That is a strong title for sure but it must be said. The holidays can be a stressful time that ends with the ultimate party night called New Year's Eve. The celebration of ending the year right and the promise of a new beginning for the coming year. You can find statistics that say pretty much anything you want but after doing a decent amount of research the statistics for those that achieve their New Year's resolutions are dismal. There is one study that says that 8% actually achieve their resolutions. To me this is sad and exciting at the same time. It is sad that many people fall short of well intended goals and aspirations the exciting part is maybe we can finally kill New Years resolution's that overwhelmingly do not work. I am sure many of you have heard the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. Well this applies here for sure. So do you feel lucky and think that you are part of the 8%? Or do you want a better way?
The beginning of the new year is a great time to reflect and plan. Most are off work or out of school and the free time allows for some thought for change and the coming year. Whenever I want to make changes in my life I look to those that I consider successful. Whether they are spiritual leaders, professional athletes, coaches or entrepreneurs they all usually have a few things in common. Below are a few examples of the commonalities of great people that I admire and what makes them successful.
1. They have a purpose. There is no amount of writing or anything that I can say that will do this subject any justice but yet it is the most important part of anyone's life. It would not be a stretch to say that the majority of the planet walks this wonderful earth without a clear vision of their purpose. Here is a great quote from JFK on purpose: "Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction."
2. Surprisingly very few of them focus on goals. Before you throw me under the bus let me explain, I am not saying that they didn't set goals, I am saying that goals were just part of the process and not a focus. Most of you have heard the term SMART when it comes to developing goals. It is an acronym that stand for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time Bound. Most of us are required to develop these goals to help us climb the corporate ladder or to help us/our boss feel a sense of accomplishment. Goals in my mind are for other people. They are not motivators for me because they are constantly changing. They are obviously not motivators to other people either since things like New Years resolutions are overwhelmingly a failure. So if you take someone like Michael Jordan, who in interviews talk about how he "wants to be the best basketball player that he can be". Yes he had "goals" of championships and wins but for him those did not define him or really dictate how he lived his life day to day. How does the goal of "being the best basketball player that I can be" fit into the SMART model? It doesn't at all, it is not measurable, it is not specific, it is not time bound. Yet it was his purpose. Lets take a more real life application. How many people set a "goal" of losing a certain amount of weight by a certain date? Yes this fits into the SMART model but the vast majority either never reach the goal or reach it and then gain all the weight back.
2. They all work hard. There is no shortcut, pill, easy way, lazy way to accomplish their purpose. I really can't complicate this one, but please watch this video which is a Nike commercial about Michael Jordan, whom many consider the best basketball player to step on this earth. Video.
3. They all feel like they have something to prove. Or another way of putting it is that they would never rest on their past accomplishments. This is closely tied to goals. I want you to think of the people in your life that are passionately focused on goals. In my life they are the most unfulfilled people that I know. The majority of the time there are only two things that happened with it comes to goals: you either accomplished it and it did not feel like what you thought it was going to feel like or your fail. I can't think of a single person that when they accomplished a goal they were perpetually satisfied. So successful people perceive goals at tools and there is always something to prove. Winning a championship, or making a business profitable is always considered a part of the journey not the destination.
4. They make those around them better. They all know that for them to be the best that they need to surround themselves with greatness and inspire those around them to greatness. I rarely get pissed but it makes me steam when I hear these so call experts tell people that they need to love themselves more. This is the biggest load of crap. 99% of everyone's problems are from self focus and self love. Self focus and self loving is the most lonely place to be on the planet. So what on God's green earth would you tell someone who is depressed to love themselves more. To quote a Jewish carpenter that lived 2000 years ago Jesus told the religious leaders of the time, who just happened to be really good at loving themselves. "The first commandment is: ... ' love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength... And the second like it, is this: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." No mention of self love there. The greatest college basketball coach that ever lived, John Wooden, is quoted all the time but this is one of my favorites: “You can’t live a perfect day until you do something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” Focus on helping others and I promise you that your life will head in the right direction.
5. They eliminated distractions. If you take statistics such as the average American watches 35 hours of TV a week, it is a telling piece of info. TV is a good way for you to watch someone else live out their dream which does very little to help you live out yours. How we spend our time is in direct relation to how successful we will be at living out our purpose. The most successful people spend their time focusing on their vision. Steve Jobs of Apple fame was notorious for flat out ignoring people if they distracted him from his purpose. Here is a quote from the author of his biography; "Steve was very, very strict about filtering out what he thought of as distractions." By the way when it came to parenting Steve Jobs allowed his kids to have very little access to technology.
1. Find your purpose. This is the most difficult item but is the only thing that will help you progress and become successful. This process can take minutes, months, years and even a lifetime but it is a noble cause. You need to first sit down away from distractions with a pen and paper and brainstorm. Think about what brings you joy or how you would spend your time if money was not an issue. Think about how you can impact others and what you can do to make earth a better place. Remember goals like weight loss, or turning a profit, or winning a race are meaningless without purpose. It is exponentially easier to accomplish goals when you are living in your vision and purpose, it seldom happens that people achieve goals without a purpose.
2. Define success for yourself. The world's influence show us that success is money, plastic surgery to look a certain way, big house and a fast car. Well how is that working? Not very well according to a recent poll that showed that only 33% of Americans are happy and the world is not much better. Just to put that in perspective that is about 215,000,000 Americans that are unhappy and thats a lot of people. To explore this a little, happiness actually increases with age believe it or not. The number one reason for the millions of people's unhappiness is related to economic reasons, more specifically, the stress of trying to live the "American Dream" which is money, plastic surgery to look a certain way, big house and a fast car. So define success for yourself. Who cares what anyone else thinks. My favorite guide to success comes from a quote from John Wooden, who experience more worldly success than just about anyone on the planet. Here is what he says: "Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming." Write down your definition of success and keep it in a safe place, in your journal or a place that you can reference it often.
3. Design your "perfect" day. This is tied into time management and getting rid of distractions. Mark Verstegan who has has a greater impact on the world of professional sports than anyone else alive says, "tomorrow's success starts today". Sit down and write out on paper from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed what your perfect day looks like. This will be closely tied to your purpose and everything built into your day should either put you one step closer towards your purpose otherwise it will take you one step away. Include all the details like brushing your teeth, taking the kids to school, down time, meals, write it all out and in order. This will be your guide for how to live in your purpose. Keep in mind that you are going to mess up and life will throw you curve balls but if you keep progressing towards your perfect day you will be successful. Place this sheet of paper in a place that you can reference it, your wallet, your purse on your bathroom mirror.
4. Do some spring cleaning right now. Get rid of everything that is holding you back. If you wonder why you can't eat right but you have a house full of garbage food then get rid of it. If you have friends in your life that are a negative influence then it is time to reevaluate your relationships. Before you start getting rid of friends, take a long look in the mirror and see if you are the one that others are going to spring clean out of their life. You might be the issue and you need to start repairing those relationships around you and start serving those who are in your life.
5. Live in gratitude. Thankfulness is a very powerful tool. Sometimes life is difficult with things like sickness, death of a love one and losing a job. There is a lot that is out of our control but there is one major thing that is in our control, our attitude. Here is a humbling quote from Nick Vujicic who was born with no arms or legs: "Often people ask how I manage to be happy despite having no arms and no legs. The quick answer is that I have a choice. I can be angry about not having limbs, or I can be thankful that I have a purpose. I chose gratitude." You need to get a journal and get up every morning and write down 3 things that you are thankful for. Make this a part of your morning ritual that will allow you to start off the day with the right attitude.
I hope you can start your journey to purpose today if you haven't already. It is all about the journey, the valleys are just as important as the mountain tops. Weight loss, getting a promotion, financial gain, achieving goals will all happen as a result of living out your purpose. Have a great 2015 and if you need help with anything please let me know.