Excerpt from Volume 1
Once you have laid a solid foundation, you are ready to create the life you want to live, that you were meant to live. An Excelerated Life™ is a life of flourishing and well-being, and a life of meaning, purpose, and service.
The principles in this section include Goals and Action. The practices lead you through the steps of selecting and effectively defining your goals and then get you started on the steps toward reaching them.
“Success is goals. Everything else is commentary.” ~ Brian Tracy
According to Brian Tracy, a leading thinker, writer, and speaker in the field of personal development, only 3% of adults have written goals. Everybody else works for that 3%.
Not only will working toward a significant goal put you on a track for growth and improvement, but committing to and working toward goals is a “happiness tool” – an activity that has been shown to boost positivity and bring the benefits that accrue with increased happiness levels.
In this area, we explore ways and ideas for focusing on what you really want, for setting and planning BIG – Bold, Important, Gratifying – goals, and ways to break your BIG goals into achievable steps.
“A rut,” as Earl Nightingale famously described it, “is simply a grave with the ends kicked out.” If you find yourself stuck in a rut and Life is not progressing as you want it to or, if you feel like you’re on a treadmill, expending energy but not really getting anywhere, examine your focus.
Our goals and aspirations generally fall into two categories – what we say we want and what we really want as shown by our actions. A person may say he wants a closer relationship with his family. Then he works late every night, doesn’t come home till after dinner, and plays golf on the weekend. Meanwhile, his children grow up without him. Or someone says she values good health. But she rarely exercises, doesn’t watch what she eats, and doesn’t manage stress. It’s easy to see the difference between what they say they want and what they are actively pursuing. Their actions don’t correspond to their desires.
Lasting change comes from the inside, but you can prime the pump by acting as if you are the person you want to become. “Often people attempt to live their lives backwards,” said Margaret Young, a popular entertainer from the 1920s. “They try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want, so they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you need to do, in order to have what you want.”
Action is a must for reaching your goals, but not just any action. The quickest route is by taking focused action – aligning your actions with your true desires.
Questions Trigger Creative Thinking
Many years ago, I heard someone give a talk about a book he had just read. I don’t remember the name of the book, the name of the author, or the name of the person giving the speech, but I remember the premise of the book because the idea impressed me so much. And the idea is this: The only way we humans can think about something is to ask — and answer — questions.
Most of what passes as thinking for the majority of us isn’t really “thinking” at all. We remember the past or we look ahead to (or worry about) the future or maybe we plan for an upcoming task or project. But many of us don’t take the time to reflect or ponder or consider new ways of looking at a goal or a problem and coming up with creative ideas.
Earl Nightingale said, “Most people do not know how to think. When they are faced with a problem, they will go to any length to avoid thinking. They will ask advice from the most illogical people – usually people who don’t know any more than they do, such as next-door neighbors and members of their families. Very few of them have reference books. But much more important than that, only one in I don’t know how many thousands will take a large notepad, write the problem at the top of the page, and then deliberately turn on his thinking apparatus.” [Nightingale “Lead The Field”]
And how do we think? By asking, and then answering questions.
Now, questions are a life coach’s stock in trade, one of the primary tools we have for helping people find their true answers. And there are some basic questions you can ask and answer for yourself that will prove helpful in almost any situation. So, if you’re faced with a sticky problem or are feeling “stuck”, try asking yourself some of these questions and then sitting quietly and listening for the answers that bubble up.
“What am I trying to do?” “How am I trying to do it?” “What are other ways I could accomplish the same result?”
“Have I dealt with a similar problem before?” “What did I do then?” “How did it work out?”
“What are my assumptions?” “What if they weren’t true? What would I do differently?”
In evaluating past decisions, goals, or relationships, it might be helpful to ask, “If I were making this decision today, knowing what I know now, would I still make it?” For example, “If I were starting this project today, knowing what I know now, would I still get involved in it?” or, “If I were hiring this person today, knowing what I know now, would I still hire him (or her)?” “If I were just starting to work on this goal today, knowing what I now know, would I still choose this for a goal?”
If your answer is “yes”, then continue forward with renewed vigor. But if the answer is “no”, begin today to extricate yourself from the situation. You’ll cut your losses and remove an energy drain and a source of stress.
Use these questions to help you get started thinking creatively about a project or goal that you are considering or a problem you are facing. What other questions would it be helpful to ask? Ask – and answer – them. For that is embracing the Excelerated Life™!
“One who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; one who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.” ~ Chinese Proverb