What if there was a magic formula that would guarantee you could become, have or achieve anything you truly desired? Think for a moment…if you possessed such a magic formula, what would you choose to accomplish? In the financial arena, what would you buy? Where would you live? What would your home be like? Would you travel…and to where? What kind of relationships would you have? Would you learn to speak multiple foreign languages? Would you author a best-selling book? What would your career look like? What would be your contribution to humanity?
Well, there is a magic formula for achieving anything you truly want in life…and here it is:
V + A = D
‘V’ stands for Vision. Most people settle for a day-to-day existence and are happy to have enough money to pay their bills…on time! But there is a much bigger world out there that is full of adventure, excitement and fulfillment for those who dare to break out of their comfort zone, stretch themselves and seek to achieve their true potential. In order to achieve extraordinary results in your life you must have a clear vision of what you truly desire. The clearer the vision, the easier and faster it is to accomplish. Let’s look at a few examples.
Jim Carrey was a little-known comedian in 1990 who clearly envisioned himself as a top-paid Hollywood movie star. To help maintain focus on his vision, he wrote a check payable to himself for $10 million… ‘for acting services rendered’, and dated the check Thanksgiving 1995. He worked hard at his craft and kept the check in his wallet so that every time he opened it, he was reminded of his vision, his goal, his intention. His big break came in 1994 when he starred in three films: Ace Ventura, Pet Detective; The Mask; and Dumb and Dumber. By 1995, he was one of Hollywood’s highest paid actors at $20 million per film.
On January 9th, 1970, Bruce Lee wrote himself a letter stating that “By 1980 I will be the best known Oriental movie star in the United States and will secure $10 million dollars. In return, I’ll give the very best acting I could possibly give every single time I am in front of the camera…” In 1973, he starred in Enter the Dragon and became an instant martial arts legend and international superstar. His untimely death robbed him of the full realization of the achievement of his vision but martial artists around the world benefited as he set a new standard for martial arts excellence.
I have personally experienced the power of creating a clear vision in my own life so many times, I lose count. In 1996, I set the intention and wrote a goal to have a personal finance book published by ‘a big fancy, white-shoe publisher in New York’. Certainly, none of my English teachers would have believed this possible! I did not have a natural ability or affinity for writing but I knew a published book would be one of the best methods to get my message out to tens of thousands of people…and that was my vision. Well, intention became reality with my first publishing contract with Simon & Schuster in 1998. Since then, I have had three additional books published by three different ‘big, fancy New York publishing firms’.
Several elements have proven vital to this ‘Vision’ stage of self-manifestation:
- Write it down. Visualization is a powerful tool. When you take your vision from your mind’s eye and convert it to writing, something truly magical happens. Research suggests that the mere act of writing a goal increases the likelihood of accomplishing it by 200%. That’s because the process of written articulation creates a connection with your brain, and in turn, the Universe. My personal belief is that God created the Universe and everything in it…so everything and every person is connected. All of the answers to all of your questions are available if you just know where to look or whom to ask. Once you write out your vision, your brain then sets about the business of solving the problem that exists between where you are right now and your intention (vision). It will work both on a conscious and subconscious level constantly sorting through possibilities and seeking solutions to the puzzle you have created. This process of searching and sorting will open doors you never expected and give you an extra-sensory awareness related to your vision. Expect miracles to happen.
- Clarity of Vision. As I’ve already stated, the clearer your vision, the easier it is to accomplish because you are excited, focused and you have engaged the Universe in your cause. Instead of writing, ‘I want a winter vacation home”, write “I want a 5,000 square foot home facing east on the shore of Maui by noon the day before Thanksgiving 2013.” Continue to describe what your dream home looks like in as much detail as possible. What type of construction, interior furnishings, infinity swimming pool, and all glass across the ocean-facing side of your home. Clarity includes making certain that your goal, this vision, is measurable by both you and someone else and typically answers two questions: How much? (or what)/ By when? To help ‘see’ the vision, some people use ‘vision boards’, which are cut-outs of magazine photos that depict their goals. For example, if you’d like to own a yacht, cut out a picture of the yacht of your dreams, with all the details, even the boat graphic lettering you intend to have and post it where you’ll see it every day as a reminder of your goal. When NASA began the planning and work for sending a man to the moon, they painted a moon, floor to ceiling, in the construction area to keep them perfectly focused on their vision. There are web sites that allow you to create a virtual vision board. Google ‘Vision Boards’ or check out www.visualizeyourgoals.com. Professional speaker and author, John Assaraf (www.johnassaraf.com), cut out a magazine photo of his ‘dream’ home in 1995 and put it up on his Vision Board, then a few months later forgot about it. Five years later as he was opening boxes from the move to his new 7,000 square foot residence, he pulled out and dusted off his Vision Board and began to weep as he realized that he was now living in the exact home he had envisioned. Not a similar home, but the exact one he had cut out! The Universe works in mysterious ways once you get in alignment.
- Dream Big Dreams. When I originally began creating a vision for what I wanted to accomplish in my life, much of what I sought seemed like the equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest…insurmountable. My vision included becoming a published author; a millionaire; guest expert on national television such as CNN, CNBC and Fox News; and building a multimillion dollar company. When I reflect back on these goals, I actually feel a twinge of embarrassment that I didn’t dream big enough. This is normal for most people. Now I realize that what we can accomplish is only limited by our ability to dream big dreams. Many of us will have to learn to exercise our dream ‘muscle’ as we achieve, learn and grow emotionally. As one vision becomes reality, it signals the timing for creating a bigger and more compelling vision. One helpful tool you can use is what I call the 101 Dream List. The idea is to make a list of 101 accomplishments or lifetime milestones you would achieve if there were no barriers to your success…unlimited financial resources, intelligence, physical capability. John Goddard (www.JohnGoddard.info) did this at age 15 when he developed his Life List of 127 goals. He had some big goals including climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Everest; exploring the Amazon River; learning to fly a plane and flying in a blimp, balloon, and glider. This list from a 15-year-old boy turned into a lifetime of adventure and learning where only 15 of the original 127 goals remain. The purpose of the 101 Dream List is to, well, dream…get your creative juices flowing and write down everything you could imagine would excite you and create a life of fulfillment and adventure. From there you can narrow your focus to a few key areas that create the most ‘charge’ for you. Typically one or a small number of items will bubble up in the form of ‘burning desire’. You’ll know burning desire because when you are working on them, it’s not like work at all. It’s the feeling of passion. At this point you’ll write a vision statement in as much detail as possible. Then you can begin to develop an Action Plan for turning your vision into reality.
‘A’ stands for Action. The Universe rewards action; or as comedian/actor Jonathan Winters says, “If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to meet it!” Once you have a clear written vision of what you intend to achieve, you’ll want to develop an Action Plan to help you get there as quickly as possible. In most cases you will not know all of the steps necessary to achieve your vision, but invariably you’ll know the first few steps. If not ask someone who has gone before you. You’ll find most people are more than willing to help fellow travelers. Be satisfied to take the action steps that you are aware of and trust that the Universe will illuminate your path as you continue to travel. It’s like driving a car at 60 miles per hour down a two-lane country road in the middle of the night. Your headlights only allow you to see maybe 100 yards ahead of you. You have no idea what might be ahead in the darkness. Yet you continue to press forward trusting that your path will continue to illuminate as you continue to press forward.
There is a saying, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. The journey to your vision will be made of many steps…some small and some giant leaps. The key to maximum speed is to develop an attitude of ‘disciplined action’…creating a process whereby you are consistently moving forward until you are at your destination. Start by brainstorming, on paper, a list of Critical Success Factors (CSF) with timetable. What are the key things that ‘must happen’ in order for you to succeed? What is your target completion date? Under each CSF, list all the Supporting Actions (SA) that will move you closer to your CSF. This will be a ‘work in progress’ as you will continually add to your action list as you check off completed actions. Then, every evening, make a list of 2 SAs to complete the next day and commit to getting them done before your day is finished. When you’re done with one SA, ask, “What’s next?” and add to your list. Keep track of your progress and be sure to celebrate your successes…even the small ones.
Avoid ‘paralysis by analysis’ and adopt the mantra, “Ready, FIRE, Aim”. Too many people get bogged down in analyzing the problem or waiting for the perfect time to execute their strategy. All successful people are highly action oriented. They’ll spend some time brainstorming the Critical Success Factors and the companion Supporting Actions, but then they’ll jump in the game knowing they’ll need to ‘correct course’ as they continue on their journey. A great analogy for ‘correct and continue’ is flying a plane. If after taking off you simply chose a correct course heading, say due north, and held that position, you will miss your destination. That’s because you will be required to make numerous ‘course corrections’ for a variety of unpredictable reasons, including wind speed, wind direction and barometric pressure. For you this means get in the game as quickly as possible and expect to make numerous course corrections along the way as you’ll ‘learn’ (make mistakes) your way to success.
Somewhere along your journey, you’re likely to come face-to-face with the proverbial ‘brick wall’ and wonder whether it’s time to give up on your vision. Consider this a test of your tenacity and commit to going over, around or through the wall…whatever it takes. You can get leverage on your success journey by having an accountability/support partner. This can either be one person or, even better, a small group of people (a mastermind group). The idea is to communicate your vision and they agree to support you and hold you accountable for the actions and timetables you’ve committed to. This is done through periodic contact (weekly, monthly, via phone, email, etc.).
This leads to my final thoughts on the importance of disciplined action. Never underestimate the importance of pure unadulterated perseverance. Tell yourself (out loud as a daily exercise) that, “I can achieve anything!” and “I will never give up!” For it is in perseverance that success lies. A great example of perseverance comes from Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hanson. Unknown at the time, they had co-authored their first book called Chicken Soup for the Soul which was a compilation of heartwarming stories. The problem was that no publisher thought much of their idea. They got turned down not once, not a dozen times, but 144 times before they finally found a publisher who believed in their dream. How many of us would have given up after one, two, or a dozen rejections? Jack and Mark persevered and they became two of the most prolific and successful authors in America selling well over 100 million copies of their books. Never, ever give up on your dreams!
‘D’ is for Destiny. Each of us is unique and perfect in our own way and has been placed on this planet for a reason. Rather than drifting through 75 to 100 years allowing life to happen to you, wouldn’t it be better to seek to discover your true purpose and then live out your life striving to achieve your maximum potential? By developing a clear vision for your life; one that is compelling, exciting, fulfilling and improves our universal community…and then executing a disciplined Action Plan, you can take control of your own destiny. We are able to create the life we choose…and not just in the area of finances, but in every area of our lives. In my book, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Rich”, I provide a process for creating the life of your dreams in six areas: spiritual, family, physical, social, intellectual, career and financial as well as help you develop Guiding Principles from which all decisions are made.
Do not be fooled by the simplicity of The Magic Formula for Success. Too often people decide that an answer is so ‘simple’ that it couldn’t possibly work so they discard it in search for something more complex. ‘Simple’ is very different from ‘easy’. If you choose to do nothing, then you must settle for being a passenger on the bus of life with destination unknown. However, if you choose to take control…then you become the driver. You get to decide whether you drive a Ford or a Ferrari. You can make life as exciting as you choose. You see, the choice has always been and will always be…your choice. Choose your destiny wisely!