Spend Time with Yourself
The catalyst for change does not happen in a vacuum, however, decisions are all yours.
Your best thinking got you this far. You are where you are because you planned on being there. Either you planned, or failed to plan. Either way, you made the decisions that got you to this point. If you are not where you want to be at this point in your life, critique the person who looks back from the mirror. Playing the blame game wastes precious energy and thinking bandwidth. As Philip Roth wrote as the last line of Portnoy’s Complaint, “yes, and?”.
We all have an innate natural tendency to look for something or someone to blame. It is programmed into our psyche. Paranoia is just good thinking when you know the Saber-toothed tiger is out to get you. However, the past is just a thought occurring in the present. It is not what we did in the past that counts as much as what are we going to do from here that will make the difference.
We all have the innate ability to also look towards solutions to the current situation rather than wallow in remorse and regret. Regret is merely a wishful thought that something could have gone differently in the past. As humans, we have been endowed with the ability to take charge of our thoughts. The discipline of focusing on a goal can replace any negative thought, like replacing a song in your head with another song.
Studies have shown that people who acquire knowledge from books, audio programs, and mentors develop the grit to stay the course in new endeavors.
Define and write down the areas in which you need more information in order to make decisions. Remember though, that the purpose of research is to come to a conclusion. Successful people make decisions and then set about making them right. Even decisions that do not pan out lead to further knowledge and better future decisions.
Once you have defined the areas in which you need more information, swarm all over it to collect as much knowledge as possible. You can become an expert quickly by getting clearer on your goals. Examine information for relevancy. Write down, or record everything, as you go. I listen to audio programs while walking on the treadmill. While listening and working out, I want to capture ideas as they come. I use a second recorder to digitalize ideas for future review and incorporation into my research and writing. Developing a system for retaining and retrieving information is critical. Creating research folders and files online where they can be accessible from any device, for instance on Microsoft One Drive, not only makes them accessible but provides one location versus multiple locations that need to be remembered.
I use Evernote extensively to store information for later retrieval and review. Experts tell us that the challenge is not recording information, it is retrieving information. Evernote is useful because you can file web pages, emails, and documents from anywhere, without creating files whose names or locations have to be remembered. You can search thousands of pieces of information, quickly, with just the words that you are looking for.
- Start a habit of filing information for further review. Use the free app Evernote. Research news articles and file into Flipboard as well. I use Google Alerts to have the latest, articles sent to me every day. I have been able to research thousands of contributors. See Boomer to Zoomer on Flipboard. https://flipboard.com/@jasfrank/boomer-to-zoomer-ohmgnibpz.
- Design your knowledge storage and retrieval system. Make information accessible across laptop and phone. Use external storage as well as backup to protect records.
As you acquire more knowledge and study the contributions to your goals, write out a plan for accomplishment. My mantra is “If it is not written, it is not so”. I suggest not making it perfect as it will change with time. Just get it in a binder or word document. Remember that the plan is in sand, while the goal is in concrete. There is an old saying, tryers try, and doers do. Saying, “I’ll try is the same as, I’m not going to do it. Writing out your goals and plans, over and over, will embed them in your subconscious and release the power of accomplishment. You have a reticular activating system in your brain that allows you to drive, for instance, and still locate the doctor’s office. Incredibly, you don’t have to leave the office and say to your brain, now look for somewhere to eat lunch. Your brain will automatically stop looking for the doctor’s office sign and automatically focus your awareness on signs for restaurants. Trust your mind to help you focus.
- Take the time now to write out goals and plans and refer to often. The more places you have your goals starring back at you, the sooner you will reach them.
2. Define Your Motivation & Passion
Defining your motivation and passion are the starting points of all success. Without the direction of goals and why you are doing them, your life will be in constant limbo. You will be confused as to what to do next. There are three types of people in life. Those who make things happen. Those who watch things happen. And those who say, what happened? The confused mind stops you from being a goal-seeking organism and forces you into being merely part of the group of people who are in constant wonder of what’s going on.
Major Definite Purpose
Although this may seem like a daunting task to determine, there are definitive steps that you can take to unveil the things that drive you to get moving. Some simple questions, answered quickly, will begin to take you in the right direction.
- If you won a lottery of ten million dollars, what would you do?
- If you only had six months to live, what would you do?
- If you knew you could not fail, no matter what, what things would you embark on?
- What things do you want to be remembered for? In five words, write you epitaph on you gravestone.
- Write out your three most important goals, right now.
Complete a List of Values
Creating a list of values and grouping by importance will help you narrow down into descriptive words those things that matter most to you in life. Print this list and circle all the value words that resonate with you. You can also make your list of important value words in a text file or word document. Once listed, transcribe into no more than five groups.
For example, a group heading might be Integrity. The words that describe Integrity might be Benevolence, Encouragement, Inspiration, Leadership, and Giving Help. Finally, give each group an action verb as in, Exude Integrity. The addition of the action verb will drop all those words into your subconscious as a command for your subconscious to follow. You will begin to feel Integrity every time you encourage, inspire and lead others. You will have a feeling of completeness and your self-esteem will go up.
As a result of these two steps, you will begin to identify and build on what motivates you and gives you a feeling of passion for your goals.
List Your Goals. Select 5 and Avoid All Others
Once you have completed the first two steps, write out your top 20 Goals as of right now. Next, select the top five goals in terms of immediate importance. It is common to discover that many goals are actually sub-goals of a larger goal. Now, here is a challenge for many people. Anything other than those five goals needs to be discarded and avoided at all costs. Those are the areas that rob us of our time and leave us unfilled with regards to the most important goals we have.
3. Create Success Habits
Creating the picture in your mind’s eye of the way you want to live will provide motivation. Cultivating good habits is what makes you stay the course.
Healthy eating, exercise, and a good night’s sleep. These are areas of life over which we have some of the most control. Researchers have determined that forming a positive habit in a small endeavor will translate into better habits in other areas.
Personally, I find it easiest, not necessarily easy, to adjust habits and gain increased self-confidence around health habits. Just by eating a balanced breakfast leaves me with a feeling of increased confidence. Nutritionists say that we are always only one meal away from being on track of a healthy diet.
Getting on a treadmill at the gym, or at home, for 20 minutes will begin a new habit. Not that long ago, when I made a new decision to get serious about exercising again, it took me a week to work up to spending 30 minutes on the treadmill. However, by diligently working on that specific habit, I reached 90 minutes of cardio at a time. That habit alone strengthened my eating habits and enhanced a better night’s sleep. Over time, I found myself going from thinking of exercise as a chore to being time allocated to my wellbeing. Once it was seen as a reward and a positive experience, I could not stop. It was no longer something I had to do. It morphed into something that was part of my long-term goal of enjoying every day alive. Although it took discipline to get started, focus and concentration paid off.
Focus & Concentration
Focus and total concentration are the two greatest rewards of self-discipline. Armed with a definite purpose and a goal with which to replace negative thinking, it only takes daily focus and concentration to accomplish great things in life. One of my best time management tools is to remind myself that if I say yes to this shiny object in front of me, what am I saying no to? It takes very little time for me to refocus back to the things that are the most important. The use of daily and monthly markers help many people stay focused.
Time is a limiting factor for all of us. The older we get, the more that time takes precedence over money. I use visual markers that keep me focused. I put a marble in my pocket and carry it around for a month. I then replace it and store the previous one. Watching marbles mount in a jar is a keen reminder of where I have been and where I want to be.
- Develop a new method today to help you stay focused on your goals. Write goals out daily and have pictures where you can see them. Reading your goals aloud helps enormously. Seeing the lifestyle you want or the healthy-you looking back from the edge of the bathroom mirror further embeds into your subconscious the grit necessary to accomplish great goals.
4. Find Resources
The greatest gift I received from post-secondary school was learning how and where to get information. With today’s Google search, we can gain information quickly and abundantly. There is no excuse for not finding helpful resources any longer.
Books, Audio, Video
Charlie Tremendous Jones has long said that we will be the same people, five years from now, except for the books we read and the people we meet. I will add audio and video programs from myriad sources as well.
Many years ago, one of my salesmen loaned me a set of tapes by Brian Tracy on sales. After absorbing the material, I increased my company sales by 500% in one season. The information came at no charge, however, the application of the resource made an enormous financial gain for the company. It is not enough to gather knowledge. You must take action on it by applying it to your endeavor as quickly as possible. The faster you apply and fail, and apply and fail, the faster you will succeed. To increase your success rate, increase your failure rate. Babe Ruth was the greatest home run hitter at the same time as being the greatest strikeout king.
- Make a decision now to get started on finding resources for you immediate goal. Write it down. Start a list, now. Remember the starting point is not as important as the point of starting.
Convey your goals only to people who can help you achieve them or encourage you to achieve them. Spanx founder, Sarah Blakely, refused to tell her family what she was starting for over a year because she suspected they would be critical of her endeavor and dampen her spirit.
Napoleon Hill encouraged people to create an alliance with those who can help you accomplish your goals. That is why I believe coaching is so important. When I need counseling on an important issue, I reach out to a board of advisers that I have. Most do not know they are on my board and I can change advisers whenever necessary. One thing is for sure. If you see a turtle on top of a fence post, it did not get there by itself. We all function more effectively in a cooperative environment.
Researchers have determined that inspiration from others is a critical component of developing the grit to stay the course on goals. That inspiration may come from contemporary encouragers or someone from the past. Many a successful person, regardless of their field, has been able to point to a historical person who has made a major impact on their thinking.
- Identify five people who can assist you in starting and completing your most important goal. Write out what you want to ask of them and contact them today. Remember, it is always carpe diem.
5. Reward Yourself
Thomas Edison said, “There is no substitute for hard work”. I don’t mind working hard if there are rewards along the way.
Ask for Kudos
Waiting around for others to notice our efforts and to congratulate us is like sitting in a field with open mouth, waiting for a cooked chicken to fly in. It is just not going to happen. Successful people know when they have done a good job and have no problem asking for what they need. Remember, you will never G-E-T until you A-S-K. There is nothing wrong with sharing your success with like-minded people. They will be the first to congratulate you.
Give Mini Rewards Often
Use break times for rewarding yourself for small changes. Complete a task before allowing yourself that much-coveted swim in the lake, or drive to the store. The point is to associate the reward with a win on your road to accomplishing a goal. Your subconscious will want to repeat the feeling of accomplishment and association with the reward, making it easier to form a new habit. The more rewards associated with completion of a task, the stronger the desire to complete the entire goal.
Express Gratitude to Self
Expressing gratitude to yourself is not only a reward, it has been shown to improve longevity. Most of us did not hear this enough as children, I’m so proud of you, or, really great job. Saying you are proud of yourself, or that you like yourself, reinforces your belief in yourself, which has been scientifically shown to increase your grit level toward achievement.
- Say aloud, I like myself, I like myself, I LIKE myself. Eventually, this will get driven into your daily thinking. Remember, Others cannot like you more than you like yourself.
These five keys are not all that areas that need to be internalized for success, however, my take on it is that they are absolutely essential. To learn more, sign up for my upcoming book The Renascent Boomer – A Tsunami Rising.