Are you a better person today than you were yesterday? What about this year vs. last year?
When I’m speaking to audiences across the globe, there are two simple exercises I like to have them do. First, I ask them to write down how many hours they spent specifically devoted to intentionally improving themselves in the last year. Then I ask them to write down how much money they invested in bettering themselves during that same time period. Those may seem like simple actions, but you’d be amazed at how many people have their “aha moment” during these exercises.
Here’s a simple principle: Your goals should always tie directly to your values.
How You Think About Your Goals
How you think about your goals can be as important as the goals themselves. I like to think about goals in terms of five specific categories.
- What do you want to have? Things like a nice home, a new car, or a specific financial number.
- What do you want to share? Think of this as an extension of community — maybe it’s hosting dinners in your home or being a part of a certain club or organization.
- What do you want to experience? Travel, entertainment, education — these are the things that enrich and edify your life.
- What do you want to give? Could be volunteering with organizations you believe in or giving financial support to a favorite charity.
- What do you want to become? A better mother/father/spouse/neighbor/co-worker.
Most people begin by thinking in terms of category one, but it’s important to consider all of these. Where many people fail here is in remembering to consider category five. So they fail to invest in themselves and either don’t have what it takes to accomplish their other goals or find that they are unsatisfied when they do.
Accomplishing Your Goals
So how do you accomplish your goals? By reinforcing them with these three actions:
- Writing them clearly — There’s a direct link between what we write down and what we remember; take the time to clarify and record your goals and you’ve created the framework for success.
- Visualizing them fully — Don’t just leave the words on paper; really think about what executing and achieving those goals will look like.
- Supporting them with congruent self-talk — You have to consistently tell yourself that you CAN achieve your goals and watch out for the subtle ways that you’re telling yourself you can’t.
You’re Not Supposed to Do It Alone
Successful people know that success requires other people; everyone needs someone who regularly contributes to his or her life, and if you don’t have someone like that, you should make finding that person a priority. I’ve had the same coach for over 30 years, and I’m incredibly blessed to have someone like Mark so invested in my success. And I make it my goal to give into the lives of my mentees the way he invests in me — I want them to become better and to work on themselves and grow while they enjoy the journey of life.
Tip: Do you currently have a life coach? Write down at least three names of people who could become your life coach. Meditate and pray over this list to see if one of the names stands out over the others. If so, reach out to them to see if they are interested or have the time. If not, start with reaching out to the first name on your list. If they don’t have the availability, continue with your list or ask them for other suggestions.
Some Practical Ways to Invest In Yourself
Let me close with a few simple ways to invest in yourself and develop your goals.
- Get exceptional advice. Read my book Advice Matters for a deeper look into whom you listen to.
- Hang around people that you want to become more like.
- Invest in yourself with intention (both time and money).
- Be open-minded to grow and uncover Blind Spots.
- Search for distinctions.
- Read every day.
- Ask for help and ideas.
- Observe and strategically take notes.
- Fail well — everyone fails (trust me, I have failed a ton, way more than most). The goal isn’t to avoid failure;, it’s to learn from it. So when you do fail, make sure you go into COE (Correction of Errors) mode. Ask questions and determine how to avoid, stop, or do things differently so you become better and you don’t make the same mistake the next time.
- Get clear on your category five goals.
Setting real and specific goals that are connected to your values is the formula for achieving the kind of success and happiness we’re all looking for. The key to knowing how to do that well is wrapped up in how you invest in yourself. You have to take it seriously and commit to it daily — we’re always learning and growing; when you accept that fact and decide to make the most of the process, you’ve taken the first big step towards achieving the real definition of success.