(Copied from No excuses – The Power of self discipline – Brian Tracy)
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 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.
THE POWER OF GOALS
A client of mine recently told me an interesting story. He said he had attended one of my seminars in 1994, where I spoke about the importance of writing down goals and making plans for accomplishing them. At that time, he was thirty-five years old, selling cars for a dealership in Nashville, and earning about $50,000 a year. He told me that day changed his life. He began writing out his goals and plans and working on them daily. Twelve years later, he was earning more than $1 million a year and was the president of a fast-growing company that sells services to some of the biggest companies in the country. He told me he could not imagine what his life would have been like if he had not taken out a piece of paper and written down the goals he wanted to achieve in the years ahead.
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 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 subdeadlines 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.” Sometimes 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. I teach it all over the world, and I practice it myself almost every day. 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 for 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 of the goals on your list if you want them long enough and hard enough. Also imagine 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.
Use “Mindstorming” to Get Started
Here is another technique you can use to dramatically increase the likelihood that you will achieve your most important goal. This is the most powerful creative thinking technique I have ever seen. More people have become wealthy using this method than any other way. Take another clean sheet of paper. Write out your Major Definite Purpose at the top of the page in the form of a question. Then discipline yourself to write a minimum of twenty answers to the question. For example, if your goal is to earn a certain amount of money by a certain date, you would write the question as, “How can I earn $XXX by this specific date?” You then discipline yourself to generate twenty answers to your question. This exercise of “mindstorming” will activate your mind, unleash your creativity, and give you ideas that you may never have thought of before.
The first three to five answers will be easy. The next five will be difficult, and the last ten answers will be harder than you can imagine, at least the first time you do this exercise. Nonetheless, you must exert your discipline and willpower to persist until you have written down at least twenty answers. Once you have generated twenty answers, look over your list and select one of those answers to take action on immediately. It seems that when you take action on a single idea on your list, it triggers more ideas and motivates you to take action on even more of these answers.
Copied from Brian Tracy book: No excuses-The power of self discipline