A 5-Step Action Plan to Upgrade Your Life

Readers flooded me with questions about what they could and couldn’t eat after The Shift, my book about how I lost 62 pounds in a year, debuted at No. 1 last fall on the New York Times best-seller list.

When I told them the “shift” is 75 percent mental and only 25 percent meal, some were disappointed. What, no diet? Obviously, to lose weight you need to eat less, but to keep it off I learned I had to change my relationship with food.

For The Shift, I developed five specific questions culled from more than 15 years of helping people find jobs and build businesses. They are as relevant to weight loss as they are for anyone who wants to break free from mediocre results and instead enjoy major success in any pursuit. Jot down your responses and refer to them regularly; the act of writing them down and reviewing them will reinforce your determination to achieve the sweeping transformation that you desire.

Step 1: How fed up are you, really? Are you sick of working long hours but not having the money or freedom to show for it? Are you really, really fed up, or are you willing to stick it out with the status quo? Until you’re at your wits’ end with the way things are, you’ve got to question whether you have the drive it takes to make the changes necessary for a new level of success.

Step 2: What are you willing to give up? Are you a “yes, but…” person who always has an excuse for failure or blames someone else? Does your business require you to work weekends but you’d “rather not” work during off hours? If you answer yes to either question, you’re not committed. How you spend your time has a direct connection to how much money you make. You must be willing to look closely at your behaviors and lifestyle and then break the patterns that prevent you from reaching your goals.

For example, if your volunteer commitments take precedence over income-producing activities—and you’re frustrated with your current compensation—then you must say no to serving on countless committees and yes to tasks that generate revenue.

Step 3: What’s your plan? I’m not a big fan of detailed business plans that stipulate what you’ll do over the next five years. Too many personal factors and market conditions can force deviations. Instead focus on the near future—a plan for the next six months. For weight loss, my plan was (and remains) simple: Eat less; choose smarter; move more.

To achieve your specific business goals, write down exactly what you must do, keeping it short and sweet: more phone calls, better pricing, new product introduction—whatever it is—then execute well.

Step 4: What’s your daily accountability? You can’t wait until the end of the month to realize that you didn’t make your numbers—just as I don’t want to wake up one day wondering how I gained 15 pounds (so I weigh myself every morning and then act accordingly). Outline how you’ll measure your progress on a regular basis and then analyze your results so you avoid  surprises.

Step 5: How will you embrace patience and celebrate regular victories? We overestimate what we can do in the short term and underestimate what we can do over the long haul. For decades the only way I thought I could lose weight was fast, and I failed every time. Learning to embrace patience and celebrate victories—a smaller dress size, more energy, a passing compliment—made all the difference. Business success, like weight loss, takes hard work, perseverance and time. Every win won’t come in the form of a big sale, but lots of teeny victories will get you there.

Create a plan for cheering and rewarding yourself along the way. Secured a key meeting? Score one for you! Landed a new partner? Yay! To mark these mini-milestones, select suitable rewards that won’t break the bank. They might include lunch at your favorite restaurant, fresh flowers for your desk or even a guilt-free hour of playing word games online. Small pats on the back make you feel good and encourage you to maintain the momentum that’s required for hitting the big leagues, moving past mediocrity and achieving large-scale successes.


Tory Johnson is CEO and founder of Spark & Hustle, a weekly contributor on ABC's Good Morning America and a contributing editor of SUCCESS magazine.

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