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The Speed of Success

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The Speed of Success

We all have goals we want to achieve, and some taking much longer than others makes life seem totally unfair at times. Why is it so easy to gain 5 pounds, but then it takes a month to get 'em off again? Running your own business, how come you're networking your heart out, and still can't seem to land that first big account? In times of doubt and frustration, instead of changing goals, a change in approach can be just the ticket.

Here's what I read in Jack Canfield's newsletter recently, he talks about basically becoming aware of negative thought patterns, paying attention to the good stuff you already have in your life, and taking responsibility for your life by taking action and committing to continued action, even if it's in the smallest of increments:

When Success is Slow, What Can You Do? by Jack Canfield

Pop Quiz: Can success be sped up? Is there an antidote to slow outcomes despite arduous planning and actions taken? What's the secret for seeing huge results right now?!

I get versions of these questions frequently from people who feel frustrated at sluggish progress in their success journey - despite all the know-how and principles they rigorously employ.

Let's get one thing straight...

When we admire someone's success, or even our own, we often focus on the end result and not so much on the effort (and time) that it took to get there. This can cultivate unrealistic expectations, especially the idea that overnight success can happen through careful strategy and an execution of sound advice.

The truth be told, success typically follows a series of little events and achievements that can seem to take an eternity, that include a few disappointments along the way, and that challenge everything about you to the core - your stamina, courage, integrity, and even your willingness to keep going.

If you focus on what's not working, guess what: You're likely coming from a place of aggravation as your mind wraps around all that is wrong.

You may even have negative thoughts like "I'm not good enough," "It will never work," or "Something must be wrong with me."

What this mentally does is engender more of these counter-productive feelings. And given what we know about the Law of Attraction, you attract what you are feeling. So negative experiences, people, and results will beget more negative experience, people, and results. There's not much success in that.

The key, then, is to focus on what IS working. To do so, I recommend two simple practices: journaling and meditation.

Maintaining a journal (I call it an Evidence Log, Results Journal, or Gratitude Journal) is a great way to steer your attention to the positive and continually renew your vision for yourself.

Start each day with reflections on what you are grateful for in your life (list them out!) and end each day with notes on what went right (again, write them down), however small they may seem.

Spend time each day in quiet contemplation, prayer or meditation.

Meditation can be powerful tool for arriving at solutions to problems and shifting your attitude so you can attract success sooner rather than later. The magic of meditation is its ability to essentially shut down the outer layer of your judgmental, highly-critical brain and allow your unconscious mind to take over. This is where you enter a deeper state of inner peace and joy, tapping into a higher level of creativity that will help usher in the results you want. (Don't know how to meditate? Lots of books and materials are available to guide you this practice. It's easier than you think. )

Let's say you're doing ALL these things, but you still aren't happy with your results...

I'll ask you then, are you taking real ACTION?

You may be taking the actions you are used to taking. But if you keep doing what you've already done, then you'll keep getting what you've always gotten. It's a matter of practicing some new behaviors. Shake things up a bit and see if you can take new actions or modify existing ones.

Remember the Rule of 5.

Every day do five specific things that take you toward your goal. Change up the five actions regularly and be open to feedback so you know when you're off course.

Lastly, I want to remind you about patience.

It's natural to underestimate how long a certain goal can take, especially a profound one. When I set a goal to become a millionaire the year was 1983. How long did it take? Eleven years. It took time for Chicken Soup for the Soul to hit the bestseller lists. You could say our tenure on the New York Times list was more than a decade in the making. That's a lot of patience for someone who initially wanted overnight success.

So, yes, patience is a virtue. But keep at it, and in no time, you'll be only one week, or one day away from your ultimate success.

Remember... be grateful, reflect on what IS working and continue to take ACTION!

Jack Canfield, America's #1 Success Coach, is founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul© and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you're ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get your FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at: www.FreeSuccessStrategies.com

I'd like to leave you with these thoughts: people have to work hard to make something look easy, and there's no such thing as overnight success. In fact, Chris Guillebeau even wrote a great manifesto about the fact. If you believe in what you do, please don't be put off by roadblocks or circumstances that seem to constantly test your commitment, because that's their job. It's your job to stick with it and not deprive the world of your dream.

Image by Brenda Starr, Flickr, Creative Commons License.

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Step 7 - Living in the Present

Picture Credit tuppus Time is an individual construct, and our concepts of time differ by personality type as well as by culture.

Numerous research is showing that the ability to practice critical awareness and living in the present without worrying about the past or future is a key ingredient in wholehearted and well-balanced living.

I often wonder if people with a Sensing preference have an easier time of focusing on the present, type theory states Sensing is a more present-oriented function than Intuiting.

People of different Temperaments have a different orientation to time (Berens, L. 2010):

  • Stabilizer (SJ) - Past
  • Improviser (SP) - Present
  • Catalyst (NF) - Future
  • Theorist (NT) - Infinite Time

Thinking about the function attitudes of each Temperament it makes sense: Introverted Sensing for Stabilizers is concerned with remembering, recalling, and reviewing, whereas extraverted Sensing for the Improvisers is more about engaging with the environment at any given moment. For Catalysts, the identity and unique potential of a person is often future-oriented and tied with personal and professional development paths, whereas the Theorist is often more concerned with ultimate truths and lasting logical systems and frameworks.

In different cultures, we also see varying attitudes and approaches to time. If a nation has existed for a long time, especially when it has celebrated successes in the past, it is more likely to draw on those past successes and value tradition. Examples might be India or Greece.

Younger nations are more likely to be more present or future focused: since they don't have much experience to look back on, they model values and behaviors towards certain ideals. Take the United States and its Declaration of Independence, for example. Going by age, as one cultural analyst puts it, the US is in the throws of teenager-hood.

When it comes to my home country Germany, I think the attitudes are mixed. Germany's 18th Century writers, thinkers, and musicians are well-known across the world, and conservative politician Bismarck in the 19th Century laid the foundation of the welfare state we know and love today. Then the second world war changed everything. Mention Germany in any conversation today, and WWII will be one of the first things that come to mind. As a recent conversation with a dog-walker in our elevator reaffirmed:

  • Woman: what a nice accent, where are you from?
  • Me: Germany, originally, but I studied in Scotland.
  • Woman: Oh, yes, I'm German too. Well, not born and raised, but when I visited Russia a woman looked at me and said "German! Bad! Pft! Pft!" (spitting at my feet).

I still don't know what I'm supposed to say to that, except I'm sorry this happened to her.

Being present in the moment and living in a state of mindfulness, then, may come easier to those who grow up in a society where present-focus is being encouraged, and those who have a cognitive predisposition to more easily stay in the present in the first place.

Still, present mindfulness is not unattainable, but a question of practice. Five minutes of daily meditation where you do nothing but focus on your breath, counting your heartbeats in and out, is a good start. Up the time as you get more comfortable, and celebrate every millisecond your monkey-brain is not off somewhere making a groceries list.

Reference: Linda Berens, Understanding Yourself and Others, An Introduction to the 4 Temperaments 4.0, Radiance House, CA, 2010

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Step 6 - Forgiving Yourself and Others

Picture Credit Nicola Whitaker We've all heard the advice: "Turn the other cheek."

The more pragmatic may even throw in a "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."

Thanks to Dr. Brown we know shame isn't helping anyone change their behavior; guilt is a much better indicator.

So what if the one you want to forgive keeps messing up?

What if you keep messing up?

Do you even believe in the usefulness of forgiveness?

I'm at the stage right now where I'm trying to take it one day at a time. I'll try and stay away from people who tick me off repeatedly. I'll try and reflect on why things may have gone wrong and how I can change my part in it. I've tried meditating and visualizing my stuff float away on a river, releasing it to the wild. I like talking things over with friends, really letting it out when I'm annoyed.

We're all work in progress. 

What are you doing, and is it working?

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