How does someone become off-the-charts successful? Some say it’s luck. Others say it’s hustle. The truth is, success only comes with a combination of both, as well as a few other ingredients.
Defining success can be tricky because it’s so subjective. Some people want to make a million dollars a year. Others want to make a good living and have three weeks of paid vacation time a year so they can travel. Then there are those with the desire to build something of their own, and still others who want to find ways to make money passively so they can spend more time on their hobbies.
Whatever your definition of success, these 11 skills can help you achieve it faster.
1Stop replaying negative thoughts in your mind
A recent article in The New Yorker reveals that when we remember the past, we do not remember it in the way we think we do. The images that come to mind aren’t like old films being replayed in our heads. In fact, every time we remember something, the memory changes based on the way we remember it.
The more you replay negative thoughts in your mind, the more you are practicing feeling that emotion – which means the more you believe it. Soon you’ll start to believe you aren’t good enough or talented enough, and you’ll never become successful.
The key is to recall memories or mistakes you’ve made in the past, and see them through a lens of learning. Reframe them as moments of growth.
2Construct a positive environment for yourself
So much of success depends on our environment. Rarely do we give this enough credit. Where you work and where you spend the majority of your time has a huge impact on what you accomplish and how you feel about it.
The right environment will help you feel more engaged in and enthusiastic about your work. A negative environment will suck the joy and inspiration out of you.
The same goes for your home, and perhaps even more so because home is where you go to recharge your batteries at the end of the day. Find ways of making your home feel like the retreat it should be. For example, get a little feng shui in your life by clearing the clutter and creating an environment in which you can truly relax and feel comfortable.
3Get clear on your why
As Simon Sinek would say, “Start with Why.” You have to know why you want to do something in order to succeed over the long term. Sometimes the why isn’t immediately obvious, and you have to follow your curiosity in order to find it. That’s okay. But if you’re merely following the money, or are chasing validation or the idea of “being seen as successful,” you’ll never find your why. Those motives simply aren’t sustainable enough.
Your why is your inspiration and your bigger purpose. It’s what drives you, even when everything seems to be falling apart. Sinek tell us that “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Identifying your why is key to knowing how to hook your audience or would-be clients and customers.
It takes time to find your why in everything you do. But start looking, and soon it will make itself known.
4Listen to your gut, but double-check with your mind
Most of the time we know the right answer long before our logical mind does. We can just feel it. That doesn’t mean you should make decisions based solely on your emotions. What it does mean, however, is that you should also give that emotional part of you a say in the matter.
As it turns out, your rational mind also plays into your gut instinct. Your intuition is built on your firsthand experiences. It’s your brain’s ability to project how something will play out based on past experiences and practices.
The best thing you can do is to trust your gut – but then double-check with your logical mind. Run the numbers. Play devil’s advocate. Make sure you’re being rational, but still let intuition drive decisions.
5Visualise your success
Visualisation principles have been proven to work in everything from professional sports to business and beyond. Those at the top of their professions have long been using this technique to help them perform their best. The more clearly you can picture doing something in your mind, the easier it will be to pick up a new skill or instill a new habit.
Visualizing yourself living the life you desire and doing the things you want to be doing is a key to your overall life journey and success. That’s not to say you should spend all your time sitting at home hoping and wishing. It just means you need to hold your vision firmly in your mind’s eye and then go for it!
6Practice more than you preach
Anyone can talk about success. What’s hard is putting your nose to the grindstone day after day. In order to become successful, you’ll need to master skills worthy of that title in the first place. And you also need to fundamentally believe in what you’re doing.
You need to know your purpose and follow through on your core beliefs and values. After all, nothing will destroy your credibility like a lack of connection between what you say and what you do.
So say what you’re going to do, follow through with it and, above all, believe it.
Keep walking the walk and you’ll achieve your goals while inspiring others to do the same.
Soft skills are often the biggest differentiators between those perennially aspiring to be successful and those who achieve success.
Effective communication is a skill. It’s something that takes practice, and requires that you invest heavily in not only understanding others, but also yourself. You have to be the master of your own ship before you can instruct others on how they should be sailing.
Recognise when you get frustrated, and know how to manage your negative emotions. At the same time, it’s important to understand when it’s appropriate to give constructive feedback and when it’s best to save words for later. Communication is an art, and it takes time to learn how to perform well.
Related: 10 Best Skills To Learn Online Today
8Commit to your goals
Once you make a commitment to yourself, it’s on you to follow through to the end.
There is a difference between being involved in something and being wholly committed to making it happen. To succeed, you must fully invest yourself in your goals and be determined to see them through.
Consider this: if you don’t want to commit to your dreams, someone else will. And nothing is more agonising than watching someone else achieve your dream.
It may take years to fully learn how to commit to something. But learning to commit is key because it is the one skill most easily transferred from goal to goal. If you can prove to yourself that you can be persistent in one domain, chances are that you can be persistent in any area of your choosing.
But you have to do it once, and really see it through to the end, in order to fully understand what it means to commit and accomplish a goal.
9Never stop optimising
Part of the “success process” is continuing to optimise and learning to make the best use of your resources over time.
As soon as you stop trying to improve, you’re no longer working toward success. At best, you will remain stagnant.
The process of developing, constructing and reconstructing is part of a journey that never ends. It’s a skill to be able to constantly look for ways to improve. But just like anything else, the more you practice it, the better you’ll get. Keep testing new strategies and collaborating on different methodologies. Pioneers are those who push the boundaries and carve their own path in life.
10Ask questions, constantly
You should never stop learning. Ever.
We learn by asking questions, not telling people the answers we think we know. Therefore, the more we question, the better answers we get.
Part of becoming successful is taking the time to ask others for guidance. Those people are usually those older than you who have already achieved what you’re looking to accomplish. There is so much value in asking questions. For starters, asking questions makes your brain more open to forming new patterns and considering different possibilities.
The deeper your questions, the wiser you will become. And in the process, you will learn to understand yourself better. That self-knowledge will ultimately give you a sense of peace and happiness.
11End each day in reflection
It’s easy to get stuck on the treadmill of life, running from one thing to the next without considering how everything you do is interconnected. But if you want to have sustained success, you need to make time to reflect at the end of each day.
Setting aside even five minutes to consider what went well and what didn’t will give you an awareness of the issues and flaws that you need to address.
Reflection, whether it’s daily, weekly, monthly or yearly, is a key part of continuing to improve and refine over time.
Without reflection, you might as well have blinders on. Take a step back. See the bigger picture. That will allow you to make more astute decisions about where you want to go.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
You’ve Already Abandoned Your New Year’s Resolution. Here’s A Better Path To Reach Your Goals
Instead of self-flagellation and getting stuck in the quagmire of negative thoughts, dust off those good intentions and give yourself another shot at making your resolutions stick.
It’s only mid-January, but chances are pretty good that all those lofty resolutions you made before the clock struck midnight on Dec. 31 have fallen by the wayside. You’re not alone.
A small, but oft-cited, longitudinal study of New Year’s resolutions by John Norcross, a professor of psychology at the University of Scranton, revealed that nearly a quarter of people abandoned their goal after one week. That number swelled to 46 percent at a month and 64 percent after six months. Less than a fifth, 19 percent, were able to hang on for two years.
So instead of self-flagellation and getting stuck in the quagmire of negative thoughts, dust off those good intentions and give yourself another shot at making your resolutions stick.
Don’t make a backup plan (just yet)
You’ve likely heard that having a Plan B (or C or D) can be very helpful when dealing with unexpected contingencies. Being prepared for any bump in the road will make arriving at the destination unscathed and on time a sure thing, right?
Not so, according to new research from the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Jihae Shin, assistant professor of management and human resources at the school, together with Katherine L. Milkman of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, conducted a series of experiments that challenged the conventional wisdom that holds backup plans in high regard.
Instead, their experiments revealed that when participants spent time plotting out a contingency plan, they failed to meet their goals. Of course, it’s important to note that these goals didn’t have anything to do with luck or innate skill, they required participants to do simple tasks including unscramble sentences. The same could be said for standard issue resolutions to get fit or save more money. They don’t rely on luck, only stick-to-itiveness.
The researchers do say that backup plans do have their place. The caveat: “You might want to wait until you have done everything you can to achieve your primary goal first,” Shin said.
Related: The 7-Step Formula For Goal-Setting
Trick yourself into changing
Yet more counterintuitive research led by marketing professors from INSEAD, IE Business School, and Pamplin College of Business, finds that we humans actually want to change rather than keep the status quo.
Their study revealed that the brain is weighing how hard reaching the goal will be, and if it finds that it’s easy to reach, then it starts looking for reasons that getting there won’t happen. This ties into thousands of years of conditioning to be more sensitive to bad news versus good, a.k.a. the negativity bias.
The researchers also found that while participants scored a goal for potential challenges, they tended to score goals that took a modest effort as easier to reach than maintaining the status quo.
To trick your brain into achieving a goal, make sure what you want to achieve is manageable, or can be done through smaller, more consistent efforts. Instead of saying you want to be vice president of your division, for instance, make a plan to work on projects that will add to your professional standing and contribute to your organisation’s bottom line.
What to do if you hit an “action crisis”
“Setbacks present real challenges in pursuing our goals,” said Richard Vann, assistant professor of marketing at Penn State Behrend. “When goals are blocked by obstacles, we often feel bad about ourselves and sometimes stop pursuing these goals.”
When it comes to resolutions, there can be setbacks aplenty. However, there’s a technique you can employ to counteract the negative effects of roadblocks and challenges you may encounter on the path to keep your resolution.
It’s called “Mental Contrasting with Implementation Intention” and it comes to us courtesy of Gabriele Oettingen and Peter Gollwitzer, psychologists at NYU.
Basically, that’s a fancy way of saying that you need to think through what it would take to reach your goal and make yourself aware of the potential obstacles you’ll hit along the way. In this way, you’ll have a strategy in place to deal with potential setbacks in advance, rather than be blindsided and subsequently switch into evaluation mode (for example: Asking yourself, “Is this goal even worth it?”) which doesn’t help you get anywhere.
Just focus on one thing
We humans tend to get ambitious when thinking about the possibility of a fresh start. Unfortunately, the “new year, new me” is just too big to be achievable. We can’t realistically get fit, stop smoking and save money while simultaneously sign up for more significant projects at work, get a mentor (or three) and build out a professional network.
That’s because we tend to make tradeoffs between goals when we have more than one or two.
Researchers from the University of Toronto found that having a single goal greased the wheels of progress for people by putting them into implementation mode. That happens even if the goal is deceptively simple, like saving money. Some participants in one of the study’s experiments were told to save money for their children’s education. For others, that goal was expanded to include saving for healthcare and for retirement. Those with the single focus were more successful than individuals who were trying to meet three separate objectives.
The researchers noted that while these experiments focused on financial matters, they believe the evidence suggests that setting a goal in any area (health, professional development, etc.) should be easier to achieve than if you’re scattering your energy on trying to make multiple resolutions come to fruition.
So if you find yourself among those who’ve abandoned their best intentions to become a better version of themselves in 2019, take heart. These strategies should get you back on track in no time.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Unless You Track Your Progress, Setting Goals Is A Waste Of Effort
The single most common reason people don’t reach their goals is they forgot they set them in the first place.
I’ve always carried a notebook with me at work and on business trips. I usually jot down notes from meetings or random thoughts I have on how to improve our company. Recently, I found some of my old notebooks and I started flipping through the pages.
Despite the awful handwriting, their were actually some interesting ideas written down. I found some great goals and objectives for the past years, that I had never gotten around to implementing. I could have done most of these things and probably be more successful than I am now.
What went wrong?
Do you know what your team is doing?
Boardview writes that “two thirds of senior managers can’t name their firms’ top priorities” and “more than 80% of small business owners don’t keep track of business goals.”
So the problem is that while companies probably have some sort of goals (even if they are just “making money.”), the progress towards those goals is not measured. I have seen this behaviour at many companies I’ve worked with. Starry-eyed managers excitedly pitch a goal in an attempt to motivate their employees to get on board. This great initiative is then almost instantly forgotten, and three months later no one will even remember it at all. This is part of a wider problem of companies not prioritising goal setting.
The easiest way to make sure you have serious goals that you can follow is inform everyone in your company (starting with the senior management) of those goals. Then you’ll need a goal tracking system that makes sure you measure your progress regularly.
Related: The 7-Step Formula For Goal-Setting
Own your goals
Once you’ve written down a company or a team goal, two questions arise. Who is responsible for the goal (accountability), and how do you review the results (performance review)?
As for accountability, at my work we set impactful, quarterly objectives for each of our teams. We make sure each team goal is assigned to specific person who is responsible for achieving it.
These goals are not usually met 100 percent as they are designed not to. They are designed to force me and my employees to try new things, experiment and break old habits. It’s reaching for the moon and landing among the stars.
Step two: Tracking goals with meetings
You must track your progress towards said goal week by week. This is called continuous performance review. I review our team’s Key Results or KPIs every week. At our weekly status meeting, we start by discussing each Key Result and the progress towards our end goal.
Weekly status meetings are used in most companies. But you have to be careful with them as they can become pointless very easily if you haven’t set clear goals first.
If your company is not focused on goals, you are wasting time and money. You should never just chat about your work without knowing how that work aligns with your company’s goals and vision.
Having an impact every day
Christina Wodtke, author of “Radical Focus”, has said that success is not checking a box. It’s having an impact. Working towards your goals is something you need to do every day and every hour. Only then can you make an impact. Instead of weekly meetings, you can take in one step further with status reporting.
I like the Plans, Progress, Problems (PPP) approach. With it, you set 3 – 5 impactful plans for yourself every week that you focus on. What makes this great is that you can link each of those to one of your goals to make sure every big task you work on, actually moves you towards your goals. And the reports you get out of it, can be the basis of your weekly status meetings, making it easier to keep yourself and others focused.
A weekly review of your progress is vital for the long term success of goal setting. Many people can relate to a situation where you set goals and decide on a deadline that seems so far away. Then, a week before the time is up, you finally remember your goal and panic sets in. This is not the way to do it.
Great ideas should not be left to rot in a notebook. They should be written down, discussed with your team, improved and executed every day. Doing so will ensure that your best ideas are never forgotten and lost. Instead, they bring you satisfaction and success.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Finish The Year Strong To Carry Momentum Into 2019
Survey your accomplishments now, and reassess your goals, to conclude this year in kinetic alignment with where you want to go next.
At the end of every season I like to take some time to reassess my yearly outcomes. I also do this with all my coaching clients because it helps them see the progress they’ve made and how they can adjust their expectations.
This year, I decided to bring all my clients together for a two-day event to do their assessments in a group setting. This is going to be the main theme at this year’s Next Level Leadership Summit: “How to Finish Strong.”
I’ve been privileged to coach, consult and interview some of the most productive entrepreneurs I know, and I have learned as much from them as they have from me. The principles they have shared with me are timeless and easy to follow. I have used them time and time again to reset my goals to make sure I set myself up for a great closing to the year instead of being disappointed by what I didn’t accomplish.
Don’t let attachment to the outcome rob you of victory
Most entrepreneurs are very competitive. We have a vision and goals, and we want things to look a certain way. The truth is that things don’t happen the way we want them to most of the time. To keep the momentum, sometimes you have to adjust your vision.
Currently, I’m working with a real estate developer who is working on several projects. At the beginning of the year, he set a goal to close a deal that would net him $20 million. He found one and started working it. It looked like he was on his way to achieving his goal, but he later received news from his architect that he had miscalculated some numbers and that they would be making $5 million less than originally projected. Upset, he called me to tell me the news.
All I heard in his voice was how disappointed he was that he was not going to hit his goal. I reminded him of where he was three years ago when he joined my programme. He was burned out, had lost his purpose and didn’t have any deals to count on. And now, this is one of the many deals he has in the pipeline. Maybe he won’t get what he was aiming for, but this is still a victory.
This is what we do all the time. We beat ourselves up because we are attached to the way things should be. A high-performing entrepreneur looks at their life as a game. To finish the year strong, he must appreciate how far he has come and reset his outcomes according to his current situation.
Related: The 7-Step Formula For Goal-Setting
Focus on progress, not perfection
At the first of the year, you create a list of things you want to accomplish. You then wait and wait for the perfect timing. After nine months go by, you look at the list and you feel disappointed you didn’t get everything done.
I know a guy who is developing a productivity app. He has interviewed developers, created the overall design and is constantly asking for feedback from people on how the app should look. He has been working on this for years but he is always waiting for the perfect time to execute.
One of my other clients has just launched his first app, and he is getting rave reviews. What’s the difference between these two men? One is waiting on the perfect time and is paralysed by the illusion of perfection while the other one was focused on creating progress.
Each week I asked my client how his app was going, and he shared his progress. Was it perfect? No. Did he experience challenges to make it work? Yes. But he knew the first steps – finding the money, reviewing the design and creating the user experience – were going to be the hardest. Now he is working on improving it based on all the feedback he has gotten from users.
High performers know perfection is the lowest standard. To finish the year strong, take inventory of all the progress you’ve made and focus on making things better.
You are the product of your environment
We’ve been taught that mindset and positive thinking are the keys to success. But that’s only part of the equation. For the last decade, I’ve focused on being in an environment that supports my growth. It doesn’t matter how strong your mindset is. It doesn’t matter how positive you are. If you are around negative people or in a negative environment, you will lose.
I’ve helped one of my clients get clear on how he wanted to take his business to the next level. We created a plan and a timeline with clear outcomes. Then I asked him, What is one thing that can mess this plan up? He said if he continued to hang out with his drinking buddies and give in to his old habits, it could distract him from his plan. So I told him to change his environment for the next 100 days to see if that would make a difference.
Now, at day 110, everything – his business, life and relationship – are on fire. I not only asked him to change his environment, I also replaced it with a group of high-level performers who hold him accountable to his commitments. That group is on fire, and they are going to be recognised for their amazing shift at my Next Level Leadership event.
High performers evaluate their environment and make changes to align it with their vision. They eliminate any possible scenario that can prevent them from getting what they want.
Focus on the other R.O.I. – return on impact
As entrepreneurs, we must watch the bottom line at all times. Every move we make has to bring us a return on our investment. Lately, I’ve seen a big shift in the market. The “cut through to the bottom line” mindset can only take you so far. I’ve been able to grow my business faster by focusing on the impact rather than the income. Don’t get me wrong. I charge for my services, and I’m not running a non-profit, but income is not my main focus.
I recently helped a client create a framework in his business that gave him a sense of purpose. He was ready to sell all his assets and move to an island with his wife and kids because his idea of success was being met by his expectations in his business. I helped him see that he simply needed to focus less on the transactions and more on the transcendence his business could provide. He owns multiple businesses, so it took him some time to figure out how he could help his clients have a better experience rather than treating them as singular transactions.
When he came back to me, he had a list of things where he had made an impact. All of a sudden, his passion for running a business had returned. He had a new sense of purpose seeing how much impact he could make in he lives of others.
A high-performing entrepreneur measures his success on the amount of impact he has on people’s lives.
Reset, recharge and recommit
We all want to have more time. We are running 100 mph, and we don’t want to slow down. That’s the life of any entrepreneur who wants to succeed in this competitive market. But, if a car is running that fast every day, it will eventually crash. And that’s what happens to us. We crash and sometimes burn things down.
To avoid this, I meet with my clients several times throughout the year to reset our goals, recharge our batteries and recommit to the process. Nothing is better than iron sharpening iron. It doesn’t have to be a long period of time. We actually discover that all we need is one day per quarter, and we can compound time. When you’re busy, quality is better than quantity.
Each quarter, people travel from all over the country to our meetings so they can share their progress and see how they can help one another. The key here is to Reset your goals, recharge your mindset and recommit to your outcomes.
High performers know that proximity is power. They also know you need to recharge your batteries in order to get back into the game – especially if you want to finish strong.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.