There’s a goal you’re trying to achieve, a dream you’re trying to bring to life, yet time after time, you fail. At times you can’t get off your behind to get to work, or if you do, you don’t follow through. You look with envy at those who always seem to find a way to make things happen. They’re living the life you want, and you can’t help but wonder in frustration.
What do they have that you don’t?
Why can’t you get this right?
What are you doing wrong?
‘Success is a few good habits repeated every day.’ Jim Rohn
Study those who get things done, and you’ll notice that it rarely happens overnight. Success is the accumulation of many small steps and habits over time. More importantly, the right habits.
So what are yours?
Are they setting you up to succeed or guaranteeing failure?
If you want to know why you aren’t reaching your goals, here are seven things those who succeed do that you probably don’t.
1. They get clear on what they want and why
You’ve probably heard this before. If you don’t know where you’re going how can you even start to figure out how to get there. Ask someone who makes things happen, and you’ll realise that they are crystal clear on what it is they are trying to achieve. It doesn’t mean that they know all the steps to get there, but they’re clear on the destination.
What makes their goals more compelling, however, is they know why they want them in the first place. When they come up against challenges it’s their source of strength. Their ‘why’ motivates and inspires them.
It’s easy to get caught in the busyness trap, working hard but not achieving the things that will move you forward. Knowing what you want and why helps you to better assess where you are and what you need to do. It ensures that you spend your time on the things that matter most.
Don’t stumble around in the dark. Get clear and specific about what you want and why it matters. Let that vision of the future drive you forward.
2. They make a plan and write it down
So you’ve figured out what you want and why, but there’s a gap between where you are and where you want to be. Those who are successful know that closing that gap won’t happen by chance. It will take structure and organisation.
They take the time to break down their goals into smaller, concrete, measurable, time-bound tasks, in effect, creating a step-by-step plan for what they are going to do. They also recognise that they won’t know everything and identify the things they need to learn. They are willing to learn what they need to as they go along. Most importantly, however, they don’t leave all this information swirling around in their heads, they write it down.
I can testify to the power of writing things down and the research agrees. Somehow the act of writing down what you want, what you’re going to do and, how you’re going to reward yourself when you achieve it, makes it concrete. You can see it, touch it and that makes all the difference.
Don’t keep your goals in your head. Bring them to life by putting them on paper. Break them down into smaller chunks and create a plan. Schedule them in and give yourself the best chance of actually showing up to make it happen.
3. They take consistent action
You’ve figured out what you need to do, but now comes the hard part. You have to take action. Those who succeed know that even the best plans are worthless if they don’t actually show up consistently to do the work. It means committing to taking action, learning from mistakes and pushing past obstacles to keep going.
Showing up consistently isn’t easy. There’ll be days you don’t feel like it, when you’re too tired and would rather be doing anything but the thing you need to do. But remember, if you only show up when you’re motivated you’ll never achieve your goals. Instead, you have to act like a professional.
As Steven Pressfield author of ‘The War of Art’ puts it: ‘Acting like a pro means showing up everyday, it means showing up no matter what. A pro is committed over the long haul, he accepts no excuses.’
When you show up like a pro it’s because you know what’s important and you’ve committed to making it happen.
A great plan without action equals failure but showing up pretty much guarantees progress. Do that, and you will develop the skills you need and build the habits that will help you make progress towards your goals.
4. They single-task
Juggling a million and one things (I exaggerate) is the norm yet those who succeed know that successful multi-tasking is a myth. Yes, they may have multiple projects on the go but they focus on one task at a time and with good reason. Research shows that productivity can drop by up to 40% when you multitask so it pays to avoid the temptation to flit from task to task. You end up splitting your attention over too many things, losing focus, and lowering the quality of your work. Ultimately it means taking longer to achieve your goals.
Don’t split your focus it will only slow you down. Work on one thing at a time.
5. They set up their environment for success but plan for failure
Did you realise that your environment can strongly influence the decisions you make and the actions you take? That includes the positive and the negative. Those who are successful know that if they want to reduce distractions and maximise time spent on activities that move them towards their goals they have to create the right setup. They deliberately make it easier to do the things that will drive them towards their goals and harder to do the things that don’t. In other words, they design their environment to make it hard to say no to the right actions.
Yet, even the most committed and focused person can slip up. Things can go wrong and the unexpected can happen. Those who succeed, however, know that life happens so they plan for things not going to plan. They understand that being consistent doesn’t mean being perfect and have strategies for getting back on track. They prepare for failure and recover quickly when they mess up.
Set up your environment to compel the behaviours you want to cultivate but understand that perfection doesn’t exist. Don’t let a slip up halt your progress, play the long game and have a recovery plan.
6. They practise accountability
We’ve heard the phrase ‘taking responsibility’ and those who succeed know that achieving success with all its highs and lows along the way requires taking full responsibility. That means responsibility for the bad and the good, the screw-ups and successes, and resisting the urge to blame others.
They also know that part of taking responsibility is to hold themselves accountable and that they increase their chances of achieving their goals if they put an accountability system in place. They choose methods that will help keep them on track whether that’s an effective accountability partner or a reward system for success.
Share your goals and welcome the pressure of having to deliver. Hold yourself truly accountable and see how that can keep you on track.
7. They remember to celebrate
It’s easy to dismiss our successes, especially the small ones, they seem so minor in the grand scheme of things. Yet, those who sustain success know that rewarding themselves positively reinforces the desired behaviour. They don’t minimise or ignore any achievements and always remember to measure the gains. It motivates them to stick to the plan and keep striving.
Along the way to your goals you will have big and small wins. They’re all important so remember to celebrate.
For things to change for you, you’ve got to change
Using these seven principles, I’ve achieved some big goals in many areas of my life. I’ve also been guilty of ‘going with the flow’ and, more often than not, failed to see things through. If you aren’t achieving what you know you’re capable of, perhaps it’s time to change your approach. Stop leaving success to chance and put this approach into practice today.
Now over to you.
Do any of these resonate with you?
Are there any others that I missed?
Let me know in the comments.