Smart Goals

Welcome to Week Seven of Nick James Blog. We hope you are having a great week and are ready for this week’s journey.

The feedback is in, and after last week’s lesson on dreams and goals, most of you fall into one of three categories.

1) Exhilarated! You’re chomping at the proverbial “bit” to receive Week Seven’s SMART exercises.

2) Still on the “treadmill.” You worked really hard to get your dream list done, but felt a time crunch and are still finishing it.

3) “Week Six’s lesson? I’m still working on Week Four or Week Five!”

Trust us, we understand. If you’re in the second or third group, don’t worry, we’ve got a plan. This week, you’ll receive Week Seven’s lesson, Goal-Setting Part Three—SMART Goals, as scheduled. Then, next week, we’ve scheduled a little breathing room for you and left the lesson open so that you can continue to work on your SMART goals or play a little catch-up. If the latter, take a deep breath, all is well.

We hope you have enjoyed working through the goal-setting process. Although others might not totally “see” your goals, understand your feelings and what you’re starting to believe, it is exciting when we can peer into the future and vividly see our new reality.

Have a great week!

Evaluation and Reflection
The only way we can reasonably decide what we want in the future and how we will get there is to first know where we are right now and what our level of satisfaction is for where we are in life. With our focus on goal-setting, our first order of business and topic from earlier was to set aside some serious time for evaluation and reflection.

Dreams and Goals
What are your dreams and goals? Not related to the past or what you think you can get, but what you want. Have you ever sat down and really thought through your life values and decided what you truly want? This isn’t something someone else says you should have or what culture tells us successful people do or have. These are dreams and goals born out of your own heart and mind, unique to you, and come from who you were created to be and gifted to become. Last week, we showed you exactly how to figure out what you want from life.

SMART Goals
SMART means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-sensitive.

Specific: Don’t be vague. Exactly what do you want?
Measurable: Quantify your goal. How will you know if you’ve achieved it or not?
Attainable: Be honest with yourself about what you can reasonably accomplish at this point in your life, while taking into consideration your current responsibilities.
Realistic: It’s got to be doable, real and practical.
Time: Associate a time frame with each goal. When should you complete the goal?

This week, we look at how to apply the SMART test to your goals and ensure they are powerful!

Accountability
Think of the word accountable. It means to give an account. When someone knows what your goals are, they help hold you accountable. Whether it is someone else going through this program with you (have you thought about inviting a friend to join you on this one-year journey?) or just someone you can give the basic idea to, having a person who can hold you accountable will give you another added boost to accomplishing your goals! Next, we will show you how to set up an accountability partner.

Now, let’s get into SMART Goals.

I really like the acronym SMART because we want to be smart when we set our goals. We want to intelligently decide what our goals will be so that we can actually accomplish them. We want to set the goals that our heart conceives, that our mind believes and that our bodies will carry out. Let’s take a closer look at each of the components of SMART goals:

Specific: Goals are no place to waffle. They are no place to be vague. Ambiguous goals produce ambiguous results. Incomplete goals produce incomplete futures. When we are specific, we harness the power of our dreams and set forces into action that empower us to achieve our goals. We then know exactly what it is we are shooting for—there is no question. As we establish our priorities and manage our time, we do it for a specific goal to achieve the results we expect. There is no wondering or guessing. The future is locked into our minds, and we see it—specifically—and that is powerful! Never underestimate just how important it is to have very specific, concrete goals. They act as magnets that draw you toward them! A SMART goal is specific.

Measurable: Always set goals that are measurable. I would say “specifically measurable” to take into account our principle of being specific as well. Our goals should be such that we know when we are advancing and by how much. Whether it is by hours, pounds, dollars or some other scale, we should be able to see exactly how we are measuring up as we journey through life using our goals. Imagine if you didn’t measure your goals! You would never know which way you were going, or even if you were going anywhere! A SMART goal is measurable.

Attainable: One of the detrimental things many people do—and they do it with good intentions—is to set goals that are unattainable. While it’s very important to set big goals that cause your heart to soar with excitement, it is also imperative to make sure they are attainable. In the next section, we will talk about being realistic. So what does it mean to be attainable? An attainable goal is one that is both realistic and doable in a shorter period of time than what you have to work with. Now, when I say “attainable,” I don’t mean easy. Our goals should be set so that they are just out of our reach, so that they challenge us to grow as we reach forward to achieve them. In a minute, I will give you an example of a goal that’s both attainable and realistic. A SMART goal is attainable.

Realistic: The root word of realistic is real. A goal has to be something that we can reasonably make “real” or a “reality” in our lives. There are some goals that are simply not realistic. You have to be able to say, even if it is a tremendously stretching goal, that it is entirely realistic—that you could make it. You may have to say that it will take X, Y and Z to do it, but if those happen, then it can be done. I’m in no way saying it shouldn’t be a big goal, but it must be realistic. This is, to a great degree, up to the individual. For one person, a goal may be realistic, but for another, unrealistic. I would encourage you to be very honest with yourself as you do your planning and evaluation. It might be good to get a friend to help you, as long as that friend is by nature an optimist and not a pessimist. This can go a long way toward helping you know what is realistic. A SMART goal is realistic.

Knowing that perhaps you could use a bit of help differentiating between attainable and realistic, here is an example: Let’s say you are overweight and need to lose 150 pounds to get to your ideal weight. Is that goal attainable? Yes, considering you also make it realistic. For example, it isn’t realistic to think you can do it in five months. Eighteen to 24 months would be realistic (with hard work). Thus, losing 150 pounds in two years is both attainable and realistic, while losing 150 pounds in five months is neither attainable nor realistic.

Time: Every goal should have a time frame attached to it. Life is much more productive for us as humans because there is a time frame connected to it. Could you imagine how much more procrastination would happen if people never died? We’d just never get “around to it.” We could always put it off. One of the powerful aspects of a great goal is that it has an end, a time in which you are shooting to accomplish it. You start working because you know there is an end, and as time goes by, you work because you don’t want to get behind. As the deadline approaches, you work diligently because you want to meet that deadline. It’s a good idea to break a big goal down into measured time frames. Set smaller goals and work them out in their own time. A SMART goal has a timeline.

Be sure to spend some reflection time this week making sure your goals fit the SMART parameters. Go through the reflection questions and the action points in your workbook. Doing so will power-charge them and help you accomplish your dreams.

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Nick James

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises. View

Establishing Dreams And Goals.

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises. View

I highly recommend this book if you are looking for new ways to improve your income(click on book)

This week we will be discussing Part Two—Establishing Dreams and Goals.

One of the amazing things we have been given as humans is the unquenchable desire to have dreams of a better life. Even better, we also have the ability to establish goals to live out those dreams. Think of it: We can look deep within our hearts and dream of a better situation for ourselves and our families, of a secure financial future and healthy emotional or physical states, and certainly dream of deeper spiritual lives. But what makes this even more powerful is that we have also been given the ability to take action and pursue those dreams. Not only can we pursue them but we possess the cognitive ability to actually lay out a plan and strategies—setting goals—to achieve those dreams. Powerful! This week we will discuss this in detail—how to dream dreams and establish goals to accomplish those dreams.

What are your dreams and goals? Now let me clarify here: This isn’t what you already have or what you have done; this is about what you want. Have you ever taken the time to truly reflect, to listen quietly to your heart, to see what dreams live within you? Your dreams are there, everyone has them. They may live right on the surface, or be buried deep from years of others telling you they were foolish, but they are there. Back when I met my friend, he put me to work by asking the hard questions that got me excited about my dreams and helped me translate that excitement into strategic action to pursue all that I wanted. Now I’m going to walk you through the same disciplines that will help unleash the power of the dreams inside each of you.

So how do we know what our dreams are? This is an interesting process and relates primarily to the art of listening. This is not listening to others; it is listening to yourself. If we listen to others, we hear their plans and dreams, and at times others will try to put their plans and dreams on us. If we listen to others, we can never be fulfilled. We will only chase elusive dreams that are not rooted deep within us. Instead, we must listen to our own hearts to hear the dreams born out of the passions and desires we each uniquely possess. Quiet yourself and listen. Just like when you are quiet enough to hear your own heart beating within your chest, your dreams have their own rhythm beating within you; all you have to do is get quiet enough to hear the beat.

Now let’s take a look at some practical steps/thoughts on listening to our hearts and connecting to our dreams:

Take time to be quiet. This is something we don’t do enough in this busy world. We rush, rush, rush and are constantly listening to noise all around us. We must not get faked out by just being busy. Instead we must constantly ask ourselves the question, “Busy doing what?” In other words, are the activities you are participating in moving you toward your goals? If not, then work to eliminate those things and replace some of that time with quiet. The human heart was meant to have times of quiet reflection, allowing us to peer deep within ourselves. It is when we do this that our hearts are set free to soar and take flight on the wings of our own dreams! Schedule some quiet “dream time” this week. No other people. No cell phone. No computer. Just you, a pad, a pen and your thoughts.

Think about what really thrills you. When you are quiet, think about those things that really get your blood moving. What would you love to do, either for fun or for a living? What would you love to accomplish? What would you try if you were guaranteed to succeed? What big thoughts move your heart into a state of excitement and joy? When you answer these questions you will feel terrific because you’re in the “dream zone.” It is only when we get to this point that we can truly realize and begin to experience what our dreams are!

Write down all of your dreams as you have them. Don’t think of any as too outlandish or foolish—remember, you’re dreaming! Let your thoughts and pen fly as you take careful record.

Now look at your list and prioritize those dreams. Which are most important? Which are most feasible? Which would you love to do the most? Put them in the order you will actually try to attain them. Remember, we are always moving toward action, not just dreaming.

Why am I asking you to take part in this exercise? Because life is too short not to pursue your dreams. At the end of your life all you will be able to do is look backward. You can reflect with joy or regret. And we all know that joy from discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons. Those who dream, who set goals and act on them, are those who live lives of joy and have a sense of peace when they near the end of their lives. They will have finished well and possess a sense of pride and accomplishment, not only for themselves but also for their families. That feeling is priceless!

Remember: These are the dreams and goals born out of your heart and mind, goals unique to you, and they come from who you were created to be and gifted to become. Your specific goals are what you want to achieve because they will make your life joyful and bring fulfillment for both you and your family.

Until next week, let’s dream and then do something remarkable!

-Nick James

Evaluation And Reflection

Take your life to the next level

I’ve often said that the major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes you do to accomplish it. This will always be a far-greater value than what you get. That is why goals are so powerful; they are part of the fabric that makes up our lives.

Goal-setting provides focus, shapes our dreams and gives us the ability to hone in on the exact actions we need to take in order to get everything in life we desire.

Goals are exciting because they provide focus and aim for our lives. Goals cause us to stretch and grow in ways we never have before. In order to reach our goals, we must become better; we must change and grow.

A powerful goal has three components:

It must be inspiring.
It must be believable.
It must be one you can act on.

When your goals inspire you, when you believe and act on them, you will accomplish them!

Goals also provide long-term vision in our lives. We all need lots of powerful, long-range goals to help us get past short-term obstacles. Life is designed in such a way that we look long term and live short term. We dream for the future and live in the present. Unfortunately, the present can produce many hard obstacles. Fortunately, the more powerful our goals (because they are inspiring and believable), the more we will be able to act on them in the short term and guarantee that they will actually come to pass!

So, let’s take a closer look at the topic of goal-setting and see how we can make it forceful yet practical. What key aspects should we learn and remember when studying and writing our goals?

There are four main areas of emphasis in writing goals:

Evaluation and Reflection
The only way we can reasonably decide what we want in the future and how we will get there is to first know where we are right now and what our level of satisfaction is for where we are in life. With our focus on goal-setting, the first order of business is for each of us to set aside some serious time for evaluation and reflection.

Dreams and Goals
What are your dreams and goals? Not related to the past or what you think you can get, but what you want. Have you ever really sat down, thought through your life values, and decided what you really want? This isn’t what someone else says you should have or what culture tells us successful people do or have. These are the dreams and goals born out of your own heart and mind, goals unique to you and that come from who you were created to be and gifted to become. Does this seem a little daunting? Well, next week we will show you exactly how to discover what you want from life.

SMART Goals
SMART means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-sensitive.

Specific: Don’t be vague. Exactly what do you want?
Measurable: Quantify your goal. How will you know if you’ve achieved it or not?
Attainable: Be honest with yourself about what you can reasonably accomplish at this point in your life, while taking into consideration your current responsibilities.
Realistic: It’s got to be doable, real and practical.
Time: Associate a time frame with each goal. When should you complete the goal?

In two weeks, we will spend some time looking at how to apply the SMART test to your goals to make sure they are as powerful as they can be!

Accountability
Think of the word accountable. It means to give an account. When someone knows what your goals are, they help hold you accountable. Whether it is someone else going through this program with you (have you thought about inviting a friend to join you on this one-year journey?) or just someone you can give the basic idea to, having a person who can hold you accountable will give you another added boost to accomplishing your goals! In Week Eight, we will show you how to set up an accountability partner.

So, evaluate and reflect. Decide what you want. Be SMART. Have accountability. When you put these four key pieces together, you put yourself in a position of power to catapult toward achieving your goals and the kind of life you desire.

Each of these points will be covered more in depth over the next month, but today I want to focus on the first one, Evaluation and Reflection.

The basis for knowing where we want to go is knowing where we came from and where we are. It is also knowing how well we have done achieving things we have previously set our eyes on. This is the essence of evaluation and reflection. We need to understand how to look at what we have done and then use that as a platform for what we want to do next.

The process of evaluation is relatively simple, but can be varied a bit. The important point is having a process! Here is the basic process for evaluation and reflection.

1. Find a quiet place. Reflection is best done away from distraction. It gives your mind space to think.

2. Take a regular time. Whether it is once a week, every other week, once a month or quarter etc., be sure to set aside a regular time at regular intervals to evaluate and reflect.

3. Look at what you have accomplished and where you are. Be specific. Be truthful. Be ruthlessly honest.

4. Write it down. Keep a record. This gives you the chance at the next stage of evaluation to see exactly where you were last time and keeps it as objective as possible.

5. Look forward and set your next goal. Stretch yourself according to what works for you.

That is the basic process of evaluation and reflection. If you have not done this before, then this will get you going. Be sure to follow the general idea and set aside time for your evaluation and reflection.

Now, the purpose of evaluation is twofold. First, it gives you an objective way to look at your accomplishments and your pursuit of the vision you have for your life. Second, it shows you where you are so you can determine where you need to go. In other words, it gives you a baseline from which to work.

We have all heard the quote that the unexamined life is not worth living. To evaluate and reflect brings us face to face with who we are and what we have become. More important, it allows us the time to dream and create a vision for what we want to become! Only when we take time out of our busy schedules can we get into the state of mind and quietness of heart we need in order to find that inner place where we see what we are and what we can become. Those who never take time to evaluate and reflect will blow to and fro through this life, living by the forces of culture, circumstances, societal pressures and, unfortunately, personal weaknesses. In contrast, those who take the time to evaluate will find they are like an oak tree in a storm: They have a firm foundation, know where they are going, how to get there and, ultimately, they will get there no matter what comes their way!

I would strongly encourage you to take a couple of hours this week to evaluate and reflect. At the beginning of this month, we encourage you to see where you are and note it in your workbook so that as the months progress and you continue a regular time of evaluation and reflection, you will see just how much ground you have gained—that will be exciting!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Nick James

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises. View

Learning And Education

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises. View

Hello, and welcome to Week Four.

As you know, we are focused on Personal Development.

In Month One, here are the four main components of Personal Development:

1. The Invitation: We looked at the possibilities and challenged you to accept the invitation to join together on this unique journey of self-development and discovery where you’ll set and reach higher goals, go for your dreams, change certain unpleasant things about yourself and make a significant difference in the lives of others.

2. The Plan: Last week we talked about the plan. All good things in life are upstream, but the natural flow of life is that downward, negative pull. To combat that downward pull, you need a plan, a map to help you reach your desired destination. We talked about the plan and considered the keys to creating and following a successful plan.

3. Association and Influence: We are affected by everything around us, including what we read, what we watch, who we talk with and who we spend time with. It all plays a part in how we view our world, our relationships, our opportunities but mostly ourselves. Last week we discussed the importance of our associations and the influence they have.

4. Learning and Education: over the next year will involve personal development, becoming a student and learning. This is the foundation: one of the basics or fundamentals to becoming more, to having more and to doing more, and we’ll cover this key aspect in this week’s edition.

Bonus Point: Personal Development is about having a celebration; creating your own unique, only-you-deserve-it-because-you-did-it, one-of-a-kind celebration!

This week, we will be discussing Point Four, Learning and Education.

Learning is the foundation for all success in life. It is where true success begins. Learning is the beginning of wealth. Learning is the beginning of health. Learning is the beginning of spirituality. Searching and learning is where the miracle process begins. If you want to produce change in your life, if you want to write your own future and destiny, then it begins with educating yourself as to what successful people have done and how they have done it. Learning is our way of peering into history and seeing what makes a successful life in all areas.

I was taught that a formal education will make you a living, but self-education will make you a fortune. Most people want to achieve wealth. And I would guess that all of you who are reading this are looking to achieve wealth and the blessings and opportunities it can bring. Since this is the case, apply yourself to self-education, as you are already doing in this blog! Take it seriously. Follow the plan diligently. Formal education isn’t bad. In fact, it is good and can be important and valuable. But self-education is where all the possibilities of wealth arise! That is where your entire world opens up and your dreams begin to take shape, and you begin to live the destiny you were created for!

The beauty of learning is that it provides answers to life’s questions. If you have a question about something, look for the answer! Learning is also good for course correction. Oftentimes in life, many people get off in the wrong direction. That’s okay, as long as when they have the opportunity for learning, they allow it to correct the path they are on. The more you educate yourself, the smarter you will work: and the more successful you will be!

Learn and grow! If you step up the self-education curve, you will come up with more answers than you ever would have thought possible. You will put yourself in a place where achievement will be natural and you will be able to help not only yourself but others as well, and that is what life is really all about!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Nick James

Association And Influence.

In Weeks One and Two, we discussed The Invitation and The Plan. This week we will discuss Association and Influence.

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises. view

If you were to evaluate the major influences in your life that have shaped the kind of person you are; this has to be high on the list: the people and thoughts you choose to allow into your life. My friend gave me a very important warning in those early days that I’ll share with you. He said, “Never underestimate the power of influence.” Indeed, the influence of those around us is so powerful! Many times we don’t even realize we’re being strongly affected because influences generally develop over an extended period of time.

Peer pressure is an especially powerful force because it is so subtle. If you’re around people who spend all they make, chances are excellent you might spend all you make. If you are around people who don’t read, chances are excellent that you probably won’t read. People can keep nudging us off course a little at a time until, finally, we find ourselves asking, “How did I get here?” Those subtle influences need to be studied carefully if we really want our lives to turn out the way we’ve planned.

With regard to this important point, let me give you three key questions to ask yourself. They may help you better analyze your current associations.

Here is the first question: “Who am I around?” Make a mental note of the people with whom you most often associate. You’ve got to evaluate everyone who is able to influence you in any way.

The second question is: “What are these associations doing to me?” That’s a major question to ask. What have they got me doing? What have they got me listening to? What have they got me reading? Where have they got me going? What do they have me thinking? How have they got me talking? How have they got me feeling? What have they got me saying? You’ve got to make a serious study of how others influence you, both negatively and positively.

Now here’s a final question: “Is that okay?” Maybe everyone you associate with has been a positive, energizing influence. Then again, maybe there are some bad apples in the bunch. All I’m suggesting here is that you take a close and objective look. Everything is worth a second look, especially when it comes to the power of influence. Both will take you somewhere, but only one will take you in the direction you need to go.

It’s easy to just dismiss the things that influence our lives. One man says, “I live here, but I don’t think it matters. I’m around these people, but I don’t think it hurts.” I would take another look at that. Remember, everything matters! Sure, some things matter more than others, but everything amounts to something. You’ve got to keep checking to find out whether your associations are tipping the scales toward the positive or toward the negative. Ignorance is never the best policy. Finding out is the best policy.

Perhaps you’ve heard the story of the little bird. He had his wing over his eye and he was crying. The owl said to the bird, “You are crying.” “Yes,” said the little bird, and he pulled his wing away from his eye. “Oh, I see,” said the owl. “You’re crying because the big bird pecked out your eye.” And the little bird said, “No, I’m not crying because the big bird pecked out my eye. I’m crying because I let him.”

It’s easy to let influence shape our lives, to let associations determine our direction, to let pressures overwhelm us, and to let tides take us. The big question is: Are we letting ourselves become what we wish to become?

Here are three ways to handle associations or relationships that might be holding you back.

1) Disassociate. This is not an easy decision, nor something you should take lightly, but in some cases it may be essential. You may just have to make the hard choice not to let certain negative influences affect you anymore. It could be a choice that preserves the quality of your life.

2) Limited association. Spend major time with major influences and minor time with minor influences. It is easy to do just the opposite, but don’t fall into that trap. Take a look at your priorities and your values. We have so little time at our disposal. Wouldn’t it make sense to invest it wisely?

3) Expanding your associations. This is the one I suggest you focus on the most. Find other successful people you can spend more time with. Invite them to lunch (pick up the tab) and ask them how they have achieved so much or what makes them successful. Now, this is not just about financial success: it can be someone you want to learn from about having a better marriage, being a better parent, having better health or a stronger spiritual life.

It is called association on purpose: getting around the right people by expanding your circle of influence.

Here are a few final thoughts on associations and influence:

When you succeed, you will create and attract more success around you. Success breeds success, so when you succeed, even at just a level above where you are right now, you will see that the people you associate with will also start becoming more successful themselves (which will also increase the level of your own associations!). That is one of the exciting by-products of success.

Initiate relationships with people who are further ahead in personal and professional development than you are. There are so many successful people around you who can help you in so many ways! And if they are successful, they are busy! So, chances are, they are not going to initiate anything with you, but they will more than likely be willing to meet with you or invest in you if you initiate contact with them. Of course, some won’t, but that’s okay; just move on until you find someone who will. Meet with them, buy them lunch or coffee. Let your association with them help you. Learn from them. Watch them. Let their experience guide you. But remember, you will have to pursue them, not the other way around.

Have people around who you can rely on to speak the truth to you. We need people who will tell us the truth. Even if it is negative, given with a heart of concern, truth will still build us up and move us forward. We don’t just want people around us who will tell us only the good or what we want to hear. Growing in our personal and professional lives means looking at the whole picture and dealing with both strengths and weaknesses. We need a good balance of people around us who can help us see all sides of an issue.

Carefully determine what will influence you. I use the word carefully because many people do not care about what they allow to influence them or who they associate with. And yet this is one of the biggest ways our lives are shaped. We need to be full of care: careful: when we are looking at who or what we allow into our lives and thus to shape and mold our lives. Look for people and information that will build you up and give you the next step you need to move forward in your journey.

Remember, your associations should move you forward, not impede your progress.

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Lets Make A Plan

Last week we summarized the purpose and goals that introduced our first month’s topic: Personal Development.

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises. View

We discussed the key ingredients foundational to this program being successful. We want to reiterate the points because these distinctions will be the centerpiece of our program:

– Having a plan that is doable for even the busiest of people.
– Long-term perspective focusing on the person you will become and the results you achieve one year from now.
– Having a specific focus for 30 days at a time on a core building block of success, allowing us to focus on 12 individual core areas over the period of a year.
– Using weekly e-mail to bring continuity, accountability and synergy.
– Using supplemental audio programs and book chapters for listening in the car and reading at night.

You’ve already achieved more than half the victory because you made the commitment to be part of this ongoing program that addresses core building blocks essential to success. You do not have to get in a hurry, speed things up or feel stressed when you are behind. Just realize you are heading down the right road with a predetermined plan to arrive in a better, happier and more productive place.

Part Two—The Plan

Welcome back! Again, what an exciting opportunity to be able to take this next step together on our one-year journey.

Last week we discussed the fact that this is indeed a journey, a process, a destination and an adventure we are taking together.

We also introduced our first blog. Personal Development, and the four main components that are our focus this month:

The Invitation
We looked at the possibilities and challenged you to accept the invitation to join together on this unique journey of self-development and discovery where you’ll set and reach higher goals, go for your dreams, change certain unpleasant things about yourself and make a significant difference in the lives of others.

The Plan
This week we’ll talk about the plan. All good things in life are upstream, but the natural flow of life is that downward, negative pull. To combat that downward pull, you need a plan, a map to help you reach your desired destination. We’ll talk about the plan and break down the keys to creating and following a successful plan.

Association and Influence
We are affected by everything around us, including what we read, what we watch, who we talk with and who we spend time with. It all plays a part in how we view our world, our relationships, our opportunities, but mostly ourselves. Next week we’ll discuss the importance of our associations and the influence they have.

Now let’s move on to this week’s topic—The Plan.

As we all know, our results are only as good as our plan. A good friend taught me it’s not what happens that determines the major part of our future, because what happens, happens to us all. Instead, he taught me the key is what we do about it. If we start the process of change by developing a plan, doing something different in this next year than we did the previous year, it won’t matter how small those efforts are in the beginning. Start doing different things with the same set of circumstances—we’ve always had and cannot change—and see what miracles occur. When we start the miracle process and change ourselves, then everything changes. And here’s what is interesting, the difference between success and failure is so subtle. Let me explain by giving you my definitions of failure and success. Failure is a few errors in judgment repeated every day. The man says, “Well I didn’t walk around the block today and it didn’t kill me, so it must be okay.” No. It is that kind of error in judgment after six years that has him out of breath and panting as he walks from his car to his office. You can’t make those kinds of mistakes; it will end up costing you.

Now, here is my definition of success: A few simple disciplines practiced every day. Do you see the distinction? A few disciplines…. Here’s a little phrase we’ve all heard, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” And my question to you is, “What if that’s true?” How simple and easy is that plan?

The fact is, when you look at successful people, you will almost always discover a plan behind their success. They know what they want, they work out a plan that will get them where they want to go, and they work their plan. It is the foundation for success. We as humans have the unique ability to effect change in our lives; it is through our own conscious choice when we engage in the miracle process of personal development that we are able to transform our nature and our lives.

We want this first year in our program to be a success for you—a smashing success—which means you will need to have a plan, and then methodically work that plan. It is the combination of the materials and your open attitude toward learning, driven by the diligent following of a plan that is right for you, that will make this year the kind of success we know you want it to be. So let me challenge you to be no less sincere, be no less committed to the advancement of your philosophy, the set of your sail, your plan.

So, what are some good ideas on developing a plan that will work well and take you to the finish line powerfully and in style? Here are some major points to keep in mind:

Develop the plan for you
Some people are very detail oriented and they will follow an intricate plan closely. Others are a little more “freewheeling” and not really “detail” people. That is okay too. In all the years of my speaking to audiences worldwide, people have asked the question, “what plan is the right plan?” And my answer: the plan that fits you; your plan, the one you develop that is unique to you and for you. You see, each of us is unique and motivated by different factors and you’ve got to develop one right for you, one that fits you. Some plans will not be as intricate as others but we all must have a plan, along with goals in that plan, to move us along through the program. If you are a free spirit type, don’t tell yourself you have to spend two hours a day with a book, CDs and journal. It probably won’t happen and you will get discouraged! Whatever your personality, your strengths and your weaknesses, develop the plan around them! This is not a one-plan-fits-all proposition.

Establish times to spend working on the material
It may be every Sunday night. It may be 20 minutes each morning. It may be in the car listening to CDs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Whatever it is, set the times and do it. In your step-by-step plan, put down items you can accomplish every week. They should be specific and achievable. Develop the discipline and take those steps every day, to move you closer to your goals and where you want to be.

Keep a journal
Take notes. It may be on paper, it may be on a mini-recorder. My friend taught me not to trust my memory, but to write it all down, to find one place to gather the information that effects change. That advice has served me well all these years. Record the ideas and inspiration that will carry you from where you are to where you want to be. Take notes on the ideas that impact you most. Put down your thoughts and ideas. Brainstorm about where you are going and what you want to do. Record your dreams and ambitions. Your journals are a gathering place for all the valuable information you will find. If you are serious about becoming wealthy, powerful, sophisticated, healthy, influential, cultured, unique, if you come across something important, write it down. Two people will listen to the same material and different ideas will come to each one. Use the information you gather and record it for further reflection, for future debate and for weighing the value that it is to you.

Reflect
Create time for reflection—a time to go back over, to study again the things you’ve learned and the things you’ve done each day. I call it “running the tapes again” so the day locks firmly in your memory so it serves as a tool. As you go through the material in this plan, you will want to spend time reflecting on its significance to you. Here are some good guidelines for times to reflect: At the end of the day take a few minutes and go back over the day—who you talked to, who you saw, what they said, what happened and how you felt, what went on. A day is a piece of the mosaic of your life. Next, take a few hours at the end of the week to reflect on the week’s activities—I would suggest at least one half-hour. You can also spend a few minutes to reflect on how this material should be applied to your life and circumstances. Take a half day at the end of the month and a weekend at the end of the year to capture and review your experiences so that they never disappear, to ensure your past is even more valuable and serves your future well.

Set goals
We’ll cover goal-setting in the upcoming weeks, so for now let’s just remember your plan is the roadmap for how you will achieve your goals. Of all the things that changed my life for the better (and most quickly), it was learning how to set goals. Mastering this unique process can have a powerful effect on your life too. I remember shortly after I met my friend he asked me if I had a list of my goals, and of course I didn’t. He suggested that because I lacked a set of clearly defined goals he could guess my bank balance within a few hundred dollars… and he did! Well, my friend immediately began helping me define my view of the future, my dreams. He taught me to set goals because they are the greatest influence on a person’s future and the greatest force that will pull a person in the direction they want to go. But your future must be planned and well-designed to exert a force that will pull you toward the promise of what can be.

Act
Act on your plan. So many times what separates the successful from the unsuccessful is that the successful simply do it. They take action. They aren’t necessarily smarter than others; they just work the plan. Over the years, I’ve taught the time to act is when the emotion is strong because if you don’t, here’s what happens—it’s called the law of diminishing intent. We intend to act when the idea strikes us, when the emotion is high, but if we delay and we don’t translate those feelings into action fairly soon, the intention starts to diminish. A month from now it’s cold and a year from now it can’t be found. So set up the discipline when the idea is strong, clear and powerful—that’s the time to work the plan, to engage in the discipline; otherwise the emotion is wasted. And here’s what is interesting: all disciplines affect each other; everything affects everything. That’s why even the smallest action is important—because the value and benefits you receive from that one little action will inspire you to do the next one and the next one…. So step out and take action on your plan because if the plan is good, then the results can be miraculous.

Like we said last week, we are at the beginning of a fantastic journey that is going to help us become all that we want to, so let’s get going!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Nick James