How to achieve anything

achieveOne of the people I consider as my teachers in life is Brian Tracy – I love his stuff.
Brian brought it home for me that you can rise above your circumstances, no matter what.

As I was listening to Brian talking about the strategies for high achievement in life, I realized that knowledge was not enough.
Knowing what needs to be done and actually doing it are two different things, wouldn’t you say?

For example, knowing that exercise is good for you is not the same as actually making it to the gym.
Similarly, making a New Year’s resolution is not the same as keeping it. 🙂

So why don’t we just do what we know we should? I spent some time thinking about it.

The answer I came up with is that there are three things necessary to close the gap between knowing and doing: MOMENTUM, FOCUS and DISCIPLINE.

MOMENTUM is about getting that all important initial push and taking the first steps.
Once you get going, you need to FOCUS, which means not let yourself be distracted or side-tracked. And DISCIPLINE is about doing what needs to be done, whether you like it or not.
All three can be very, very challenging.

I thought about how these challenges can be overcome and what emerged was a framework consisting of several core principles of making achievement easier on yourself.

1) Separate the thinking from the doing.
Separating the thinking from the doing is, basically, planning. The more thoroughly you plan everything in advance, the higher are the chances that you’ll actually get it done.
There is a whole heap of theory that supports this statement, which I won’t go into here, but I’m hoping simple common sense should suffice.

2) Create a feedback loop.
Creating a feedback loop is about having a process in place that forces you to keep your attention on the task(s) you’ve planned. You must know exactly where you’re at and what you’re supposed to do next. A simple example of such a process is creating a ritual of starting and ending each day by reading your task list.

3) Become accountable for the outcome.
This is probably the most important one of all. The carrot is often not enough – you need the stick, too.
If you don’t have a stern task master standing over your head with a whip, you can create what in psychology is called ‘a commitment device’.

Let’s say your goal is to lose weight. A commitment device here could be to announce to all your family, friends and acquaintances that you are going to be 25 kilos lighter by next October – and that’s a promise! And then constantly post progress updates on social networks.

One of the best commitment devices is financial penalties. Even if you have a lot of money, the thought of wasting it because of your own sloth and lack of discipline can be a great motivator.

Of course you cannot penalise yourself – not effectively, anyway. You need to be accountable to someone else.

The best thing to do is to get a mentor or a coach who will walk with you through the steps, help you implement the right processes and keep you accountable all the way. This should not be someone you’re too friendly with as this person needs to have leverage over you to keep you disciplined.

If you do not have such a person in your life, you can work with me through one of my online workshops. I’ve created them because I’ve recognised the value of encouragement and support in my own life and I wish to offer the same to you.

I’ll leave you with the following quote from my mentor and teacher Brian Tracy:
“The trick is to manage yourself properly and your time will get managed. Remember that Time is perishable and irretrievable, so invest wisely.”.

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