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How To Practice Being Successful

Apr 8, 2008
You might think that some people are just naturally successful and others are not. Perhaps that is true but I have discovered that achieving success is a skill. It cuts across most areas of human activity including health and fitness, gambling and investments.

I already have a black-belt in karate but I am now training in a mixed-martial arts style and my instructor wants me to attempt my black-belt grading in this style in about 2 months from now. I received a syllabus of what I must be able to do for the grading. At about line 2 or 3 it reads '100 push ups' then '100 sit ups' and there are 2-3 pages of specific skills required. Three weeks ago I would have been lucky to do 10 pushups. So I thought to myself, "how can I set myself up for success to do 100 pushups?" I'm 44 years old so it's not as easy as when I was in my 20's.

I have completed a fitness leaders course so I had a good idea where to start. The first thing I decided to do was to practice achieving the goal of 100 machine 'bench presses' using a very light weight. Not 99. Not 101. Exactly 100. I wanted to practice succeeding at the goal, not practice trying to get to 100 repetitions and failing. On my first attempt I could not complete 100 rep's but after a week of training I could accomplish the task on the lightest weight.

After I could do 100, my emotional response was to do more until I failed. Wait - what was that? I am successful at my goal, now train until I fail? Is this not reinforcing a pattern in life to work at something until it fails?

I had to think carefully - "how can I still achieve my goal of 100 push-ups and increase the intensity?" I chose to do about a third on the next level up, then do two thirds on the lowest level. I am training my mind to make the distance every time.

What about gambling? I don't gamble with poker machines or in casinos but I do trade on the stock market and on an online multiplayer adventure game. I consider trading as a form of gambling. This is why I train myself to stop when I reach my goal. It is very tempting when I gamble to continue to trade "until I fail". I know it is an emotional response to want to continue. If my goal is to make $1k in a day, or a week - it doesn't matter. It takes discipline to stop when I hit the goal and not keep trading until I fail. It also means to stop-loss my position if I'm on a losing stock and not try and 'trade-my-way-out'.

What about a diet? I find that if I set a goal to lose 1-2 pounds of body fat a week that this is an achievable goal but if I'm on track, isn't there a temptation to try and do more? Of course a smarter goal would be to replace a pound of body fat with a pound of lean muscle, in which case the scales are fairly useless anyway.

What about earning extra income? If I spend 40 hours a week at work and I discover that I can work an extra 10% after tax by doing another 4 hours a week, isn't there a temptation to extend the goal a bit and maybe work an extra 8 hours? In the short run this might work but it's not a long-term pattern for success. It would set me up to fail as a father and husband as it eats into time meant to be for other areas of my life.

When setting a goal to pass a grading, complete an education, get a business venture off the ground, move into a new house or some other big goal, it requires you to put most of your resources and focus into that goal to achieve it. Once you hit your goal, relax just a little and think about your big picture before raising the bar and going for an even bigger, more audacious goal. Enjoy the moment of success.
About the Author
Glen Smith aka Glen The Goals Guy has been running goal setting courses for 13 years. Visit http://GlenTheGoalsGuy.com or
http://QuickStartGoals.com
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