Success is defined in different ways by different people, but more and more it has become synonymous with money and status. Real success, however, is less about results or a bottom line, and more about the process of achieving goals and dreams.
Many business people today are overwhelmed by the need to maintain results-driven success. Once we decide that the results are all that matter, then success comes at high price. We find ourselves making sacrifices and compromises that were once unacceptable. We trade today for some future payoff. When that payoff comes, we realize it can never be enough. And, when the results we work so hard for don’t materialize, we label that failure. It’s an impossible model to sustain for a lifetime.
Fortunately, there is another way.
In my book, Own YOUR Success, I contrast results-driven success with a much more balanced approach. The key principles are ones that anyone can put into practice immediately.
The first principle is Attain Belief in Yourself, which I break into five keys:
1. Accept the truth. Acknowledging the person you are today is the key to becoming the person you want to be and, ultimately, to attaining belief in yourself. There is a big difference between failing and not getting the results we want. Instead of seeing failure, see opportunities for growth and change.
2. Speak the truth. Be honest about your past behaviors and habits. While it may be difficult to acknowledge them, burying those parts of our lives makes us feel like victims, amplifying our fear and pain. Shedding light on the past, by talking with a trusted friend or professional, frees us.
3. Breathe through the truth. Avoid reacting from a place of pain or anger – no matter how much you believe you are right. Be open to changing your perspective. Treat yourself lovingly. Do not self-destruct.
4. Process the truth. Give yourself time and space to find your equilibrium. Developing belief in yourself means gaining confidence that will lead to a stronger foundation.
5. Create a plan based on the truth. Changing entrenched behaviors and mindsets takes time, and sometimes they return. Stay strong. Continue to believe and actively engage in this process. Define how you want to live your life from where you are right now.
Once you attain belief in yourself, you can believe in others – as all great leaders do. Use meditation and mindfulness to gain focus and clarity. This allows you to act with purpose, intention, and awareness at all times.
The second principle is Act with Courage and Integrity.
Whether you are the CEO, in middle management, or in an entry level position, when you act with courage and integrity, it inspires others to do the same. A big part of that is appreciating all people and the selfless acts and sacrifices they make every day.
The third principle is Create Your Prizefighter Day – Do Great Things!
Each day set three attainable activity goals: one personal, one professional, and one to help others. By taking action in these three areas every day, you make each day victorious. The victory is not in the results, but in the actions themselves. Even if what you do doesn’t turn out perfectly, as you may have hoped, the experience of accomplishment every day is a victory.
The fourth principle is Create a Living Legacy.
Surrender to a cause greater than yourself. Find your passion and live it every day. Work diligently toward your goal. Fight for what you believe in despite the obstacles in your path. Don’t wait to leave a legacy after you’re gone. Live that legacy every day.
Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead. – Louisa May Alcott
An average person with average talents and ambition and average education, can outstrip the most brilliant genius in our society, if that person has clear, focused goals. -Mary Kay Ash
“For me, goals are my road map to the life I want. They have helped me accomplish things I once thought were impossible.” – Catherine Pulsifer
“Goal setting is the core of existence that defines life.” – Joanne Bonomi
“Goals give you a compass in order to direct your path through life. Goals focus your thoughts and actions on areas that have precise purpose and meaning.” – Catherine Pulsifer
“Life’s ups and downs provide windows of opportunity to determine your values and goals. Think of using all obstacles as stepping stones to build the life you want.” – Martha Sinetar
“In achieving your goals, you may run into roadblocks. Don’t let that stop you, go around, over, or under. If you are committed to your goal you will find a way.” – Catherine Pulsifier
You must do the think you think you cannot do. –Eleanor Roosevelt
You have to do what you love to do, not get stuck in that comfort zone of a regular job. Life is not a dress rehearsal. This is it.” – Lucinda Basset
“One’s philosophy is not the best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And, the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
“Goals are dreams with deadlines.” – Diana Scharf Hunt
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
`I don’t much care where…’ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.”
– Lewis Carrol from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
You can’t hit a home run unless you step up to the plate. You can’t catch a fish unless you put your line in the water. You can’t reach your goals if you don’t try. -Kathy Seligman
“We have been taught to believe that negative equals realistic, and positive equals unrealistic.” – Susan Jeffers
“You are asked to keep a ledger – a small notebook will do – of money in and money out. Counting brings clarity, and clarity is one of the first and finest fruits of prosperity.” – Julia Cameron
“The universe will reward you for taking risks on its behalf” – Shakti Gawain
“I am worthy of having money” –Patricia Bass
“Compulsive spending is always masking something else – and we spend compulsively because we are trying so hard to mask something else.” – Julia Cameron
“The desire to be self-supporting and financially independent is a divine desire” – Catherine Ponder
“ A number isn’t magic. A number is just a number. However, we believe – with all of our being – that a magic number exists, and that getting to it will solve all of our problems. But every time we reach that number, the number is suddenly too low. Why? Because a number will never solve all of our problems.” – Julia Cameron
“Desire is God tapping at the door of your mind, trying to give you greater good.” –Catherine Ponder
“I dwell in consciousness of abundance, and my life is filled to overflowing with all good things.” – Patricia Bass
“All things I seek are now seeking me.” – Patricia Bass
As a first year Ph.D student, I am a very busy woman. Nevertheless, I managed to publish 3 books this year. People ask me, – “how did you find time to do that this year when you are already so busy?”
Regardless of what your goals are – I can’t underscore the following point –
The most important ingredient to achieving your big goals is not will power.
Don’t get me wrong, of course there was lots of hard work involved in the planning, writing and publishing of my books.
What’s more important though, is discovering what your passion is. The secret is to get in touch with your life purpose. My personal experience and research have taught me that once you know what excites you and interests you, then you can begin clarifying what you want to write about.
If you can’t identify what your passions are, be sure to try my free online goal setting program to brainstorm your interests, and to prioritize which interests are most important to you.
In a nutshell, I was able to publish three books in one year, simply because I know what I’m passionate about, and I have a clear vision of what I’m trying to achieve with my life purpose. Indeed, this is an over-simplified answer, but it’s the most important element to being able to accomplish your writing goals, or any other goal for that matter.
Without passion, there is little to no energy and enthusiasm. If you have big goals for yourself, you’ll need a lot of energy and excitement to make it happen. When you’re full of zeal and high off the prospects of what you hope to offer the world, you won’t think of the accomplishment of your goals as something that has required tons of will power.
Despite being a full-time Ph.D student and having many tasks on my plate, I am able to accomplish so much with my writing because it’s always in the forefront of my mind. Given my passion for psychology – I am constantly inundated with ideas, insights and plans for what I want to communicate with others.
I am writing outlines on my phone, conducting research as I find a few extra spare minutes here and there. When you’re passionate about something, the actual action and doing is something that seems to flow with ease. Yes, planning and will power have its time and place. But when you’re working on a goal that excites you, it doesn’t always feel like hard work.
Hard work and will power only takes a person so far in their endeavours. It won’t be enough to pick you up after failure. It won’t motivate you to keep moving forward in the dark. It won’t motivate you to be your personal best. It won’t keep you resilient against other peoples’ criticisms. It’s your dream, vision and personal passion that will be the driving force behind keeping you committed to the accomplishment of your goals.
You’ve heard it time and time again – write down your goals as it will increase the chances of you achieving those goals. Some state that they can keep their goals in their head. However, there is research that shows that when you write your goals down and post them in visible places to remind yourself of those goals, you will be more able to achieve those goals.
The reality is that we only have a limited amount of energy and attention to direct toward our goals. Evolutionary speaking, our brain is designed to conserve energy. We’re either focusing on:
- Dealing with threats in our environment and learning how to put out fires, or
- Focusing on ways to master our environment and work toward higher order goals that are important to our well-being.
Obviously with goal achievement, we are more interested in the latter, – learning how to master our environment by achieving our goals, because it brings us pleasure, rewards, life satisfaction and of course some degree of security as well.
A key factor that prevents us from staying focused on our goals, and achieving those goals is that it’s hard to direct our attention on those goals all the time or often enough. There are so many distractions and demands in our everyday life, that it seems almost impossible to stay focused at times. Our RAS helps make this process of paying attention and being focused a little bit easier.
Specifically, research in goal setting and motivation states that our arousal systems help us focus on our goals. The reason we have arousal systems to begin with is that evolution has hard wired us to conserve energy, and we are only meant to be aroused when we have a concrete reason – protecting our safety in some fashion or increasing our resources in some way.
Our brain only gets super focused if and when it needs to, otherwise, just like a computer, one could argue that it goes to sleep and does the minimal amount of work needed. When a person has no clear goals, doesn’t write their goals down and doesn’t have plans to achieve those goals, their level of goal arousal, passion and overall enthusiasm is low. As a result, they do not recognize or identify the people, opportunities, situations or resources that could be helpful to them.
How do we increase our levels of arousal to help us achieve our goals? By learning how to activate your reticular activating system (RAS) which is part of your cortical arousal system, you can increase your chances of being much more efficient with your goals.
So what role does writing our goals down play in helping us to achieve our goals? By writing down your goals and your plans for achieving your goals, you learn to focus your attention on what really matters. Doing so gets your reticular activation system aroused and working in your favour.
How does this work? When you write down your goals, you make a point of being specific with a direction that is important for you to move in. You pinpoint specific destinations that you want to move toward, and the specific steps that you need to take to get there.
As you get in touch with what is exciting and rewarding to you, you increase your levels of arousal, and become crystal clear about what matters. As you are doing this, your reticular activating system in your cortex is aroused and promotes you being ready and alert to respond to cues in the environment that are relevant to your goals. When the RAS is activated, we can process and reorganize information much more efficiently in ways that support our achievement of goals.
A classic yet simplified example of your RAS working would be when you identify an article of clothing that you would like to purchase. You try on a beautiful blouse and you write down the size, brand, colour and store where you found it. In the meantime, as you are waiting for it to go on sale, you see other people wearing that blouse because now you are primed to spot it! You’ll also recognize similar types of blouses perhaps by other designers. Your brain is automatically aroused when it notices this blouse because you have indicated that it is something important to you. The same thing happens when you identify a new car that you want to buy. You begin to notice that car everywhere, because you’ve signaled the importance of this car to your brain.
To learn strategies and tips on the how to activate your RAS to support your goal setting and achievement efforts, read these tips on visualization!