The miracle of self – discipline – fifth part!

The miracle of self – discipline and goals

Your ability to discipline yourself to set clear goals for yourself and then to work toward them every day will do more to guarantee your success than any other single factor. You need to have goals to accomplish worthwhile things in life. You have probably heard it said that “you can’t hit a target that you can’t see.”

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”

And as Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss every shot you don’t take.”

The very act of taking the time to decide what you really want in each area of your life can change your life completely.

The three percent factor

It seems that only 3 percent of adults have written goals and plans, and this 3 percent earn more than all the other 97 percent put together.

Why is this? The simplest answer is that if you have clear goal and a plan to achieve it, you therefore have a track to run on every single day. Instead of being sidetracked by distractions and diversions, getting lost or going astray, more and more of your time is focused in a straight line—from where you are to where you want to go. This is why people with goals accomplish so much more than people without them.

The tragedy is that most people think that they already have goals. But what they really have are hopes and wishes. However, hope is not a strategy for success, and a wish has been defined as a “goal with no energy behind it.”

People with unwritten goals go through life shooting blanks. Because they think they already have goals, they never engage in the hard, disciplined effort of goal-setting—and this is the master skill of success.

Multiply your chances of success

In 2006, “USA Today” reported a study in which researchers selected a large number people who had made New Year’s resolutions. They then divided these people into two categories: those who had set New Year’s resolutions and written them down and those who had set New Year’s resolutions but had not written them down.

Twelve months later, they followed up on the respondents in this study, and what they found was astonishing. Of the people who had set New Year’s resolutions but had not written them down, only 4 percent had actually followed through on their resolutions. But among the group who had written down their New Year’s resolutions (an exercise requiring only a couple of minutes), 44 percent had followed through on them. This is a difference of more than 1,100 percent in success, and it was achieved by the simple act of crystallizing the resolutions or goals on paper.

The discipline of writing

The disciplined act of writing out goals, making plans for accomplishing them, and then working on those goals daily increases the likelihood of achieving your goals by ten times, or 1,000 percent.

This does not mean that writing out your goals guarantees success, but rather that it increases the probability of success by ten times. These are very good odds to have working in your favor, especially when there is no cost or risk involved in putting pen to paper – just a little time.

Writing is called a “psycho – neuro – motor activity.” The act of writing forces you to think and concentrate. It forces you to choose what is more important to you and your future. As a result, when you write down a goal, you impress it into your subconscious mind, which then goes to work twenty – four hours a day to bring your goal to reality.

In life, you either work to achieve your own goals or you work to achieve the goals of someone else. Which is it going to be?

Success versus failure mechanisms

Your brain has both a success mechanism and a failure mechanism. The failure mechanism is the temptation to follow the undisciplined path of the least resistance, to do what is fun and easy rather than what is hard and nec – essary. Your failure mechanism operates automatically throughout your life, which is the major reason why most people fail to fulfill their individual potentials.

While your failure mechanism functions automatically, your success mechanism is triggered by a goal. When you decide on a goal, you override your failure mechanism, and can you change the direction of your life. You go from being a ship without a rudder, drifting with the tide, to being a ship with a rudder, a compass, and a clear destination, sailing in a straight direction toward your goal.

Take control of your life

Aristotle wrote that human beings are teleological organisms, which simply means that we are purpose driven. Therefore, you feel happy and in control of your life only when you have a clear goal that you are working toward each day. This also means that this ability to become a lifelong goal setter is one of the most important disciplines you will ever develop.

In nature, the homing pigeon is a remarkable bird. It has an uncanny instinct that enables it to fly back to its home roost, no matter how far away it starts or in what direction it must go. You can take a homing pigeon out of its roost, put it in a cage, put the cage in a box, cover the box with a blanket, and put the covered box in the back of a pickup truck. You could then drive 1,000 miles in any direction, open up the truck, take out the box, take off the blanket, open the cage, and throw the homing pigeon up into the air.

The homing pigeon will circle three times, get its bearings, and then fly straight back to its home roost. This is the only creature on earth that has this ability—except for human beings. Except for you.

You also have this remarkable homing ability within your own brain, but with one special difference. The homing pigeon seems to know instinctively exactly where its home roost is located. It then has the ability to fly directly back to that roost. In contrast, when human beings program a goal into their minds, they can then set out without having any idea where they will go or how they will achieve that goal. But by some miracle, they will begin to move unerringly toward that goal, and the goal will begin to move toward them.

Still, many people are hesitant to set goals. They say, “I want to be financially independent, but I have no idea how I’m going to get there.” As a result, they don’t even set financial success as a goal. But the good news is that you don’t need to know how to get there. You just need to be clear about what you want to accomplish, and the goal-striving mechanism in your brain will guide you unerringly to your destination.

For example, you can decide that you are going to find your ideal job, in which you work for and with people you like and respect and do work that is both challenging and enjoyable. You take some time to write down an exact description of what your ideal job and workplace would look like, and then you go out into the job market and begin searching.

After a series of interviews, you will often walk into the right place at the right time and find yourself in exactly the right job. Almost everyone has had this experience at one time or another. You can have it by design rather than by chance simply by developing absolute clarity about what you really want.

The seven – step method to achieving your goals

There are seven simple steps that you can follow to set and achieve your goals faster. There are more complex and detailed goal-achieving methodologies, but this Seven-Step Method will enable you to accomplish ten times more than you have ever accomplished before, and you will do so far faster than you can currently imagine.

Step 1: Decide exactly what you want? Be specific. If you want to increase your income, decide on a specific amount of money rather than to just “make more money.”

Step 2: Write it down! A goal that is not in writing is like cigarette smoke: It drifts away and disappears. It is vague and insubstantial. It has no force, effect, or power. But a written goal becomes something that you can see, touch, read, and modify if necessary.

Step 3: Set a deadline for your goal. Pick a reasonable time period and write down the date when you want to achieve it. If it is a big enough goal, set a final deadline and then set sub deadlines or interim steps between where you are today and where you want to be in the future.

A deadline serves as a “forcing system” in your brain. Just as you often get more done when you are under the pressure of a specific deadline, your subconscious mind works faster and more efficiently when you have decided that you want to achieve a goal by a specific time.

The rule is “There are no unrealistic goals; there are only unrealistic deadlines.”

What do you do if you don’t achieve your goal by your deadline? Simple. You set another deadline. A deadline is just a “guesstimate.” Some times you will achieve your goal before the deadline, sometimes at the deadline, and sometimes after the deadline.

When you set your goal, it will be within the context of a certain set of external circumstances. But these circumstances may change, causing you to change your deadline as well.

Step 4: Make a list of everything you can think of that you could possibly do to achieve your goal!

As Henry Ford said, “The biggest goal can be accomplished if you just break it down into enough small steps.”

• Make a list of the obstacles and difficulties that you will have to overcome, both external and internal, in order to achieve your goal.

• Make a list of the additional knowledge and skills that you will need in order to achieve your goal.

• Make a list of the people whose cooperation and support you will require to achieve your goal.

• Make a list of everything that you can think of that you will have to do, and then add to this list as new tasks and responsibilities occur to you. Keep writing until your list is complete.

Step 5: Organize your list by both sequence and priority. A list of activities organized by sequence requires that you decide what you need to do first, what you need to do second, and what you need to do later on. In addition, a list organized by priority enables you to determine what is more important and what is less important.

Sometimes sequence and priority are the same, but often they are not. For example, if you want to start a particular kind of business, the first item in order of sequence might be for you to purchase a book or enroll in a course on that business.

But what is most important is your ability to develop a business plan, based on complete market research, that you can use to gather the resources you need and actually start the business you have in mind.

Step 6: Take action on your plan immediately. Take the first step – and then the second step and the third step. Get going. Get busy. Move quickly. Don’t delay. Remember: Procrastination is not only the thief of time – it is the thief of life.

The difference between successes and failures in life is simply that winners take the first step. They are action-oriented. As they said in Star Trek, they “go boldly where no man has ever gone before.” Winners are willing to take action with no guarantees of success. Though they’re willing to face failure and disappointment, they’re always willing to take action.

Step 7: Do something every day that moves you in the direction of your major goal. This is the key step that will guarantee your success: Do something, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Do anything that moves you at least one step closer to the goal that is most important to you at that time.

When you do something every day that moves you in the direction of your goal, you develop momentum. This momentum, this sense of forward motion, motivates, inspires, and energizes you. As you develop momentum, you will find it increasingly easy to take even more steps toward your goal.

In no time at all, you will have developed the discipline of setting and achieving your goals. It will soon become easy and automatic. You will soon develop the habit and the discipline of working toward your goals all the time.

The ten – goal exercise

This is one of the most powerful goal-achieving methods I have ever discovered.

Take out a clean sheet of paper. At the top of the page write the word “Goals” and today’s date. Then, discipline yourself to write down ten goals that you’d like to accomplish in the next twelve months. Write down financial, family goals, and fitness goals, as well as goals for personal possessions, like a house or a car.

Don’t worry about the moment about how you are going to achieve these goals. Just write them down as quickly as you can. You can write as many as fifteen goals if you like, but this exercise requires that you write down a minimum of ten within three to five minutes.

Select one goal. Once you have written out your ten goals, imagine for the moment that you can achieve all the goals on your list if you want them long enough and hard enough. Also imagines that you have a “magic wand” that you can wave that will enable you to achieve any one goal on your list within twenty – four hours.

If you could achieve any one goal on your list within twenty – four hours, which one would have the greatest positive impact on your life right now? Which one goal would change or improve your life more than anything else? Which one goal, if you were to achieve it, would help you to achieve more of your other goals than anything else?

Whatever your answer to this question, put a circle around this goal and then write it at the top of a clean sheet of paper. This goal then becomes your “Major Definite Purpose.” It becomes your focal point and the organizing principle of your future activities.

Make a Plan. Once you have written out this goal, clearly and specifically, and made it measurable, set a deadline on your goal. Your subconscious mind needs a deadline so that it can focus and concentrate all your mental powers on goal attainment.

Make a list of everything that you can think of that you could do to achieve your goal. Organize this list by sequence and priority.

Select the most important or logical next step in your plan and take action on it immediately. Take the first step. Do something. Do anything.

Resolve to work on this goal every single day until it is achieved. From this moment forward, as far as you are concerned, “Failure is not an option.” Once you have decided that this one goal can have the greatest positive impact on your life and you have set it as your major definite purpose, resolve that you will work toward this goal as hard as you can, as long as you can, and that you will never give up until it is achieved. This decision alone can change your life.

The Great Law of Cause and Effect

The most important application of the law of cause and effect is that “thoughts are causes, and conditions are effects.”

Your thoughts create the conditions of your life. When you change your thinking, you change your life. Your outer world becomes a mirror-image reflection of your inner world.

Perhaps the greatest discovery in the history of thought is that “you become what you think about most of the time.” Moreover, the teacher John Boyle said, “Whatever you can think about on a continuing basis, you can have.”

Napoleon Hill, author of the success classic Think and Grow Rich—which was first published in 1939 and is still selling today—said, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

When you think about your goal continually and work on it every day, more and more of your mental resources will be concentrated on moving you toward that goal—and moving your goal toward you.

The discipline of daily goal-setting will make you a powerful, purposeful, and irresistible person. You will develop self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-respect. As you feel yourself moving toward your goals faster and faster, you will ultimately become unstoppable.



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