Napoleon Hill is known for his great quotes about achieving success. One version I like is that success is persistent, organized effort around a purpose and a plan. Another is “anything the human mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” So, our goal this weekend is to build your awareness of your resolutions to a point where they help you meet Hill’s requirements for success.

If you pulled together your list of goals, added the reasons why they are important and prioritized them, you are well on your way to conceiving and defining your purpose as Hill suggests. This purpose keeps your goal on simmer as long as it takes to achieve it.

Believing you can achieve a goal is also critical. If you don’t believe you can do something, you will either not start or give up quickly. Therefore, let’s start by asking: what has to happen for me to reach my goal this year? Is it possible?

For instance, if you’ve set a goal to become a doctor, chances are that it will take longer than one year to attain your goal from start to finish. You will need to find out what the typical candidate has to do over a general period of time in order to develop a plan. There may be a variety of options from which you can choose. Call them strategies. Each strategy involves its own tactics – action steps.

If you take the time to determine a course of action that will take you to a goal that fits in with the general experience of others when they set out to achieve your goal, you will have a general Plan. You can feel confident that this plan is attainable because others have followed the same “recipe” to do the same thing. You can reverse engineer the timetable based on what you know must be accomplished in that period. (If you think the timetable is unrealistic, for whatever reason, you can adjust either the goal or the time frame to ensure that you believe the goal is achievable.)

I call this general plan a “milestone map.” I envision it as a series of stepping stones that need to be reached before you can move onto the next. Any one of these steps may become the actual goal for the year if they involve some complexity. For example, we needed to resolve legal and financial issues before we could close on a new home after the landslide. Although we could look for a new home, we were extremely limited on the action steps toward purchase that we could take. It was frustrating and impossible, so we did not focus on the new house. We window shopped periodically while we focused on action steps we could take to resolve the financial aftermath of our catastrophe.

Your action step right now is to focus on the three top goals you have on your list. Make a list of the big things that have to happen for you to achieve it. Determine the right order in which they have to happen. If you don’t know what has to happen, then go do your homework. Go online and search. Go to the library. Call someone you know who already does what you want to do and get together so you can ask for their suggestions.

I had to do this when I started Rainbows Over Ruins. I had never written a book before. I had heard someone talk about it so I knew to start with an outline and flesh it out. Then I had to determine how I wanted to publish it and whether I wanted help with the editing. As soon as I chose to have assistance, my time table changed as there were 3 stages of editing to complete. Those had to be integrated into my overall plan. Printing was the fastest component of the whole process and then the marketing began with another whole set of goals and activities to incorporate into my overall plan. It took time to travel from one stepping stone to another, however, I had a map. I knew where I was going.

As you research the key steps required to achieve your goal, pay attention to the various strategies that people took. Each strategy has its own set of tactics. For example, I had to make a decision between seeking a traditional publisher or self-publishing. If I had chosen a traditional publisher, my tasks would have involved finding a publisher who would accept my submission. That takes time, however, they would then use their organization to handle all the marketing and distribution of the resulting book and there might have been a cash advance. You have to do (and pay for) those things on your own when you self-publish, but you don’t have to deal with the frustration of rejection slips and keep a larger percentage of the sales revenues. Either way, you have to learn the tactics of your choice.

Let me repeat the action step: Make a list of the steps you need to take to achieve the goal. Put those steps in the right order. Assign a preliminary time frame and get ready to take action. Actions are required to achieve your goal. What could possibly stop you? We’ll look at that next.

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