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You have probably already accomplished a great deal in your life. But there’s always more you can do — so how do you get to the next level and keep improving? Achieving your best self is a day-to-day effort. I have found that there are no secrets or magic solutions, just perseverance, thoughtfulness and flexibility.
Establishing and maintaining forward momentum is critically important. Rather than focusing on artificial milestones or deadlines, focus on whether or not you are making progress towards your goals. If you are moving in the right direction, you shouldn’t get discouraged if it’s taking longer than you expected to achieve a goal.
Many famous people have achieved great things after experiencing delays and failures. Colonel Sanders was in his sixties when he started the KFC fast-food chain, and as a sophomore, Michael Jordan didn’t make his varsity basketball team (he played JV instead). Stephen King, the famous horror novel writer, and J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, received numerous rejection slips before they finally got their first books published. Travis Kalanick, the founder of Uber, one of the largest and most highly valued start-ups in the world, was in his 30s and living with his parents after previous failed startup attempts when he started the company. If any of these individuals had allowed failures or delays to make them give up their goals, they never would have achieved great things.
You shouldn’t be overly concerned with sticking to timelines. Have a plan and focus on always moving forward with that plan, whether it is starting a company, changing jobs or reaching for that promotion. Even if your progress seems small, making small steps forward each day can add up to something much bigger over time.
Thinking The Right Way
Progress isn’t always and only about external goals. Changing how you think and act can be just as important to achieving your goals as meeting an external milestone or accomplishing something tangible that you can show to others.
Dieting is an example of how focusing on consistent progress is so important to long-term success. The problem with many crash diets or extreme weight loss programs is that they often don’t create the healthy lifestyle you need to keep the weight off over time. Starving yourself with a super low-calorie diet, taking diet drugs, or working out around the clock will not going to last.
In the same way, extreme changes that don’t fundamentally alter the way you do things are unlikely to lead to long-term success. Counting on gimmicks or quick fixes to reach your goals is a sign of bad planning and destructive thinking.
There’s a balance between having really big unattainable goals and having goals that might be too small and insignificant. To get that balance right, focus on the larger picture of your life plan, not just one goal. Ask yourself if your plan is moving in the right direction. Are you enjoying life and moving closer to becoming the person you want to be? Are you happy with the overall progress you’re making? That is the best metric.
Performing this type of self-evaluation on a regular basis is essential to moving in the right direction. If you feel good about the approach you’re taking, you are more likely to achieve your goals. Reward yourself for progress, even if the reward and the progress are very small. Creating a positive feedback loop will improve your chances of success.
Try to break up big goals into a series of smaller ones that add up to the same result. This can make all the difference by making your goals seem attainable and improving how you feel about your progress. Once you’ve accomplished these smaller goals, you can move on to more ambitious ones. Instead of just asking for a promotion, make yourself so valuable over time that your company has to recognize you or some other company will.
Be flexible if what you are doing isn’t working. Once you have selected your goals, ask yourself what changes you need to make to put them into practice. Ask yourself how to work on your plan day by day. Write down the steps you need to take to accomplish your goals with this in mind. Don’t confuse vision and passion with being stubborn and ignoring reality.
While you can be as detailed as you like, there’s no need to write a novel. A few bullet point reminders in your phone can work. But you have to keep track of it and keep yourself honest. Becoming your best self is a process, not an event. Staying disciplined and paying attention to the details along the way is crucial to getting there.
Own Your Future
I use all of these tools myself for my own life. When I no longer believed my successful career in finance was offering me the growth and opportunities I wanted, I left and started a tech company even though I had no experience or knowledge of that business except a few months of research. This was a big change and it wasn’t easy, but it has continued to provide me with exciting opportunities for many years.
In my experience, at some point you stop even thinking about goals, you just think about maintaining your forward progress and staying true to your best self. In the end, you are the only one who can judge your own success.
December 27, 2018 at 09:12AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs