Myths that Defeat Success

great_idea2Michael Hyatt identified five myths that most often defeat us in accomplishing our goals. Have you had difficulty achieving your goals? Maybe one of these beliefs is limiting you.

Myth 1: Your Past Determines Your Future

“Almost 40 percent of people in their twenties achieve their New Year’s resolutions each year, but not even 15 percent of those over 50 do—even though they probably have far more resources to do so. Why is that?

My guess is that they’ve also got more failures under their belt and don’t believe they can win. You might be like that too.”

uLife teaches us and failures teach us a great deal. We can benefit from these lessons by avoiding making the same mistakes over and over. However, this same process can mislead us into thinking that a past failure should not be tried again, or should not be tried with a different approach. The key to making the distinction between avoiding a repeated failure and learning to try again and succeed is to really understand why we failed.

Did we fail to achieve our goal in the past because we did not use the right approach? The right tools? The right amount of effort? It is critical to identify why we fail to avoid following that same path and failing again. But this should not stop us from trying again by changing our approach and eliminating the factor that caused the failure the first time.

Thomas Edison tried over a thousand materials to make an incandescent bulb burn for a long time. Each of those 1000 substances failed. The light either did not glow at all or it burned out quickly. Did Edison decide to abandon his goal and not try again because he had failed? Not at all. He tried again with a different material and continued doing so until he found one that would burn for a long time.

It is not very bright to repeatedly do the same thing over and over when it fails. It is very bright however to identify what is causing the failure, change that factor, and try again.

Myth 2: Safe Goals are the Best Goals

“The trip from Tokyo to Osaka used to take more than six hours by train. It was a bottleneck on business, and executives wanted to reduce the time.

But they didn’t set a safe, easily attained goal. They decided to cut the the trip in half.

The challenge required engineers to scrap conventional solutions and rethink the entire problem. As a result, they came up with the bullet train and revolutionized Japanese transportation.

But they could have played it safe. Nobody likes to lose, so it’s common to set goals well inside our comfort zone.”

uIt is certainly OK to have a safe goal – one that you are fairly certain you can attain and one that is not too difficult to achieve. In fact I advise people starting out setting goals to choose easy ones at first to get used the process and to enjoy the reward of success.

Once you have succeeded a few times with relatively easy goals it is time to set a challenging goal. The more challenging it is the better because it will force you to stretch – to learn more and potentially achieve more. Great achievements are not usually attained through simple or easy goals. They are the results of big challenges. Sure the risk of failure with a big goal is higher, but so is the potential for success.

Myth 3: You Fail if You Fall Short

“One of the reasons we set safe goals is because we’re fearful about failing. But that practically ensures we stay stuck.

What if the transport engineers fell short of their goal and only cut the Tokyo-Osaka trip by 40, 30, or 20 percent? They still would have gained time and created new efficiencies in the marketplace.”

uWatch a toddler learn to walk. It is very educational. They try, they fall, and they try again. For the first hundred tries they do not attain their ultimate goal, to walk like an adult does. Rather, they make small incremental advances. First they may take just two steps and fall. Then three steps and fall. Soon they are walking half way across the room before they fall.

If a toddler after the first couple falls decided that they were falling short of their goal and have therefore failed, and quit, they would never walk.

Getting part way to achieving your goal is far better than not trying at all. It is far better than giving up. Even if you only attain 20% of your goal you have attained something. With more effort and possibly a change in approach you may reach 100% the next time.

Myth 4: Writing Your Goals is Unnecessary

“A lot of people who have dreams never bother to write them down. They’d never build a house or take a serious vacation without blueprints or an itinerary of some sort, but they’ll trust their most significant hopes for the future to memory alone!

If you’re fine with stalling out and never making progress, then that’s a good way to do it. But if you want to make progress this year on your most important goals, you’ve got to write them down.

A study by Dr. Gail Matthews of Dominican University found you’re 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down. Other studies back her up.”

uThe cited studies prove what success writers and self improvement teachers have been saying for a very long time. Write it down! There are a number of reasons why this works much better than not writing your goals down.

We know that writing something down engages the brain in a way that makes the goal more real. It begins the re-wiring process in the brain that will promote our efforts toward achieving the goal.

Life is full of so many distractions and interruptions. It is just too easy to go off course, to forget what we are trying to achieve. But if a goal is written down and you refer to it often you cannot forget it and it will be much more difficult for distractions to interfere with your efforts to achieve your goal.

Myth 5: Specificity Doesn’t Really Matter

“What if our goals are challenging but vague? I hear people all the time who want big things but are uneasy about dialing it in and getting specific.

Setting narrow, well-defined goals can feel like boxing ourselves in. We like open horizons and lots of options. The narrower the goal, the more restricted we can feel.

But this is counterproductive. If we make our goals narrow enough, we can actually trigger the action we want to accomplish. This is especially helpful with daily habits we want to form—the typical things we set as New Year’s resolutions.”.

uIt is critical to be as specific as possible when defining your goal. Being specific gives you the direction and control needed to focus on exactly what you want to achieve. It is not enough to ‘lose weight’. It is enough to “lose 20 lbs. in the next 60 days”.

Being specific provides clarity, tells you exactly what you are trying to accomplish, makes it time bound to keep you on task, and makes it measurable. Only through specificity do you know when you have actually achieved your goal and along the way it tells you if you are making progress.

Read Hyatt’s post here: 5 Major Goal Setting Myths that Keep You Stuck:

Learn how to formulate goals correctly to gain control over your life and achieve your dreams in my book, Goal Power!

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.