Nine steps to a more successful you, Part 5

Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.
Booker T. Washington
1856 – 1915

Today we’ll examine the final of the nine steps to greater success: focusing on what you will do, not what you won’t do.

Research has shown that when we try not to focus on a thought, that thought becomes more active in our minds. The same principle holds true for behavior: when we try to avoid doing something, the impulse to do it becomes stronger. So going back to “if, then” plans, make sure that you don’t use negatives in your plan. Don’t focus on what you want to avoid; focus only on what you will do.

Let’s recap the nine steps so you’ll have them all in one place.

  1. Get specific about what you want and write it down. Determine what actions you’ll need to take to accomplish your goals. Engage in mental contrasting — switch focus between your goals and the actions required to reach them.
  2. Set aside a specific time to take action on your goals. Use “if, then” planning to program your mind to take action.
  3. Know how much more you need to do to achieve your goal. Emphasizing how far you’ve come can cause you to relax your efforts.
  4. Be a realistic optimist. Believe that you can achieve your goals but don’t underestimate the effort necessary.
  5. Focus on getting better rather than on being good. Realize that you’re going to make mistakes when trying something new. It’s okay to make errors: it’s part of the process of learning and growing.
  6. You won’t achieve any worthwhile goal unless you stick with it. You need grit. Stick with your plan long enough to succeed.
  7. Build your willpower. Willpower is like a muscle; it strengthens with use. But give yourself a break when you’re tired and your energy is low.
  8. Don’t tempt fate. It’s much easier to avoid temptation than to resist it.
  9. Focus on what you will do, not what you want to avoid.

These nine steps are taken from the book Nine Things Successful People Do Differently by Heidi Halvorson. It’s available as an eBook on for a little over $3. It’s short and easy to read, and it’s well worth the price.

If you haven’t been able to keep your New Year’s resolutions or to reach other goals, I strongly suggest you use these nine steps to develop a more successful you.

Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.
Albert Einstein
1879 – 1955

Copyright © 2012 John Chancellor


Nine steps to a more successful you, Part 5 — 2 Comments

  1. That quote by Booker T. Washington has always been one of my very favorite quotes. Thanks for posting it.

    Booker T. was born into slavery until his emancipation at the end of the Civil War when he was nine years old. His first jobs were backbreaking work in salt furnaces and coal mines. Overcoming these and countless other “obstacles,” he became a national spokesperson for the plight of the African American in post Civil War America, and the author of 14 books. His 1901 book, “Up From Slavery” is a thrilling and inspirational book that affirms many of the themes and principles of