Welcome to the beginning of the rest of your life.
At this time of the year, most people are fresh off the holidays and have set goals or are still setting them. The thing is, many people over estimate what they can accomplish in a year, but underestimate what they can achieve in three. If you haven’t done your goal setting, here’s a great process from one of my mentors.
In today’s article, I want to help guide you to making this your best year ever.
So how do you make your goals and dreams come true?
How do we stay the course through all the stresses, worries, distractions, problems and stuff which just gets in the way?
It’s now known we have a finite amount of mental focus. So in reality, it’s the freedom to focus on what’s important which will exponentially change our lives.
I’ve battled this my whole life. I’ve used all kinds of goal-setting workshops, techniques, books, planners and apps. What was missing in my experience of all of these tools?
My focus tended to waver. I would get excited by the next shiny object and jump. Actually, any planning system, whether it’s old school paper, or a modern digital app will work. It’s all about sticking with it.
Chet Holmes describes it as “pigheaded discipline and determination.” Chet was a fantastic sales guy, author, mentor, coach and a martial artist. And what is martial arts? A few moves repeated and perfected until effectiveness is through the roof.
As legendary kung fu master Bruce Lee says,
“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
So let’s talk about how to focus on your goals.
This is what you are teaching to your music students everyday! Through showing, modeling and breaking down the art of practice, you are teaching the skills of focus. So now let’s apply this to your life and business of teaching.
Let’s say you have a goal to increase your student roster by 10 students by the end of the year.
Okay, now you have to decide what actions to take to achieve this. You have to figure out what to focus on.
The Power of Questions
The most powerful tool to focus the mind is questions.
Questions cause your mind to focus wherever the question leads. Ask a great questions, you are led to great answers. Ask a poor question, then you get the same results. So it’s all about the quality, not the quantity of your questions.
Novice Zen Buddhist monks are given a question they live with for weeks, months, years. These questions or koans are logically unanswerable. But the focus created by the constant searching creates a pearl of wisdom and leads to enlightenment.
The quality of your life ultimately is based on the quality of your questions. Over the years, I’ve become better in my lines of questioning.
But one tool which has helped me greatly is the mindmap. The mindmap has also been called a cluster by some. It’s basically a way of accessing non-linear thinking the way the mind really works. In computer terms, they call this RAM, or random-access memory.
An old VHS videotape is linear and sequential. You cannot easily jump from one part of the tape to the other. A DVD however is random-access. You can jump from one chapter to the last chapter to the middle of a film instantly. The human brain is non-linear.
Here’s an exercise
Write the phrase “How to get more students?” in the center of a blank piece of paper.
Now, as quickly as possible, and without any editing, write down as many ideas as you can and draw spokes from the center outward.
I’ve been using an online tool called Mindmeister. It creates mindmaps I’ve grown to love. It allows me to move things around, edit and reorganize which I couldn’t do on paper.
Here’s an example of a mindmap you can download at Mindmeister.
The trick is to get past the 5 or 6 obvious ideas and really push to get at least 10. Or try to go for 20 ideas. That would be a great stretch!
Make sure to put down even the most ridiculous and unrealistic ideas. These may not be doable, but they may open the door to other ideas. I call these stepping stone ideas. You step over them to really great ones.
Even better, do this exercise with a friend. Your friend’s ideas may be so far out they lead you to an unexpected gem.
You can learn more about mindmaps from the great books by Tony Buzan. Just Google mindmapping and lateral thinking.
I’ll leave you with a quote from the personal development coach Tony Robbins.
“Most people fail in life because they major in minor things.”
So make sure you’re majoring in the major things of your life! Otherwise, at this time next year it will be just the same ol’, same ol’.