virgin islands scene

Generosity generates income.
-- Seth Godin


The MONTHLY Motivator - July 2011


Stop and take a look around you. Consider all the products and services that make your life more comfortable and convenient. Think of the tools that make your work more effective. Think about the innovations that bring you greatly increased opportunities for expression and fulfillment. Those things are all brought to you by achievement. Many of the good things in your life, the things that make life more convenient and safer, many of the things that entertain you, keep you healthy, well-nourished, and get you from place to place quickly, are the result of achievement.

Achievement—your own achievement and the achievement of others—is vital to your life. It brings great value to your whole world.

What is achievement? Achievement is the creation of meaningful value. Anything that creates meaningful value in life is achievement. There are small achievements, and there are big achievements. There are short-term, quick achievements that can be done in five minutes, or in a day or two. And there are big, long-term achievements, some that take years to complete. When meaningful value has been created, achievement has taken place.

How does achievement happen? What’s the process?

Achievement begins when there is some motivating factor, when there is some reason for that achievement. That reason can be a negative reason such as a problem, a difficult situation, or a complicated challenge that confronts you. Or, it can be some kind of a positive motivation, such as an opportunity that you recognize, or a desire you have, or something you envision that you want to see created, that you would like in your life.

Achievement begins with some kind of motivating factor, and then it proceeds on to a vision. You envision whatever it is you want to achieve, whether it is a thing or a situation or an experience. After envisioning the achievement in a general sense, the next step in the process is to get more specific. You specify in greater and greater detail exactly what that achievement means. What will it look like, how big will it be, what will it sound like, what will it feel like? What are the details, the colors, the shapes, the sizes, the features, the functions, the experiences associated with the achievement? The more details you can fill in, the better. It is critically important to take your original vision and to make it into something specific. Why is that? Because you can’t achieve a nebulous, generalized vision. The achievements that actually get done are specific achievements. If you’re going to achieve something, you have to achieve something in particular.

Next, plan your course of action. Set up a strategy for reaching the achievement. One effective way to do this is to work backwards. Use the fully realized achievement as your starting point, and consider what the final step would be that would complete the achievement. Once you decide what the last step will be, figure out what the next to last step will be. Then, figure out the step before that, and the one before that, and so on. Work your way backwards until you arrive at a step you can take immediately.

It’s great to have a carefully thought out plan in mind. With a good plan, you’re never left wondering what to do next. There’s always a next step to take. However, it’s also important not to over-analyze your plan in an effort to make it perfect. The fact is, you can’t possibly plan for everything that might or might not happen. Give yourself a good, solid plan, but don’t spend so much time planning that you never take action. The purpose of the plan is to put it to use by acting on it, so get the plan done, get your strategy laid out, and then move on to the next step, which is action.

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--Ralph Marston

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