Why are some people more successful than others? Why do some people live happier lives and accomplish more in the same number of years than the great majority? If I had to pick one answer to these questions, I wouldn’t hesitate … My answer would be self discipline.
Albert Gray said it best, “The common denominator of success – the secret of success of every person who has been successful – lies in the fact that they formed the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.”
Self discipline affects so many faces of your life. It affects your ability to reach your goals; it affects your personal health, your time management, your ability to manage your finances and even your character.
Your ability to discipline yourself to set clear goals, and then to work toward them everyday, will do more to guarantee your success than any other single factor. You’ve heard it said that, “You can’t hit a target you can’t see.” “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” Also, “You miss every shot you don’t take.”
It seems that only 3% of adults have written goals and plans, and they earn more than the other 97% put together. Why is this? The simplest answer is that, if you have a clear goal and a plan to achieve it, your focus is fixed on a set course of action. Instead of becoming sidetracked by distractions and diversions, your time is focused on a straight line from start to finish. This is why people with goals accomplish so much more than people without them.
The tragedy is that everyone thinks they already have goals. But what they really have are hopes and wishes. A wish has been defined as a “goal with no energy behind it.” Hope is not a strategy. Goals that are not written down and developed into plans are like bullets without powder in the cartridge. People with unwritten goals go through life shooting blanks. Because they think they already have goals, they never engage in the hard, disciplined effort of goal setting, the master skill of success.
USA Today reported on a study a couple of years ago. First, researchers selected people who made New Year’s resolutions. Then they divided these people into two categories: those who made New Year’s resolutions and wrote them down, and those who made New Year’s resolutions, but neglected to write them down.
Twelve months later, they followed up on the respondents in this study. What they found was astonishing! Of the people who made New Year’s resolutions but neglected to write them down, only 4% actually followed through on their resolutions.
However, among the group that took a few minutes to record their New Year’s resolutions, 44% followed through on them. This difference of more than 1100% proves the simple act of crystallizing resolutions or goals on paper increases likelihood of success.
In my experience of moving with several million people over the past few years, the disciplined act of setting goals, making plans for their accomplishments, and then working on them daily, increases the likelihood of achieving your goals by ten times, or 1000%.
This does not mean that goal setting guarantees success, only that it increases the probabilities of success by ten times. These are very good odds to have working in your favor.