This time, stick to it

The secret to success starts with planning, but it does not end there. Contemplating the end result of the task at hand will move many of us to understand what is needed to get there. The average human being will devise a plan and source inspiration from the internet or other mediums in order to start this journey in the right way. What happens after this plan is masterfully devised? What now?

The measure of success you will achieve is somewhat related to the quality of your plan, but the biggest deciding factor will be how well you stick to your goals and how you perceived the journey as time passes… Think about this: That body you have always wanted can be clearly seen in your mind and your foolproof plan is to start exercising and stick to a stringent diet, starting next Monday. The goal is clear, the plan is there, but the success factor lies in how well you can stick to your goals and stick to your plan.

Many times I have set the goal of running 5km on a treadmill. That will be a good start to becoming fit. Things change however when I arrive at the gym. Suddenly the 5km looks like a big task. My legs are a little stiff from activities I participated in yesterday, or the lack thereof. What happens next will make or break the entire journey of becoming healthy and fit. If I get onto the treadmill and do 3.8km (which is better than nothing) I will get off and feel like I did not quite do what I set out to do. I will have this feeling of not quite committing to my goals and a number of excuses come to mind. But at least its better than nothing… If however I took a little bit longer, maybe moving a bit slower but ended up doing my pre determined goal of 5km, I feel good about myself. I did what I set out to do, slow, yes, but there is always opportunity for improvement. Immediately my perception about my commitment to my goal took a positive turn in my head. Once I get to 5km I made the sacrifice and effort to get this far, so I might as well do an additional 0.5km. Now, I feel like I am conquering the world. I achieved more than I set out to do. Not only do I feel positive about the experience but I feel like I can conquir the world!

The mindset and emotions that you experience after your effort will determine your next move. If you feel good, you will most likely do it again and stick to your goals. Everyone likes to feel good about themselves. If you feel like you cheated yourself, you will most likely give up on losing weight or being healthy.

I guess this translates to the psychology behind a lot of unfulfilled dreams out in the world. I realized the importance of the negative emotion that is connected to the immediate moment that you find yourself in. Dont think too much about it, just do it. You spent enough time thinking about it when you came up with your plan. Now is not the time to think, it is now the time to do.

This became very apparent when one of my friends told me how he will become rich by investing money into the stock market. With all the new apps and technologies on our phones you can buy and sell shares online in no time at all. My friend had his vision to become rich and his plan was the stock market. He deposited some money and started his journey. In a few days he casually mentioned that he lost all his money. The important thing was what he said next: I had my strategy thought out, but when I started losing a few dollars, panic set in. I wanted to make all my money back with the next transaction and I made a few stupid moves. Admittedly if he ignored the panic that set in, he might have recovered his money over the next few days. Being a software developer, he wrote a little robot that enters into trades based on a few simple rules. The robot, not having any negative connection to the experience whatsoever, followed the same initial strategy, took a few losses, but recovered and went on to make a small profit. This demonstrates the effect of a negative experience on our ability to stick to our plan.

How many opportunities in our lifetime did we not realize our full potential because we lost a few rounds, we panicked and common sense told us to quit. My advice would be to stick to your plans and always do that little bit extra. It will take you a little bit further but psychologically it will encourage you to continue and actually reach your goal. The small wins and the dedication to each commitment will encourage you to reach your goals.

Importantly, celebrate the small successes as that will remind you that it is all worth it!

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