In the book, Principles, Ray Dalio, one of the world’s wealthiest and most intelligent people, suggests a 5-step process for achieving big goals:
- Have clear goals
- Identify and don’t tolerate the problems that stand in the way of achieving your goals
- Accurately diagnose the problems to get at their root causes
- Design plans that will get you around those problems
- Do what’s necessary to push those plans to completion
You get in life what you tolerate, as Tony Robbins has said.
And most people have developed tolerances for distraction and addiction. They’ve become okay with it. They’ve settled for that reality.
Very few people realize that the root cause of their problems is always themselves. Because even if the actual problem is something (or someone) in your environment, it’s up to you to make that change.
There is no neutral ground.
You can’t stand still in today’s environment. It’s too intense. Too demanding. Too distracting.
Dalio’s list is entirely accurate. But in order to actually make your way through that list, you need to experience powerful shifts. To quote Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.,
“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”
Identifying and not tolerating the problems standing in your way requires changing how you view things, including yourself. This change is always a reaction to action, and not the other way around.
When you act, then you start to get clarity.
When you act, then you get motivation.
When you act, then you get ideas and inspiration and increased faith in your goals.
When you act, your view of yourself follows. Your behavior shapes who you are.
In order to achieve your goals, you need to become the person who can have those goals.
You Must Make A Definitive Decision While In A Peak State
“Peak experiences as rare, exciting, oceanic, deeply moving, exhilarating, elevating experiences that generate an advanced form of perceiving reality, and are even mystic and magical in their effect upon the experimenter.”
— Abraham Maslow
According to Abraham Maslow, the psychologist who coined the term and framework for self-actualization, a “peak experience” is “rare.”
However, having peak experiences certainly doesn’t have to be rare.
Actually, having peak experiences, or putting yourself into a peak state, should be something you do on a daily basis.
The reason people consider peak experiences to be rare is because they haven’t set up their lives to have them on a regular basis.
Again, most people are very disconnected from themselves. They are living in an addictive and reactive state. In those few moments when people purposefully pull themselves from their mesmerized state of unconscious, peak experiences happen.
They are predictable.
You can create them.
What if you made being in a peak state a priority?
What if you literally needed to operate at peak levels on a daily basis in order to achieve your goals?
What if that was your standard?
Being in a peak state means you’re operating at the level you want to be, so that you can achieve ambitions beyond anything you’ve done before.
If you’re not currently pursuing something you’ve never done before, you probably don’t need to have regular peak experiences.
But if you’re in a state of growth, you’ll need to position your life to have peak moments more frequently.
Even more — you need to set your trajectory from a peak state. Because how you start something is generally how you finish it. If you start right, you’ll usually be able to stay right. But if you start wrong, it’s very very difficult to get things right.
This doesn’t mean you won’t iterate along the way. It simply means that the power behind your initial decision will determine the trajectory.
Most people make weak decisions from a non-peak state. Very few people, actually, truly make any real decisions at all. Most people don’t have enough conviction to truly make a decision. They aren’t definitive. They aren’t dead-set. The stakes aren’t high enough.
Instead, they are like a ship without a sail. They go wherever life takes them. Theirs’ is a random and unconscious evolution. Their behaviors are reactive and without much consequence. It doesn’t matter if they blow several hours roaming around on the internet.
However, if you want to set a new path in your life, you need to make a powerful and definitive decision. And you want to be in a peak state while you make that decision.
How do you get into a peak state?
You need to get out of your day-to-day routine. You need to give yourself some space. That doesn’t mean you need to go away for several days or weeks (although if you can, it would be very helpful).
You need to get your body moving. Before speaking for several hours to his audience of thousands, Tony Robbins purposefully and continually puts himself into a peak state.
He does this by jumping up and down, spinning around, fist pumping, standing with his arms outstretched, and even bouncing on a trampoline backstage.
Getting your body moving and breathing deeply are some of the easiest ways to get into a peak state.
Listening to music that motivates you can trigger a peak state.
Giving a genuine compliment or being kind to someone can also put you into an incredible mood.
Learning and expanding your mind can put you into a peak state.
The core purpose for having a morning routine is to put yourself into a peak state in the morning — so you can then operate from that state for the rest of your day.
Rather than being reactive, addicted, and unconscious in your morning — it’s far better to proactively put yourself in a peak state in a ritualistic manner.
Morning rituals are essential.
If you want to overcome an addiction — you need a morning ritual.
If you want to be a prolific writer or creator — you need a morning ritual.
If you want to be discerning, inspired, and present in your relationships on a daily basis — you need a morning ritual.
Because you need to trigger a state beyond your old ways of acting. If you want a different life, you must be a different person. Your morning ritual is what triggers a peak state. That state then reminds you of who you want to be and how you want to act. You then act from that state, as that person, for the remainder of your day.
If you’re wanting to change your trajectory in life, the two best places to do that are:
- In the morning after a powerful and ritualized morning routine
- Completely out of your routine and in an environment optimized for learning, growth, connection, rest, and recovery
You need to make a decision. You need to put yourself in a position and environment to make the most powerful decision possible.
Remind Yourself Continually Of The Decision You’ve Made
If you make a decision to live at a higher level, there will naturally be lots of resistance to your living out that decision.
You have an environment built around you to keep things how they are.
You have a mental model that matches your current life. If not so, your life would be different.
Your confidence also matches your current life. If not so, your life would be different.
So, when you make a definitive decision to live differently, you need to continually re-create the experience that spawned the decision.
That experience — and its accompanying mindset — need to become your new normal.
So, you need to develop a routine of regularly getting yourself into a peak state.
The best time to do that is immediately upon waking up.
Because if you don’t do it the moment you wake up, you’ll immediately slip into your current state of operating, which is below the level of your decision. Thus, despite your best intentions, your behaviors will continue to match your current reality.
Consequently, your current reality will persist, and your dreams will remain dreams. If such is the case, then in honesty, you should admit that the “decision” you made wasn’t really a decision.
It wasn’t a decision because you didn’t care enough about it to live it out on a daily basis.
You didn’t care enough about it to put yourself into that place.
You didn’t care enough to create a peak state, and then operate from that state on a daily basis.
You must first be a certain way, then act from that place, in order to have what you want. You need to act consistently from the peak state that formed your decision. It needs to become who you are.
The next step is how you solidify your new identity.
Invest Yourself In That Decision
Only those who are invested are truly committed.
Only those who are committed are willing to change themselves to uphold their decision.
The moment you invest yourself in your decision, you are telling yourself that you’re serious about this.
You’re no longer just thinking.
In my doctoral research in organizational psychology, I’ve spent my time examining the differences between entrepreneurs and wannabe entrepreneurs.
The core theme I’ve found in my research is that entrepreneurs — those who have started a company and are actively managing it — have had a “Point of No Return” experience of some sort. Wannabe entrepreneurs have had no such experience.
Sometimes, these point of no return experiences were typical — like quitting your job.
But the most common point of no return experience involved making a financial investment.
There’s something strange and magical that happens when someone financially invests in themselves. When they invest their money into their dreams.
The investment is almost always what triggers a point of no return moment. It’s that point in time when a person becomes truly committed. Sometimes even over-committed. Hence, it’s a “point of no return.”
Once you make an investment in your decision, you solidify your new identity. Your role changes. You become a leader of the cause you’re about.
You’ve got skin in the game.
You’re no longer watching your own life from the sidelines.
You’ve decided to jump into the game and actually do something.
By investing in yourself, you’ll deepen and intensify your “why.” And when your why is strong enough, you’ll figure out how.
Making a big investment in yourself is a leap of faith, because in that moment there feels to be no guarantee that you’ll recoup that investment.
Little did you know that the very act of making the investment is more powerful than what you’ll actually get out of that investment. By “signing that check,” you’ll change.
The investment itself is a psychological leap. It will change your identity and orientation toward life, toward yourself, and toward your future.
Because most people don’t make powerful decisions, they don’t understand the necessity and power of investing in themselves and in their decisions.
But if you make a bold and powerful decision, you’ll need to invest a lot into that thing.
If you want to be the best in the world at what you do, you’ll need to invest big.
Because most of the people you’ll work with won’t have your best interests at heart.
They won’t be operating at the level of your decision.
They won’t get it.
So you’ll need to build a team around you who won’t let you settle for less than the decision you’ve made.
Reach Out To The Right People — Who Aren’t Afraid To Tell You The Hard Truth
“The bigger the dream, the more important the team.”
— Robin Sharma
If you’re striving to do something big, you will not be able to do it alone.
You’ll need the right people to help you.
People who won’t let you fail. Or, who will at least give it to you straight when you’re going the wrong direction. And you will go the wrong direction, from time-to-time, because egos, money, time, and other things are on the line.
I’m humbled to be in such a position to have incredible people around me. Without these people, my dreams would not happen.
The decisions I’ve made were too clear and too powerful not to have the right people around me. Because I know I couldn’t have done it without them.
For example, I made the decision in late 2016 to write a book on a very, very different level than the norm. I ended up getting a six-figure contract for that book.
However, I knew that in order for that book to be what I wanted it to be, I’d need to invest basically the entire advance back into the book.
When I decided to write that book, I wasn’t yet ready to write it.
I needed help.
I hired a consulting firm that specialized in book development and marketing — led by one of my favorite authors whose written several best-selling books.
I joined a high level mastermind group filled with people far more intelligent at marketing and thinking than I am.
Interestingly, things seemed to fall into place in almost a mystical manner. As William Hutchison Murray has said:
“That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.”
It may be Providence, or “the universe,” that makes brilliant things happen for those who are fully committed.
Or, it may be that the investment itself is what makes world-class performances and work.
It’s probably both.
But what I’ve found in the writing of a book I intend to be far more than a typical book, is that Providence, luck, miracles, breakthroughs — these all follow investment.
The act of investment changes you.
It changes your proximity to certain people.
It changes your posture toward your dreams.
It changes how committed and convicted you are to making your decision come to fruition.
When you make a decision in a peak state — and it’s an enormous and powerful decision — you will need to invest big to make that decision happen. The biggest investment is into the right relationships. Those people who will hold you to a higher standard than you hold yourself.
Because the truth is, in your current state, your own standards aren’t yet high enough to make your decision happen. The act of making a huge investment in yourself, and then humbly absorbing everything that investment entails, is what will qualify you to grow into your decision.
Invest More — The More Invested You Are, The More Your Identity Will Change (Only Those Who Are Committed Change)
The more invested you are, the more committed you’ll be to your decision.
Obviously, you must be wise.
You may have family to care for. You don’t want to put your loved one’s in jeopardy.
But you need to continually be making steps to evolve and elevate yourself. This will require a new way of thinking and being.
You’ll need to think differently and work differently.
You’ll need to learn what you need to learn, and perform work that starts making a splash. Your initial investment will be your time. Then, you’ll need to invest whatever you can squeeze into education and mentoring. You’ll then need to immediately apply what you learn in the form of action.
For instance, when I started blogging in April of 2015, I bought a $197 online course. I didn’t spend thousands and thousands of dollars. I spent $197. I also bought like five books which taught me the mindsets and strategies I needed to write in a powerful and successful way.
Those small investments led to quick results.
Those results created confidence to take bigger leaps and make bigger investments. Within a few months, I had the confidence to quit my job as a graduate assistant in my graduate program, and to really “go for it” as a writer.
By quitting my job, I was solidifying to myself that I was serious. I had to make it work because I had a wife and foster children relying on me. Yet, I didn’t quit my job until after I had sufficient evidence I was ready to do so. By that point, I was consistently writing viral articles and growing my audience. The trajectory was clear. The decision I had previously made was being manifest and I was consistently putting myself into a peak state, and writing from that state.
Have you invested in your decisions?
Have you immediately applied what your investment provided?
Are you consistently putting yourself into a peak state and manifesting evidence for the decision you’ve made?
At the end of the day, the work you do is the byproduct of your decisions. Your work is the byproduct of your commitment.
Your work is a reflection of your investment.
If your work isn’t what you want it to be, you’ll need to invest more.
You’ll need to “sharpen your saw,” or perhaps even replace your saw with something more effective.
If you want to do better work, you’ll need to become a different person with a different mindset and a different identity.
Be Honest With Yourself About The Changes You Must Make To Evolve
Change is not easy.
There will be things you must give up to grow into your decision, investment, and commitment.
You’ll need to let things go.
You’ll need to put yourself into environments that will allow you to make powerful decisions to change. You’ll then need to tell key people about the changes you’re making, and the commitments you’re striving for. You’ll need to eventually remove your addiction or distraction from your life.
You’ll need to pass a point of no return.
You’ll need to evolve into someone new.
Prepare Yourself As Much As Possible To Succeed (Even Though You Can’t Predict Everything)
“The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat.”
— Richard Marcinko
You’ll then need to strategize and create opportunities for growth. This could be giving a speech, or having a conversation, or performing in some way.
But you need to put yourself into a high stakes situation, wherein succeeding will open huge doors.
You need a challenge to rise up to. That challenge should be public. You need to put your money where your mouth is. You need to take some bold risks.You need to make some big promises. Then, you need to make good on those promises.
Recently, I gave a speech at an event that will likely change the trajectory of my career. It wasn’t easy putting myself in a position to give that speech. And I certainly received a lot of help from others, which help I couldn’t have given myself, to create this opportunity.
Once the opportunity presented itself, I made sure to prepare myself as much as I possibly could to succeed. I over-prepared, and then let it go.
Once prepared sufficiently, you don’t have to wonder. You don’t have to stress. You just trust that enough is enough. And you then perform without any concern about the outcome. Because if you fixate on the outcome, you won’t be fully present for your performance.
You have to be willing to either succeed big or fail big. Because anything in-between those is not in alignment with the decision and investment you’ve made.
You’re not here to play small.
You’re not here to be average.
It’s either a home-run, or it’s not the right opportunity.
You’ve put all the pieces in place. You’ve done everything you can. You’ve created conditions that would make the achievement of your goals inevitable.
You have trust, hope, and faith.
So then you put it all out on the line.
If it works, which you assume it will, you’ll continue forward in the same humble manner you have since the inception of your decision.
If it doesn’t work, you won’t be deterred. This is all part of the process. Your committed. You’ve passed your point of no return. You’re going to proactively figure it out — because your why is so powerful that it is pulling you forward. It won’t let you stop. You’ve been seized. The decision you made is definite. And you’re willing to change and become whatever you must become to achieve that commitment.
Give Others Their Due Credit, And Focus On Transformational Relationships (Not Transactional Ones)
“Self-made is an illusion. There are many people who played divine roles in you having the life that you have today. Be sure to let them know how grateful you are. Example: the person who introduced you to the person who introduced you to your spouse or business partner or client. Go back that far.”
— Michael Fishman
You may be responsible for your success, but you are not the cause of your success.
Yes, you’ve invested big into relationships. But the energy others put into you and your success is complete grace.
It’s not earned.
Sure, you may have paid for it.
But relationships — the one’s that lead to radical success — are never transaction-based. There’s no keeping score. There’s no trying to get everything you can out of it.
There’s only gratitude, humility, and showing up.
You show up, graciously learn, and give.
You go above and beyond what is required because you appreciate that person. Because you love that person, regardless of what they can give you.
You change for that relationships.
Unfortunately, most people engage in transactional-relationships. They focus on what they can get, not what they can give. They aren’t generous and abundant. They aren’t thankful. They don’t go over-the-top.
They’re focused on themselves.
And it shows.
And the results speak for themselves.
But when you engage in transformational relationships, you know the whole is different from the sum of parts. You know that what you can do together is fundamentally different and beyond what you could do alone.
You expect transformation.
You expect change.
You expect growth.
And you humbly, graciously, gratefully, and openly do whatever it takes for that to happen.
You then give credit where it is due.
Give others the credit for your success. Because they were just as involved as you were. Sure, it may be your vision. But it couldn’t have happened without certain key players. So give them the credit. They deserve it.
Fight For The Decision You’ve Made — Because No One Cares About Your Success More Than You Do
There will always be opposition.
When you’re working on something big, there will be opposing opinions and agendas.
Not everyone is coming from the same place you are.
Not everyone cares as much as you do. Hence, you need to put people around you who will hold you to the standard of your decision, or an even higher one.
Because most of the people around you will hold you to a lower standard. Most people are too busy with their own goals to care about yours.
And can you blame them?
No, you can’t.
So you’ll need to pick the right battles.
Somethings are simply too important to settle on.
If you’re not willing to fight for your dreams, then no one else will either.
You’ll need to have awkward conversations.
You’ll need to disappoint some people, or make them upset.
You can do this in a conscious and kind way. But you can’t settle. And there will be many people around you who will want you to settle.
You may be required to replace people.
Or pivot from your original approach. In fact, you’ll have to pivot a lot.
But you have to be relentless. You have to do whatever it takes. And you will if you’re invested enough. You will if your identity and life have changed for this decision.
Humbly Watch As Things Fall Into Place, And To Acknowledge When They Do
“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
Then, you need to let go and just watch.
You’ll be blown away by everything that happens in your life.
You’ll be blown away by the people, and the opportunities, and the experiences, and the achievements, and the work you do.
When you make a true decision, and then live your life from that decision, it will happen. It may not happen in the way you thought it would. In fact, you should expect it won’t. Because you’ll be engaging in transformational relationships and experiences that will change you in ways you can’t currently predict. But you’ll have complete trust that the outcome — the emergent whole coming from the sum of parts — will be what it was meant to be.