There’s a vast body of work on how to achieve your goals and live a better life. Much of the information is sound, with varying levels of depth. Some writings preach the importance of hard work, and how it beats talent most of the time. Others stress the importance of visualization and authentic positivity to manifest the person you want to become. The unspoken near-debate for success advice rages on.
Opinions seem to vary on how important planning is, or at least to what degree planning matters. For example, the 48 Laws of Power communicates the importance of planning over improvising, in it’s chapter entitled “plan to the very end.” On the other hand, when Jack Canfield was interviewed for The Secret (regarding the law of attraction), he explained that knowing the whole pathway is unnecessary. He used an example of driving from Los Angeles to New York at night, expressing that all you need is to be able to see 100 meters at a time. If you can navigate the next 100 meters ahead of you, you have all that you need to reach your goal over time.
So what is it? Is hard work, going with the flow, prayer, visualization, luck, or something else the best strategy for success?
The answer is all. But, how much of each? The men and women who share their secrets and ‘formulas’ for success are mostly correct, but you need context. Truly, you must use all of your creative faculties to see how the outside world responds to your efforts, and learn where you’re most effective.
Like your very own fingerprint and personality, your formula for success comes from your own unique combination of physical work and spiritual work. You’ll eventually need to combine spirit and sweat to make your dreams a reality, especially as the world seemingly becomes filled with more confusion–and negativity.
Spirit – Mental and emotional steps
All things start with an idea. You need to see what you want in your mind first. This is where your ‘spirit’ comes in. Whether it’s visualizing a healthy body, a wealthy lifestyle, or a new career, use your brain power and creativity to picture yourself as who you want to be in your mind’s eye.
Don’t worry about “doing it wrong”, and don’t focus too much on the minutiae details. From my research and experience, knowing every small detail isn’t paramount for success. What’s more important is staying consistent with your image, and imagining the crucial details. Imagine how others will view your new lifestyle. How do they respond? Write these things down. Speak them into existence. Keep this image in mind when you daydream, meditate, and go to work. Mentally put on the “skin” having already achieved it. This lays the foundation for your success.
When you first create a new idea of yourself, you may experience a burst in energy. Exhilaration feels great, but it’s critical to sustain your internal image as much as possible, even on bad days. The more your internal image becomes ingrained into your mind’s eye, the closer it is to forming. If the idea becomes boring over time, that means that your belief in its manifestation is becoming firmer.
Remember the power of belief and expectations; whatever you believe or expect, your mind will work to make true. Don’t underestimate the power of your internal belief. Your beliefs will keep you on track and keep all of your efforts for success in alignment. It will make or break your journey.
Interestingly, the Bible and Quran hint at this.
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. — Mark 11:24, NIV
“And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; — Al Quran 14:7
Sweat – Consistent, physical steps
With your mental and emotional picture placed firmly in mind, you can now work on physical actions, the “sweat” part. I don’t mean sweat in terms of strain, I mean the work of taking your body and mind to places it’s never been before.
Break down your overall goal into bite-sized behaviors. If your goal is to write a book, focus on putting words on a page, in a consistent fashion. If that means only 5 minutes a day, you’re still consistently improving. Self-discipline is key. None of the world’s amazing kingdoms were built in a day, so give yourself time to build yours. It might be faster than you expect.
Unfortunately, this is where things get tough. Daily repetition is boring, and small steps forward aren’t always easy to see sometimes. But, like watering a garden, sometimes growth isn’t visible above the soil, until the massive harvest. Your specific timing for success is unique, and your timing is all that matters.
Beware the enemy within
At any moment in your rise to greatness, you will encounter an unseen enemy. Have you ever run on a treadmill? Or taken a test for several hours? Do you notice the negative voice that appears and attempts to talk you out of whatever you’re doing?
Beware your inner monster, especially during periods of fatigue and weariness. The voice that tells you to quit, or that you’re “too old”, “too fat”, or otherwise not good enough to achieve your goal will kick in–especially when you’re at your weakest.
Ignore this voice at all costs. Separate yourself from it. It’s actually proof that you’re making progress, and proof that you’re challenging your own internal status quo. Many potentially great men and great women have sabotaged their dreams by talking themselves out of them. The saying, “everything you want, is at the other side of fear,” comes into play here.
More to come
I will write to you more about this topic. But I want you to internalize the idea that building your dreams can be a much simpler process, achieved by doing the mental and physical work. These two basic steps can be your one-two punch for success.
Be well, friend.