When studying what top achievers do on an everyday basis to be successful, there are 3 common things that they all overcome first to break through the barriers to become successful. The good news is, all of these reasons are barriers that we put upon ourselves through our repeated poor habits. That means we have the power to make the change to become successful, and I want to give you this recipe for success.
What are the top three reasons why you don’t go after what you want? Here are the most popular three that we see time after time:
- Fear of failure
- Time (Do I have time to invest in this?)
- Procrastination or the loss of focus
I will go over each of these reasons in detail of action steps you can take right away to overcome each of these obstacles to become more successful in life.
- Fear of failure
First, the fear of failure is one of the biggest fears I hear about from brand new clients when first starting a new exercise and nutrition program with us. I can completely understand this fear, as many people who start right off have no idea or roadmap of what to do to get from point A to B. This is why they hired us, and this in and of itself can be a very scary thing. A brand new habit of exercising and taking care of yourself, and to throw on top of that attempting to create one small habit to help assist in nutritional health, which we discussed in detail in an earlier blog post here can be a lot when making a radical change in your life.
What you need to realize is that every top achiever in their field has failed on multiple occasions before they were successful, and there are many examples we highlighted here of individuals that failed first before they succeeded. And this is ok. We just want to try our best to keep those failures to a minimum – so try these steps to keep a positive mindset to achieve success and limit failure in anything you do:
- Take some time to actually write down what you will accomplish, and then expand on why this is actually so important to you and your life right now. Simon Sinek’s amazing book “Start With Why”is a great place to understand and find out your “why.” (Also, here are some great steps you can take when setting and writing goals).
- Once you have figured out your “why,” do everything you can to remove the distractions from your life that are getting in your way. Maybe you are always a “yes” person, saying yes to everything that is asked of you. Learning to say “no” is a very powerful step in taking control of your life so you can be successful. Pick the things that you truly value, and go all out! Say no to everything else. Remember, you are in control of your life, not other people.
- Make sure you are surrounding yourself with people that actually challenge you, and are willing to be challenged by you. You will never grow unless you are challenged – this will be the one thing that could change your entire mindset in your life. Remember, you become the average of the top 5 people you hang around with. If you are spending your time with people that don’t challenge you at all personally or professionally, then find some new friends, a networking group, mastermind, etc. Challenging yourself with others will help you overcome adversity better as well, so you can find a faster path to success.
- Time (Do I have time to invest in this?)
Yes! The answer to this question is undoubtably, yes! We all have the same amount of time in the day – 24 hours. 168 hours in a week and 8,736 hours in one year (doesn’t seem like much time, does it?) Here is an even better exercise I did recently to find out how much time I really have on God’s green earth:
28,855 days is the average life expectancy for the average adult (just over 79 years old). Mathematically, figure out how many days you have lived on this earth:
36 years old x 365 days (excluding leap years) = 13,140 days lived
I have almost gone through an entire half life cycle already! Now when you put things into perspective like this, you realize how valuable and fragile this one resource is – this is the only resource on the earth that is NOT renewable, we continue to lose time on a daily basis with no ability to get it back, ever. What are you doing right now to manage your time and to make sure your 28,855 days are utilized to their fullest potential?
This one quote really hit home for me:
“Every minute you waste is a minute you steal from your loved ones.”
Now, that was a very powerful one for me. I have two boys under the age of four years old. I had been in the “daily grind” for about an 18 month period (part was necessity) working between 14-16 hours a day. These 540 days I completely lost from my children and much of their development early on in their lives. I lost my ability to be present with them on a daily basis, I lost many nights where I missed dinner with them, and many times I missed their bedtime stories.
Then, there was a massive change that took place. I realized this notion that time is NOT a renewable resource, and I will never get those days back – I will never have the chance to see my children at this young, adorable age again. So, I made the decision to make a change and make them and my entire family a priority! It was only then, when I “dealt with my own bullshit” that I could actually make a significant change in my life.
I only tell you this story because whatever you are struggling with, you can overcome it by realizing YOU can make a change to become more “time efficient.” It really starts with you, and only you. I tried to blame my situation or circumstance, but in reality it was all on me. Here are several tricks to overcome time or the lack of it:
- Use the Pareto Principle – this principle (also known as the 80–20 rule, the law of the vital few, and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Management consultant Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who, while at the University of Lausanne in 1896, published his first paper “Cours d’économie politique.” Essentially, Pareto showed that approximately 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population; Pareto developed the principle by observing that 20% of the peapods in his garden contained 80% of the peas. You can look at this a little differently by thinking of filling a large mason jar with several big rocks, then dump sand in afterwards. The sand is the 20% – the small stuff that we usually waste most of our time on. The 80% are the big rocks – these are the daily habits you can create to make lasting change in your life so you don’t feel like your days are wasting away. Big rock examples include having a to-do list with only one or two major things you need to get done today. Or, setting a schedule for certain tasks during the day. These are important habits that will help you be a time saver and not a time waster. Always think of the “big rocks first” then fill the rest with sand.
- With the Pareto Principle in mind, think of the top 3 things that will move you forward – and do those things everyday! Whether it is having a consistent workout regimen, reading on your area of expertise, or masterminding with a group – make sure you are doing it daily! (We will dive more into this when we talk about procrastination as well).
- Break up your days, weeks and months into 4 quadrants, it would look like this:
Q1 – Important/Urgent
Q2 – Important/Not Urgent
Q3 – Not Important/ Urgent
Q4 – Not Important/Not Urgent
Quadrant One (Q1) would include:
- A crisis (Heart attack, stroke) or things that need to be taken care of right away.
- Filling up an empty gas tank when driving.
- A scheduled meeting or appointment.
- A significant others birthday celebration (of course this is urgent and important!)
These are your “big rocks”, that means get these things done first before they become a fire in your life.
Quadrant Two (Q2) would include:
- Time with your family.
- Steps taken towards a longer term goal.
- Sleeping, self care.
These are all the important things you should be doing every day, but aren’t urgent. You should be spending the majority of your time in Q1 and Q2.
Quadrant Three (Q3) would include:
- Answering the phone, emails.
- Getting on Facebook or any social media
- Enabling “Push” notifications on your phone, tablet.
These are some of the things that you should try to minimize in your daily life – or at least assign a time to, so it doesn’t take over your entire day. Actually removing those “push” notifications and all those bings and dings off your phone and assigning a time to get to them (like only reading and responding to emails after 12pm) you will find you can save hours a day to be more productive!
Quadrant Four (Q4) would include:
- Watching TV.
- Browsing the internet, your favorite blog or website.
- Pokemon (Ok, I just had to add this one here…this is definitely not urgent nor is it important at all. But apparently it is a lot of fun for the gamers out there right now).
These are just a couple of ideas, but you get the point. These are not important, and not urgent and you want to spend the least amount of time possible in Quadrant Four (Q4).
- Procrastination or the loss of focus
Our world is full of things where we can lose focus very quickly (look, there’s a squirrel!) But really this can be a huge issue with technology right at our fingertips 24/7. Try these strategies to help with not procrastinating or losing focus:
- Have a “Daily Three” – your to-do list with only three things on it you need to get done TODAY and make a schedule for when you will complete it.
- Find your “magic time” where you have the least distractions and can get the most done in the least amount of time.
- Find the time to have your personal time built into your schedule – time to workout and take care of yourself. This needs to be scheduled into your day.
- Have a “Daily Three”
This is a real game changer. Start by making this a habit during a certain part of your day. Before bed works great, or make it the very first thing you do when you wake up and you feel most refreshed. Have a notepad ready and write down the top three things you know you need to complete for the day. If you only have one thing, even better – but don’t make it a list of four or five to-do’s. You will not have that sense of accomplishment if you only complete three out of the five, and not all five.
Why three? This isn’t a magic number, but it does seem to work very well. The second part of this habit is making sure you schedule a specific time for each task to be completed. For example, if one of your daily three tasks is to call five clients you better have a 1/2 hour block scheduled to complete this task. What seems to be the easiest thing to do is to assign a time of day you will complete each task. So, “phone calls” will occur at 1pm-1:30pm, “Writing a work proposal” will occur from 2-4pm and so on.
- Find your “Magic Time”
Your “magic time” is that time of the day when you are the clearest in your mind and body. It could be right when you wake up in the morning, just after a workout, or even after a certain meal during the day. This time is all yours, so it needs to be protected and used appropriately. For me, my “magic time” is in the morning before the kids and wife are up in the house. I am able to take 20-30 minutes and make it all about me and setting up my day for success. This is when I do most of my reading and writing, and when I am able to get the biggest bang for my buck and get the most done in the least amount of time. This way, I am able to conquer my mornings and then have better control of my afternoons when things sometimes don’t quite pan out the way I always envision it.
To find your magic time, take note of when you are in the best “flow” state. That is, when you are able to concentrate and focus the most on single tasks and complete the most work. Maybe it is when you are able to write the most, or be the most creative. You will figure it out. Make sure if you have never tried to do this in the morning – wake up 15-20 minutes earlier than usual and get your #1 top priority done first. I think you will be amazed at how you feel when you can do that!
- Schedule your own “Personal Time Off” or “PTO”
This one is hard if you are a work-a-holic like myself. One thing I will tell you though is if you take the time to refresh and recharge, you will come back so much stronger and be able to re-focus to get things done and not procrastinate. This could be something as simple as taking PTO in the middle of the week for two hours to just leave the office and “chill out” at a coffee shop or a park. You will be amazed what a break during the day can do for your day and your week. Having personal time as well to workout and work on your own health is very important, and to be sure to schedule it is crucial as well.
Self-care should be included here as well. When was the last time you treated yourself to a massage, pedicure or facial? These things are all added extras that our parents probably didn’t do much of, but it will surely lower your stress levels and give you the refresher you need to get back to work and bring your best and to be re-focused on those “big rocks” again.
This was suppose to be just a quick summary of the three main things that usually get in our way of being successful, but quickly became much more than that. My hope is that you can take one thing away from this post and use it right away to become more successful in whatever you do! Good luck and remember to take action!