If you’re reading this blog post and expecting some huge, sweeping proclamation about the major activities needed to succeed over failure, I’m going to disappoint you. Success isn’t built on big wins or tremendous undertakings – though those things certainly help your cause throughout your career.
The reality is that the difference between success and failure comes down to the small actions you take every day and whether or not those activities move you towards your eventual goals.
At the end of the day, I want you to ask yourself the following question:
“If I were to take my day’s activities, my commitments, and the stories I’ve created about the actions I didn’t take and then repeat them every day for the rest of the year, would I reach my goals?”
On a day-to-day basis, the decisions you make – even the smallest ones – affect the results you’re going to get at the end of the year. In effect, your daily actions create the story of your year. If your activities are in sync with your goals, your story will be one of success. But if you continually make bad decisions and don’t bother to correct yourself, your story becomes one of failure.
There’s a quote on this subject from Jim Roman that I’ve always loved:
“Small errors in judgment repeated regularly eventually leads to disaster. Small decisions of discipline repeated regularly and consistently leads to massive success.”
Making one mistake in a day isn’t going to throw you off your game or prevent you from reaching your goals – unless it becomes a pattern of underperforming.
Imagine that you’re trying to lose weight. You eat perfectly-balanced meals throughout the day and exercise hard, but at night, you find yourself so hungry that you can’t help but indulge in a chocolate bar. If you make this mistake once and then take steps to have healthier snacks on hand for the evening, this one slip-up won’t affect your overall weight loss. But if – for whatever reason – it becomes a pattern of indulging, you may actually wind up gaining more weight than you lose!
It can sound overwhelming to realize that your day-to-day actions aren’t just throwaways – they actually contribute substantially to your end results. If the thought of tallying up your daily activities scares you, don’t worry. You can start changing your patterns by simply being more aware of the stories you tell yourself.
At the end of the day or at the end of each week, sit down and try to identify instances where you either stuck to your productive schedule or failed in some way. In the instances where you failed, what excuses did you tell yourself? If, for example, you missed a few hours of prospecting, did you let yourself off the hook by saying you were too tired or that you’d make up the work the next day? Were you able to get back on track the next day or did your failure turn into a pattern?
Don’t be too harsh on yourself, but do recognize that these tiny decisions accumulate. Missing your prospecting hour once is one thing – habitually failing to engage in this important activity leads to missed sales and missed opportunities to grow your business.
Although the time of New Year’s Resolutions is still pretty far away, it’s never too early to start thinking about how you’ll look back on your achievements throughout 2013. If you want your story to be one of success – not failure – start being more mindful of your daily habits and the stories you tell yourself. Remember, you can build a story on excuses, but you can’t build the kind of lifestyle you want on the tales you tell yourself!