1. They take decisive and immediate action.
Sadly, very few people ever live to become the success story they dream about. And there’s one simple reason why:
They never take action!
The acquisition of knowledge doesn’t mean you’re growing. Growing happens when what you know changes how you live. So many people live in a complete daze. Actually, they don’t ‘live’, they simply ‘get by’ because they never take the necessary action to make things happen – to seek their dreams.
It doesn’t matter if you have a genius IQ and a PhD in Quantum Physics, you can’t change anything or make any sort of real-world progress without taking action. There’s a huge difference between knowing how to do something and actually doing it. Knowledge and intelligence are both useless without action. It’s as simple as that.
Success hinges on the simple act of making a decision to live – to absorb yourself in the process of going after your dreams and goals. So make that decision. And take action.
2. They focus on being productive, not being busy.
In his book, The 4-Hour Workweek?, Tim Ferris says, “Slow down and remember this: Most things make no difference. Being busy is often a form of mental laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.” This is Ferris’ way of saying “work smarter, not harder,” which happens to be one of the most prevalent modern day personal development clichés. But like most clichés, there’s a great deal of truth to it, and few people actually adhere to it.
Just take a quick look around. The busy outnumber the productive by a wide margin.
Busy people are rushing all over the place, and running late half of the time. They’re heading to work, conferences, meetings, social engagements, etc. They barely have enough free time for family get-togethers and they rarely get enough sleep. Yet, business emails are shooting out of their smart phones like machine gun bullets, and their daily planner is jammed to the brim with obligations.
Their busy schedule gives them an elevated sense of importance. But it’s all an illusion. They’re like hamsters running on a wheel.
The solution: Slow down. Breathe. Review your commitments and goals. Put first things first. Do one thing at a time. Start now. Take a short break in two hours. Repeat.
And always remember, results are more important than the time it takes to achieve them.
3. They make logical, informed decisions.
Sometimes we do things that are enduringly foolish simply because we are temporarily upset or excited.
Although emotional ‘gut instincts’ are effective in certain fleeting situations, when it comes to generating long-term, sustained growth in any area of life, emotional decisions often lead a person astray. Decisions driven by heavy emotion typically contain minimal amounts of conscious thought, and are primarily based on momentary feelings instead of mindful awareness.
The best advice here is simple: Don’t let your emotions trump your intelligence. Slow down and think things through before you make any life-changing decisions.
4. They avoid the trap of trying to make things perfect.
Many of us are perfectionists in our own right. I know I am at times. We set high bars for ourselves and put our best foot forward. We dedicate copious amounts of time and attention to our work to maintain our high personal standards. Our passion for excellence drives us to run the extra mile, never stopping, never relenting. And this dedication towards perfection undoubtedly helps us achieve results, as long as we don’t get carried away.
But what happens when we do get carried away with perfectionism?
We become disgruntled and discouraged when we fail to meet the (impossibly high) standards we set for ourselves, making us reluctant to take on new challenges or even finish tasks we’ve already started. Our insistence on dotting every ‘I’ and crossing every ‘T’ breeds inefficiency, causing major delays, stress overload and subpar results.
True perfectionists have a hard time starting things and an even harder time finishing them, always.
Remember, the real world doesn’t reward perfectionists. It rewards people who get things done. And the only way to get things done is to be imperfect 99% of the time. Only by wading through years of practice and imperfection can we begin to achieve momentary glimpses of the perfection.
So make a decision. Take action, learn from the outcome, and repeat this method over and over again in all walks of life.
5. They work outside of their comfort zone.
The number one thing I persistently see holding smart people back is their own reluctance to accept an opportunity simply because they don’t think they’re ready.
In other words, they feel uncomfortable and believe they require additional knowledge, skill, experience, etc. before they can aptly partake in the opportunity. Sadly, this is the kind of thinking that stifles personal growth and success.
The truth is nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises because most great opportunities in life force us to grow emotionally and intellectually. They force us to venture outside of our comfort zone, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first. And when we don’t feel comfortable, we don’t feel ready.
Significant moments of opportunity for personal growth and success will come and go throughout your lifetime. If you are looking to make positive changes and new breakthroughs in your life, you will need to embrace these moments of opportunity even though you will never feel 100% ready for them.
6. They create S.M.A.R.T. goals and pursue them.
Successful people are objective and have realistic targets in mind. They know what they’re looking for and why they are fighting for it. Successful people create and pursue S.M.A.R.T. goals.
S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Let’s briefly review each:
- Specific – A general goal would be, “Get in shape.” But a related specific goal would be, “Join a health club and workout 3 days a week for the next 52 weeks.” A specific goal has a far greater chance of being accomplished because it has defined parameters and constraints.
- Measurable – There must be a logical system for measuring the progress of a goal. To determine if your goal is measurable, ask yourself questions like: How much time? How many total? How will I know when the goal is accomplished? When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued efforts required to reach your goal.
- Attainable – To be attainable, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. In other words, the goal must be realistic. The big question here is: How can the goal be accomplished?
- Relevant – Relevance stresses the importance of choosing goals that matter. For example, an Internet entrepreneur’s goal to sell 75 units by 2:00 p.m. may be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, and Timely, but it lacks Relevance to an entrepreneur’s all-inclusive objective of building a profitable online business.
- Timely – A goal must be grounded within a time frame, giving the goal a target date. A commitment to a deadline helps you focus your efforts on the completion of the goal on or before the due date. This part of the S.M.A.R.T. goal criteria is intended to prevent goals from being overtaken by daily distractions.
When you identify S.M.A.R.T. goals that are truly important to you, you become motivated to realize ways to attain them. You develop the necessary attitude, abilities, and skills. You can achieve almost any goal you set if you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps.
Goals that once seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them.
To be continued next month…where we’ll talk about #’s 7 through 12.