Planning is a vital skill that every entrepreneur should strive to master, but even the best of plans aren’t worth much if you can’t stick to them. But don’t worry – this is quite the common problem. Everyone struggles with meeting their planned goals, and learning how to alleviate the struggle isn’t easy. However, I’d like to remind you that you’re reading this book because you don’t want to be like everyone else. Because you’re tired of underperforming, and because you want to take control of your life. You want to build a business. Before you’re able to make good on all of those plans, however, you should take a step back and think about why you were unable to make good on your previous ones. And that’s precisely what we’re going to cover in this article!
Hello everyone, and welcome back to my success series! I’m your host – Antoaneta, and today, we’ll talk about plans and making good on them. Before we begin, however, I’d like to take a look at one of the most notorious planning subjects – New Year’s resolutions.
Did you know that roughly 80% of New Years’ resolutions fail by February?
Yes, you read that right. Around eighty per cent of all people give up on trying to meet the goals that they set for themselves less than two-months in! But that’s not all. It’s actually much worse than that. Most people neglect to act in accordance with their new goals as early as January 12th.
Obviously, goal setting isn’t for everyone. Or rather, it is, but everyone’s mentality is sorely lacking. And, yes I understand that we’ve all got different circumstances to deal with and yada-yada. At the end of the day, however, it’s all about getting up and doing the things that need doing. And how do you achieve that? Keep reading, and you’ll find out.
Realise that change needs to happen
First and foremost, you need to admit to yourself that you need a change. Be it a change of pace, a change of scenery or getting rid of harmful habits, the first step towards positive change is recognising that there is a problem. And yes, I know that you’ve probably heard this a million times, but please do not take it lightly. A significant number of people who fail to meet their goals do so because they underestimate the importance of this very first point.
If you’ve managed to set up a cosy, comfortable life for yourself, where you’ve got everything needed, not just to survive, but also to support your hobbies and passions, you’ll have a hard time admitting the need for change to yourself. It might not be the best life, but you’ve lived like this for a while, and nothing terrible has happened to you because of it. After all, if ain’t broke, don’t go and try to fix it, right?
While this applies to most scenarios, here it won’t really get you anywhere. If you fall into the trap of embracing the familiarity, you won’t ever manage to change. Instead, you should seek to expand your horizons and push yourself out of your comfort zone. I know that it feels scary and different, but nothing bad will come out of it, I promise! You just have to try.
Go stand in front of your mirror, look yourself in the eye, and ask: Who am I, when nobody is looking? Am I happy with me as I am? What can I do to fix the things that I dislike about myself?
Find your faults and admit to yourself that they’re keeping you from becoming the person that you want to be.
Do this, and you’re already ahead of about 70% of all the people in the world that want to change. You’ve taken the first step. And, as we all know, the first step is often the hardest.
Confront your beliefs
While you were trying to get a clear view of who you really are, your mind probably tried its best to stop you. After all, nobody likes admitting their faults. And that’s normal – our minds have evolved to keep us safe from harm and prevent us from making efforts deemed unnecessary for basic survival.
You see, we developed these qualities back the nights were dark and full of hungry, dangerous beasts when the winters were harsh, and resources were scarce. Back when being chubby was an advantage since the extra fat would keep us warm and provide us with back-up resources, should the hunting parties fail. And while this system was quite useful back while we lived in caves and mud huts, today it gets in the way more often than it helps. We’ve gone a long way in a relatively short period of time, and our brains have not yet caught up to the fact that we’ve managed to build a marvellous civilisation, where we get to live safe and comfortable lives, away from any dangers or natural predators.
So, while you were trying to figure out what’s stopping you from becoming the person that you want to be, your mind was most likely showering you with a variety of justifications and excuses, in a vain attempt to prevent you from expending all that time and energy on improving yourself.
Now is the time to make a conscious effort and look for the real causes. Just like with the previous point, you’ll need to spend a couple of minutes to come to terms with why things are the way they are. Fair warning – you are probably not going to like the revelations that you come across. But you’ll need to toughen up and take responsibility for the present situation.
You might not be rich because you were born in unfavourable conditions, and because there aren’t a lot of possibilities in your area. But you’ve got access to the Internet – the world biggest repository of knowledge. You’ve got access to many times more opportunities than anyone who was born before this date could ever dream of.
You might be out of shape because you don’t have the time to take care of yourself, or because it just “runs in the family”, but did someone really tie you down to the chair to prevent you from working out, or just going for a walk every day?
This principle can be applied to just about any aspect of your life. And, of course, sometimes things can go wrong to no fault of your own. Often, the circumstances were entirely outside of our control. But are they still out of your control today? Are you in charge of your life, or does someone else get to tell you what to do and when to do it?
Take a good look at your past performance
And while we’re on the subject of taking responsibility, let’s talk about your past performance. Don’t worry – we’re almost out of the uncomfortable territory. You’re almost ready to start looking forward! But before we get to that point, we need to get this one out of the way as well.
As we concluded in the previous point, one way or another, your present condition is at least in part, your own doing. Whatever is holding your back, has done so, because you’ve allowed it to.
Now comes the time to evaluate which factors were the ones holding you back – the ones that you need to eliminate moving forward.
You probably don’t realise this yet, but if you don’t pull this off correctly, you’ll end up living through the exact same mishaps like last year.
If you want to improve, you need to be smart about it.
So, sit down, take a pen and a sheet of paper and get to thinking. Analyse your past year. Analyse your goals, your successes and your failures. Realise what it was that prevented you from achieving the things that you wanted to achieve. Once you’re done, it’s just about eliminating the problematic factors.
While you’re doing this, don’t forget to think about your successes and give yourself a much-deserved pat on the back for the things that you did manage to pull off. Analyse them as well – write down the things that helped and try to bring more of those positive influences into your life.
Expand your comfort zone
After all the talk about comfort zones, now comes the time to take meaningful action, aimed at expanding your own. For this exercise, I’ll ask you to come up with three new things, each of which needs to be outside of your comfort zone. But don’t worry – I’m not asking you to anything extreme or embarrassing. It can be small and simple things, and, as a matter of fact, I’d advise that you do indeed pick small and simple things because you’ll have a much easier time adjusting to them.
It could be something as simple as:
- Getting a promotion at work by getting better at your job
- Going out and meeting a specific number of new people (up to you)
- Trying out new hobbies that you’ve never partaken in
- Trying out a new sport
- Visiting a new place (just make the appropriate preparations beforehand!)
- Starting a workout routine or even just going for a walk every other day
Anything that you don’t currently do and feel uncomfortable thinking about is also absolutely valid.
Get to planning
Now that you’ve got your goals use the planning systems that I’ve presented to you in this book and come up with a detailed plan on how you’re going to achieve them. Consider the when, the how and the why. Remember to add a measurable element, or otherwise, you’ll have a very difficult time tracking your progress.
Think about what life will be like after you’ve achieved these goals
Okay, this might sound a bit weird, but I want you to sit down and imagine how your life would change after you’ve achieved the goals that we came up with. I know it’s a strange request, but please bear with me – I’ll explain why we’re doing this in just a minute.
Take out your pen, along with a clean sheet of paper and throw down some ideas. Ask yourself: How would my life change after I do these things.
- How would your friends and colleagues react to this?
- What would your family think about it?
- How would you personally feel about yourself?
- Would you lead a healthier life?
- Would you be happier?
- Would you be more confident?
Don’t rush – give yourself plenty of time to think about it. Meanwhile, I’ll go over why we did this and how it helps you in the long run.
As I already mentioned before, our minds are hardwired to “think” and “remember” with feelings and emotions. That’s just the most efficient way of doing things. And so, the most powerful motivators are the things that our minds correlated with pain and with pleasure. The stronger the sensation, the more potent of a drive it gives us.
By thinking about the consequences of your goals, you’re drawing a clean mental image of your emotions after achieving what you’ve set out to. This will help you create meaningful, lasting bonds between the desire to meet your own expectations and the drive to do so. It will provide you with motivation, that you can draw from, once the going gets tough, and it will help you combat the urge to procrastinate.
And yes, you’re more than welcome to apply this methodology to all of your other goals as well. Now, you’re good to go. You’re ready to get out there and start achieving. As always, I’d urge you to focus on the smaller, simpler and easier to reach goals. Don’t immediately aim for the stars. Make baby steps. First, learn to crawl, then, master walking and finally, you can make an attempt at running.
Keep it up
Okay, the first steps are always the hardest, and we’ve gotten them out of the way. But staying on track can oftentimes be just as tricky as getting started. Sunk cost fallacies aside, how does one avoid all of the obstacles and remain focused entirely on their goals.
Well, for most people, that won’t work from the get-go. And, especially if you’ve struggled with this previously, it’s perfectly normal to trip, or even fall down every now and then. We all do it, and I’ve done it quite a few times myself. But what’s important is the ability to get back up, instead of surrendering.
So, for starters, I’d suggest that you try and see how just how long you can maintain a perfect record. How many days before you decide that you’re skipping your gym visit, even though it’s a Monday, or until you admit that you’re way too tired to finish the last couple of pages that you were supposed to read for the day.
Don’t worry – this doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. Not yet, at least. Real failure, you see, doesn’t come when you fall down. It happens when you decide that you aren’t going to try and get back up on your feet.
And that’s precisely what I’ve been preparing you for this whole chapter – for the moment when you feel like you just can’t keep going. That’s why we’ve built all of those mental connections, why we did all of the self-reflection exercises, and why I’ve been going on and on about the importance of your mindset.
If you’ve followed all of my advice, and you’ve lived as I suggested for at least a couple of months, giving up should simply not appear as a viable option. It should be something as distant and impossible as travelling back in time and slapping yourself for being lazy. And if you get to that point and decide that you have to get back up on your feet, then congratulations – you’ve changed for the better! No, don’t thank me, I didn’t do anything, but tell you the things that you already knew deep down inside. It was all you. You did the research. You took the time to find and read this book. You did all of the heavy lifting. You confronted your fears, admitted your faults and found the best possible course of action. You changed your mindset.
Now, you’re in control of your life. You can achieve anything you want, so long as you put your mind to it. What you do with this new power is entirely up to you, but please remember to use it responsibly. You are still a human being, just like everyone else. You get tired, you need to rest and relax every now and then. Besides, if you suddenly decide to change every little aspect of your personality completely, your friends and family might end up missing you. You are, after all, doing this not just for yourself, but for your loved ones as well. You can also check out my previous articles such as “Work Smarter, Not Harder“.
If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it with your friends – it really means a lot. And, as always, if you have any ideas, tips and suggestions of your own, do not hesitate to drop me a comment below!
Thank you all for reading, and I’ll see you all next time.
Stay Green and Motivated!
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