Thursday, August 20, 2009

Invest in Yourself

I've heard this nugget of wisdom twice in the last week, once from one of the founders of modern success thinking: Earl Nightingale and again in different form from billionaire Bill Bartmann. It's solid advice and I thought I'd share it with you.

Earl eloquently but drolly expounded on the power of the human brain and correctly concludes that it, moreso than anything else in your life it will affect the level of success and enjoyment you achieve. However it is terribly underutilized but the vast majority of people.

Now I'm sure you are using your brain all the time. You use it at work, use it to figure out problems around the house, deal with family issues, romance issues, maybe exercise it with puzzles and problems. But how often do you sit down and proactively use it to plan out your life? Once in a while I'm sure. Once in a very long while.

What Earl proposes is that you use it a little more often than that. He suggests an hour a day. Yes, I agree, it'd be very difficult for most anyone to squeeze an hour out of every day but consider this. You might be spending time daily working out, or beautifying yourself, watching tv, browsing the internet, talking to friends and family, sleeping in, playing video games or even doing work around the house. Is any of that getting you closer to your goals and desires? No, it is not.

However through the consistant application of your mental facilities on the matter of how to achieve your goals, followed by action, surely you would see marked improvement.

Earl suggests that once you have a clearly defined goal (Bill calls them promises, which I like better) you spend that hour daily brainstorming for up to 20 ways to achieve that goal. You may not come up with 20 ideas and that's okay. In fact every idea you come up with for a week or two may be crap. You're not a certified genius after all but you don't need to be. All you need is one genius idea. Anyone who consistantly applies their abilities to solving the problem of how to achieve their goals will eventually come up with some gems. Keep refining those gems of ideas and eventually you'll come up with something truly compelling that no one else is doing. Why is no one else doing it? Because vertually no one else is applying their brains in this manner!! If they are, they likely have different goals than you anyway.

It is famously stated the Edison had over ten thousand failed attempts to create a lightbulb. No one says he was a moron or a failure becuase he had ten thousand ideas that didn't work. He's considered a genius because he continually applied his mind to finding the one idea that did. You can too.

If you met your future self, and they told you that you became amazingly successful by taking an hour a day to apply themselves to how to better achieve their goals, you would immediately rearrange your life to make room for that hour. You are not going to meet your future self obviously but you can meet the future of your desires in the same way.

Bill Bartmann's take was a little different. First off, not only does he state that you need a clearly defined goal or promise, he suggests that you create a business plan on how you are going to achieve that promise. In the same manner that a business lays out a course of action, budget and timetable to achieve the company goals you can do the same with your goals. Once you have your business plan Bill recommends you review it daily for twenty minutes. What are you doing that's working? What's not working? How can you do it better? Is the currently set goal serving you? Is it even your goal? Too many people are trying to achieve that which other people have told them they should be doing. Parents most notably.

By taking twenty minutes (much more digestible than an hour) daily to review your progress and brainstorming new ideas you will fastforward your progress.

If you were requested by your workplace to find ways of improving workplace efficiency you might find it a frustrating exercise but you would still do it because that's what you're getting paid to do. By finding ways to improve your own life inefficiencies and coming up with ideas on how to reach your promise you will be, in effect, paying yourself, as you will be consistantly making improvements in your life and increasing your earning potential.

You invest time in everything else around you - work, family, friends, responsibilities. Certainly you can take 20-60 minutes to invest in yourself.