This question came in from the blog post, “Why Do So Many People Fail at Self-Help?”
“When I focus on changing only one major area of my life, that’s unfulfilling and hurts the other areas. But trying to change everything at once with a ‘balanced goals program’ leaves me running around like a chicken with my head cut off, getting nothing done very well and quickly running out of energy. How can I become what I want to be without focusing on doing the right things? Can Be and Do really be separated? And I agree, just focusing on doing the right things isn’t the answer either.” AJ
AJ, Dad says, “You can make radical changes in minute steps.” We got a question this week about what the number one discipline would be to achieving success, and Dad answered, “Consistency coupled with tenacity.” I understand your frustration because real change does take time and often you can’t see or feel the progress while you are doing it.
The key to becoming the right kind of person is the combination of being and doing. One of our team members, Bryan Flanagan, says success is “an inside” job. In other words, you have to put the right information into your brain until it replaces and overwhelms the old bad stuff. The good news is it doesn’t take hours and hours every day to accomplish this. The bad news is it must be done consistently and daily, if possible.
The being part, or internalizing the right thoughts until they become you, is dependant upon where you spend your thinking time. What you listen to and read, and who you associate with, will, to a large degree, determine your thought process. Don’t leave this to chance. The doing part should be an outflow of your thinking. If you believe setting goals is important, then you are far more likely to set goals. If you believe giving 100% is important, then you are more likely to give it your all. If you believe finishing what you start is important, then you will finish far more things. Unfortunately, these beliefs do not come automatically, they are really muscles that need to be exercised and developed. And, until we believe they are worth the effort to develop, we are unlikely to exercise them. This is why success is “an inside” job.
To simplify this, think of it this way: In order to change and do new things, I have to believe it will work, or trust someone I believe in who says it will work. In order for the believing part to take hold, I have to have the hope that by making the change I will be better off. Without the hope part, there is little internal motivation to keep me focused. Hope is created when your mind gets new information and says, “That makes sense, I can do that.” If you never give your mind that new info, or if you stop feeding it the new info, the motivation to keep going dries up. So, hope drives the reason to change the beliefs, the new beliefs result in the doing part.
Now, back to your question and a simple action plan. Since consistency is the key discipline to achieving success, and you need to build your “success” muscles, I would suggest that you focus on two or three daily goals that each take you only five minutes or less, and do them every day for a week. Then, on the second week, add a minute or two to each goal, and so on for the first month. Make one goal either listening to or reading good information. Make another goal a physical goal that replaces a negative with a positive, such as having a glass of water instead of a soft drink with your meal, or taking a five-minute power walk instead of a high-carb snack during the day. Your third goal could be a professional goal like creating your daily priority list, or a relationship goal like writing a loved one a note of encouragement. Remember, the key is consistency.
I hope you are seeing the hope in this concept, and the belief that you can do this. In the second week of this you will start to think, “what if I could..?” and this is where it takes off! When this happens, spend your reading or listening time with an expert who knows how to do what you want to learn to do. Thanks for your great questions!