Welcome to the 8% Club.
Having big dreams is easy. Achieving those dreams can be hard. Really, really hard.
In fact, only 8% of people actually reach their New Year’s resolutions every year. 8%!
What is it that makes it so difficult for the vast majority of people to get what they set out to achieve?
While everybody’s answer is different, we can all agree that you need to have continued motivation to reach your goals.
I’ve always found motivational quotes to be helpful to surround myself with while taking on new endeavors, but as great as these phrases may be, I’ve never actually come across clear step-by-step instructions of how to actually achieve the purpose of the quotes.
This really bugged me, and I figured I wasn’t alone, so instead of setting out to search for this content, I decided to create it, and that’s what you’re looking at right now.
The following guide includes nearly thirty motivational quotes (plus some bonus material) with step-by-step suggestions of how to achieve them.
This guide is meant to serve as motivation and inspiration. You should know it isn’t written by a trained life coach, professional mentor, psychologist. I’m not coming to you with a clinical background or professional guidance that a counselor would.
What I am coming to you with is years of experience with goal-seeking ups and downs, and lots and lots of research to try to figure out how to become a part of the select few who reach their dreams.
I’m simply a person like you. A person who has purchased a gym membership in January only to stop going in February. A person who has had career highs, and career lows. A person who is still trying to figure everything out.
So cheers to unlocking the greatness within you and to your next steps in becoming a part of the “8% Club.”
👇 Scroll to begin reading!👇
Don't have time to scroll through and read all of this right now? We get it!
We've created a downloadable ebook so that you can reference this content on your own time. Simply fill out the form below to access it.
Chapter 1: Be Your Biggest Cheerleader
"We are who we believe we are."
- C.S. Lewis
"I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” Who knew the children’s book, The Little Engine That Could, could have such a profound message that would be carried into the rest of our lives?
As kids, we think we can do anything, whether it’s growing up to be a veterinarian or believing that you could fly. Whatever your belief was, the best part is that you truly believed it was possible.
As we grow up, we seem to lose that unwavering confidence in ourselves. We experience failures, criticisms, and even negative self talk when things don’t go our way.
But what if we were able to get those childhood beliefs back? What if, as adults, we became our own biggest cheerleaders, despite any negativity and roadblocks that come our way?
The possibilities would be endless. And the possibilities can be endless.
In order to do great things in this world, you need to believe you can be, and currently are, great. Only you can make things happen for yourself to truly move mountains in your life. You just need to believe you can. Grab the pom-poms because it’s time to start cheering yourself on. It’s time to become your number one fan.
As crazy as it sounds, the act of smiling can actually make you feel happier in the moment. Doing this first will help you take on the following steps from a more positive and proactive place.
Examine Your Current Thoughts
Take notice of the current thoughts you have about yourself. Are they positive or negative? If negative, what do you need to stop doing to turn those thoughts around? What beliefs are holding you back from achieving great things? Make an honest effort to discover how you feel about yourself and make adjustments to ensure you always see yourself in a positive light. Note, this doesn’t mean you’ll never fail again, you will, but it means you still see yourself positively and with understanding, even through adversity. Love who you are at your core.
Examine Who You Surround Yourself With
Unfortunately, too often people don’t believe in themselves because they’re told they shouldn’t, or they’re told they should settle for less than their true potential. Take a look at the people you’re spending the most time with and evaluate if the relationships are supportive or if they bring you down. Choose the people who lift you up.
Examine the Type of Content You Consume
If you’re continuing to consume material that tells you you can’t do something, stop viewing it. Don’t let outside influences put limits on your potential. Additionally, avoid content that wastes your time and makes you feel bad about wasting your time (like excessive use of social media).
Create Goals and Achieve Them
Want to start believing in yourself ASAP? Set goals and start achieving them to boost your confidence. These goals don’t have to be anything groundbreaking. Start with easily achievable ones and build over time. Break goals into bite-sized steps and get a few done every day. It will make you feel incredible.
Know That This Will Take Practice
Be patient with yourself. Negative thoughts will sneak in from time to time, but how you interpret and move forward from those thoughts is what matters.
Reflect on Past Achievements
Sit back and take in some of the great things you’ve already accomplished in your life. What have you done that you’re proud of? Consider writing these accomplishments down and refer back to them on rainy days. Tony Robbins preaches the concepts of “mantras,” that is, positive self-talk repeated over-and-over every morning coupled with physically active movement. Think of past achievements as you put this practice into place.
On the previous note, let go of past failures. It may be easier said than done, but it’s time to leave them behind and focus on moving forward.
Start seeing the glass as half-full in situations you’re presented with. The more positive you view other things around you, the more positive you’ll start seeing yourself.
Food for Thought: What is something that you love about yourself?
"The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."
Dream big. Many of us are told this often throughout our lives but few of us actually do it. Why is that? Why do we so often impose limits on ourselves?
“When I grow up, I want to be an astronaut” is a lot easier than “I’m grown up, now how do I become an astronaut?”
The reality is, dreaming big is easy. Actually going for that dream is scary. Really scary.
But you know what’s even scarier? Waking up one day realizing that it’s too late.
Overcome your limiting beliefs. Reach higher than you ever thought possible, and if you don’t make it to the very top, odds are you had one amazing adventure attempting it while learning a lot and doing a lot along the way. If you only strive to achieve small things, your rewards and the journey themselves will also be small.
Get a Clear Vision of Your Dream
Whether it’s through vision boards, hanging a picture on your refrigerator, or waking up in the morning thinking about it, make sure it’s absolutely clear what you’re striving for. Don’t leave room for any ambiguity.
Ask Yourself What You Would Do
If Fear Wasn’t a Factor Now that’s a doozy, isn’t it? Can you imagine? Think about that long and hard. Once you get that image in your mind, think what fear may prevent you from achieving it in the real world. Then decide if you’re able to overcome that fear and what steps you need to take to do so.
Dream Big but Plan Small
If you write on your to-do list “work towards achieving my dreams,” that will be a big pill to swallow. Break down a step-by-step task list of the things you actually need to get done to achieve your dream. Once you have that list, break those into subtasks and get as granular as possible so that it begins to get easier to start tackling these items. Start by asking yourself - what is the next action I can take to move me toward my dream? It shouldn’t be, get my college degree or write a novel. It should be research college majors or outline a plot and characters. These are concrete steps you can do today!
Track Your Progress
See where you’re coming from and understand where you need to go. Set benchmarks along the way so that you know if you’re making strides towards achieving greatness. Plus, it’s always fun to look back and see how far you’ve come when you have it all documented.
Surround Yourself with People Who Support You
Make sure your friends and family are your greatest fans and also believe you can change the world. Don’t let anybody in your circle hold you back.
If you want to reach your goals, start today. Make this dream of yours a top priority.
Take Care of Yourself
On the road to greatness, don’t forget to take care of yourself. When you’re motivated, it’s easy to get in the zone and just want to go nonstop. Remember to get rest, nourish your body, stay hydrated, and exercise.
Food for Thought: If you could be or do anything in this world, what would it be? Are you currently doing it?
Chapter 2: Overcome Destractions
"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."
- Mark Twain
Did you know that when you surround yourself with positive people, you actually start being more positive (glass half full, anyone?)? Your attitude on how you approach things actually changes for the better, allowing you to be more productive and accomplish the things that you set out to achieve.
When you surround yourself with negative people, it actually has the reverse impact and can take a huge toll on your path to success (and happiness in general). If you receive ninety-nine positive reviews or compliments and one negative, you’re going to dwell on and pay attention to that one negative comment, which can be a huge distraction from almost everything else going on in your life. It’s just how we’re wired, so it’s important that you try to surround yourself with positive influences in order to keep your momentum going forward.
Negativity is contagious. You don’t want it to become your primary thought pattern.
The issue is, completely cutting toxic people out of your life is often easier said than done. What if the person is a co-worker you sit next to or even family? It’s important that you take precautions to ensure they have as minimal of an impact on you as possible.
You need to stick to who you are and surround yourself with the people who support you and support your goals and ambitions. As the great Dr. Seuss once said, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because in the end those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.”
Find Your Tribe
Above all else, make it a priority to surround yourself with people who lift you up, inspire you, and fill your life with positivity. You’ll find that by ridding yourself of toxic relationships you’ll actually end up attracting more positive people. By continuing to expand your network of positive influences, you’ll be able to expand the number of opportunities that come your way.
Lead By Example
When you’re with a group of people, be the positive person. Be the one who brightens the mood and lifts the spirits of those around you. It’s contagious! All you need to do is take matters into your own hands.
Don’t Participate In Negative Talk With Others
We all have a Negative Nancy in our life, where all they seem to do is complain. Participating in conversations with these types of people can be exhausting, so you need to take control of the conversation and talk about positive things. Try to get them to engage in upbeat, optimistic topics.
Be Aware Of Workplace Negativity
The workplace, whether remote or in person, can be a huge breeding ground for negative distractions, and it can be easy to get sucked into office gossip as a means of social currency. If you’re hoping to excel at your job, leave that currency on the table. It’s not worth your time in the long run.
Focus on The Positive
You will encounter negativity. It’s life, but you just can’t dwell on it. No matter the circumstance, try to focus on the positive. It takes practice, but for your state of mind, it’s worth it. Your future successful self will thank you.
Keep Positive Comments Handy
Consider keeping a folder of all the nice things people have said about you over the years and refer back to it whenever you need inspiration or an instant mood boost. Pictures of happy times also work really well for the same results.
Food for Thought: How does your current tribe make you feel?
"When a person can’t find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure."
- Viktor Frankl
Even on your road to greatness, there will be stops along the way that you won’t enjoy. It just is what it is. You’re not going to love what you’re doing 100% of the time. However, these stops don’t have to be complete detours. You can continue your journey rather quickly if you just keep the meaning and purpose of what you’re doing in mind.
Unfortunately, often times when a course gets derailed, instead of looking for ways to get back on track, people look for instant gratification to make themselves feel better, whether that be getting lost in the fridge, picking up a book, or spending hours in social media land.
Many of the pleasures mentioned above have ways of sucking you in and can easily become time traps that take you away from your tasks much longer than you had originally anticipated.
Do your best to avoid temptations and focus on the prize.
Remember, the feeling of achieving your goals will be much more enjoyable than any distractions you come across along the way.
Rediscover Your Sense of Meaning
Take a step back and ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. Is it to help others? Do you want to feel inspired? Do you simply want a promotion? Whatever your motivation is, it can be easy to get stuck in the day-day grind, which can become very mundane and make it easy to welcome distractions. If you can easily access the reason you’re working towards something, it will be easier to keep your head down and put the work in.
Find Meaningful Moments in Your Journey
Find and enjoy the hidden treasures you’ll run into on the road to accomplishment. By recognizing the process for what it is, and embracing pivotal moments, you’ll be less likely to distract yourself with nonsense. Celebrate little wins, acknowledge and learn from your failures, and keep going.
Hold Yourself Accountable to Others
No matter what goal you’re trying to achieve, odds are it will have some sort of impact on others, even if it’s just somebody cheering you on. In an effort to stay accountable, think of how your actions will impact them. By keeping yourself accountable to another person, or people, you’ll think twice about caving into whatever temptations are lingering around you.
Be Productively Distracted
If you simply can’t focus on the task at hand, see if you can give in to your distractions in a productive way. Instead of randomly scrolling through mindless YouTube videos, why not watch a YouTube video that relates to what you’re supposed to be doing? You’ll still be moving in the right direction but your mind will think it’s taking a break from the task you should be focusing on.
Think of the “Caving In” Aftermath Before You Actually Do It
If you are strongly contemplating giving in to temptation, think about how you’ll feel after. Will you feel better or will you feel guilty? If you’ll likely have a negative outcome, think about this prior to doing it. In many cases, it will prevent the situation and keep you on track.
Question Your Workplace Setting
Often the temptation to give into something more pleasurable than what you’re currently working on is caused by your surroundings. Do you want to finish writing this paper or take a quick break to grab a cookie from the cookie jar? Evaluate your current workspace and decide if it’s conducive to productivity or not, and make adjustments as you see fit.
Identify Triggers and Avoid Them
It’s not just your physical environment around you that can be distracting. The device you’re using to get things done can be equally distracting, if not more so, so do your research and try to mitigate any distractions that come your way. Social media is one of the easiest distractions to access these days. To get lost in this world, you simply have to grab your phone and click a button, and we all know how long we can get lost in that space without even realizing it. Limit the access you have to whatever your distraction is. With social media as an example, there are tools you can use that will block you from these apps after you’ve been on them for a certain amount of time. There are other apps that will prevent you from looking at anything else on your computer rather than the task at hand.
Watch Out for One of the Biggest Distraction of Them All
There are two dimensions to the things we do with our time - importance and urgency. While we all know we should work on important things, people often confuse urgency with importance and use it as a way of avoiding what truly needs to be done but may be difficult. Instead of working on something that moves everything forward, people often focus on something relatively trivial that’s due sooner. It feels productive but it really isn’t.
Don’t Take Your Opportunities for Granted
Whatever it is that you’re working towards, don’t take it for granted. The fact that you have something you’re trying to achieve truly is a gift and you have to think of it that way.
Food for Thought: What are some temptations that distract you from reaching your goals? How can you begin to avoid them?
Chapter 3: Develop Focus
"Lack of direction, not lack
of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days."
- Zig Ziglar
With all the distractions we encounter throughout the day, our attention spans are dwindling as the years go on, making it very difficult to stay on track and choose a direction to stick with in order to accomplish our goals.
When you actually have direction, it is amazing how productive you can be in a given day.
Here’s how to find it.
Focus On Your Strengths and Personality
Deciding which directions to take throughout your life can be overwhelming, so it’s important to rely on the strengths you already have to help guide you. Choosing a career path? Think of school subjects you thrived in. Want to move to a new city? Assess your personality and see which types of cultures would be a good fit. Develop a keen understanding of who you are so that you can best decide where you want to go.
Go With Your Gut
As cliche as it sounds, when it comes to choosing which paths to take in life, you often have to go with your gut. I wish I could provide a more profound and concrete rubric for how to make those types of decisions, but your gut feeling really can be insightful when you’re trying to make some of life’s biggest decisions.
Take Time to Plan it Out
Once you have a hunch on the direction you want to take, do your research and make a plan. Document the various steps you’ll need to take to get from point A to point B and be very specific so that you can limit the number of surprises along the way.
Interview People Who Have Taken The Same Path
To assist with building out your plan, it’s often helpful to have an understanding of what people have gone through who have stood in your shoes and have already embarked on the adventure you want to attempt. Hear about their triumphs and failures and see what you can learn from them as you head in the same direction.
Avoid Analysis Paralysis and Get Started
Look over the plan you’ve put together, make sure it’s a solid approach, and have faith you’re starting off on the right foot. Don’t overthink things. The more you dwell on it, the harder it will actually be to get started. Your plan is unquestionably going to change when it meets the real world, so over-engineering it is a waste of time and energy.
Prepare for Setbacks When you get started down a given path, the plan should serve as a guide of how you’ll get to your final outcome, but it’s just that, a guide. At the beginning of your journey, nothing is set in stone. You will have to adapt your plan as you go and anticipate challenges and obstacles. They don’t mean you’ve gone off course. They’re simply roadblocks you need to overcome, so mentally prepare for them.
Embrace Fear of the Unknown
Often times people lack direction because they fear the unknown of what might happen if they take a certain path. It’s much easier to stop what you’re doing and change course so that you can continue to maintain control of your situation, but where’s the reward in that? Life truly can begin outside of your comfort zone.
Food for Thought: If you had 24 hours of free time, what would you do with it to get closer to your goal? How does this influence your plan?
"One look at an email can rob you of 15 minutes of focus. One call on your cell phone, one tweet, one instant message can destroy your schedule, forcing you to move meetings, or blow off really important things, like love, and friendship."
- Jacqueline Leo
I challenge you to get through this piece of content without looking at your phone, watch, or any other tab that’s open on the current device you’re on.
Seems easy enough, right? The reality, however, is that the vast majority of the people reading this may not be able to do that (heck, I won’t even admit the number of times I was distracted while writing this). In fact, Time reported that humans now have shorter attention spans than goldfish. The average person can only concentrate for an average of 8 seconds before moving on to something else. 8 seconds!
“Ding! Beep! Chime!” These sounds are the modern soundtracks of our lives. Whether we care to admit it or not, many of us have become tech addicts, which doesn’t always bode well for our productive selves. How are we supposed to focus when we know somebody just liked or commented on our photo? While it’s gratifying in the moment, it’s a true detriment to us in the long run.
Technology is robbing us of valuable moments, like seeing a nice person smile at you from across the room, or seeing your kid score the winning goal. Studies have shown that technology negatively impacts our relationships, productivity, and ability to learn and think through things.
The sad reality is that we don’t need studies to tell us that, most of us already feel it.
It would be really nice to not be slaves to our technology, and the good news is that it’s easily doable. All it takes is a little bit of discipline at the beginning and then you’ll see the benefits come in soon after. More quality time with loved ones and better cognitive function? Yes, please!
Here are a few ways to regain focus in a technology-driven world.
Identify your Distractions
Knowing what your triggers are is often the first step to preventing them from happening. Start taking note of them when you notice them and put a plan in place to avoid or better cope with them moving forward.
Use Technology to Combat Technology
Once you have your distractions identified, don’t hesitate to battle them with technology (oh the irony). There are apps that exist that monitor your screen time. There are others that block social media usage. LifeStarr is a new app that organizes for you so that you can walk away for hours or even days without anything slipping through the cracks. The moral of the story is that there are tools you can use to help you detox digitally. At the very least, turn sound and notifications off on your phone, OK?
Establish Work-Life Boundaries
If you have a social media addiction, it could impact your work life. If you have an email addiction, it could impact your personal life. That list can go on, which is why it’s so important to set clear boundaries between your work and personal lives. Having dinner? Put your phone away. In a meeting? Put your phone away. Make sure these distractions don’t cross over into separate areas of your life.
Take Tech-Free Breaks Throughout the Day
Just like how you schedule meetings throughout your day, schedule tech-free breaks as well. During that time go for a walk, read a book or magazine, or chat with a friend. Do whatever you want but make sure technology isn’t involved. You can even set a timer for every 50 minutes and when it goes off, take a 10-minute digital free break. It’s an easy way to establish a routine and make sure those breaks actually happen.
Optimize Your Productive Hours
Mark Twain once said “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning,” meaning that you should get your hardest tasks done first thing to get them out of the way. But what if you’re not a morning person? Why would you do the hardest things when your energy levels aren’t there? Instead of managing your time to be productive, manage your energy levels. If you know you can’t focus in the morning, use that time for busywork. On the other hand, if you’re a morning person, then you can absolutely get the hardest things done first thing. Match the work you’re doing with the times of day you’re most productive.
Check Email Sparingly
Stop checking your email first thing in the morning. It sets the tone with how you approach technology for the rest of the day. Get ready for the day first, then check email. Then shut your email tab and wait a few hours to check it again. Keeping your email open is distracting and makes you less efficient at whatever else it is you’re doing. Schedule a handful of times each day that are dedicated to email and ignore it the rest of the time to optimize productivity.
Food for Thought: Which technology is most distracting to you? Which of the steps above can you implement today to make it less of a distraction so that you can tackle greater things?
Chapter 4: Set Goals
"A goal properly set is halfway reached."
- Zig Ziglar
As a kid, I remember thinking that goal setting was unnecessary and just something teachers assigned as busywork. Turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong.
If you want to become good at something, and I mean really excel at it, you must understand how to set goals properly in order to achieve them.
Goal setting is important because it helps you put a plan in place to achieve something and helps to motivate you to get it done. Proper goal setting also allows you to track progress along the way and helps you understand how well you’re doing at achieving a given goal.
When I say “proper goal setting” I mean that there really are right and wrong ways to approach it in order to get maximum results. One popular method is to create SMART goals (highlighted in the first five steps below).
So, if you have something in mind that you want to achieve and need help getting there, start here.
Make Your Goals Specific (S)
Your goals must be clear and well-defined. Don’t leave any room for ambiguity or interpretation. If a stranger was reading it, she should know exactly what you’re trying to achieve.
Decide How to Measure (M)
Your Goals If you’ve written your goal without measurability in mind, you’ve written it incorrectly. Setting benchmarks or metrics to measure against will help you track your progress and keep you motivated. It can also inform you when you’re failing to meet milestones as well as influence your decisions when you need to be doing something differently.
Confirm Your Goals Are Achievable (A)
I’m not saying you shouldn’t create lofty goals. You absolutely should, but you have to be honest with yourself as to if the goal is actually attainable with hard work, or impossible to reach with your current circumstance.
Confirm Your Goals Are Relevant (R)
Why do these goals actually matter to you? What is your “why” behind wanting to achieve them? Knowing the benefits you’ll experience by achieving the goal will help remind you of the purpose while you’re working to achieve it.
Ensure Your Goals Are Time-Bound (T)
Your goal needs a specific timeline and deadline, otherwise, you risk letting them linger forever, or worse, not getting them done at all.
Focus on A Few Goals at a Time
If possible, just focus on one goal at a time and put all of your attention towards it. While you may have other things you want to achieve, simply prioritize them and tackle them one by one. You’ll achieve far greater outcomes than trying to go after them all at once.
Write Your Goals Down
I know, I know, you’ve got a clear image of them in your mind, but your mind is a busy place full of distractions and other thoughts. Write your goals down and put them in a location you see frequently. That way, on the days your mind is a little cloudy, you’ll still have the goals in sight as friendly reminders to keep your eye on the prize.
Achieving goals can be daunting. If you really want to be a go-getter, you need to have the right attitude. Thinking positively will make the process so much easier and more enjoyable.
Prepare for Obstacles
While it’s important to be optimistic, it’s also important to be realistic, so you need to understand that no matter how prepared or driven you are to achieve your goal, obstacles will likely come up. Mentally prepare for how you will handle these distractions and what you can do to get focused again if you start to lose sight of your goal.
Identify All Actions Needed to Achieve Your Goals
Once your goal is properly defined, put a plan in place to achieve it, and get as granular as you can. Break the task up into multiple subtasks so that you have mini-milestones and achievements along the way.
Food for Thought: Think of a goal you want to achieve. Does it currently follow the SMART goals methodology? If not, rework it!
"You have to set goals that are almost out of reach. If you set a goal that is attainable without much work or thought, you are stuck with something below your true talent and potential."
- Steve Garvey
A few years ago I signed up to do a half marathon. For background knowledge, I could barely run around the block when I clicked the “register now” button. What was I thinking? No way could I run over 13 miles. But you know what? I did. It didn’t happen overnight, but I put a plan in place to slowly build my miles week over week until I finally achieved that lofty goal. Boy did it feel good.
Lofty goals are meant to push you and get you out of your comfort zone. They allow you to do things you never thought you could do and help you grow as a person. I find that when I work towards these types of goals, it brings up my performance in other areas of my life as well. Something with my attitude just shifts with everything else going on, and I’ve heard I’m not alone. Many people feel this way when they strive for goals that are almost out of reach.
That’s not to say the journey to reach these goals should be easy (that first mile off my couch was SO hard), but if you set goals that are easy to achieve, are they really goals or just tasks to be done?
Get past the limits you’ve set for yourself in the past and discover capabilities you never knew you had. You’ll be glad you did.
As kids, we’re told we can do anything we put our minds to. With hard work and dedication that’s often true, but the truth is there are some goals that are unrealistic and you need to be honest and know what is challenging versus what is impossible. If it’s the former, even if there’s a long road ahead of you, put in the hard work and do it.
Embrace the Butterflies
Once you’ve decided your goal is actually doable, a wave of nerves may set in. Deep breaths, you’ve got this. If you’re nervous, that’s a good thing. It means you’ve chosen something to pursue that actually pushes you. Let that fear fuel you.
Make a List of Excuses...
...Then get rid of them. With fear comes doubts, and you may have lots of them, so you’ll try to come up with every excuse in the book to get out of continuing on with the goal-seeking journey. To try to avoid this, before you get started, come up with a list of excuses you could potentially see coming your way, and say goodbye to them. They are likely based on fear, not reason.
The road to greatness can be a lonely one, so find an accountability partner to keep you on track. Find someone you trust who will pick you back up when you fall and cheer you on during your triumphs.
Surround Yourself with People Who Have Higher Skill Levels
Regardless of your goal, find people who are currently better at you in that specific area and surround yourself with them to bring up your performance level. For example, when I was training for my race, I joined a running club. I didn’t want to be the back of the pack (hello ego), so running with runners who were faster than me pushed me to try harder. Doing something like this will give you a better sense of what you’re capable of than if you do it alone.
Learn From Others
In addition to surrounding yourself with people to bring up your performance, surround yourself with them to learn. They may have some helpful tips that can point you in the right direction or fast track your progress.
In surrounding yourself with these people you may see flaws in other’s plans or find that the way they do things don’t necessarily work for you, and that’s OK. Get creative and figure out what you can do better. Consider the road less traveled to get you where you need to go.
Turn Your Goal Into a To-Do List
Make your goal concrete by creating a checklist of the steps you need to take to “cross the finish” line. As you complete each step, cross it off the list. Not only will it help you track progress, but it will give you feelings of accomplishment before you even reach the end goal.
Food for Thought: What is something you’ve always wanted to do but have been too nervous to attempt? By following the steps above, do you think you can make it attainable?
Chapter 5: Seize Opportunities
"Jumping at several small opportunities may get us there more quickly than waiting for one big one to come along."
- Hugh Allen
Your moment will come, but you may have to pay your dues along the way. While some opportunities that present themselves may not be exactly what you’re hoping for, ask yourself if they still provide value in helping you reach your end goal. If the answer is “yes,” then take it. You’d be amazed at how beneficial some of these smaller opportunities end up being.
Ideally, these opportunities should have true purpose and meaning and can help you get one step closer to achieving your dream. When analyzing if you should take on a smaller opportunity, consider if it will help you:
- Build on an existing skill
- Develop a new skill you’ve been wanting to master
- Challenge you
- Stretch your current capabilities
- Help you to expand your network
If the answer is “yes,” then do it. If the answer is “no,” then pass and see if you can discover or create an opportunity that fits the criteria listed above.
Taking on smaller opportunities can help empower you and build your confidence to take on bigger opportunities as they arise moving forward. They’re essential stepping stones that can open numerous doors.
Keep the following steps in mind when these types of opportunities come your way.
Be Aware of Opportunities Around You
Opportunities aren’t always super obvious, especially the smaller ones. Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings, both digitally and in the physical world. You never know when one will come your way.
Say Yes to Test Your Knowledge
If you’re trying to make waves in a new field, or move up in a current one, accepting smaller opportunities will help you assess how much you actually know as well as what you need to learn to continue growing.
Dabble With New Skills
If an opportunity comes along that is in line with your goals, but that you don’t have a lot of experience in, consider taking it to add those skills to your resume. Keep in mind, however, that this really should clearly align with your objectives, otherwise it could end up being a distraction rather than an asset.
Find Joy In Every Opportunity
Just because you’ve taken on a less significant opportunity, doesn’t mean you won’t experience joy from completing it. A huge part of achieving your goals is enjoying the journey, so be sure to take it all in, no matter how big or small the experience is!
Save Your “Nos” For When You Need Them
There will be some opportunities that simply don’t make sense for you to pursue. Use your “nos” for those instead of throwing them around just because you don’t want to do something. Sometimes you learn the most from the things you initially didn’t want to do.
Motivate Yourself by “Doing” vs “Dreaming”
Sometimes that little extra push you need to get the ball rolling is just the act of doing rather than thinking about doing. If you think too much about taking on smaller opportunities, you give yourself more time to talk yourself out of them. By tackling smaller opportunities frequently, you’ll get into a rhythm and will build momentum to conquer more, eventually leading you to the bigger ticket moments.
Go Out on A Limb
If a smaller opportunity presents itself that you aren’t sure you’re qualified for, go for it anyway. The best-case scenario is you get it and can use it to skyrocket your education and experience, and the worst-case scenario is that you don’t get it, and can just continue on as you were. Don’t shut doors on yourself unnecessarily.
Remember That Few Opportunities Are Perfect
If you’re waiting for the perfect circumstance to present itself before jumping on it, then you’ll likely be waiting a long time. Stick to your own standards of the types of opportunities that will work for you, but remember, they may not be exactly what you’re looking for, and that’s OK. Smaller opportunities may not always be glamorous but they can do wonders for getting you where you want to be.
Food for Thought: Take a look at your current situation. Are there any smaller, less obvious opportunities lingering that you hadn’t considered before that now may make sense?
"A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds."
- Francis Bacon
If you want to be a go-getter, you can’t sit around and wait for things to happen. Sure, there are times when people stumble upon opportunities out of chance with minimal effort on their part, but these are few and far between.
If you want more opportunities to present themselves to you, you need to create them. You have to be the one to make things happen.
Below are a few steps you can take to get in the driver’s seat of your own life and create opportunities for yourself.
Set Your Intentions
If you want to create amazing opportunities for yourself, believe that you can and have a positive mindset about it from the get-go. Does this mean it will always be smooth sailing? Of course not, but having the right mindset will keep you motivated when the going gets tough, and ready when the opportunities make an appearance. You must believe in yourself before others will as well.
I always hesitate to use the word networking because the connotation of business cards during happy hour always appears in my head. But in order to create opportunities for yourself, you must put yourself out there and build relationships. Join mastermind groups. Participate in Facebook communities. Join local organizations. The more people you know, the greater the chances are of falling upon new opportunities.
Put Yourself Out There
In the age of social media, there are a plethora of ways to let people know which areas you’re hoping to get into and the types of opportunities you’re seeking. Let your strengths be known and make people aware that you’re available to take on new tasks and projects.
If you want to be successful in a certain field or for a certain skill set, you need to start making moves in those spaces that build your credibility. Start a blog showcasing your knowledge. Create a website to build your personal brand and display your expertise. Build your credentials. Have people write recommendations for you that you can display on public platforms. Do what you can to show you’re worthy of the opportunities you’re working to obtain.
Show that you’re the person others can count on and trust. Go above and beyond and prove how amazing of an asset you are. Show others what you can do to make their lives easier. They won’t forget it, and you won’t regret it!
Don’t Burn Bridges
If you want to create opportunities for yourself, make sure your reputation is intact. No matter how frustrated you get in a given situation, refrain from speaking poorly about previous bosses, mentors, coaches, or really anybody for that matter. Bashing others won’t show you in the best light and it may come back to haunt you in the future.
If you want to make things happen, you need to have a well-rounded understanding of what’s going on in the space you’re trying to get into. Follow the news. Set Google alerts for specific keywords. Subscribe to blogs and newsletters. Stay informed.
This may overlap a bit with staying current, but even as you begin to get closer to your goals, stay curious. There’s always something new to learn. Make a list of books, audiobooks, podcasts, and so on that you want to consume, and start tackling that list. Lifelong learners are the most successful people.
Broaden Your Experiences
Dabble in things outside of the area you’re trying to get into because that in itself can give you opportunities out of the blue. For example, I used to do standup comedy as a hobby but was hired for a marketing position at a company because of it, because it showed I could give presentations in front of people. So random, but another door was opened.
Creating opportunities for yourself doesn’t always mean you’ll get paid for them. To broaden your knowledge, research volunteer or internship opportunities in your field to get the experience necessary to move forward.
Don’t Let Fear Hold You Back
Insider’s tip: On the road to greatness, everybody is scared, some are just better at hiding it than others. Fake it ‘til you make it and keep on trucking. You may encounter a variety of obstacles while creating opportunities for yourself.
Food for Thought: What have you done for yourself this week that can help open doors for yourself down the road? If nothing, what can you do today to make that change?
Chapter 6: Overcome Failure
"I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work."
- Thomas A. Edison
Few words garner a negative connotation as “failure” does. But why? Why is failure such a taboo topic?
The reality is, we all need to fail in order to succeed, so shouldn’t we just view it as an opportunity to grow and learn as opposed to a colossal mess-up? In reality, a failure just means you’re one step closer to success, so if you adjust your mindset with it, failures should really be embraced.
The key to handling failure like a champ is to be optimistic about it. While that may be easier said than done in the moment, it’s critical to master for long term success.
Failure means you took a chance. You didn’t just wait around for things to happen. You made a move.
Failure helps to shape your personality. It shapes the person you have been and will be.
Failure educates you. You can often learn a lot more from failure than you can from success.
Just by reviewing those few examples, do you see how some good can actually come out of your mistakes?
Read on to see what steps you can take to lessen the blow that comes with failure and turn the experience into a net win.
Don’t Dwell On It
When you’ve failed in the past, have you caught yourself ruminating over it? How does it make you feel? What types of benefits do you get from it? I’m guessing not many. There’s a difference between analyzing your failure for future prevention and dwelling on it for the sake of a pity party. Acknowledge the failure, take the learnings, and move on.
Don’t Let Failure Define You
You are not your failure. I repeat... You. Are. Not. Your. Failure. Yes, you messed up...that one thing! Think of all the other things you’ve succeeded at lately. Don’t let this one experience be your defining moment. There’s so much more to you than that.
See The Glass Half Full
Make a list of all the positives that can come out of the failure. Did it teach somebody something? Will it prevent something similar from happening in the future? Did it change the course of how you now pursue things? These answers may not come right away, but with time you’ll start to see them and they will help you reframe your view of the failure and the negative memories associated with it.
Learn From It
As mentioned previously, failure can be extremely educational and can give you insights into things you may not have known before. The lessons learned can be invaluable and stick with you permanently, so don’t ignore them.
Make Self Improvements
Simply put, failure is an opportunity for improvement. What lessons can you take to not only be better in your field but a better and more knowledgeable person in general as well?
Food for Thought: Think of five failures from your past. What’s one positive takeaway you can grab from each to apply towards
"Failure is temporary. Giving up is permanent."
Sit with that quote for a minute and let it sink in.
Pretty powerful, right?
Truth be told, I never really thought about failure and giving up in that context, but it’s so obvious.
So many people give up when they experience failure, even just once, instead of using it as a launchpad for bigger and better things.
Don’t let this happen to you. Here are a few steps you can take to help you bounce back from failure and ensure it doesn’t slow you down from getting what you want.
Feel Your Emotions
Failures have the ability to come back and haunt you if you don’t deal with them in the moment. Feel and work through the emotions associated with your failure so that you are able to put those feelings in the past and truly move on.
Once you’ve worked through your emotions, take responsibility for the failure that occurred, forgive yourself, and make peace with it. It’s time to let it go. A great way to get this closure is to gain a deep understanding of why the failure occurred in the first place. Failure can be a great tool for feedback and education to help you grow for the future, so get to the bottom of it and leave it in the past.
Shift Your Mindset
Nobody likes failing, but some people understand how useful of a tool it can be to course correct and continue to move forward. Don’t look at failure as a dead-end road. It’s simply a detour that may take you on a different path for a bit until you eventually get back on to your original route to success.
Discover What Makes You Happy
Failure can put you down in the dumps pretty quickly. So, a quick fix to boost your mood and get you back in a place where your brain may actually want to be productive again is to discover something that truly makes you happy. Is it going for a jog? Painting? Trying out local cuisine? Make a list of these mood boosters so that when you’re feeling unmotivated and unhappy, you can refer to the list for ideas to turn your mood around.
Make a List of Your Strengths
Yes, you failed, but there are so many things that you’re great at. So, another way to boost your mood and rev up that motivation again is to make a list of things you’re good at, and post that list somewhere where it’s visible on a regular basis.
The more time you have to sit and dwell on the failure, the more time you will. Stay busy. Not only will it help distract you from the mistakes you made, but it may help to inspire you to get going again.
Make a Plan
Once you have your focus and drive back, put it to good use, and make a plan for how you’re going to continue on towards your goals. Get concrete with the plan and spend a good amount of time with it. Keep your failures and mistakes in mind as you put it together and see how you might be able to navigate a smoother road ahead.
Food for Thought: Have you found yourself stuck from a previous mistake you made? What can you do today to make yourself feel better about it?
Chapter 7: Achieve Greatness
"Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try."
- John F. Kennedy
“Trying” may seem like an obvious action step on the quest to achieve your goals, but it’s a harder step to take than you may think. The analysis paralysis many experience before they actually get started can leave a person dead in their tracks.
The act of getting started is not the same as actually doing. Getting started requires a degree of bravery and trust. “Doing” means the scary part is over and the leap has already been taken. Once you’ve begun, you have momentum, which feels really good, but taking that first step to get there can be daunting.
If you find yourself at a standstill and unable to move forward, follow the steps below that can help you put one foot in front of the other so that you can hit the ground running.
Get Out of Your Own Way
Your mindset is often your actual biggest hurdle. Be aware of this and make sure to step aside if everything else is in place to get going. Don’t psych yourself out.
Do Your Research
As you embark on your journey, plan ahead and be prepared. The more you know, the less scary it will be, and the easier it will be to begin.
Make Your Calendar Your Friend
Once you have a plan in place, set dates for the action items of the plan. This will make you more likely to stick to it. Time management will be a huge asset as you start down this new path, so get familiar with it from the get-go.
Pursue something that you actually care about. It’s much easier to get started, stay motivated, and stay on track if you go this route.
Think of Something You Want To Do Less Than The Task At Hand
OK, I know this may sound silly, but it works! What is one thing that sounds less appealing than getting started on the journey you want to tackle? Get your answer and play a game of “would you rather” with it. For example, would you rather sit down to put a plan in place, or clean the bathroom? Would you rather write down your goals or work on your taxes? Considering another less appealing action can help you take the leap towards your dreams instead.
Take A Page Out of Nike’s Book
Just do it. Have faith, make a move and get yourself one step closer to your dreams.
Choose Your First Action
Taking on something big is daunting. But - as the proverb says - a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. What’s the next action you can take to get started? Make it small and doable. Then keep asking that question over and over until you’re over the finish line.
Food for Thought What’s one thing holding you back from getting started? What can you do to remove that obstacle?
"Be not afraid of greatness; some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them."
- William Shakespeare
You’ve worked hard. You’ve put in the hours, and success is so close you can almost taste it. While excitement is undoubtedly running through your veins, another emotion may appear that you weren’t expecting as you approach greatness: fear.
Fear? Fear of failure is a thing, but fear of success? How can that be? What is there to be afraid of? Well, as it turns out, a lot, and it’s a common feeling many experience as they’re approaching the final phases of their goal-reaching journey.
When you think about it, there’s a certain comfort with fear. We all fail from time to time so the feeling is familiar, but to truly become successful at something, that can be uncharted territory, and the unknown can be scary.
As you work towards your goals, you’re often working towards them in your own little bubble, but when you achieve great things, the outcome is often more public. You’re exposed. People now know what you’ve set out to do and all eyes are suddenly on you. You’re now vulnerable and open to criticism whether you like it or not.
The bridge between “wanting to be successful” and “being successful” comes with a lot of changes, and they can overwhelm you if you’re not properly equipped to overcome them.
Below are a few tips to help you overcome your fear of accomplishment and actually enjoy all the greatness that you’ve created.
So many people do this when they’re on the verge of success. They postpone a launch or release, they begin procrastinating, they start coming up with excuses, the list goes on. Don’t let this be you.
Perfectionism Isn’t Possible
Don’t set the bar too high for yourself that you don’t live up to your own expectations of what it means to be great. Remind yourself that no one is perfect, and you don’t need to be in order to achieve your dreams.
Embrace the Unknown
Success can happen to you when you least expect it, and so can the ramifications and outcomes of it. When this happens, accept it. Yes, things may change suddenly, but the only thing we can count on in life is change, so learn to roll with the punches.
Question Negative Beliefs
Imposter syndrome is sneaky and a very real phenomenon. Once you’re at the top, you may get a feeling that you don’t belong at the top or don’t deserve this new level of success...but you do.
This may be a confusing time in your life, so getting it all written down to reflect upon can help you really digest and internalize all the emotional changes going on once you’ve reached your goals.
Remind Yourself of the Alternative
If you end up not being successful, then what? What will you do instead? If you go with the alternative, will regrets go along with it? Ask yourself what’s scarier, being successful or being unsuccessful.
Boost Your Self Esteem
If you don’t believe you belong in the world of success, do something to boost your confidence. It can be something as small as making a delicious meal for yourself. Do something that shows accomplishment and gives your ego a little boost. That feeling can often be carried into the larger success in your life.
Know When You Need a Breather
Once you achieve great things, it’ll be hard to pump the brakes. Be aware when you’re moving at full speed and slow down before you face burnout and uncontrollable stress, which can enable your underlying fears.
Food for Thought: Is fear getting in the way of enjoying the things you’ve worked so hard to achieve? What steps can you take today to overcome it?
We all have the capability to do great things. Whatever your dreams are, I hope this guide has helped you generate some motivation and ideas of how to obtain them.
Now, you didn’t think we’d get through an entire piece of content without doing a little shameless plug for our company, did you? Curious how LifeStarr ties into the content you’ve just consumed?
We have found that people simply don’t have enough time to dedicate to the things they want to achieve. They’re already stretched too thin. We knew there had to be a way to get some of that time back without changing a ton of things in your life, and we figured out how.
Turns out, the average person spends 9.3 hours per week looking for things (i.e. searching through email, looking for files, hunting down communication...).
That’s 9.3 hours that you could be spending trying new hobbies, spending time with family, or training for your first marathon, but instead you’re spending it with your inbox, chat history, or task management tools. Not cool.
We want you to take back control of your time, so we developed a Productivity Network that will help you do just that.
Intrigued? Fill out the form below to be the first to know when LifeStarr launches.