The starting point of all achievement is desire. ~Napolean Hill
The objective of this book is to assist you to develop habits that promote success in your life. You will be able to now condition your mind and put together strategies to make you successful.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1: Life with Expectations
Chapter 2: History of the Problem
Chapter 3: Preparing For Action
Chapter 4: Six (6) Habits of Successful People
Chapter 5: How To Keep Going When Forming Useful Habits Get Tough.
Learning new things engages your prefrontal cortex, which operates via your working (i.e., short-term) memory. Your working memory is used for conscious decision-making and planning, directed at the attainment of your goals.
However, once you automatize a skill, it becomes subconscious; and thus, you free up by 90 percent your working memory, which allows higher-level functioning. For example, you can drive for minutes at a time without even thinking about driving.
In the context of learning and performance, automaticity allows you to apply and deepen your learning in novel and enhanced ways. Developing automaticity is the process of going from doing to being–empowering you to become an expert and innovator.
As Josh Waitzkin, author of The Art of Learning, has said, “Just as the yin-yang symbol possesses a kernel of light in the dark, and of dark in the light, creative leaps are grounded in a technical foundation.”
Here’s how it works.
Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality. –Earl Nightingale
The first step toward automaticity is repetitiously learning small sets or bits of information. If you’re learning a new language, it’s repeatedly hammering the same word types and roots. If you’re golfing, it’s practicing the same shot over and over.
However, automaticity goes beyond the initial point of mastery, to what has been called overlearning. To overlearn, you continue practicing and honing long after you know something inside-out.
Becoming grounded and proficient in the left-brained technical rules and skills frees up your right brain to creatively break or manipulate the rules. As the Dali Lama has said, “Learn the rules well so you know how to break them properly.”
2. Find your zone and stay there as long as you can.
“The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat.”―Richard Marcinko
The second step toward automaticity is making the practice or training progressively harder. If you’re at the gym, increase the weight and intensity. If you’re giving a speech, include elements outside your comfort zone.
The goal is making the task increasingly difficult until it’s too hard. Then you drop the difficulty back down slightly to stay near the zone or threshold of your current ability.
3. Add a time constraint.
The third step toward automaticity is making the training more difficult while adding a time restraint. Do the same activity (e.g., writing an article), but give yourself a shortened timeline to do it in. Your focus should be process, not outcome on this. Quality over quantity.
Adding a timeline forces you to work faster while at the same time it requires you to think about the time, which loads up your working memory (think Chopped on Food Network).
4. Load up your working memory with purposeful distractions.
“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity”–Sun Tzu
The final step toward automaticity is working/training with an increasing memory load. In other words, doing the task with greater levels of distraction. Math teachers leverage this strategy by having students learning an obscure fact and having them recall it immediately after completing a math problem.
Eventually, you can perform the activity in a flowlike state, where the external distractions and pressures no longer influence your unconscious ability to act.
Watching our 8-year-old foster son learn how to read is teaching me a lot about the development of automaticity. For months, he did everything he could to avoid reading. Yet, we were persistent in working with him.
Eventually, he developed confidence himself and began to see the utility of reading, and his motivation shifted from extrinsic to intrinsic. Now we have a difficult time stopping him from reading.
If you want to become world-class at what you do, you must get to the point where it becomes unconscious and automatic. Once you get to this level, you’ll be able to innovate and make your craft your own, because you’ll be operating at a higher frequency.
Sometime ago I was speaking to a group of students at a self development program. The objective was to bring inspiration to them, and so, motivation to achieve whatever they positively set their minds to.
I remembered preparing for the presentation and an interesting question came to my mind. I asked myself, what is the driving force behind achievement?
I took the word GOAL, and create a mnemonic to help them with this.
On a piece of paper I placed the word GOAL (one letter per line on the page) and then started thinking about it deeply. What is it in this word GOAL that can make us achieve, focus, and make us successful in the pursuit of our dreams?
As the creative process in my mind went to work, my hands started writing on the sheet of paper.
I then looked at the letter G. The letter G, stood for get up and get the work done, become actively engaged, get the information necessary to complete this task. It is by means of initiation, a push or pull action that work gets done. Remaining stationary is self-defeating when seeking to bring a dream to reality.
The other letter O, reminded me of being organized. Many times persons may have a vision, know exactly where they need to be or what they need to be doing.
Probably it is an overwhelming action or habit in your life that you want to change or a quality you want to develop. There is a level of organization that must take place.
Person’s dreams, goals or their purpose may not yet be realized, though they know where they want to be in life, but because of failure at seriously organizing themselves, work may not get done.
There are a few electronic programs you can use to get organized. The ones I generally use are: Evernote, Google drive and Google calendar. From time to time I still use a pencil and paper to record an agenda for the day. If you are unfamiliar with the programs or apps (Evernote, Google drive and Google calendar) you can do some research online on them. YouTube has a great deal of information on all of these. Learn how to use them to organize your day, week, and even months. They have great reminders and can sync well with your smart phone and other electronic devices (tablets and laptop computers).
Reflective practice activities
In thinking of our goals and how organization is critical, think about what you need to do.
- Is it that you need to get up earlier to study for a course you are enrolled in?
- Is it that you need to prepare your meals for that diet you have embarked on and will need to get your food containers and meals prepared before leaving the house; not leaving it to chance, believing that you will past by a health food store on your way to work?
- Or is it that you need to pack your school bag or meeting case the night before, so that the materials needed for that class or meeting is ready to be a part of your success the following day?
It is important you ask yourself these questions, as organization is essential for success. The answers you will obtained from these questions may be viewed as simple and something that people already know, yet reflect on your situation for a moment and you may observe something you do not know.
Reflective practice activities
Questions to ask yourself
- If I already have these answers how effective is my organizational skills, given I know what I want to achieve?
- Am I using these skills to the full, as a habit, or am I just using them occasionally when I feel stressed or remember to do so?
To be organized, you want to have access to a personal daily planner book (this book should have the feel and comfort that is inviting to you, as well as the pen you use) for recording your plans for that day—actually, using it each day of the week, and yes even on Saturdays and Sundays.
Most persons have these planners but seldom use them correctly or use them at all.
My encouragement to you is to start recording your plans for today and future days, today. See what you have to do and feel the joys of ticking or crossing them out as they get done.
We live in the technological age. Do you have a cell phone? A number of persons today on the planet will say yes to this question.
Interestingly today, cell phones are not only use to communicate with other people, be it verbal or text. With the use of Windows, Android apps and many other user platforms, games, eBooks, movies, Skype, emails or just surfing the World Wide Web has been made possible.
On a number of these devices, storage capacity is quite enormous. As such, if you already have in your possession, one of these cell phones or tablet devices, use the digital planning programs they come with (or download one, most of them are free) for creating agendas or plans for the day or for the week. This may take a few minutes but the outcome will be great.
NOTE: When you plan a productive day, the feeling of accomplishment and the knowledge that whatever we are working towards is getting done, is indeed fulfilling.
A friend of mine asked me once, after a meeting we had.
“How is it that you get so much done and not be stressed?”
I remember looking at my friend with a gentle smile then a slight chuckle, “Well, from time to time I do get stressed”.
“Yes really, but I am never stressed over what I need to do next or where I need to go. I just check my calendar of events for that day on my smart phone and off I’m gone.”
“I need to be more like you,” was my friends reply.
I must admit though that at the beginning of my career, this was not something I was accustom doing.
There was this particular week, I remembered having a series of meetings to attend and presentations to prepare for and students course materials I had to mark, trying to remember client’s information. Not remembering to check the email my boss called and asked me to read and give feedback on. That was a big problem for me. This was a challenging week, this was my disorganized week! So yes, you can say I learnt the hard way but that should not be your experience. So create the habit of being organized by including tools in your environment to assist, and see yourself moving one step closer to accomplishing what you set your mind too.
So to conclude on this point of organization using electronic devices. Remember to take note of what you need to get done on your Smartphone/ tablet and sync the information onto all your other electronic devices. So any one you log onto, the information is there.
Do not be afraid that you may lose your phone or someone will steal it, your information is sync on all of your devices. If you are still concerned, put a pass word on your phone, tablet or computer, and so if you lose your phone, someone else can not steal your plan for the day!
NOTE: Remember that failure to plan is self defeating. Be organized and achieve your dreams.
Finding solutions to problems are not always easy. In the process of digging and searching for answers you will learn. You will learn about what it takes to chase after a passion or path to your goals. You will become better.
To become better at what you are doing or intend to do, you will have to make some uncomfortable sacrifices. Rest assured that whatever pain you are going through, it will not last forever. The pain will one day go away. This is all part of the process of making you a stronger individual at the end. This idea reminds me of a body builder I saw training. The stretching and compressing of muscles; breaking down muscle fibres has a purpose to it. The athletes do this, with the ultimate goal of making their muscles bigger and stronger.
Now, that is an uncomfortable sacrifice the athletes put themselves through. I said uncomfortable sacrifices and not just sacrifices.
This is so, as some persons may be able to make a sacrifice, to do without something or to go for long periods of time without being involved with something they like.
Why is this so?
Because they can simply do without. They can go through an experience with little to no stress on themselves as such, what they sacrificed, they did not really need for their survival. And so, not really benefitting from the process. It is as though what they gave was out of their surplus, and not from a need to become greater or to expand themselves. What they did took little energy.
Because they had that surplus energy anyway.
Or possibly it was time they sacrificed. But that was not uncomfortable for them, because time is not an issue, they had time. For them, they were going to use time on something anyway and it just happened to be this activity.
For you to grow to your fullest capacity, there are times that your sacrifices will be uncomfortable.
NOTE: It should be noted that each person must evaluate their actions and see what is in the best interest for themselves and the people who depend on them. It will therefore be unwise to give up time and energy on a pursuit, that in the end will rob you of having good family relations, be endangering to your physical and mental health, and for some, moral wellbeing.
Preparing for action, to do anything that was not done before can feel like you are lifting a heavy load. Think of any journey a person takes.
It can be one that a marathon runner takes or a trail a hiker is on. Every single one of these people started off at a single point.
I remembered when I was attending primary school. I could have been about seven or eight. I had to walk to school some of the times. My challenge was that, not that I hated walking, but I perceived the distance the school was to be too great and so, mentally I felt like it was too much a challenge.
So what did I do?
Each time I had to walk to school, will looked just about twenty feet in front of me at an object, keeping my eyes fixed on it, and certainly remembering to keep on the sidewalk. As the object came about five feet in front of me, I will then chose another object about twenty feet into the distance. And so it went until the final object I chose to fix my eyes on was the school.
So at the onset of looking at the various six habits, I want you to be aware that at the onset it will appear to be as gigantic steps you are making. Nonetheless I do encourage you to practice these until you have mastered all six.
For me, when I started looking at these six habits years ago, learning and applying them did not seem natural at first, at least some of them. But I remembered each time I worked on one of them, the feeling I received. It was the same as if I was casting my eyes on the objects along the way to school.
Eventually, when these six habits started to become part of me, it was as if they became automatic responses in my life. For this reason I want you to challenge yourself to work on these:
- Use the questions as a guide for your reflection. As you come to various conclusion and discoveries in your live, I want you to take note of them in a personal journal. It is vital that your journal be at hand when reading this book and also have a pen too.
Feel free to also use your phone or tablet or other electronic devices for journaling your response to the questions in each activity or thought or idea that comes to you. It is of great value, when you can look back at what you wrote or thoughts you had at the time and muse over its meaning.
I know for myself, as thoughts come to me I have to write them down. While I trust my mine, and my ability to recall, sometimes with the flow of information coming to me it is not always easy to keep everything to the forefront of my mine. So I do encourage you to always have on hand that small pocket diary or electronic device to transfer thoughts or ideas as they come to you.
This will help you to become a reflective practitioner. This in turn will allow you the opportunity to put into practice what is understood to be of value to you.
- Develop an overpowering voice. It is important that we understand ourselves. Who we are as a person, our likes and dislikes or preferences. In order to experience change it is important to develop an inherent voice spurring us on. Reminding us of the importance of a particular task or activity which can contribute to our goal.
This voice can be viewed as a quality or characteristic that acts as a gauge for us to know what is acceptable and what is not.
This trait, allows us to view persons and situations as opportunities and learning experiences. And this is in spite of the situation being a positive or a negative one.
For learning to take place, sometimes it matters not if the experiences are happening to us or if we saw it happening to someone else.
What we can draw from all experiences, is what matters. This will assist us to know where we stand on a particular matter of our view of a particular event. These views or stands will help us to shape our thinking. Thinking, which would be projected in our personality and our behaviors. As such, we develop a voice in our heads as to how we ought to behave in order to receive a certain result.
- Know you have a choice. As you prepare for action to make the changes in your life, and to develop habits which can promote your success, know that you have made this choice to change. Not only knowing or understanding this, especially when times get rough, but knowing that you made a deliberate effort to become better.
Knowing that it is your decision too, will assist you to safeguard your emotion should you perceive that you are the only one on this part the self-development. Additionally, knowing that you have taken an initiative to go after a dream, should also be a driving force for you. This means that you are capable of starting something. This means that you have looked at your life, made an evaluation and determined that what you are experiencing was not good enough. As such, you had to make a transformation or personal growth.
So by preparing for action, know that you have it within you to make a difference in your life and in the lives of others. Reading this book for instance is an indication that you have already started on the road to transforming yourself.
- Examine your current beliefs. It is always a good idea to look at what your present understanding or beliefs are when it comes to success. This will help you to evaluate what you think to be possible as well as help you to have a clear view of your true talents, potential, or willingness to work towards achieving this particular goal.
Some persons may want to achieve in the area of small business, art and craft, or maybe in the area of athletics but even before starting their current beliefs already predisposes them to fail.
This failure would then bring frustration which in turn may affect their self-esteem.
As such, there are some individuals who would not even try again at what they may have had a passion for at first. So this calls for some self reflection. Look at what you deem to be true about yourself, not based on what others may believe, but at what you are actually able to do.
It is true that in some instances it is only by doing something we’re capable of recognizing our true potential. Know that our belief systems can affect emotions and our physical. And these in turn our thoughts; if they are positive can fuel us with enthusiasm. If they are negative on the other hand we can feel stressed and wanting to give up, especially when at times get tough.
- Protect your time to work on you. In preparing to take any action either great or small, that will require time.
There many individuals who, at the beginning of the year or some. In their life may create great plans for themselves. And this is encouraged. For plans can get us from where we are to where we want to be. But the thing is, and this is very vital, we must see that to become better at anything, be it parenting, painting, being a better husband or wife, time is needed.
We need to make the time to work on ourselves or our craft. It is important that we experiment with time periods during the day that we would be more effective. At these time periods we want to work when our energy levels are at the highest, and when there are fewer distractions. Therefore, this is the reason why you need to protect the time for you to work on you.
Now, I am not saying that you should be so rigid, that if your child or family member for sick and needs to go to the hospital, but this is the time you carve out for yourself then you neglect them. No! This is not what I am saying at all. But we need to respect that it is only because of time, that we are able to put forth efforts and energies on practicing the thing that pushes us closer to our goal.