many times before, corrected them and subsequently backslidden, but I found that…
•I was exercising but not regularly enough.
•I was eating too much sweet food and had gained weight
•I had not read as much as I should have over the past year although I have been reasonably selective, I am happy with the quality, but not the quantity.
•I had done some self improvement stuff but not recently
•I was wasting a lot of time just chatting on Social Media, honestly, I still am. It’s a tough nut to crack.
So that’s me, baring my soul again, now what about you? What does your mirror say?
It’s Time for a Check-Up
It’s time to give yourself a check-up and identify the habits that are hurting you. There may be more than one habit that you need or would like to replace with habits that will serve you better but we can’t boil the ocean so lets take them one at a time. It is a law of nature that the only way to get rid of a habit is to replace it with another habit. And the only way to bring about lasting change and so get better results in life is to change old habits for new ones.
To quote Welsh rugby star Jack Dixon “If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.”
So back to the two ends of the journey. Once you have a clear picture of where you are now and you know where you want to be…It’s time to take a scientific look at how we human beings form and can change our habits.
Step 1 Decide what really matters.
Determine what the end should look like and focus on getting there.
Focus…What will be more important on the journey to your legacy, checking on the football scores or writing your blog or the first chapter of your book. Is it better to watch a TV show or spend the time preparing for the interview for your dream job? The answer may be obvious but the dreamer will get to the important thing tomorrow, today they need their relaxation. For me enrolling my next Business Builder and helping him or her achieve a six figure income in our business is the number one goal right now.
That demands maximum effort. It requires me to do the first things first. To make the best use of every hour.
Napoleon said the thing that made him great was that he knew the value of five minutes. Don’t tell me about Waterloo, everyone meets one of those in the end but he did pretty well up until then. So if you have been in the habit of butterflying from one thing to another, even double minded, come to an agreement with yourself about what really matters to you and let’s get on with it.
Step 2 Create Some Unbreakable Rules
I learned from my friend Craig Ballantine that creating rules for your life will help you stay on the path to success and wisdom. You may slip now and again but it is better to have rules than not, and its better to do your best to keep sound well thought out rules and fail than to end with the regret of knowing you didn’t do the best your could.
With your written rules posted for you and everyone else to see your habits will be easier to establish, and each of those tiny steps to success much easier to make. Some things that are easy to do are also easy not to do so making yourself accountable will recruit the help of all who care about your success. Thus you will have a much better chance of getting the important things done first.
Step 3 Choose a Cue
Create or choose a Cue or Trigger that initiates an automatic response in your brain which kickstarts you into action.
The simplest of examples for me, I wanted to get up half an hour earlier every day to spend some extra time reading and praying, but getting up earlier sounds good the night before but when the music starts playing in the morning it is not so attractive. I started by putting the phone which I used to wake me on the other side of the room so I had to get out of bed just to switch it off. I managed to train myself not to get up in the night for a loo break, it’s amazing how even that becomes a habit.
So when the music played I leapt out of bed hit the button on the phone and the next stop had to be the bathroom, it was urgent. The bathroom light would have woken me if I had not been too tired to open my eyes but that was not as easy as it sounds.
So the next step was the electric toothbrush in my mouth, that lovely Melaleuca Peppermint sensation hit my taste buds and by the first buzz of the brush at 30 seconds my eyes popped open and my brain switched on. By the time I had flossed and rinsed, the plans that I had written down the night before were now top of mind. I bet you think I am joking, it might sound ridiculous but that’s really what it took at first. It was only a week before I woke a minute before the music every morning, and was able to head it off before my wife was disturbed. After a few weeks I decided to get up an additional half hour earlier and this time it was much easier.
So as we begin to replace an old habit and establish a new one we must first…
Choose a New Cue…one that will trigger an effective response.
It could be setting a timer like I did or what if the habit you want to get into is taking a run after work to get in shape? Perhaps you could pin a poster on the wall or on the sun blind in the car. Perhaps a picture of someone with the body you are aiming for.
You can try different cues, and experiment with different combinations of them until you figure out what works best for you! If one starts to get stale change it up for a new one.
But remember it’s YOU who wants to establish these habits. It’s all about you and it’s all for YOU. They are your rules and in this case rules are definitely not made to be broken.
It’s OK to start small, getting up half an hour early to read and pray was quite small. It’s an hour and a half now and it is having a big impact on my life.
Cartoonist Robby Gilbert said…”First we form habits, then they form us. Conquer your bad habits or they will conquer you.”
I am not perfect yet, probably never will be this side of eternity, but I am winning. I find the rules keep out most of the things that might hinder my progress and make the formation of the new habits easier.
Time-wasters must be eradicated
I will give you one more little example because it is the little things that make the biggest difference in the long run. I was wasting a lot of time browsing through other peoples trivia on Facebook and Twitter, and to a lesser degree on LinkedIn; which would actually have been more useful for me. I do use these media to promote myself and my business, I will promote this post through Facebook for example and that is a decent use of my time. What is not worthwhile is reading somebody else’s outdated opinions on an election or referendum that took place over a year ago, and then becoming embroiled in a worthless discussion with them about it.
“Guilty as charged and full of remorse your honour!”
So I set some rules regarding the times I would allow myself look at social media…and also I am learning how to create and preload several posts that will come up at preordained times over a period of a few days or a week. That will mean I can spend three or four hours preparing and loading them and not have to look at Facebook so often.
Meanwhile my sales systems for the Network Marketing side of the business are all automated as are the lead producing systems. This frees up hours every day for reading and research, writing, thinking and doing the physical things that only I can do like the energy assessments in prospects homes where I am needed to personally design and sell the appropriate renewable energy systems. If someone else can do it cheaper or better I pay them to do it so I can use my time in the best way possible.
To make a great habit solid, we all like to reward ourselves so that’s the final step in our new habits formation plan. The reward needs to provide instant motivation, so that you’ll immediately have a strong desire for it the second your cue triggers your brain. This step also needs reviewing occasionally, especially if the reward no longer has the same motivational power that it first did. Just choose a new reward, bigger better and brighter, more in line with the progress you have been making. Remember you are your best asset…
If you don’t motivate you, no one else will. So choose a new reward in order to continue building a more powerful habit.
WARNING! Never miss a day, never miss even one time and think to yourself that you will pick it up later. Never, never, never. “Stay with the Program,” Cue-action- reward, cue-action-reward. Staying motivated is extremely important, particularly when establishing new habits. I will finish with one last thing that has helped me stay motivated more than probably anything else.
Keep a journal. It’s something I learned from the late great Jim John many years ago and it’s so simple the more you do it the better you get at it and the more you enjoy it. Jim’s recommendation has probably been my most effective motivational tool?
Here’s why I think it’s a good idea to Keep a journal.…
I have found it more important than any monetary reward, it’s so powerful in the tough times when you think you’re not making any progress to look back and see how far you have come. I have more than a dozen books filled with my scribblings and observations over many years. Maybe my children will benefit from reading those notes one day when I have gone home to glory. Maybe they will help or inspire someone: I hope so.
I find creating meaning from even the tiny daily actions is a great way to get the brain excited and the juices flowing. The occasional profound thoughts that lead to breakthroughs and quantum leaps seem to have been growing underground like a volcano getting ready to blow and I am sure it is from the accumulation of those little jottings, tiny thoughts, staying in the game, always being curious, never thinking nothing matter. Even the bad things seem to work out for good in the end.
We all have to deal with setbacks and negative input as part of daily life but by keeping a daily chronicle of progress towards your goals, you’ll be able to reflect on the positives, however small, and the feelings of accomplishment and fulfilment will drive you on.
I often just jot a few things down several times each day in a notebook, I recollect and capture what I achieve over the course of the day, but at least once a week I sit down for an hour or so to think and write up the story of that week, what I did, what I learned, new people I met, places I went to and so on…
Start a Blog
Maybe you would prefer to type it up on your computer. I like to write in a book but I like the blog concept too. So I do both.
If you publish what you have learned it might help someone else on the journey. It is so encouraging to receive comments from total strangers who say how much they needed to read what you have written. That motivates me more than anything. It has become a regular habit now for me. Just one more little thing that’s making a great big difference in my life and in the lives of those I care for.