Jack Canfield fostered the emergence of inspirational anthologies as a genre – and watched it grow to a billion dollar market. As the driving force behind the development and delivery of more than 123 million books sold through the Chicken Soup for the Soul franchise (and over 500 million copies in print worldwide), Jack Canfield is uniquely qualified to talk about success.
Affectionately known as “America’s #1 Success Coach,” Jack has studied and reported on what makes successful people different. He knows what motivates them, what drives them, and what inspires them. He brings this critical insight to countless audiences internationally–sharing his success strategies in the media, with companies, universities and professional associations.
In the words of Jack Canfield himself:
“You are responsible for achieving the life of your dreams. Therefore, you are the one that needs to step up and pursue what you want. While sometimes the risk to living your dreams is high, so is the reward. If you are ready to stop thinking about your dreams and start living them” according to Canfield these are 6 steps that will help put the odds of success in your favor.
Step 1- Never Underestimate the Power of Passion and Specialization Passion—that which fuels you—and specialization—developing what comes naturally—lay the foundation for the life of your dreams. To utilize and develop the power of these two principles, consider the following:
• Do what you love. If you are not passionate about what you are doing, why do it? A consuming love for what you are doing will get you out of bed every morning with a purpose and direction. It will help you through the long nights and the hard work. Only in the things you love will you find true fulfillment and joy.
• Dream big. Building the life of your dreams is hard work. But here is a little known secret, you will probably spend as much time and effort pursuing a little dream as you will pursuing a big one. Give yourself permission to dream big.
• Play to your strengths. No one is good at everything and you are better at some things than most. Zero in on your strengths and use them to your advantage.
• Become the expert. People should think of you when they think about [insert your passion here]. Position yourself as the expert in that area. Use social media. Be a guest on a morning radio show. Your enthusiasm and knowledge will shine through and people will take note of what you have to say.
Step 2 – Multiply Your Efforts by Leveraging Relationships You can achieve the life of your dreams quicker and with fewer mistakes by drawing on the knowledge, experience, and time of those you know. Relationships have a synergistic effect on how effectively and efficiently you realize the life of your dreams. To build quality relationships in your life, practice the following:
• Assemble the right team. One of the single biggest life decisions you will make is with whom will you associate. While you may be tempted, do not build a network with clones of yourself. If you are playing to your strengths, you will know where you are lacking and you should find people who can bring into your life what you may be missing.
• Cultivate relationships. Once you have met the right people, the real fun begins. Know the people in your network on a personal level. Understand their dreams and goals. What obstacles are they encountering? How could you lend a hand?
• Think transformational vs. transactional. You can treat your relationships as transactional—you give someone this and he or she gives you that—or you can develop transformational relationships where you serve people by blessing their life in a profound way. Doing so will build loyalty in the relationship. That being said…
• Know when to walk away. Not all relationships are created equal. Sometimes the work involved in keeping a relationship going is not justified by the return. Learn to recognize this and be willing to let it go.
• Be a leader. You do not have to be “officially” called to a position to be a leader. Sometimes leadership is staying in the background offering encouragement or helpful advice. As you give your leadership away to others, you will see your power grow as others are motivated to achieve the best and brightest within them.
• Ask for help. Perhaps you do not have as much confidence in your abilities as you should. Maybe you doubt whether someone would even be willing to help. Or you do not want to seem weak or needy. Simply ask for the help you need.
• Grow your network. Think about what types of people you will need to make your dream life a reality and seek out those people. Remember that a networking relationship should be mutually beneficial. Know what you have to offer in return.
Step 3 – Practice Personal “Kaizen” Kaizen, the Japanese word for “continuous improvement”, is typically used when discussing manufacturing or engineering. However, the idea of continually getting better is essential for living the life of your dreams. To bring the spirit of kaizen into your life, consider the following:
• Invest in yourself. With all of your responsibilities and demands on your time, it is easy to neglect your own development. However if you do not invest in yourself, you can cut yourself off from new ideas, ways to improve, and opportunities to grow. You start to stagnate and your hopes and dreams quickly follow.
• Develop your skills. Being a high-achiever forces you to wear many different hats. While you do not need to be an expert in everything, you need a wide breadth of knowledge. Investing in and developing your skills will help you think creatively, be more open to inspiration, and make better decisions.
Step 4 – Acknowledge That Many Paths Lead to Your Dream Life Thinking there is “one way” to your dream life cuts you off from new ideas and in extreme cases keeps you from moving forward out of fear of making a mistake. In order to open yourself up to the many paths available, consider the following:
• Be persistent…and flexible. Often, if you do not make it happen, then no one will. However, sometimes you become too focused on “your solution” and in the process close yourself off to better avenues and opportunities. Push forward, but remove the blinders.
• Fail fast and fail often. Be quick to learn from your mistakes. Often this involves admitting you were wrong. That can be hard, but the sooner you can do it and move on to Plan B—or Plan C for that matter—the quicker you can find what works.
• Do not confuse perfectionism with high standards. No one is more invested in your success than you are. You want everything to be right. Do not let your pursuit of the ideal get in the way of seeing what is good enough. Do not be satisfied with second best, but do not delay going after your dream by waiting for everything to be perfect.
• Break the rules. None of these steps are written in stone. While each of these steps has their place, we would not have the Steve Jobses and Jack Canfields of the world if everyone followed the rules all the time.
Step 5 – Know How to Work with Goals and How to Execute Goals should be a living entity that develops and evolves as you go along. To that end, you must understand what role you play in keeping them alive and when you need to let them do their own thing. To get the most out of your goals, consider the following:
• Stay connected to your goals. If you are not careful, you will find a gap growing between yourself and your goals as time elapses. Make a conscious effort to stay involved with your goals by reviewing them on a daily basis. Doing so will keep your goals top-of-mind and help you recognize opportunities to achieve them when they appear.
• Plan everything. From your 5-year vision to what will happen from 9 am to 10 am tomorrow morning, plan what you will be doing. Having a plan allows you to choose the greater good between what is planned and what shows up. With no plan in place, you will end up reacting to what is before you regardless of its value.
• Take time off from your goals. This can be a hard one, especially if you are the only one making your goal a reality. Nevertheless, you need to take the time to step back and relax. Doing so will help you approach your goal again with a clear head and renewed focus. Even if it is only for a moment, take time off.
Step 6 – Practice Disciplined Execution on What You Need to Do When everything is said and done, how well you execute your plans is the determining factor as to whether you will be able to live the life of your dreams. To become more disciplined when executing your goals, consider the following:
• Hold yourself accountable. Ultimately, the only one you answer to is yourself. Learn to make and keep commitments with yourself. By learning how to hold yourself accountable, you will see immediate improvements in your everyday life.
• Sustainability always trumps short-term gains. As you begin working towards living the life of your dreams, it will be tempting to jump at any opportunity that promises a quick fix to the problems or obstacles you face. However, if you apply a “band-aid” solution at the expense of creating a sustainable solution to your problems, you will quickly find you are right back where you started.
• Stay focused and see it through. Typically, high-achievers are a creative ball of energy. While this serves one well in getting things off the ground and moving, it can also lead to a junkyard of good intentions and half-done projects. Focus on the project at hand and either see it through to implementation or delegate it to someone who will.
The Key to achieving the life of your dreams is to incorporate these steps into your own life and truly make them your own. It is time to take the first step today and start making your dreams a reality.