Direction, Momentum & Goal Achievement

January 29, 2012

This week’s TIPS has two objectives — to give you a model for achievement in 2012, and to give you a loving but swift kick in the butt to get going! (Or a big hug and high five if you are already on your way!)

It’s the end of January! If you aren’t on your way to making 2012 your best year ever, it’s past time to get started! True, the year is only 8% completed, but that means you should be at least 8% of the way to your goal! As the poet said, it’s time to “be up and doing!”

So, let me ask some questions to help you focus. What, exactly, has changed since January 1st? What are you doing more of? Or less of? What has changed for the better? If I walked into your office, what would tell me (instantly and without any doubt) that you’re serious about your goals? If I were your spouse, how would our family routine have changed since January 1st?

Remember, “nothing changes until something changes.” And the primary thing that has to change is YOU. You either change your focus and your behavior, you develop new patterns or new skills and new priorities, or to be blunt, nothing is going to change for you. It’s the end of January. Let’s get this show on the road!

Which begs the question, How?

By now, many subscribers are probably noticing that the goals you set a few weeks ago have not, so far, resulted in the progress you would like. Perhaps, not much has changed…and that feels all too familiar! (If things have changed, WAY TO GO! Keep it up!)

I believe the great weakness of most goal-setting programs is their lack of daily detail, the lack of a recipe for incremental progress.

One of the quotes that inspires me was Jim Rohn’s definition of success. He said “success is making reasonable progress in reasonable time toward a worthwhile goal.” I like that!

It’s very rare that success happens over-night. Most of the time, success is an on-going process of becoming the person, and doing the things, and getting the things we want.

And that means daily action in the direction you want to go.

Let me be clear. I love BIG goals! I have BIG goals and I hope you do, too. But the bigger the goal, the more steps and the more time will likely be required to get there. So the real questions for big-time goal achievement are about “Daily Direction” and “Maintaining Momentum.”

Daily Direction is having absolute clarity about what you will do and, perhaps even more importantly, what you will no longer do. It’s about knowing that every single day you are either moving toward your goal, or you’re slightly off-course, moving away from our goal. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” But the key is that a long journey also requires thousands of consecutive steps that all follow the same path!

Review and re-commit to your goals every day. Be absolutely clear about what it will take to get there, and then be sure you take some step, no matter how large or small, in pursuit of your goals every single day.

It’s rare (and wonderful!) when we can take giant leaps. But most days, we take smaller steps. We read something, or make one more phone call. We problem-solve, or practice a new skill one more time. Every day, make some progress!

And that’s what Maintaining Momentum is all about. Most people fail at this. They work really hard or do something dramatic for a day, but then they get distracted and take no action toward their goals for the next two weeks! That’s a set-up for failure. Don’t do it!

Start every day by reviewing your major goals and write down some action, big or small, that you will take TODAY. Move slightly closer every single day.

“Inch by inch, anything’s a cinch. Yard by yard, everything is hard!” To reach your goals in 2012, remember it’s not a sprint but a marathon. Every day, review and re-commit to your goals, check your direction, and take some action to Maintain Momentum. I think you’ll like the results.

by Phil Humbert

Categories: Accountability, Attitude, Change management, Leadership development, Personal development.

We Are Not Billiard Balls!

January 15, 2012

You and I are not ruled by Newton’s Laws of Physics. It’s true that Newton’s Laws do explain a lot about the world around us–gravity and stuff like that. But you and I are not billiard balls bounced around by nature! We are not planets wandering aimlessly through space.

We seem to have something called “Free Will.” We make decisions and occasionally we surprise ourselves! 

Philosophers can debate the details, but as far as I can tell, I DECIDE what to wear each morning. I think you really can DECIDE whether or not to read this article. You can decide what’s for dinner. You can decide what you’ll read or watch or do with your time. And sometimes, just for fun, we make decisions that shock and amaze even our best friends– “You’re doing WHAT????”

This issue of free will has a rich history with philosophers and theologians. It played a huge role in the Reformation, the founding of the early American colonies, and it still troubles behavioral Psychologists today.

And it is the power behind all success (and failure) in life.

In the most practical sense, the biggest force I see opposed to Free Will is a little thing called, “Habit.” Sometimes it goes by other names and you may recognize it as your Comfort Zone or Tradition or Other People’s Expectations.

Try to imagine two grand forces, a very personal little war between Good and Evil, except there’s nothing spiritual or super-natural about it. It exists in your own life, in your thoughts and imagination.

On the one side is Free Will.  For now, this is the good guy!  (Free Will can get us into a world of hurt, too, but for now let’s look at the Good Side.)  Free Will asks you to explore new ideas, to pursue your dreams, and try things. It’s full of possibilities and daring new options. It argues that you could double your income, learn a language, learn to dance or move to Paris, just for the fun of it. Free Will says, “I can if I want to!”

On the other hand is Habit. Habit says things like, “Don’t rock the boat.” Don’t take chances, and “this is how we’ve always done it.” Habit keeps things safe and familiar to the point of boredom. Habit keeps you in a rut.

Personally, I prefer to focus my time and energy on Free Will. It’s seems to be more fun!

If I have Free Will, I can change things. If I have Free Will, I can learn stuff. With Free Will, my life can be different and better than it is! What a concept!

With the power of Free Will, I can look at my life and dream big dreams. Powered by this wild idea that I’m not a billiard ball bouncing through life, I can DECIDE my trajectory! I can break old Habits and learn new skills.

This is what Self-Directed Evolution is all about. If Free Will exists, we should use it! If we have freedom of choice, it seems likely that over time and with some effort and persistence, we can actually create the life we want. Again, what a concept!

Can you change everything about your life over-night? Or in 30 days? It seems unlikely. But by exercising your Free Will and persistently doing the right things, in the right way, at the right time, you can evolve to become the person and enjoy the life you truly want. I believe this!

There are some key questions you must ask and answer, however.

  1. What do you want?
  2. What will I have to change?
  3. Will I make the appropriate choices day by day, until I get there? 

If you don’t agree that Free Will exists, then of course I’m mistaken and this is just wishful thinking. Without Free Will, we really are just billiard balls bouncing through space. But if we do have Free Will, then a world of choice and responsibility opens up for us. It’s your call.

For myself, I choose Free Will and the responsibilities of Self-Directed Evolution. I really do believe I can choose, and with time and effort, create the life I truly want. I hope you agree with me!

by Phil Humbert

Categories: Accountability, Attitude, Leadership, Leadership development.

Self-Directed Evolution in 2012

January 1, 2012

In the next twelve months you will learn things. You’ll leave old habits behind and acquire new ones. In fifty-two weeks, you will learn new skills, eliminate old beliefs and delete old software. There will be new things to entertain us, and new problems to challenge us. A year is a long time.  Stuff happens.

In a year, you’ll grow into a brand new person!

The question is not whether you will have new skills and new habits a year from now. The really important question is whether you will direct and control your own evolution.

Self-directed evolution is vital for your future!

 Many people set goals to create specific changes in their lives. That’s good! Whenever possible, I favor committed, focused effort to transform your life! Set goals.  Develop plans. Work your program and make the changes you want for your life!   

Goals are good! Go for it!

But even more powerful than goals, we are influenced by every-day evolution. We are gradually influenced, every single day, by a thousand small shifts that come into our lives.

I remember an episode of the old “Seinfeld” TV show that introduced the phrase, “Yada, yada, yada!” Suddenly, everyone, everywhere was using the phrase to complete stories and finish sentences. It was amazing! And unplanned.

With the possible exception of a few writers and performers on the show, that addition to our vocabulary was not planned or anticipated by anyone. And yet over-night, the English language changed! Suddenly, we had a whole new way of communicating ideas and telling stories.

We evolve like that all the time.

I am convinced that we are influenced far more than we know by our environment.  When we watch stories filled with war and catastrophe, it frightens us. Many studies have shown that people who watch the most television are more fearful, more anxious and more stressed. The things we think about do shape our lives.

Fortunately, however, we can easily surround ourselves with art and literature, with interesting people and dynamic conversation. We can listen to the best music, and focus on opportunities, on our goals, and the people we love. We can surround ourselves with humor and encouragement, and once again, the things we think about will shape our lives.

You will evolve in 2012. You will learn new words, new ideas, new skills and new abilities. You will meet new people, read new books, watch new things. And they will all, slowly but surely, shape your life.

One of the keys to both external success and internal happiness is choosing (carefully!) the ways in which we evolve.

Only humans can intentionally direct their own evolution.  It’s one of the most powerful tools we have! And yet only a tiny handful take advantage of it.

Most people carefully choose their goals each year. That’s good!

But, I hope you will be just as thoughtful about the “little things” that influence you more quietly, the things that fill your environment with hidden or subtle messages.  Choose the radio station in your car. Choose the books on your coffee table. Choose the shows and movies you watch. Think about the people you associate with and listen to their words with a “third ear” that scrutinizes everything and asks, “Is this good for me?”

Your life will be shaped in powerful ways by the “stuff” that surrounds you every day, all year long. Choose well!  

Control your environment so that your world “automatically” encourages and rewards you for becoming the person you want to be. Remember, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” It applies not just to people we associate with, but to books, television, activities and most of all, to the thoughts we think.

In 2012, evolve wisely!

by Phil Humbert

Categories: Attitude, Leadership, Personal development.