Monday, 24 February 2014

3 Steps to Succeed in Life

"Don't read this if you want the secret to success. There is no secret. There are no laws of attraction, no short cuts, no tricks of the trade. People who succeed in business, careers and in life do so because they work hard." This quote from Mark Bouris" new book "What it takes - an attitude of hard work, commitment and purpose" is a great opener and precursor to this blog post which is all about what it takes to succeed. 

  • This is a great book to read if you want  to be inspired to achieve your life's purpose, whether personal or professional.  A copy of the book can be purchased from the following  Yellow Brick Road
  •  Mark Bouris is an Australian businessman who is best known as the founder and chairman of 'Wizard Home Loans', Australia's second largest non-bank mortgage lender behind Aussie Home Loans.

  • So let's explore the 3 elements Mark states are necessary to succeed.
  • Purpose  

  • Life is about choices - good, bad, happy, unhappy, purpose filled or void.  Your choices should be reflective of who you are and what you believe in.  It is about following your heart and doing what you love to do with passion and purpose. It  is about having a "diamond like clarity about what you are trying to achieve".  (Michael Hill - from Michael Hill Jewelers)

  • The following are some key concepts to focus on if you are willing to begin the journey that will bring you to a point where you can say "I know my purpose and love my life.": 
    1. Basic Needs -  Food, water, shelter. These are the basis for survival and necessary in order to be able to move ahead with your life. Are these needs being met in your life right now? 
    2. Talents, Strengths and Skills - We are all unique with individual strengths and limitations.  Review your current and past skills.  Write them down and consider how you could utilise them in an area of your life now  to achieve a goal you have set yourself.
    3. Clarify Values - Faith, family, relationships, personal growth, work, finances. What are the most important things in life to you? Complete the exercise in Resolve to Evolve to help determine your current focus.
    4. Passion - What gets your heart pumping and your mind racing.  What makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning and keeps you motivated and energized all day ? 
    5. Mission and Vision - A mission is  what are you called, compelled to do and accomplish.  Write a clear concrete one to two paragraph statement of what you feel compelled to accomplish in your life.  Vision is that visual picture in your head of what your future looks like - this can be in the form of some type of concrete plan i.e. Life plan or business plan.  In  6 Keys to successful Goal Attainment we explored finding life purpose with the Wheel of Life exercise. 
    6. Goals - goals are essential in order to plan your life purpose.  Smart Goals provides a great framework for establishing short and long term goals .
    7. Support and Community - Look for a place where you can get feedback, support, and suggestions from others who have a similar goal or life purpose. Look for people who respect you for who you are, where you and your strengths.
    8. Saying No and Setting Limits - When you are clear about your purpose, then it becomes much easier to say no to distractions.  Remember - if it doesn't further your purpose then the answer should be No. Stay focused on your goal. 
    9. Action - Thoughts and plans are all well and good, but if you don't action them, then they aren't much use to you. So put those thoughts, plans, and skills into action! Identify the best place to start - typically one small task leads to another small task and that = success which  =more energy and motivation which l= more action. Use Gap Analysis to draft an Action Plan.
    10. Stay Motivated - Weekly encouragement, support and accountability have proven to be the best way to keep you energized and moving. Focus on your purpose and it will serve as a motivator. You may even want to keep a journal of  your progress to log your progress towards your goal. 

    Attitude of Hard Work

  • As a wise man once said, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Success does not come cheaply. According to Michael Hill of Michael Hill Jewelers,  in his book  Think Bigger,  "success is not a place or a thing; success is the process of getting up every morning, putting in the work, dealing with the disappointments, striving for the wins and being able to say at the end of the year that you had more victories than defeats. Success is the journey, success is the grind. Success is working at your purpose."  It requires courage, responsibility, imagination, and integrity. 

  • Michael Hill and Mark Bouris recommend we acquire the following:

    1. Responsibility - for your action or non-action.  Don't play the blame game.  
    2. Perspective - focus on the things you can control and influence which include your attitude, knowledge and skills  Direct your energy, resources and time towards these aspects.
    3. Respond to change - remain flexible and adapt your action plan as circumstances dictate.
    4. Have an active approach - achieving is doing. Action has to be resolute, relentless and imbued with self belief. 
    5. Inspire others - focus on the positives out of what your doing.  Ensure you review and provide feedback to yourself and others. 
    6. Take ownership of decisions both good and bad. Again don't play the blame game. View mistakes as a learning opportunity. Use self reflection and active learning approaches to grow as an individual or as an organisation. 
    7. Deal with the fear - fear of failure and success.  Acknowledge it and have a strategy for dealing with it (exercise, diet and breathing - more on this in a future post). 

    The Big C - Commitment

    Commitment - means
    1. 1.
      the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.
      "the company's commitment to quality"
      synonyms:dedicationdevotionallegianceloyaltyfaithfulnessfidelitybond,adherence, attentiveness More

    2. 2.
      an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action.
      "with so many business commitments time for recreation was limited"
    3. What is commitment

    1. Commitment is...An experience as real as cooking a meal. If you don't know whether or not you're committed, you're not. You'll know when you are. 
    2. Commitment is...An absolute, like a light switch with no dimmers, it's just 'on' or 'off'. There's no such thing as being a little committed or very committed, only totally committed. 
    3. Commitment is...What you make to someone or something.  It is a choice freely made because you believe it will "work for you". 
    4. Commitment is... a neon sign flashing across your forehead that reads 'not available' for anything that will defer, diminish or deflect you from the action you've committed to. 
    5. Commitment is...Staying true to your values and beliefs.  It means having a solid grasp of who you are and being true to yourself.  
    6. Commitment is...Being able to and willing to be in a state of discomfort. It is understanding that sometimes you will have to make sacrifices.  It's remembering your underlying intention is bigger than the temporary distress that you may experience. It serves to remind us that the bumps on the road are opportunities to develop practices that will strengthen the qualities that will support us in becoming more capable people.
    7. Commitment is...Requires  100 per cent effort.  At times, commitment is a hard slog and a downright pain in the butt.  Only a small percentage of the population are capable of commitment, mostly because they are unable to make the necessary sacrifices.
    8. Commitment is... a willingness to take responsibility for continually and repeatedly making the choice to persevere 

    To me, being committed means remaining steadfast and true to my life purpose and goals, no matter how much dust is kicked up on the road.  What does it mean to you?

    Remember your path isn't solitary and you are not on that road alone. Every committed action you take and every decision you make inspires others to take on their own personal challenges. Commitment is the key to unlocking doors and opening windows, and letting the light shine in to show how we can all lead a more focused and purposeful life.

    Challenge: People spend thousands of dollars on counselling and life coaches. This blog provides tools and techniques used by some of these professions.  While some of these tools are challenging and time consuming I encourage you to consider their benefit and complete some of them in your own time .   

    Thank you for taking the time to read this article.  I hope you found it informative and helpful.  I know that I am learning a lot from researching and completing the activities I post here.  Please leave a comment or share/recommend to a friend.

    Monday, 17 February 2014

    6 Keys to Successful Goal Attainment

    This last week I feel I have been anything but successful in implementing my action plan for goal attainment. I feel disappointed in myself. I hit a couple of obstacles and got derailed from my path. Not a total train wreck though. So this week I though I should remind myself of the keys to success. 

    So What does success really mean?  
    Success can be a rather abstract term and it can mean very different things to different people. To some people, success means being the best at what they do while to others it might mean just doing the best they can. To most people, and according to the Oxford dictionary , success means achieving a goal or the correct or desired result of an attempt. What does success mean to you?

    Here are the keys everyone agrees will unlock the door to goal achievement? 

    7 Keys to Success

    1.Purpose - What do you want to Achieve 

    Every journey needs a starting point and your purpose (the reason why you are doing what you are doing) should be it.   Purpose is the compass that you take on your life journey that reminds you of the direction you are suppose to be going in.  Purpose is the foundation on which you build your goals.  therefore before you start get to know what it is you are trying to achieve and why it is important to you.  If you feel aligned with your goal you will be more prepared to put in the hard work required to make it a reality. When you have clarity and a strong WHY, the commitment and passion will come as part of it, and chances are you'll be more invested, determined and focused to do the work and achieve your goals.


    Take some time now to think about what you believe is your life purpose. What is it you want to be remembered for or what is it you would be proud of achieving.  The wheel of life  is a fabulous exercise that I recommend for figuring out where your time and energy currently is invested and checking whether you are living (in real day to day life) what you want for your life (in your head and heart). Like other exercises it can be found in various forms all over the internet, in books and coaching sessions. You might also like to complete the exercise in Resolve to Evolve 

    2. Desire

    Do you really, Really, Really want it?  The desire to reach you goal must be really intense.  According to John Whitmore in Coaching for Performance "some people experience a shrinking commitment and just can't wait for an obstacle to appear and provide them with an excuse for non- completion" of their goals.


    Sit down and write out all the benefits and advantages of achieving your goal, not only for yourself but also for your circle of influence ( family, friends, community). A list comprising 20-30 reasons should provide sufficient motivation but if the list is between 50-100 then you will be unstoppable. 

    Rate on a scale of 1-10 the degree of certainty you have that you will carry out your goal or the actions in your plan.   If you have rated yourself below an 8 out of 10 then you need to review your goal. Reduce your goal in size or the time-frame and reapply the rating.  If after the process you are still below 8 then cross it of the list as you are unlikely to complete the action/goal.  Don't put things on your list you have no intention of doing as this tends to make you feel guilty/a failure. These feelings don't lead to successful outcomes.

    3. Identify Obstacles

    It is important to understand that every goal we set comes with a number of obstacles that we have to face and overcome before reaching success.  the challenges and problems we must successfully maneuver provide us with valuable lessons that are required to help us reach our destination.  If you want to succeed and jump the hurdles and cross the finish line, you must master the art of problem solving.  The only difference between the people achieving their goals and those that aren't is the choices they make.  The obstacles you are likely to face can be internal or/and external.For example an internal obstacle may be that you  lack a particular skill required to meet your goal while an external obstacle may be that you can't access a training program to meet the skill deficit.  Identifying and analysing the obstacle will assist in identifying options and possible solutions. Remember there are always actions you can take to move you forward towards your goal.


    Write a list of all the possible challenges you will face in reaching your goal and/or achieving each step in your action plan..
    • Are there people who will discourage you? 
    • Do you need to do certain things before you can start on your goal?
    Make a list of possible options and solutions for overcoming the problem. Research the subject and educate yourself . Find out as much as possible about what you are trying to achieve.  Perhaps you know people or now of people who have accomplished what you want.  Talk to them or read their story.  Develop a support system or a goal buddy.  

    4. Create a SMART Goal

    1. Write it down- Post your goals in visible places to remind yourself every day of what it is you intend to do. Put them on your walls, desk, computer monitor, bathroom mirror or refrigerator as a constant reminder. Post them on your Facebook page to ensure accountability. 
    2. You have probably heard of "SMART goals" already. But do you always apply the rule? The simple fact is that for goals to be powerful, they should be designed to be SMART. There are many variations of what SMART stands for, but the essence is this – goals should be:

      • Specific.
      • Measurable.
      • Attainable.
      • Relevant.
      • Time Bound.
       3. Set deadlines and time-frames for checking progress. 


    Follow the link to my previous post Going for Gold on Goal Setting to develop a SMART Goal. 

    5. Make a Plan 

    Making an Action Plan is often missed in the goal setting process, yet it is the means to reach the end.  It is the GPS or road map that outlines how to move from A to B through to C. By writing out the individual steps, and then crossing each one off as you complete it, you'll realize that you are making progress towards your ultimate goal. This not only provides motivation but it is especially important in making goal achievement more manageable. For further information on the change process read my blog post on Change Process - Transformation.


    Complete a Gap Analysis ( see Change process Blog Post)  or use the  Sarks Micro Movement Wheel.  It is a brilliant tool for setting in motion a series of small steps towards your goal. On a blank piece of paper draw a large circle, with a smaller circle in the middle and then divide the circle into six equal segments. In the centre circle write down the goal you want to achieve. A Micro movement is a small tiny action that can be completed within a time span of between 5 seconds and 5 minutes. Each segment of your circle represents a 5 second to 5 minute sequence. Now in each segment break the goal down into six smaller actions. Each action once taken will move you closer to the goal you are aiming to achieve.


    Goal setting is an ongoing activity not just an activity at the commencement of the goal setting process.  An Action Learning framework provides an opportunity to review what you have done and to ensure your still o n track. Make regular time-slots available to review your goals. Your end destination may remain quite similar over the long term, but the action plan you set for yourself along the way can change significantly. Make sure the relevance, value, and necessity remain high.

    If you get stuck perseverance and motivation can be developed by setting achievable time frames (smaller goals over shorter time frame) which reduces the amount of time you have to persist before reaching a target.

    It is easy to get down on ourselves if we did not follow our game plan 100% or if we missed the target date set for our goal. Don't give in to discouragement. This is the enemy! Acknowledge the misstep, then move on. The more you dwell on your perceived misstep, the more it can hinder your success .If you fail to reach a target, don't see it as a failure, but as a "free lesson" - What did I learn? What could I have done differently? What is the next actin required?  How can I improve?  


    Create to do lists, insert regular review dates into calenders. Create a vision board and cultivate self belief and confidence.  If you believe it you can achieve it.  Keep a journal of your journey to inspire and motivate you.  Reward yourself along the way.

    We all know that goal setting is an important tool to achieving success. And we all know that the price of trying is risking failure. But the old saying is true you have gotta be in it to win it. 

    Be brave and courageous.  Take a chance this week on setting yourself one small goal.  Remember to reward yourself for trying as well as for success.

    Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.  I hope you found it useful.  If you did I'd appreciate if you recommended it on Google.

    Sunday, 9 February 2014

    Change Process - Transformation


    Changing complex human behavior is difficult. Unfortunately there is no magic fairy, or gene in a bottle, who can instantaneously grant the changes we desire. Change occurs as a process, not as a one off event. We can appreciate the process of change by thinking about natural processes that involve stages like a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly or winter shifting into spring.

    Prochaska Model

     A model for conceptualizing the stages of behavior change has been described by a guy called Prochaska and his colleagues (Prochaska and DiClemente, 1988,1992). His model posits that behavior change usually occurs gradually as the person moves through five developmental stages of motivational readiness or intention to change. Progress is not always direct or linear as the person may revert to an earlier stage before entering the next stage.

     The stages are as follows:

    Pre-contemplation - Not yet acknowledging that there is a problem behavior that needs to be changed
    Contemplation – Acknowledging there is a problem but not yet ready or sure of wanting to make a change
    Preparation/Determination – getting ready to change
    Action/Willpower – change behavior
    Maintenance – Maintaining the behavior change and
    Relapse – returning to older behaviours and abandoning the new.

     This provides a powerful framework for developing a successful plan for change as we can develop techniques and strategies to address the characteristics of each phase. For example, making the assumption we are all at the Preparation stage, then we know we are planning to act within the next month. One of the most important techniques at this stage is to break down our larger goal into small steps, or smaller goals. In this way we create an Action Plan for change. Treating change as a process is a central component of successful change.

    Where are you currently sitting on the cycle of change? 

    Another tool that can assist us in developing our Action Plan is one used extensively in business to identify the tasks needed to complete internal change or deliver specific projects. - It’s called Gap Analysis.
    See more at: 

     Gap Analysis 

    Gap Analysis is the process of defining the difference between two states -“the way things are” and “the way we want things to be” and then  identifying the steps needed to bridge the gap between the two . To carry out a Gap Analysis, first analyze your current situation, making sure that you gather as much information as possible and then identify the specific outcomes of your current goal – this is your "future state." Next, identify the specific action steps needed to bridge the gap between your current situation and the desired future state. I have included an example using my own goal to help get you started:

    Example of Gap Analysis using one component of my Goal from last weeks Blog Post: 

    Your Turn - Have a Go

    I had all sorts of issues inserting this table as blogger does not have a table setting.  Still I think it demonstrates the process to follow.  Have a go and see if you can articulate the initial smaller steps needed to reach your longer term goal using the Gap Analysis Approach.    

    If you know of any other useful tools/strategies I'd love to hear from you. Please post them here so others can learn and grow and achieve their best results.


    Monday, 3 February 2014

    Going for Gold on Goal Setting

                     Success = Goals + Commitment + Circumstances

     “I have been visualizing myself every night for the past four years standing on the podium having the gold placed around my neck.”
     Kieren Perkins, Winner of 2 Gold Medals at 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games

    Your dream/vision is the starting point and provides “the compass that takes you on your life journey and reminds you of the direction you are suppose to be going in and provides the foundations on which you build your goal” 
    (Mark Bouris, What it Takes, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2013).

    Visioning  Review

    How did you go with last week’s visioning/values activity.  When you closed your eyes and imagined your perfect day did you see yourself standing on a podium receiving a gold medal, receiving your degree, relaxing on a tropical island or finishing that gardening project? It doesn't matter how big or small the dream: it’s still your dream.  Follow the link if you missed the post:

    I found the visioning activity a bit daunting at first, but after I sat with it for a while, I came up with a whole range of values that are not quite aligned with the dream I have for myself and where I want to be in 12 month’s time.  I have resisted the urge to over commit and selected just two (2) things to focus on, mainly because they relate to each other and have been a constant challenge for me over a number of years now. These are nutrition and exercise. As a cancer survivor I recognise the true value of making health and well-being a priority but have struggled to make them a focus  in my busy life.  So this is the year I am going to go for Gold and commit to making my dream a reality.   What about you? 

    What golden goals are you going to pursue this year?

                                      What is a goal anyway?

    A goal is defined as:

    •   The purpose toward which an endeavor is directed.
    •  The result or achievement toward which effort is directed or aimed.

    Goal setting, then, is a two part process.
    1.       The first part is deciding on the goal  and then
    2.      Working towards accomplishing the goal  

    "The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don't define them, or ever seriously consider them as believable or achievable.  Winners can tell you where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will be sharing the adventure with them" Denis Watley (motivational speaker and author). 

    Defining Goals

    After reading and researching numerous books, websites and blogs on the topic (as I’m sure you have done at some point in your life) it appears the magic formula for goal setting  includes ensuring our goals follow the SMART acronym.

    YES -  I know you know it but,  if you're not living it/doing it then you don't know it.  So give it a go :

    Ensure the goal is clear and specific in what you want to achieve. It should be written in the present tense (as if you have already achieved it) and stated in positive terms that focus on growth. .

    How will you know when you have achieved your goal? What will you be doing at that time? What will others notice you doing? What will be different? What will you have started or changed? What will you have stopped or be doing less of?

    Ensure your goals are not too high or too low. Don’t set yourself up to fail or to be bored! Consider setting smaller goals on your way to the big one. If you don’t achieve what you set out to, then ask what you could do differently, what would make it more likely to succeed next time?

    Is this achievable with the resources I have and given my current circumstances? Are there any other resources you need to help achieve your goal? How can you access these resources? What are the barriers to your success and how can you overcome them? These could be internal obstacles (skills, knowledge, physical health, doubt, anger, anxiety) or external (time, money, social support).

    Set a reasonable time limit to achieve your goal. this could be a week, a month, a year or longer? Consider breaking your bigger goal into smaller steps with reduced time frames.

     Other Helpful Tips for Goal Setting

    ·         Accountability - Tell other people about your goal and your ongoing progress:
    ·         Write your Goals - Post them where you can see them to remind you what you’re working towards.  Maybe you could enter into a written contract with yourself.
    ·         Reward Yourself -  small rewards for reaching targets provides motivation and leads to more success.
    ·         Record your progress: keep a journal, graph or drawing that plots your progress.
    ·         Stay focused -  Research shows that fantasising about the future beyond the goal reduces your chances of follow through. 
    ·         Use visualisation - Take a leaf out of Kieren Perkins book and visualise yourself achieving your goal. If you can’t picture yourself achieving your goal chances are you won’t. Perhaps make up a vision board with a pictures that represent your goal 
    ·         Start Small – don’t try and change the world in one day. 
    My Goal for 2014 

    I am feeling fit and energised as I now weight 58 kgs, can jog 10 km in 1 hour and have reduced my alcohol intake to  2 bottles of wine per week. 

    Have you been able to set a goal using the tips above?  If so, are you brave enough to post it (as suggested to ensure accountability)?

    Remember: Setting a SMART goal will provide a map for the journey ahead and will give you a clear destination (end point).  Now we know the where and why of our journey. That’s always a good start for any travel planning.  Next week, we’ll investigate HOW to get there.