It was several years into my adult life, before I understood why the California freeway system has “mile markers.” It took me even longer to make my own habit of mile markers – recording my victories.
If you get stranded on the side of the freeway and need to call a tow truck, it’s good to be able to tell the dispatcher your nearest mile marker, as well as which side of the freeway you’re on. It’s not much help to say, “I’m on the 10 between Lincoln and Sepulveda.” It’s even worse if you’re somewhere out of our massive city grid system.
The longer you sit out there on the roadside, the more time you waste, waiting for a tow truck to bail you out. They already take time, just to get near where you are … why would you force them to spend extra time looking for you?
You’d be amazed at the parallel this holds for personal and professional development. There is such reluctance and resistance to the idea of recording victories, those little “mile markers” on the map that indicate how far you’ve come. And yet, they’re essential for a successful life.
I remember my long season of rejecting this habit, and how I always felt spiritually famished. I constantly had to swallow my internal saboteur’s monologue that I was a failure. I’d tell myself I didn’t know what I was doing, I wasn’t succeeding, none of my achievements mattered … and why? Because I simply wouldn’t take time to celebrate them!
If you want to know a very honest reason why you feel like a “loser” … it’s because you’ve forgotten the last 10 times you won!
In your defense, there’s pop psychology and misunderstanding built around winning. More than about any other topic, in my opinion. I mean, all you have to do is look on social media to see how much more happy, healthy, victorious and materially abundant other people’s lives are. That alone ought to “confirm” … you’re not making progress.
But You ARE Making Progress … Here’s Why
Former Indianapolis Colts lineman Shawn Harper said a “winner’s mindset is about way more than a W-L column ratio.” In other words, if all you do is read the box score, you’re missing the point.
For starters, you are locked in a marathon “steel cage match” with your lower self – your own worst enemy. This part of you doesn’t fight fair, and it’s remarkable how he/she never says anything that’s true, genuine, encouraging, intelligent, honest or trustworthy. This is the voice you hear all day long, diminishing or devaluing the good things you do.
Would you like to know the other interesting thing about what your lower self says? Your “W” column, where you actually do register wins, is always … “just lucky.” Pure coincidence. You were in the right place at the right time. It’s nothing to do with your attributes, character or gifts. We hear people talk about our talents and think, “Well, everyone can do that, can’t they?”
If you still doubt me, let’s look at it this way: does your lower self treat the “L” column with the same kid gloves? Not on your life! All of a sudden it is ALL your fault! You botched everything, right from the get-go! You are responsible, even for things where you have no control or influence! This is how we talk to ourselves, when we don’t keep a record of our wins.
The battle is for your happiness. Your lower self is a miserable saboteur, and misery loves company. But you don’t have to stay there, unless you enjoy being unhappy. You might have to learn some new habits … but you’re free to leave.
How To Get The Win-Mill Turning
Another mistake we make recording “wins” is that culture encourages us to think of them in a strictly numerical sense. “How many new sales did you make?” “How much more do you earn than those people?” “What was the score?”
The problem with these questions is you can’t account for other people’s behaviors, decisions, abilities and circumstances. You can influence people to do business, but you can’t compel them to buy. You need your opponent to lose, in order to win.
You should have goals if you’re in sales, or play sports. But when you look at what the world’s best salespeople and athletes do, they spend 99% of their time doing things other than making sales or winning. The majority of their time gets spent on goals where the only person who can stop them is themselves. Would you agree?
Salespeople make hundreds of phone calls and e-mails, because most of the responses will be negative. They follow up, write presentations, and build relationships with power partners. The numbers are results of hard, intelligent work; you can’t “manufacture” them at the outset. Athletes are the same; they practice – drills, scrimmages, workouts and rehearsals.
So here are some actions you can take – that only you can stop yourself from doing – to get the “win-mill” turning quickly, and rack up victories
- Create 1-3 goals with a duration of 1 week or less
A bird in the hand’s worth two in the bush. Of course, this means it has to be a “small” bird … but small wins every day rewire your brain, if you pay attention and record them.
When you win, it’s important to celebrate and make note of something most human beings never enjoy … you said what you meant, and meant what you said! You did what you said you’d do, instead of just nice thoughts or feelings. You’re more than just a dreamer; you’re an achiever.
- Celebrate non-numeric goals
While things like quality time, sales and fat loss all have “numbers” – the numbers don’t correlate with your development in the process. Things you personally value, such as respect, impact and achievement, and increased influence don’t usually get tabulated by dollar signs – or any other measurement.
A father who spends 20-30 minutes a day with his child has given a pinch in the hourglass, technically speaking. But anyone who’s ever given their child extra time knows, it leaves a much bigger impression.
Similarly, fat loss has a number – pounds on the scale. That’s good, but don’t forget, it’s how you look when you see yourself in the mirror, and how your spouse begins to notice, that makes a huge difference. When you discover you can “tell” your body how much fat it can store, your sense of mastery and confidence … “bulges.”
- Track the long-term goals
We should think about our long-term goals, but we should consider how we track them. Larger goals that take longer need a solid pathway to get there, or we’ll end up chasing our tails. In fact, if you have a solid idea of your long-term goals, but only a vague sense of how to achieve them … the odds are you won’t win that game.
There are plenty of tools available to build a “roadmap” to achieve your long-term goals. But, if you look back 365 days and imagine setting goals at the end of 2019, we can agree – there’s a LOT you can’t see coming!
That’s one reason you need more than software or the latest book – and the Foundations coaching program is a great place to start.