In your goal of attaining success. Most of these are well within your control and will facilitate your ability to custom design your own destiny. One common characteristic of people who fail in any endeavor is poor planning. In order to establish the control I alluded to in the previous paragraph, you must learn to plan well.
Planning can be thought of as bringing the future into the present in order to do something about it now. Most individuals plan only when under pressure, and they do it rather haphazardly. Complaints are rampant coming from by those who do not plan. Such comments can be heard as:
• “There is simply not enough time for me to accomplish all of these tasks.”
• “I waste so much time doing things that are not important.”
• “I’m constantly pushing myself and can never relax.”
This is not a formula for success, but a prescription for failure. The first step toward control of your life is proper decision-making.
The main problem we face in making empowered decisions is to balance our physical, emotional and rational needs. They must all be satisfied, but cannot always be accommodated simultaneously.
Long-term versus short-term goals must also be factored into this equation. If you decide to favor the short-term goal, the long-term benefit may suffer and vice versa. Before we cover ways to make decisions that will add to your formula for success, let us discuss dysfunctional methods of choice:
• Escapism. Putting off making a decision by doing other things because you are afraid of failing or of what others might think as a result of your taking some action.
• Default. You procrastinate a decision for so long that it becomes too late to make a decision since the opportunity has passed and the decision made is the only one left.
• Habit. You make a decision that is nothing but a repeat of old behavior patterns, whether this works or not. It’s equivalent to ordering “the usual” in your favorite restaurant, even though you may not enjoy the selection anymore.
• Spur-of-the-moment. You quickly make a decision because of a deadline or impulse, without thinking or planning about the pros and cons of the various factors.
The main problem with these methods is that there is no plan, no control and no positive payoff. This is not custom designing your destiny, but rather being more like driftwood in the ocean. Becoming empowered means making good decisions and taking control of your life. The following list summarizes the elements of good decision-making.
• The clear realization that the problem is generic and could be solved through a decision that establishes a principle.
• You can facilitate resolving any problem by first defining it and identifying specifications needed to bring about a solution.
• Thinking through what is “right” before attention is given to the compromises, adaptations, and concessions needed to make the decision adaptable.
• Building into the decision the action to carry it out.
• The feedback that tests the validity and effectiveness of the decision against the actual course of events.
The effective decision maker, therefore, always assumes initially that the problem is generic, or group related. He or she looks for the true problem and is not content with doctoring the symptom alone. Effective decision makers always try to put their solution on the highest possible conceptual level.
The effective decision maker asks himself, “If I had to live with this for a long time, would I be willing to?” And if the answer is “No,” he keeps on working to find a more general, a more conceptual, a more comprehensive solution
- one that establishes the right principle. The effective executive does not make many decisions. Because he solves generic situations through rule and policy, he can handle most events as cases under the rule; that is, by adaptation.
A decision is a judgment. It is a choice between alternatives. It is rarely a choice between right and wrong. It is at best a choice between “almost right” and “probably wrong.” One starts with opinions. These are, of course, nothing but untested hypotheses and, as such, worthless unless tested against reality. To determine what is a fact requires first a decision on the criteria of relevance, especially on the appropriate measurement. This is the hinge of the effective decision, and usually its most controversial aspect. Finally, the effective decision does not flow from a consensus on the facts. The understanding that underlies the right decision grows out of the clash and conflict of divergent opinions and out of the serious consideration of competing alternatives. To get the facts first is impossible.
There are no facts unless one has a criterion of relevance. Events by themselves are not facts. The effective executive, therefore, asks: “What do we have to know to test the validity of this hypothesis? What would the facts have to be to make this opinion tenable?”
The effective decision maker assumes that the traditional measurement is not the right measurement. Otherwise, there would generally be no need for a decision; a simple adjustment would do. The traditional measurement reflects yesterday’s decision.
This effective executive is concerned first with understanding. Only then does he even think about who is right and who is wrong. “Is a decision really necessary?”
One alternative is always the choice of doing nothing. The effective decision maker compares effort and risk of action to the risk of inaction.
• Act if, on balance, the benefits greatly outweigh cost and risk; and
• Act or do not act, but do not “hedge” or compromise.
A decision requires courage as much as it requires judgment. There is no inherent reason why medicines should taste horrible—but effective ones usually do. Similarly, there is no inherent reason why decisions should be distasteful – but most effective ones are.
Another component of your formula for success is the written statement of lifetime goals. This will help you discover what you really want to do, help motivate you to do it and give more meaning to the way you spend your time.
A written lifetime goal is not a magic wand, nor is it an academic exercise in precognition. This statement is not meant to be a predestined dictum. Properly executed, it will not curtail spontaneity or creativity from your life. What it will accomplish is to focus your directions in life and make them more concrete.
Begin this procedure by allotting fifteen minutes for this exercise. At the top of a piece of paper write lifetime goals. List these goals for approximately two minutes. These goals may appear general and abstract but include financial, career, personal, family, community, social and spiritual elements.
Now that these two minutes are up spend an additional two minutes making any changes until you are satisfied with your goals. On a separate piece of paper write “The next three years of my life will be spent accomplishing …” (state three to five years if you are over 35).
On still a third sheet of paper write, “The next six months of my life, if I should die by the end of those six months, my time will be spent doing … .” Do not focus on wills, funerals and the like, but concentrate on the most priority goals to complete. Spend two minutes writing down these goals, and an extra two minutes refining these. Spend an extra two to five minutes reviewing, editing and refining these three sets of goals.
Reviewing all three sets of goals should now make it easier to set priorities. Spend one minute selecting your top three goals.
This should be done for each of your three sets of goals (lifetime, three [or three to five] years, and six months). The purpose of this step is to narrow your goals to just what you want to do with your life at this moment in time. These lifetime and immediate goals are to be reviewed and revised periodically. Now you can closely examine your goals. This form of scrutiny lends itself to being refined, updated, analyzed, pondered, and changed. Committing your goals to paper narrows these paths and facilitates the establishment of priorities.
The following exercise will give you the necessary experience to apply this all-important component of your formula for success. One goal I hope you include somewhere in your list is what I call “hang time.” Hang time stands for hang loose, and this means leaving about one hour each day unscheduled. This free time is to be used to relax from a long day, stressful call, time to catch up with your mail, paperwork, and so on. This will do wonders for the flow of your life and keep it moving slowly and you young.
This particular aspect of your formula for success may seem obsessive to those who hate lists. This procedure continues where the lifetime goal list leaves off. In addition, this mechanism allows you to plan your day, be more organized and efficient and places you in control of your life.
Remember, you cannot do a goal. What you can do is an activity. These various activities are paths to a goal. Goals may be short-term or long-term. When you have planned well on both long-term and short-term levels, then goals and activities fit together like well-meshed gears.
Most if not all of the activities specified in short-term plans will contribute to the realization of the goals specified in long-term plans. These daily lists have been referred to as To Do lists, activity lists and other nicknames. I will just call them daily lists. Successful and unsuccessful people are aware of these lists. One difference between them is that the successful types use a daily list every single day. The unsuccessful people rarely or never use one. It is not complicated to create a daily list. Merely write down activities that you need to accomplish on that day and cross them off as you complete them. You may add other as the day goes on. Rewriting this list is most often indicated when it becomes hard to read.
A more efficient method in this formula for success is to keep a master daily list in your appointment book or other safe place. This is better than small scraps of paper that are easy to misplace. Some of these daily list items may have to be carried over to the next day. Others may require a second effort a week or so hence. The master list assists in keeping track of such items.
Prioritize these activities by assigning an A to the top priority items, a B to the next most important set and a C to the least important activities. It is helpful to use one piece of paper for the A’s and B’s and another page for the more numerous C’s. The A and B paper is kept on top of the C list, and every time you omit the A and B list to do a C, you’re aware that you’re not making the best use of your time. Items on the daily list may be arranged in several ways. One form is functional: to see, to telephone, to follow up, to think about, to decide, to dictate. Or you can group activities based on the similarity of the work content, the same location, or the same person.
When completing your daily list, do all the A’s before the B’s, and the B’s before the C’s. Some days you may get all the items on your list done, but more likely there will not be time to do them all. If you are doing them in ABC order you may not even finish all the A’s sometimes. On other days you will do the A’s and B’s and on other days A’s, B’s, and some C’s.
The important thing about a daily list is to make the best use of your time, not to complete the list. You should naturally complete all the A’s and most, if not all, the B’s. Some C’s will not be accomplished because of time constraints. They can be transferred to the next day or next week, since they are of the lowest priority.
Saving time is also a component in your formula for success. This not only allows you to be more efficient, but it also prevents you from becoming “burnt out” and frustrated.
The following list represents some simple and practical methods I use to save time:
• I set deadlines for myself and others.
• I’m continually asking myself: “What is the best use of my time right now?”
• I recognize that inevitably some of my time will be spent on activities outside my control and don’t fret about it.
• I start with the most profitable parts of large projects and often find it is not necessary to do the rest.
• I cut off nonproductive activities as quickly as possible.
• I carry blank paper in my pocket to jot down notes and ideas.
• I don’t read newspapers or magazines, and rarely watch television. I do read abstracts to keep up with my fields.
• I skim books quickly looking for ideas.
• I focus my efforts on items that will have the best long-term benefits.
• I try to enjoy whatever I am doing.
• I’m a perennial optimist.
• I build on successes.
• I give myself enough time to concentrate on high-priority items.
• I have developed the ability to concentrate well for long stretches of time.
• I concentrate on one thing at a time.
• I delegate everything I possibly can to others.
• I always make use of specialists to help me with special problems.
• I try to find a new technique each day that I can use to help gain time.
• I don’t waste time regretting my failures.
• I don’t waste my time feeling guilty about what I don’t do.
• I have confidence in my judgment of priorities and stick to them in spite of difficulties.
• I ask myself, “Would anything terrible happen if I didn’t do this priority item?” If the answer is no, I don’t do it.
• I keep my long-term goals in mind even while doing the smallest task.
• I always plan first thing in the morning and set priorities for the day.
• I keep a list of specific items to be done each day, arrange them in priority order, and then do my best to get the most important ones done as soon as possible.
• I generate as little paperwork as possible and throw away anything I possibly can.
• I handle each piece of paper only once.
• I write replies to most letters right on the piece of paper.
• I keep my desktop cleared for action, and put the most important thing in the center of my desk.
• I give myself time off and special rewards when I’ve done the important things.
• I do first things first.
• I work smarter rather than harder.
• I remind myself: “There is always enough time for the important things.” If it’s important I’ll make the time to do it.
The last major component to your formula for success is in the form of beliefs. Beliefs can be simply defined as ideas about the conditions of your reality that are accepted as fact. These aren’t necessarily accurate depictions of the world. You can actually change your reality by changing your beliefs.
A myth is nothing more than an erroneous belief. I delineated four such myths of success. A limiting or falsely based belief pigeonholes you for failure. It can literally shape the circumstances of your life. The solution is quite simple. Change your beliefs.
The first objection that comes to mind is, “How can I be held responsible for circumstances that are beyond my control and that resulted in a missed opportunity?” For example, let us assume you have an important interview for a desirable job.
You have spent weeks arranging this all-important interview. Preparations have been made on your part to land this job. The morning of your interview you have an accident (fall in your bathroom, car accident and so on) that prevents you from attending this interview. The position is subsequently given to another candidate.
Are you not simply a victim of circumstance? The fact is that your doubts (lack of belief in yourself or a belief that you weren’t qualified for this job) created the circumstances that led to this “accident.”
Your beliefs literally custom design your destiny and define your existence. Your beliefs will be manifested and create factors in your environment that will significantly influence the outcome of events in your life. Inappropriate or erroneous beliefs result in undesirable events and vice versa.
In the example I presented, the accident prevented you from having to fail in that new job. You lacked the confidence and mind-set to accept that promotion. That was an error in belief, not a reality. However, it created a reality that denied you an earned opportunity. You can create the reality you desire by maintaining the beliefs that will automatically bring about those positive results and thereby custom design your own destiny.
This is not merely positive thinking. Positive thinking by itself will not work. The problem with positive thinking is that you are using the conscious mind proper or defense mechanisms, whose purpose is to block all attempts to change. When you change your beliefs, you are correcting the true source of your difficulties, which is the reprogramming of the subconscious mind. It is your subconscious mind, not the defense mechanisms (rationalization, intellectualization, sublimation, etc.) that exert a greater control on creating circumstances in your life. Both minds can and will create these circumstances, but the subconscious mind is much stronger. The defense mechanisms initiate at best a temporary change by positive thinking alone.
Normally the subconscious mind is programmed by the defense mechanisms, and this results in an endless change of false beliefs. By reprogramming the subconscious mind through the use of self-hypnosis, we can now more effectively replace insecure and erroneous beliefs with empowering ones.
The fact that your previously, and probably currently, held beliefs have existed for many years is irrelevant. You can reprogram your subconscious mind in a matter of days with properly administered self-hypnotic instructions. The new physics supports this concept of creating your own reality through the reprogramming of consciousness. You most definitely possess the means for changing your beliefs. This results in your having control over your reality and the ability, should you exercise it, to custom design your own destiny.
Do not harass yourself for previously contributing to your past frustrations and failures. Remember, tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your newly empowered life. These failures due to then held beliefs will not be repeated now or in the future if you practice the exercises in this book.
The easiest way to alter your beliefs is, first, to formulate specific lifetime goals as I discussed earlier. Second, you can live the rest of your life, beginning today, in a manner reflective of the new empowered you. In other words, act like the powerful and influential executive you will become. Adopt the manner of a CEO, even if you work in the mailroom.
This is not delusional behavior I am recommending. This is empowerment. You do control your own reality, and you can change it into whatever situation you desire. The best way to enact this technique is to use visual imagery for between ten and twenty minutes each day and create your ideal future
When I recommend the use of self-hypnosis, you need to understand that this natural daydreaming state of mind is a suspension or alteration of beliefs. In order to accept any suggestion, the subjects in (notice I did not say under) hypnosis must accept the belief that they are in this alpha brain wave state commonly called a daydream.
Every time you say something negative to yourself with a conviction in the quality of the source, it becomes fact. This fact is later transformed into an invisible but destructive belief and now really becomes a part of your programming. Fortunately, this fact is reversible through self-hypnosis. Here is an example of how false beliefs can lead to failure. On the following figure connect the nine circles using four straight lines without removing your pen from the paper.
The solution to this task is illustrated by the figure below You will note that I connected the nine circles without removing my pen from the paper and with just four straight lines. The key was to go outside of the enclosed box. Just about everyone assumes that one has to stay within the confines of the box.
The erroneous belief that you had to stay within the enclosure of the box housing the nine circles doomed you to failure. You accepted that unwritten rule as fact and it led to frustration. By restructuring your beliefs so that you make the rules (that aren’t in violation of the instructions in my example) you empower yourself, discard false beliefs, change the facts to ensure a success. You have just custom designed your own destiny.
Children are the best examples of this principle. Let us consider little Jimmy, who is an A student in the third grade. His family, friends and teacher refer to him as a smart boy.
Jimmy may be exposed to the false belief that good students are not athletic, so Jimmy doesn’t play sports with his friends. By keeping away from such pursuits, his friends develop their motor skills at a faster pace. This becomes a vicious cycle for Jimmy, and his futile attempts in later years with classmates or friends who are more athletic than he reinforces his false belief.
This problem can be easily solved by Jimmy engaging in athletic endeavors. He would need to reprogram his subconscious mind to remove those prior false beliefs, but that is just a matter of a simple exercise. Jimmy may require some time to bring his athletic prowess up to that of his contemporaries, but with the proper belief system and empowerment, it is just a matter of time. When you possess the appropriate beliefs, success is all but guaranteed. The only time this won’t work is if you give yourself far too short a time framework with which to custom design your own destiny.
Never give up in your quest for empowerment. If you do someone else will walk in and capitalize on that opportunity. The more persistent and longer you work in this positive direction, the sooner will be your reward of success. A shift in consciousness is necessary and will be discussed in greater detail in chapter 14. You will find that you can transmit your own faith and persistence to others and get the “impossible” done. Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.
Most people think success is luck, and they keep trying to win the lottery of life. But success is really the result of planning. It happens where preparation and opportunity meet.
Most people think success is instantaneous. They look on it as a moment, an event, or a place in time. It’s not.
Success is really a process. It is growth and development. It is achieving one thing and using that as a stepping stone to achieve something else. It is a journey.
Most people think that success is learning how never to fail. But that’s not true. Success is learning from failure. Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently. Failure only truly becomes failure when we do not learn from it.