Our results are only as good as our plan. My mentor Earl Shoaff taught me that it’s not what happens that determines the major part of our future—because what happens, happens to us all. Instead, he taught me that the key is what we do about it. If we start the process of change by developing a plan, doing something different the next year than we did the previous year, it won’t matter how small those efforts start. Start doing different things with the same set of circumstances—the ones we’ve always had and cannot change—and see what miracles occur. If we start the miracle process and change ourselves, then everything changes. And here’s what is interesting: The difference between failure and success is subtle.
Let me explain by giving you my definitions of failure and success: Failure is a few judgment errors repeated every day. The man says, “Well, I didn’t walk around the block today and it didn’t kill me, so it must be OK.” No, no, it is that kind of error in judgment that after six years has him out of breath and panting as he walks from his car to his office. You can’t make those kinds of mistakes. It will cost you. Now, here is my definition of success: a few simple disciplines practiced every day. Do you see the distinction? A few disciplines… Here’s a little phrase we’ve all heard, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” And my question to you is, “What if that’s true?” How simple and easy is that plan? The fact is, when you look at successful people, you will almost always discover a plan behind their success. They know what they want, they work out a plan that will get them where they want to go, and they work their plan. It is the foundation for success. As humans, we have the unique ability to affect change in our lives. It is through our own conscious choice when we engage in the miracle process of personal development that we are able to transform our nature and our lives. I want this year to be a success for you—a smashing success—and we know that means you need to have a plan, and then methodically work that plan. The combination of materials, your open attitude toward learning and your diligence to follow a plan that is right for you will make this year the kind of success we know you want it to be. So let me challenge you to be no less sincere, no less committed to the advancement of your philosophy, the set of your sail, your plan. So, what are some good ideas on developing a plan that will work well and take you to the finish line powerfully? Here are the five major points to keep in mind:
1. Develop the right plan for you.
Some people are very detail-oriented and are able to closely follow an intricate plan. Others are less detail-orientated, which is OK, too. So what plan is the right plan? The plan that fits you. Each of us is unique and motivated by different factors and you’ve got to develop a plan that is right for you and fits you. Some plans will not be as intricate as others, but we all must have a plan, along with goals in that plan, to move us along. If you are a free spirit, don’t tell yourself you are going to spend two hours a day with a book and a journal. It probably won’t happen and you will just get discouraged. Whatever your personality, your strengths and your weaknesses, develop the plan around them. This is not a one-plan-fits-all proposition.
2. Establish times to spend on it.
It might be every Sunday night. It might be 20 minutes each morning or at lunch at before bed. It might be in the car listening to CDs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Whatever it is, set the times and do it. In your step-by-step plan, put down points that you can accomplish every week. They should be specific and achievable. Develop the discipline and take those steps every day, which will move you closer to your goals.
Take notes. Mr. Shoaff taught me not to trust my memory, but to write it down, to find one place to gather the information that affects change. And that advice has served me well all these years. Record the ideas and inspiration that will carry you from where you are to where you want to be. Take notes on the ideas that impact you most. Put down your thoughts and ideas. Brainstorm with yourself on where you are going and what you want to do. Record your dreams and your ambitions. Your journals are a gathering place for all the valuable information that you will find. If you are serious about becoming wealthy, powerful, sophisticated, healthy, influential, cultured and unique, if you come across something important, write it down. Two people will listen to or read the same material and different ideas will come to each one. Use the information you gather and record it for further reflection, for future debate and for weighing the value that it is to you.
Create time for reflection—a time to go back over, to study again the things you’ve learned and the things you’ve done each day. I call it “running the tapes again” so the day locks firmly in your memory and serves as a tool. As you go through the material in this plan, you will want to spend time reflecting on its significance to you. Take a few minutes at the end of each day and go back over the day: who you talked to, who you saw, what they said, what happened and how you felt. Every day is a piece of the mosaic of your life. Next, take a few hours at the end of the week to reflect on the week’s activities. Also during that weekly time, take a few minutes to reflect on how this material should be applied to your life and circumstances. Take a half day at the end of the month and a weekend at the end of the year so that you’ve got it, so that it never disappears, to ensure that the past is even more valuable and will serve your future well.
5. Set goals.
Remember that your plan is the roadmap for how you are going to get to your goals, so you have to have them. Of all the things that changed my life for the better (and most quickly), it was learning how to set goals. Mastering this unique process can have a powerful effect on your life, too. I remember shortly after I met Mr. Shoaff, he asked me if I had a list of my goals, and of course I didn’t. He suggested to me that because I lacked a set of clearly defined goals that he could guess my bank balance within a few hundred dollars… and he did! Well, Mr. Shoaff immediately began helping me define my view of the future, my dreams. He taught me to set goals because it is the greatest influence on a person’s future and the greatest force that will pull a person in the direction that they want to go. The future must be planned, well designed to exert a force that pulls you toward the promise of what can be.
What separates the successful from the unsuccessful so many times is that the successful simply do it. They take action. They aren’t necessarily smarter than others; they just work the plan. The time to act is when the emotion is strong. Here’s what happens if you don’t: The Law of Diminishing Intent. We intend to act when the idea strikes us, when the emotion is high, but if we delay and we don’t translate that into action fairly soon, the intention starts to diminish, diminish and a month from now it’s cold and a year from now it can’t be found. So set up the discipline when the idea is strong, clear and powerful—that’s the time to work the plan. You must capture the emotion and put it into disciplined activities and translate it into equity. And here’s what is interesting: All disciplines affect each other; everything affects everything. That’s why the smallest action is important—because the value and benefits that you receive from that one little action will inspire you to do the next one and the next one… So step out and take action on your plan, because if the plan is good, then the results can be miraculous.