Episode 62: Three Strategies for Breaking Through to Reach Your Goals

Do you ever feel defeated and that 2020 is simply a wasted year of life? Jimmy shares three simple, yet effective strategies that helped him break through the disruption of the pandemic to realize his biggest goals for 2020.

You will gain insight into:

  • Creating a new vision for the year that empowers you to move forward in life
  • A four-step method of replacing bad habits with positive actions that help you become the person you desire
  • Eliminating limiting beliefs and creating liberating truths that assist you in goal achievement
  • Utilizing 90-day “years” that will create an urgency for you to move forward out of the disruption of the day to achieve success

Podcast Transcript

If you’re like me, you’ve had about all of the self-isolation, all the social distancing and particularly heard the words COVID-19 and pandemic far more than you ever want to hear again. Hey, this is Jimmy Williams with Live a Life by Design. Good morning! This is that Monday morning moments of motivation that’s gonna turn your week around. So you can be a bigger, better, and bolder you.

I want you to understand one thing today. I’m going to give you the secret to my transformation from the world I had of gregarious nature. I got to visit with friends and clients. Spend time with my colleagues at the office. And then, boom. About the middle of March we transitioned into remote working. You know, that a new term that many of us may have performed in the past to some degree that became a way of life. That work still needed to be done. You still had to do certain collaborations with your team. But it was just different.

This morning on Live a Life by Design I want to share the three strategies that I utilize, personally, to take about a week of time during this pandemic to refine and determine how I can turn these negatives into positives. It wasn’t an easy task at first, but I’m going to share the secrets of the things that I did to help you get back on your feet. Recast those visions and goals for 2020 and this still be the best breakout year of your life.

You see, one thing we cannot do is create more time. There’s a misnomer that you manage time. And as you recall, on a previous podcast, I helped you understand that we really manage energy. And if that’s the case, we still have plenty of time in 2020 for you to go out and make the world a better place. And in the meantime, make yourself a bigger, better, and bolder person. You know, the one thing that I’d like to share that maybe sounds obvious to you is that we have to realize what the truth is. Today we have to realize that yes there are things in life that we can’t control. Yes, there are ways of doing business that may be different for us in the future. It is time, though, that you take the lead of your own mind and go on offense.

I’ve used this term now for the last few weeks, this podcast, because at some point you have to understand we must move forward. In our world, there’s only two directions. We’re either progressing, which is moving forward. Or we’re regressing, moving backwards. There is literally no status quo in human life. Your competition will either run you over, or you’ll march on ahead of them.

The first strategy that we need to look at is, due to this recent disruption of life as we knew it, many of us may feel our year and accompanying goals have been thrown to the wayside. Defeat is easily identified while success hides with great success of its own. You may have fallen for the trap that many who live in mediocrity espouse, ‘I wasn’t going to reach my goals, anyway’. This defeatist talk is one method of rationalizing that the average person uses to exist in a world that honors and rewards those that wish to be exceptional. And ladies and gentlemen, you are exceptional. You are the 1% of this world that will make life better for others by making yourself a better person.

So in today’s podcast I hope that you take these simple yet effective strategies to heart. Today is a new beginning for 2020. I want you to literally start the year over. Starting today. Start this as if it were January 1, and you’ve got a fresh list of goals you’re gonna tackle. It’s just that we’re gonna shorten the year just a few months. What started out as a wonderful year in 2020, and you were on fire for your goals until the end of the 1st quarter. And here we are today. You see, yesterday is in the history books, but you control the outcomes for today. Living in the world of constant change can cause the psyche of a person to feel inadequate, intimidated, and unimportant.

To regain control of your thoughts is to critically establish positive thoughts that will frame your mind in the world of possibility. You have power to create the world in which you want to live in by focusing your mind on the environment you wish to thrive within at home and work. You notice I didn’t say survive. I didn’t say exist. I want you to thrive in your world.

So the first strategy is vision creation. What’s happened to many people I have spoken with in the past couple of months is that they feel they have lost their vision for their future. What do you wish for your future to look like? If you’re not driving and you’re sitting at home, take a piece of clean paper and write these words at the tops of the page to form columns. Family, Spiritual, Financial, Charitable, Educational. So now you should have 5 columns at the top of the sheet.

Under each of the words, list downwards the numbers 1 – 5. So now under each of the five columns, you have 1 through 5 in a field waiting to be completed. Take the column you’re most excited about, and I hope you’re excited about the future, and start writing your dreams under the column. It’s ok if you don’t list five, but attempt to focus on the one area of life that is most exciting for you and list something under each column heading afterwards. So, start with your most exciting column, list, you know, 3,4,5 of those items that are exciting to you. The actions you’d take under that particular column.

I’ll give you an example. Before the pandemic, my dreams under family were: 1. take a month long trip of Europe to tour the Alps, concentration camps of WWII, and the many wonders of the European Union and Russia. 2. take each of my daughters on a father/daughter weeks long vacation to the destination of their choice. 3. was spend quality time with family playing card/board games during the weekends to enhance and grow our relationships. 4. spend a week in New York City with our daughter every quarter enjoying the art, museums, and Broadway shows. And number 5, under family, was honor each member of my immediate family with a handwritten small book of the memories that particular family member has shared with me. The goal is to continue to grow our families’ love and support for each other. Life is just too short to allow a pandemic to steal your most prized possession. And that is, time with your family. So you can understand how this works now, you have your page. It’s not going to be anything you share with anyone else. These are your areas of life that you wish to grow. These are the statements and actions you will take in each of the areas.

This would have looked different January 1 of 2020. Now, we’re at a time, at the end of May. I want you to think in your mind that this is January. I know the heat may be here if you’re in the southern states of the United States. It’s not cold, it’s not icy, it’s not snowy. But think of this as your January 1. Think of this as starting anew. So, number 1, I want you to think and recreate the new vision for 2020. This only gives us a few months to achieve these big, hairy audacious goals that I know you’re going to be establishing. But that’s the fun part. Now you don’t have the luxury of saying, ‘I can wait for 30 days’. It is time to pick one or two, three goals for this quarter and act on them. Time is of the essence when you are achieving goals that move your life in the big direction that you wish to lead. Continue the exercise for the other four columns until you feel that you have a well rounded list of activities or memories you wish to utilize in creating your future vision.

I call this process vision creation, because many of us are blinded by the static and noise of the day and we can’t even see further ahead than 5pm today. It’s critical that you reclaim your direction and forward motion of life. As humans, we have the capability that all the other animals of the world lack. We can change our direction and actually go against nature. The COVID-19 pandemic is tragic. Admittedly so. Lives have been lost. It is encompassing all of life as we know it on our planet. But you must take hold of yourself and your life. Quit thinking like everyone else, and be the beacon for leadership in your family, your company, and your community.

Yes, I know it is hard to move against the current stagnation we’re experiencing in our country. But think of the salmon. This is a breed of fish that leaves the salt water oceans, for which it had thrived, and swims upstream to the freshwater lakes where it was born. This is a treacherous journey that this fish takes. It faces hungry bears all along the way that feast on their tasty meat. As well as fighting a raging current of flooded streams only to spawn in that fresh water lake and then die. Literally the fish dies from a lack of food and exhaustion.

Why does this happen? Because the species relies on this process to continue to live on this planet. Humans, though, have a much more important purpose for living and can adapt to our surroundings and counter our typical habits to find new ways to grow. New means of conquering the challenges we face. And one method of creating my vision for the future is to repeat affirmations that help me keep my mind positive and clear for the creation of the future. And it is not simply the writing of goals or dreams, it takes the action of creating the dream to become reality that provides you the reward. It’s not simply the fact that you can dream up what you want to have done.

You know, John Glenn said he had a dream of being an astronaut. He didn’t just dream that, he took action. He joined the astronaut core of the military. He became an astronaut through years and years of focused, intentional effort. When all others said that man could never do this, John Glenn proved them wrong. As a test pilot he tested machines that said they would never get off the ground, much less fly at mach speed. John Glenn proved them wrong.

Have you ever heard of anyone that is called a “dreamer”? You know, this is the type of person that sits in a semi-catatonic state of mind just dreaming but never realizes their dream. It has been said the entrepreneurs like Bill Gates had a dream or a vision for a software company that would take on the world someday and be number 1 in its market share. And guess what, through determination. Through the assembly of the right team with the ambition needed to conquer every challenge that arose. We now, today, can find the word ‘Microsoft’ on almost every computer that you see. Bill Gates painted the vision he had for Microsoft so vividly that all of those early employees that worked from his garage, that built the chassis that finally became the operating system used by millions today, this team could see their success way before it was ever realized. You must be so engrossed in the vision you create that you realize you can see yourself already accomplishing your goal and enjoying the outcomes before you take the first step.

One of my affirmations is “I am committed to investing time, money and effort required to achieve my most important goals.” Now, notice the action required on my part. It didn’t simply say, well this will just fall into place. Or, I know the world will just hand this to me so I don’t need to put out the effort or work for it. That’s not what it says. And if you think about it, anyone can do this. The action required on my part and the structure of the components, you heard me say things like, my effort, my money, my time. It takes these kinds of commitment variables to achieve your goals.

You can do this! Don’t listen to the masses of mediocre people who wish to remain comfortable and unfulfilled in life. My old mentor, Zig Ziglar, he and Jim Rohn had such a great impact and continue to have an impact on my life. I’ve read their books probably three or four times, over now. And I always gain something good out of them. Something new rises from the page that helps me with my current situation, for example. And Zig said it best when he said this, “You were designed for accomplishment, engineered for success and endowed with the seeds of greatness!” Man, I am getting goosebumps just thinking about the power behind this quote. You have within you all the tools necessary to become what you wish to become if you’ll only take the moment to believe and put your belief into action. The first strategy for breaking through the haze of this pandemic and reaching your goals in 2020 is to revisit your vision and create a new, vivid picture of your future.

The second strategy is reforming positive habits. You’ve heard me speak before about this. This area of life that so many of us have allowed these negative habits to just simply take over and really mindlessly walk through life with these habits that continue to take you into directions you do not wish to go. Ask you to eat foods you do not need to eat. You know, forget about working out. You don’t need to do that, and then our bodies then betray us on our pathway to our goals. If you were one of the millions of people that was furloughed from your position, you may have allowed negative habits to creep into your life. Perhaps you were disciplined and maintained a balanced schedule of exercise, reading and proper sleep before the pandemic. Now however, your sleep pattern is totally disrupted, your exercise facility has been closed and your motivational reading has given way to watching news all day filling your mind of the horrific deaths related to this virus.

By filling your mind and body with the negatives of the day, you have lost your direction. Today is the day you regain your positive habits! Start slowly and initiate one of the most critical habits of your life and add a new habit every 21 days or so. Now, it’s not an exact science. Depending on the habit and depending on your current status. It may take more than 21 days for some habits to be ingrained into you. That you can do them subconsciously. It may take fewer than 21 days for other habits. Think about keeping track of the habit action in your journal. I simply have a place each day that I have in my journal a place to place a checkmark when I have performed the habit that day. And then I’ll be honest with you, I’ll give myself a reward after it’s become ingrained in my system for at least 21 to 30 days. And then I know it’s there for good. It just takes continued action every day and the habit will then stay subconscious in your mind.

And during times of crisis, we often rely on these habits to help carry us through the difficulty without much thought as to the actions we’re taking. In his best selling book, The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg provides evidence that any of us can change a habit. His four step framework is simple, yet powerful. It’s one I utilize when I see myself forming a bad habit, and these habits don’t just come up on you all of a sudden overnight. You wake up and you’ve got a bad habit. Oh no, it’s something simply and slowly that creeps into your mindset. And I’ll bet, during this time of disruption in the last two months, you may have gained a negative habit.

His four step process is simply this – 1) Identify the routine that you’re in. You should analyze this habit routine that you wish to enhance or change. Study each step of the habit to form areas of improvement. To identify those areas that need to change. And supplant those old vices within the habit cycle with new, positive actions. Now it’s been said that you can not just remove a bad habit. For example what we’ve found with those that are smoking cigarettes. It is so difficult for that person to simply quit smoking. But what they do is they change the habit from smoking and that sensation they’d receive in the body from the chemical to another activity that provides a different sensation, but a much more positive one. So first, identify the routine.

Number 2) Experiment with rewards. You know, this is how you create and sustain any change that’s positive in your life. There must be a reward for performing the activity. That’s how it sustains itself and you can continue. So for example, to satisfy a craving, you must identify a powerful reward. Your cravings are subconscious and may not be evident to you. Work on creating a reward to replace the negative consequence of the old habit. If you, for example, every afternoon at 3 o’clock have to eat a chocolate chip cookie and you’ve done this now for about a month, I’ll bet you your waistline is telling you that the belt is getting too tight. How about, instead of that sugary chocolate chip cookie you might take a little bit of peanut butter and some celery sticks to the office, or come carrot sticks to the office, or whatever it is that gives you that crunching sensation in your mouth, but has a much more positive outcome for you. This is what I mean by having to experiment with different rewards. Sol, number 2, experiment with those rewards to help you gain some reason for change.

And number 3 of his four step process. Isolate the cue that creates the action. What he means by this is once you have identified the areas of needed improvement in your habit cycle, describe and monitor the cues that give rise to the negative action. You know, often these negative cues may be words you hear, something you see or a colleague at work that has a bad habit of, say, drinking sugary colas every afternoon at work. After you identify this cue, place another, different cue that will move you in a positive direction in your habit cycle. For example, as I said previously, when your colleague asks you to go drink a sugary soda, why don’t you grab a bottle of water and ask your friend to join you for a brisk walk around the building, around the block, or whatever. This is what is critical by isolating the cues. If you can take with a cue that’s giving you the bad habit intention and change it to something positive, something good, instead of the sugary sodas you’re going to drink water and walk, you know, five blocks, ten blocks, whatever. But it gives your body something positive.

And then step 4 is to have a plan. I know you’re probably weary of me saying this, but to me life is about the plan. You don’t see a very experienced lumberjack immediately get off the truck and walk up to a tree and simply start whacking away at the base of the tree. What you’ll find first is that they will analyze the tree, look at the situation where the tree may fall based on how the trees are leaning. They may look at their saw, determine it needs more sharpening. They will look at a way to create a plan of attack for that one item. The tree. And the end result they wish is that tree to be down from its present location. You too must have a plan. This is step 4. Everyday, set an alarm on your iPhone, Android whatever you use, set an alarm that will give rise to your mind and body performing a routine that rewards you positively by isolating cues to a different behavior from your past. This is just the plan it must be acted on each day until the positive habit has become ingrained in your daily actions. You simply replace your old, negative habit with a positive one. It is much easier than you think to change your life for the better if you simply follow this 4-step strategy to reform your habits.

And our third strategy for breaking through in 2020 to reach your goals is to revise your beliefs. When we have been subjected to such a consistently negative atmosphere such as self-isolation and lacking human interaction, it is easy to develop limiting beliefs. You may have convinced yourself that you are “terrible with technology” or “my annual bonus is unachievable now” because of the virus. But because you’re working remotely from home, you’re gonna face new challenges that you didn’t realize at your office. For example, as a leader I must find ways to engage our team while on an electronic meeting, for example. I must find ways to retain our creativity. To be that kind of inspirational leader that will cause them to give their highest and best efforts for our clients.

You may have convinced yourself that if I am terrible with technology, that’s just how it is. And I say to you that is not a true statement. There are merely self-limiting beliefs that you’ve told yourself and they serve only as an obstacle to your true capabilities. What if you reframed these thoughts to be “I will take some training courses in Zoom Meetings software to become more confident in using the technology”? You see, by taking the time to gain knowledge of the software you have created a confidence level in your mind that will help you take the steps necessary to achieve your goal. No one, and I mean no one, is born with the ability to absorb new technologies or instant cognitive growth. It just doesn’t happen. These are learned skills. Each of us has the capability to learn and we all need is this belief that we can do so. I’ll tell you a secret, I often “gamify” some of these things to learn. For example, on Zoom Meetings when they’d come out with some new technologies within Zoom Meetings, instead of simply using it as a means to meet with people, I now use it in other ways. So, it’s been incredible for me to set games up on different technologies. And our Slack software that we use for interoffice communications, I’ve set some games up for me to learn new techniques more efficiently. Set some templates up and do some things like that. And it’s just simply this gamification, as you may have heard, is a way that we can trick ourselves into learning and enjoying that learning process in something we otherwise may not have.

The great Steve Jobs remarked, “If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.” You know, he is so right in that respect. We’ve got to be passionate about wanting to change for the better. We’ve got to be passionate about realizing our goals and vision of life. So, I create rewards for myself by learning new technologies, new tools that will help me maintain my strategic and competitive edge in the marketplace. I read books on subjects that help me gain greater understanding about human thought, behavior and other psychological matters. My understanding is this, by growing my understanding of fellow human beings, I learn better ways of communicating and assisting them in reaching their goals in life.

And it was, again, the great Zig Ziglar said that if I want to get everything out of life I want, I simply must help enough other people get what they want. You must not allow your limiting beliefs to control your future. One simple method of revising your beliefs to actionable goals is to establish new goals after the pandemic. That is simply what I’m saying. We’re going to close the door on what I call 2020 part 1. Let’s close the door on what you’ve seen, what you’ve heard, what you’ve done. Today is the new dawn of 2020 part 2. It’s time to look forward. Now, I’m not saying we’re gonna dismiss all the safety features we’ve been using. I still understand we are under, in some impact, somewhere on the globe, through this pandemic. I am not asking you to revolt against the norms of society. I’m not asking you to take any unnecessary risks. What I am asking you to do, though, is to pivot from this pandemic controlling your minds and your thoughts to you now being in control. Going on offense, as I’ve said. You must not allow your limiting beliefs to control your future. As earlier mentioned in this podcast, I was planning on a month-long tour of Europe. This has been a goal of mine for the last few years. But for the safety of my family, we decided to postpone – not cancel – this vacation at least to 2021. When encountering the comprehensive challenge of the pandemic, it is critical that you pivot to another goal that will take you in the direction of your original goal or a new direction entirely. Revising your beliefs to believable, empowering outcomes will give you the intentionality you need to achieve your most exciting goals.

This week, let’s start working toward those goals that are important to you for 2020. Utilizing these simple three strategies to break through the chaos and disruption to separate you from the mediocrity accepted by others: 1) Create a new vision or revitalize your previous vision in light of the changes you have been forced to make in your work and life; 2) Reclaim your habits for positive ones. Study your routines, experiment with self-rewards, isolate those cues that take you in a negative direction and create a plan to stay on the new habit track; and 3) Revise your limiting beliefs to empower you forward with liberating truths. You can do this! 2020 can be the best year of your life if we only pivot from our current position and focus on these three strategies to push forward toward our big, hairy, audacious goals! Now go out, implement something within these three strategies that will help you Live your life by Design!

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