“To accomplish great things we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.”(Anatole France) While these three items define success, without all of them success would be unattainable. Without a dream, you will be without desire and without desire, you will be without action. If you can unlock the dream, then you can unlock success and make your dream reality.
Take a look back across your life and at the difficult things that you have already accomplished. For some, finishing high school seemed impossible only to graduate from college. Others set out for a career and ended up owning their own business. No matter who you are, you have accomplished many things in your life. I venture to say that many of your accomplishments were at one time or another, a goal. Goals and dreams give hope and the ability to achieve things otherwise not realized. If you can institute the following keys into your daily routine, you can realize more goals and reach new heights of success. What are the keys and how do they work?
1. Identify the Goal
In order to achieve, you must set and accomplish goals. Goals give purpose and make us feel good about ourselves.
Think about the horse pulling a cart with the carrot dangling out in front. What purpose does the carrot serve? It’s the dream and the desire. When the horse wakes up each morning, I doubt that he is very excited about pulling a cart all around town. But add the carrot and we have created purpose and motivation. All day long the carrot hangs out in front and all day long the horse chases it. People laugh at the horse because of its simplicity. But during the first five minutes of the day the horse has identified the goal to get the carrot. At the end of the day, the horse is rewarded for its perseverance. While we all might laugh at this little analogy, what would happen if we inserted this horse mentality into our daily lives?
I agree that it isn’t that simple; however, do not make it harder than it has to be. There is a simple system to creating and accomplishing goals. You cannot just wish your goals; you need to install structure in your life for establishing goals and achieving your desired success.
First, goal statements need to be specific. Simply setting a goal to lose weight isn’t enough; being specific will allow you to better define the goal and create a stronger plan for success. “I would like to lose 10 pounds by June 1st” is a much stronger goal. This gives the goal more credibility and creates the need for a specific plan.
Next, your goals need to be achievable. Achievable does not mean easy. Goals should require you to move outside your comfort zone. Goals are meant to help us accomplish things, but do not make them impossible. Sometimes the accomplishments might be small and other times they might be great. But, each one should require you to elevate yourself in order to see through to the accomplishment. This stretching will make you stronger and build your confidence to achieve greater goals. When I think of this process, I visualize athletes pushing themselves and their bodies beyond where they have ever been. Why? In order to build larger and stronger muscles, the weight must be gradually increased. This weight increase in turn develops the muscles and new, higher levels of strength. Without the increase of weight, the muscles will not get stronger. I believe the same principle holds true in the setting and accomplishment of goals. Goals need to require more effort than the last, thus making you stronger.
Third, establish a deadline or date for accomplishment of your goal. The date can be just around the corner or somewhere in the distant future; setting any date is the important part. A date will allow you to keep your eyes looking forward and not looking back. The goal lies in the future; now let’s get after it!
Finally, make a list of your goals. Create a “Goal Contract” with yourself. Write down your goals, include all of the specifics and sign it. This further solidifies your commitment to the goal(s). Now, find a moment each day to review your goals. Make them part of your daily routine.
2. Create a Battle Plan for Success
I like to use the words “battle plan”, because accomplishing goals is not easy. Around every turn there will be obstacles. You will quickly recognize some obstacles and others will appear without warning, like an ambush. You may have control over the outcome or you may be reliant upon another for help. Either way, it is going to be a constant challenge for you to keep moving forward, even through the setbacks. The key to overcoming setbacks is to learn from what has happened and then alter or strengthen your battle plan. Mel Gibson said regarding his making of the Academy Award winning epic, Braveheart, "You have to go in with a plan. You can deviate from it, though -- it's just a jumping off point."
As you are formulating your plan, ask yourself these questions: “What tools do I need to accomplish my goal(s)? What resources do I have at my disposal? How long do I have to accomplish my goal? Whose help might I need to realize success in my goal?” Answering these questions will help you think through what is needed to ensure success.
Another critical factor in your plan is other people. George Washington said it this way, “Be courteous to all, but intimate with few; and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.” If you need support from others, be certain that they support and are in alliance with your goals. Surround yourself with strong supporters and let them become your battle warriors. Rely upon them to help and encourage you. It is unimaginable that you could achieve any goal without a few obstacles. Because of this possibility, you need to surround yourself with positive thinkers. The introduction of negative ideas or feelings into a situation can sabotage your plan. Cheer yourself on every day and surround yourself with others who do the same. Be your biggest fan. Support and motivate yourself with a positive attitude, even when you stumble. In John Maxwell’s book, “Think on These Things”, he offered a quote that resonates this type of positive thinking: “I am never down. I am either up or getting up!” What a positive image.
3. Charge into Action
Welcome to the battlefield! You’ve assessed your goals and created the battle plan. Now it is time to charge and get going. Often, goals are set with the best of intentions only to fail because they never get started. Inaction is an enemy of success. It will even seek to destroy the work that has already occurred.
In the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes, “Finding the great things in this world are not where we are standing, but is in what direction we are moving: to reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it, but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.”
First, in either your personal or professional life, be courageous. Do not limit yourself or settle for being average. You were not created for ordinary, but for extraordinary. Believe in yourself and your ability to succeed. In order to be above average, you must think and act above average. If you dream and accept mediocrity, you will always fall short of your true potential. Dream great things and move into action to accomplish them.
There are moments when you are offered opportunities to accomplish great things only to accomplish little because you fail to act upon the opportunity. Create your own success, seek greatness. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Beware of rashness, but with energy and sleepless vigilance, go forward and give us victory.”
Next, be committed. Earlier you took the time to write down your goals and dreams. This was an exercise of commitment. Once you move into action, this exercise will need to expand. Keep your goals nearby, so as to never lose focus. Each day recite your dreams aloud. Move into action each day toward your dreams. Strive to keep your goals in the forefront of your mind.
Finally, you must also be critical. As you encounter opportunities, ask yourself how this will affect your goals. Will this lead you to success or move you farther from your goals? If they point towards success, accept their challenge. If they don’t, let them pass. Even meeting new people is an action exercise. Ask yourself, “Will this person support, encourage or push me to new heights or will they pull me away or hinder me from achieving my goals?” Charging into action is probably the most difficult step in this process. Be courageous, stay committed and be critical. When you have mastered these skills, hold on tight and prepare yourself for a wonderful ride!
4. Celebrate Victories both Large & Small
Celebration is the final key. Rewarding yourself gives you an opportunity to reflect upon your achievements and to celebrate the hard work required by the journey. Celebration is an important part in the goal process. It allows you to enjoy the fruits of your efforts and to express joy and fellowship with those who helped in your accomplishments. It provides a forum to share with others the self-satisfaction you have received from your success.
A common misconception is that celebration comes at the end of the journey. Says who? I challenge you to celebrate early and often. Recognize that some of your goals can be accomplished in a short time, while others might take years to accomplish. With long-term goals, the end is distant and thus you might become discouraged or bored with the goal. It’s very easy to get caught-up in the end-result and forget all of the small things you accomplished that were essential to the mission. Take time each day to celebrate your accomplishments.
I have heard my clients say, “I have not or cannot accomplish anything.” Nothing could be farther from the truth! The truth is that these persons have not seen the end goal, but have accomplished many things that have led them toward their goal. Certainly you need to stay focused on the ultimate goal, but don’t forget to celebrate the critical accomplishments along the way.
Try this great exercise: Create a celebration team and a weekly celebration list. This will help you more clearly recognize your progress and the reasons to celebrate. I am confident that you can find at least one thing each week to celebrate. Once you view the list, set aside some time to celebrate. You can celebrate alone or with friends. Develop an environment that allows for self and group celebration. Ask others if they would be on your celebration team, to support you and celebrate with you. Have fun with it!
In the end, it’s the accomplishment of goals and the achievement of dreams that will bring great joy to your life. Stay committed and focused, develop a plan, move into action and celebrate your success. With this powerful structure in place, you will amaze yourself and those around you with all that you accomplish. You can do it!
Anthony Mullins is the President and Life Coach for The Elite Coaching Alliance. He specializes in leadership, marriage, relationship and family,christian based coaching. He is the author of the upcoming e-book "Finding Fulfillment in and Unfulfilling World". He can be reached by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 770.587.3545. Visit our new website http://www.elitecoachingalliance.com