Every person defines success differently. For some success means a lot of money. For some success means fame. For others it’s a college degree. Regardless of one’s definition of success there are certain actions that can be taken to improve the odds of being successful.
Pablo Picasso once said, “Action is the foundational key to all success.” Throughout time it seems that the one major obstacle that has consistently kept us from finding success has been our inability to take action when action is needed. Goals do not achieve themselves. We must take action to manifest success.
Late last year I interviewed on my radio show successful entrepreneur Melissa Carbone. Melissa, CEO of TenThirtyOne Productions, was at the time the biggest winner on ABC’s Shark Tank, bringing in a $2 million investment from the sharks. During our interview Melissa stated that the main reason most people are not the successful is because they fail to activate.
Over the years I have had the opportunity to meet a great number of successful individuals. These individuals have been successful in business, politics, education and many other disciplines. As a life-long self-help junkie I am always curious about the path successful individuals take. Through many years of observation I have found that successful people always find a way to move towards their goals despite the many obstacles that line up along their path.
The following are four tips to help you activate and keep moving towards your goals.
1. Know What You Want to Achieve – “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” – Napolean Hill
Before you activate in pursuit of your goal you need to know precisely what you want to achieve. Not knowing what success looks like, tastes like or feels like risks wasting your valuable time and energy. Before taking that first step invest some time to figure out what you want. By knowing exactly what you want you can develop a roadmap that takes you directly to that goal. Success is in the eye of the beholder. All the effort in the world will not make you successful if it is not being directed towards your objective. Know that objective as intimately as possible before taking action.
2. Do Your Homework – “Fortune favors the prepared mind.” – Louis Pasteur
Stephen Covey wrote, “Begin with the end in mind.” Once you know what you want to achieve you must create a roadmap to get there. A great number of people do not achieve their goals because they do not know how to get started and what to do next. Doing your homework in terms of what is needed to reach the goal is more important than actually doing the work to get there.
Research is critical in developing a roadmap that allows you to make the most of your effort. For example, assume your goal is a doctorate in a particular field. Begin with obtaining a bachelors and masters degree. Then break those down even further.
James Clear writes that the smaller and more detailed each task, the easier it is to complete. Breaking it down into micro-tasks makes the process less painful, requires less energy and ensures you reach your goal.
BOLDFACE CEO Randy Fenton says, “Do not try to eat the elephant in one bite. Instead, take the time to carve it up into smaller, actionable steps that you can easily execute. Some goals can look too daunting until you break them down.”
Caveat: in coaching and consulting with entrepreneurs I have found that many get caught up in the research. Rather than using research and “roadmapping” as a means to an end, these entrepreneurs spend too much time on the research, wanting it to be perfect. This paralysis by analysis is a technique that many use as a stalling technique due to their fear of activation and possible failure.
Keep in mind that the plan will never be perfect. Once you start the process you will need to make changes and take detours. However, the plan is extremely useful as it provides a guide to follow and gives structure to the process.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail – “Do not be embarrassed by your failures. Learn from them and start again.” – Richard Branson
Most of us were taught at an early age that failure is bad. So bad is failure that it gets its own letter. In education we get A’s, B’s, C’s, D’s and then skip over to “F.” We have been taught that failure is so bad that it was worth skipping over “E.”
But the reality is that no one is perfect. No matter how detailed your roadmap there will be failure along the way. There is an upside, however. Failure provides an opportunity to learn about what did not work in order to try again.
Samuel Beckett wrote, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Working towards any goal means you are going to experience some failure. Having taken the time to plot out a roadmap, the chances are that the failure will not be catastrophic and will be manageable. Regardless, it will happen and you need to anticipate it in order to quickly get over it, make adjustments to the roadmap and continue on the journey.
BOLDFACE’s Randy Fenton disrupted the $2 billion U.S. backpack market by being the first to create customized on-demand backpacks with interchangeable “faces.” “It took me months of prototyping and experimenting before I nailed the backpack. At times I definitely felt discouraged. But my passion for the project kept me going and I just made sure to learn something from each iteration.”
4. Act Promptly – “Just remember, you can do anything you set your mind to, but it takes action, perseverance and facing your fears.” – Gillian Anderson
Once you know what you want, how to get there and what to expect it is time to do it. TenThirtyOne Productions’ Melissa Carbone started to execute on her plan to launch her company in under a week. Melissa understood the importance of developing a roadmap. But she also understood that plans are only as good as the action that follows them. In Melissa’s case, the longer she took to execute on her plan to launch her business, the greater the risk of someone else coming along and beating her to the punch.
Nike nailed it years ago with its Just Do It! Campaign. At the end of the day, all the planning in the world is just talk if it does not lead to action. This is why the first three steps are so important.
If you are truly interested in achieving your goals you must activate. But without the proper planning activation will eventually lead to abandonment. Whether your goal is losing weight, starting a new company or creating the next great innovation, you need a plan. These four steps will get you to activate and keep moving towards you goals.