FIRST, be prepared to know yourself better. A serious appraisal of your life is essential to getting what you want. If you need to get to Pittsburgh by Friday, you’ve got to know where you’re starting from. A serious self-appraisal may take weeks to complete. How well educated are you in the things you would like to know? How much effort do you put into each aspect of your life?
What are your best and worst points? How do you choose your friends, your home, your job and your hobbies? How do treat your friends, family and strangers? How deep is your personal spirituality?
You have hundreds and hundreds of special traits, but how well developed is each of them? Which of your traits are the worst? What have you accomplished over the past twenty, ten, five, two years? In the past month? The past week? Today? Who have you hurt? Who deserves better than you’ve given them? And most important, how close are you now to where you hoped you’d be when you looked ahead a year ago, five years ago, or even as a child?
Be prepared to cry a little as you make this appraisal of your life. Humans are far from perfect, and even the minor goals we set for ourselves are not achieved, and it can hurt to see exactly where you are. Draw upon every bit of serenity you have when making this appraisal, and always keep in mind you are on a fact-finding, not a fault-finding mission. Whether your strengths match evenly with your weaknesses on paper is not important. What you want is a written record of who and what you are in as great a depth as possible, a blueprint of your house which you can use as a base for improvement.
Great people in every field start with such a deep analysis and revise it yearly to chart their progress, and the time and emotion spent in such an appraisal will be chicken feed compared to the value you will receive from it.
SECOND, make a special report based on your self-appraisal and include the report everything you ever did which you didn’t think you could do.
THIS ABSOLUTELY VITAL! It will provide you with enormous inspiration when faced with a problem you don’t think you can overcome. These are not only real-life success stories, they are your success stories, positive proof that there’s more in you than you might think. These experiences are the batteries you’ll use to power the shovels which will move mountains in the future. Remember, even an almost-dead battery will start a car. Have this report in writing and keep it with your personal analysis, and make a copy in case you lose it. This will be a vital document in times to come.
THIRD, decide where you want to go. Most people fail because they don’t set goals worthy of themselves. If they do, they do not live each day in pursuit these goals. This, and every other step outlined here, is absolutely vital to a truly successful life.
When you set your goals, make them better than you’ve done before, but make them achievable. In other words, if it is at all possible that you or someone like you could achieve the goal, it is worthy. But don’t set them too low either or you’ll be breezing through life, bored and unchallenged. Set goals for each day, for the next week, month, year, two years, five years, twenty years, fifty years (regardless of your age).
Be definite about what you want. Write your goals down and use as much detail as possible. Make them firm… for the moment. You will find as you achieve certain things that some goals will have to change, and that’s fine. Just don’t go around changing your mind every time the wind changes or you won’t know which way is up.
Set as many goals as you like, and include among them – what you’d like to be doing, where you’d like to go, what you want for your family, what kind of person you’d like to be, how much you’d like to be earning, your net worth, your health, personality, education and spiritual growth. Keep your daily goals confined to activities which will lead to accomplishment of your long-term goals. Don’t be afraid to set goals. Mistakes can be corrected; doing nothing cannot be corrected.
The next step takes no real effort, and strangely enough, it is the most difficult step for the average person to take.
FOURTH: COMMIT! Make the decision to achieve those goals, to strive for the things you want which will make your life and yourself all that much better. Make that commitment from the heart, not at the lips! It will take time to really feel that commitment, and regularly reviewing the goals you’ve written down will make it possible to truly feel that commitment. You’ll go through agonies at first and wonder if any of this is really worth it, and that’s the point most people give up.
Remember this and you’ll look forward to that agony. Every change comes with pain. It hurts to be born, to fall in love, to pass an exam, run a marathon. Once you start feeling that pain, know it for what it is – your old self screaming for life. Let your old self win and you lose!