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The Experts Up Close
Cynthia Kersey is a best-selling author, columnist, speaker, performance and productivity coach, and president of Unstoppable Enterprises Inc.
Paul J. Meyer is the founder of the Success Motivation Institute and best-selling author of The Five Pillars of Leadership and Chicken Soup for the Golden Soul.
Leo Babauta is the owner of Zen Habits and author of The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential…in Work and in Life.
Q. What’s the one thing people do or fail to do most often that keeps them from meeting goals or making progress?
Paul J. Meyer: The one thing that interferes with meeting or achieving a goal is lack of focus – distraction, getting off track, a lack of commitment or lack of concentration. I made hundreds of millions of dollars in marketing, selling and business by maintaining a laserlike focus, paying whatever price needed to achieve my goals and entering every situation without recognizing the possibility of defeat.
You ask, “How does someone overcome this?” Immerse yourself in successful attitudes by subscribing to and reading SUCCESS magazine, listening to positive CDs, watching positive DVDs, and buying personal-development programs. And I don’t say that just because I’m in the personal-development business; I say it because I know that saturating your mind with this material will change your life forever.
Cynthia Kersey: Focus on progress, not perfection! Nobody’s perfect. It’s an old saying, but it’s absolutely right. The common link among all successful people is that they made mistakes—they struggled, had setbacks and failures, they tripped and stumbled—but, and this is the key, they pulled themselves up, kept going and learned from their mistakes.
A wise person once said that we learn more from our mistakes than we ever could from our successes. That’s true. When pursuing a goal, perfection shouldn’t be the goal. It’s progress. Try thinking of the journey of pursuing your goal as a metaphor for your life. The behaviors and beliefs that have stopped you in the past will most certainly reappear. But that’s a good thing, because awareness is the first step toward change and, ultimately, freedom.
Instead of being your own harshest critic, make the decision to be your biggest fan. Focus on the daily activities that move you forward, and give yourself a pat on the back the moment you take a positive action or a step in the right direction. Revel in the great feelings that come when you honor yourself by sticking with your commitments.
If you find ways to reward yourself when you reach milestones, you’ll be more likely to stay in action. I’ve seen this time and time again with the people I’ve coached. When you have something to work toward, even if it’s a daily reward consisting of a nice cup of coffee while reading something you enjoy, you’re more likely to push yourself and stay disciplined if you have a clear incentive in sight. And let’s face it: We all deserve a reward!
Q. My top goals are business-related, but they don’t pertain to my everyday job. How do I spend my free time to meet my top goals without neglecting my family?
Cynthia Kersey: Planning and communication are keys to balancing your life, goals and family. Helping your spouse and children understand how your goals will positively affect them is an important part of healthy communication. If you can involve them in the process and enroll them to support you, your business-related goal will turn into a family goal that everyone can be excited about working toward.
Here are some ideas on how to balance work and family:
- Hold family meetings.
- Create weekly or monthly schedules that include family time for fun and connection.
- Involve your children in your goals and dreams, and communicate the benefit to them when you achieve one.
- Involve your children in household tasks.
- Have fun.
Leo Babauta: If family and working on a non-job-related business are your highest priorities, you need to be clear to yourself about that. Everything else is secondary to those two things, and you need to create room in your life for both of them, even if that means getting out of other commitments to make time, reworking your schedule, and saying no to the requests and demands for your time and attention that come from all areas of your life – work, family, friends and so on.
Some specific things you could do to make room in your schedule for your business goals include waking up early or working late at night – times when your family might be asleep and you can work without sacrificing time with them. If losing a little sleep doesn’t appeal to you, working during your lunch break is another option, or consider changing your work hours so that you go to work early or leave work early.
However you decide to rearrange your schedule, it’s important that you schedule family time and goal time on your calendar each day and make them your most important appointments. By blocking out time, you’re ensuring that these two activities take priority over everything else.
Q: What’s the difference between people who accomplish a lot and those who don’t?
Leo Babauta: Simply put: the ability to focus on what really matters.
Our focus really determines what and how much we accomplish. It is a tremendously powerful thing, but it’s something we don’t think much about because we focus unconsciously. Most of us have our focus pulled in a million directions. When our focus is spread so thin, we are less effective with each task, meaning we get less done overall.
But, when we can slow down, eliminate distractions and focus, we become much more effective. And when we focus on things that are important, we begin to accomplish not only a lot of things, but great things. It’s possible to multitask and still get things done, but it’s more difficult. Learn to focus on what really matters; you’ll find yourself accomplishing much more.