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How to Make 2018 Your Best Year Ever: The Ultimate Guide

Let's face it...

2017 was a rough year for many people around the world:

  • Controversial decisions on the Global political arena
  • Widespread devastation caused by hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria across the U.S. territory
  • Deadly earthquakes and several natural disasters around the world
  • Countless terrorist attacks
  • Mass shootings and the never-ending crisis in Syria, just to name a few.

All these events have certainly affected a lot of people and my personal thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed and wounded. 

However, if there's one critical lesson we should learn today more than ever, it is this: It's not what happens to us that determines how our life works out. It's what we do about it that matters.

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And if your aim is to make 2018 your best year ever, what can you do to make sure that actually happens? To me, the answer is obvious: by turning inward. You have to get back in control of your life and not let the outside reality affect your inner world.

As the Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus once noted:

In life our first job is this, to divide and distinguish things into two categories: externals I cannot control, but the choices I make with regard to them I do control. Where will I find good and bad? In me, in my choices.

Epictetus

Given that, what follows is a powerful seven-step framework you can use to achieve your goals faster than you ever thought possible and make this year an extraordinary one!

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Step 1: Decide Exactly What You Want

Tell me if you remember this encounter:

– Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?

– That depends a good deal on where you want to get to, said the Cat.

– I don’t much care where, said Alice.

– Then it doesn’t matter which way you walk, said the Cat.

Yep, you guessed it! That's the classic dialogue from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

The moral is pretty obvious: If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there. Of course, you'll get somewhere, but is it really where you'd like to end up? Somewhere?

How about a well designed destination?

As Aristotle said, "Are we not more likely to hit the mark if we have a target?" Or, as the Stoic philosopher Seneca suggested, "Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man doesn't know what harbor he is heading for, no wind is the right wind." Makes sense, doesn't it?

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Clarity is power my friend because there's power in living a life with purpose

When you live with purpose, you know exactly where you want to go. When you know where you want to go, you'll know what to do to get there.

You see, most people fail in life and never rise above mediocrity because they don't have clear, specific goals and plans, written down and accompanied by a burning desire to accomplish them.

On the flip side, highly successful people and world-class performers know clearly what they want, which dramatically increases the probabilities that they will get it.

I know that it may sound basic and common sense, but what's common sense is not always common practice. 

Action Exercises: What You Can Do Now

Here are three simple steps you can follow right now:​

  • Step 1: What exactly do you want to accomplish this year? ​What's the result that you're after? What's your outcome? Take a piece of paper and a pen and write everything down.​
  • Step 2: Once you've created this compelling list, it's time to make some choices. Look at your entire list of goals and ask yourself, "What are the 3 BIG things on this list, that if accomplished, would make 2018 my BEST year ever?" YES! Boil it down to only THREE goals.
  • Step 3: Once you figure that out, here's the best part: Ignore the rest!

Here's why: If these three BIG goals are the ones that would make 2018 your BEST year ever, then the rest will only distract you from accomplishing those three. Makes sense?

So take a few minutes to think about that and make your selections wisely. 🙂

PRO Tip: Know WHY You Want It

Once you've selected your three major goals for this year, take some time to write down WHY you are committed to achieving them.

The reason you want to do this is because reasons come first, answers come second as Jim Rohn would put it. When you know WHAT you want and you know exactly WHY you want it, you can figure out HOW to get it. You follow? 

Reasons come first, answers come second.

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Step 2: Design an Action Plan to Get There

Now that you've decided exactly what you want to accomplish this year and why, it's time to design an action plan to get there.

Probably one of the greatest insights from goal achieving research comes down to this simple concept: structure your goal as a question. For example, if one of your three BIG goals is to get in the best shape of your life this year, ask yourself: "What can I do to get in the best shape of my life this year?"

Simply put, you reverse engineer the process. You begin with the end in mind and work backwards from there. 

Another great question you can ask yourself is ...

"Who I must BECOME to achieve what I want?" 

This powerful question goes to the root of the issue with goal achievement. And here's why: your outer world is merely a mirror. It reflects back in absolute and complete accuracy what's going on inside.

Put in other words, if you want to change anything on the outside, you have to change things on the inside first. As above, so below. As within, so without. This is one of those timeless principles that all philosophers and spiritual teachers have preached about for thousands of years of recorded history. 

As my mentor Jim Rohn suggested, you should "learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job." He also said that "when you will change, everything will change for you."

I can’t tell you how much my life has changed as a result of this simple philosophy (I’ll share with you my story one day 😀 ). And I’d love the same to happen for you.

The bottom line? 

To have more, you've got to become more.

Besides that, the purpose of goals is not to achieve them. I'll repeat that: the purpose of goals is not to achieve them. The purpose of goals is to entice you to become the person you are capable of being. It's not about the destination, it's about the journey. It's about the process. 

The purpose of goals is not to achieve them. The purpose of goals is to entice you to become the person you are capable of being.

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So my question to you is this: What books will you read in 2018 (and beyond)? What audio programs will you listen to? What courses and seminars will you attend? What key skills will you develop? What excuses will you let go of? What people will you surround yourself with? What poor habits will you get rid of and what new healthy habits will you install in your life?

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Action Exercises: What You Can Do Now

  • Select your number one, most important goal, and write it down on a separate piece of paper. 
  • Below your goal on that sheet of paper, write down every single action that you can possibly think of that you could do now or/and in the future to achieve that goal. 
  • Look at the entire list of action items and start prioritizing them in the order of importance. You do this by applying the Law of Three which, according to Brian Tracy, means that "there are only three things that you do each day that account for 90% of the value of everything that you do."
  • To apply the Law of Three, ask yourself these three questions: “If I could do only one thing on this list, which one activity contributes the greatest value to my desired outcome?”

    Put a circle around that and ask the next question: “If I could do only two things on this list all day long, what would be the second thing that would contribute the most value?” 

    Put a circle around that, and then ask the question one more time.“If I could do only three things on this list, what would be number three?”
  • These will become your 3 MVP's (3 Most Valuable Priorities) for your number one goal.
  • Repeat the process for the other two big goals.
  • When you're done, go to step #3...

Step 3: Take Massive Action

You can have the most inspiring action plan, you can read hundreds of books, you can listen to countless audio programs and enroll in dozens of courses, but all of it will be completely useless if you don't take any action.

At the end of the day, what separates highly successful people from the rest of the world is their sense of urgency, which is represented by their determination to take action immediately toward their desired outcome.  

Look, we've all encountered broke PhD's, obese doctors, and divorced marriage counselors. That's because knowledge doesn't change behavior. It won't do you any good if you don't apply it!

Knowledge is NOT Power!

There a lot of people who believe that knowledge is power. But nothing could be further from the truth. Knowledge is extremely important, but it is only the potential of power. It becomes power only when it is transmuted into action.

I know there are people who will tell you otherwise. But listen to them, and then listen to me and make up your own mind. You don't need to follow anyone. Remember, don't be a follower, be a student! 

With that in mind, I think the point we can all agree on is that nothing ever happens unless we take that relentless focused action toward our desired outcome.  ​

Side note: If you're someone who is looking for "the easy way" or you believe in "overnight success" and "get-rich-quick" schemes, than you should probably listen to some other "guru." I'm not the right guy for you. 

Success takes work. HARD WORK. And lots of it. I know that you know this stuff already. But it’s worth reminding ourselves from time to time. 🙂

And here's one more thing:

Remember that those who are at the top today were once at the bottom. In other words, those who are at the top didn't START there. As Zig Ziglar said, "You don't have to be great to start. But you have to start to be great."​  

You don't have to be great to start. But you have to start to be great.

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Action Exercises: What You Can Do Now

  • Choose your number one, most important goal for this year.
  • Look at the 3 MVP's (Most Valuable Priorities) you've selected for that specific goal (see Step 2).
  • Choose ONE simple thing you can do right now and act on it immediately. Remember that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. 
  • From every single action you'll take, you'll begin to see progress. Eventually, you'll gain momentum, which will motivate you to take some more action and, before you know it, you are UNSTOPPABLE. 
  • Most importantly, do something every day to move you steadily toward your goal. Resolve that you will NEVER give up, no matter what! 

Step 4: Get Feedback (See What's Working and What's Not)

What stops most people from taking action? 

The answer is FEAR. 

And the number one fear most people have that creates action paralysis is the fear of failure. But it doesn't have to be that way ...

The truth of the matter is that you can't fail unless you don't try, am I right? ​You try something and see if it works. If it works, great, in which case you do more of it. If it doesn't, you learn from your experience and try something else. 

It's that simple, but we tend to make it more complicated than it needs to be.

Besides that, maybe a better way to think about failure is to think of it in terms of "experimentation." Consider everything you try as an experiment. Suddenly, it takes a whole new meaning, doesn't it? 

So now you know what you want. You know why you want it. You have an action plan to get there and you take massive action, which already puts you ahead of 90% of people on this planet.

Isn't that awesome? 

Just think about it for a second. . . If all this did was to put you in the top 10% of people on the planet, would it be worth it?

I think the answer is obvious. ​But let's not get too ahead of ourselves. There's one pitfall in particular that I want you to avoid at all costs.

You see, when most people start taking action toward their goal, they kind of fall into a belief pattern that says, "I know with TOTAL certainty that this is going to work!"

For short, we call that tunnel vision.

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The problem with this mindset is that you become very rigid in your approach and you lack flexibility. You are 100% convinced that it is going to work, despite evidence to the contrary and despite the fact that your results tell a totally different story. 

Sounds familiar? Yeah, me too. 😀

There is a difference between persistence and stubbornness. The former is crucial to your success. The latter is detrimental. 

So what you need to be able to do is you need to know what you're getting. You need to develop the ability of noticing what's working and what's not. ​

But wait... What happens if it's NOT working? What happens if what you're doing isn't getting you closer to your outcome? You stop? No, of course not! 

You go to step number five, which is. . .

Step 5: Pivot / Adapt / ​Change Your Approach

The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.

Attributed to Albert Einstein

This great quote sums it up brilliantly.

But let's suppose that you change your approach and it still doesn't work. . . What do you do then?

You guessed it... you change your approach again. If that doesn't work, you change it again. And if that doesn't work, you change it again. And if that still doesn't work, you change it again.

The question is, how many times? The answer is: Until you find out what works. Isn’t that simple? Simple, but never easy. 😀

Now let me give you a perfect example of someone who used this approach brilliantly.

His name is Thomas Edison.

Thomas Edison, as you may know, was described as America's greatest inventor. He developed many devices among which were the telegraph, the phonograph, and the first commercially practical incandescent electric light bulb. 

best year ever 4

So far, so good.

But what few people know about Edison is that while developing the commercially viable light bulb, he actually went through over ten thousand prototypes before getting it right. TEN THOUSAND. Can you imagine that?

Here is a man who knew exactly what he wanted. He knew clearly why he wanted it. He took massive action toward his outcome. He noticed what worked and what didn't. And finally, he changed his approach not once, not twice, not a dozen times, but TEN THOUSAND times before he reached his outcome. 

In fact, when a reporter asked him, "How did it feel to fail 10,000 times?" here's what Edison replied: "I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work."​

Different perspective, different outcome. 

Step 6: Model Someone Who's Already Achieved What You Want

If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and model what they do and you’ll achieve the same results.

Tony Robbins

​If you want to accelerate your way to success, the surest way to do that is to model someone who's already achieved what you want. 

Remember, success leaves clues. And besides, why would you reinvent the wheel if you can simply learn from the best? 

The surest way to achieve success is to model someone who's already achieved what you want.

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This is one of the greatest success principles: Learn from the people who are already demonstrating the results that you want to get. Read their books. Listen to their audio programs. Attend their seminars and courses. If possible, ask them to be your mentor.

Highly successful people are not lucky. They know something that you may not know. They have proven principles and strategies that work. And all you have to do is figure out what they're doing right and do the same thing.

This simple process can save you years of trial-and-error learning, lots of stress and frustration.

Just imagine that for a second. Can you see the immense power behind this principle?​ You can literally transform every single area of your life with this simple strategy. 

The key point is this:

Whatever you want in life, someone, somewhere in this world has already discovered how to get it. You just need to find out what they did, do the same things and eventually, you'll get the same result.

It's the Law of Sowing and Reaping in action: if you'll sow the same seeds, you'll reap the same rewards. Period.

​Step 7: Upgrade Your Peer Group

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

Jim Rohn

Who you choose to surround yourself with will determine your success or failure in life. 

That's a bold statement, I know. And here's why. . . (Prepare to be mind blown.)

Research led by Dr. David McClelland over a 30 year period found that the people you habitually associate with determines as much as 95 percent of your success or failure in life.

Another groundbreaking study led by Dr. Nicholas Christakis of Harvard Medical School, which followed 12,067 people for over 32 years​, found that when someone became obese, the odds of that person's close mutual friends becoming obese TRIPLED! In explaining these findings, Dr. Christakis said, "You change your idea of what is an acceptable body type by looking at the people around you." [Source: Switch, by Dan & Chip Heath]

Of course, obesity is not the only contagious behavior. The same happens in almost every single area of your life, from health, to money, to intimate relationships, to the way you use your time, and on and on ...

The fact of the matter is that we are social animals and we always respond to the environments we're in.

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In fact, we know from scientific studies that if you take a good person and put them in a bad environment, that person will do bad things. If you take a person who performed bad acts, whom the group doesn't trust, and you put them in a good environment, that person is capable of turning his life around and become a remarkable member of society.

In other words, it's not the person, it's the environment. That's how powerful social influence is.​

Remember: birds of a feather flock together. And if you haven't been aware of the power of associations in your life by now, it's time consider it because it can either make or break you.

Lucky for you, I wrote an in-depth article on this very subject where you'll discover how to evaluate and upgrade your peer group. 

Recommended reading: The Power of Associations: Who's Influencing You?

Bonus Step: Acknowledge The Shortness of Life

It is not that we have so little time but that we lose so much. … The life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully.

Seneca

Remember that every single day of your life you have the power to choose. In particular, you have to choose the answer to this question: Will I live this day as if it is my last? Yes or no? 

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As Tony Robbins suggested, the quality of your questions determines the quality of your life.

If that's true, then let me ask you this: What one thing would you dare to do if you knew you couldn't fail? Think about it for a second. What one thing would you dare to do if you knew you couldn't fail?

And here's the second question: What stops you from doing it? 

Look my friend... Before we know it, you and I are going to get to the end of our lives. And besides, it might be sooner than we expect it to happen. 

So maybe now is the time to rethink how you're living. Maybe now is the time to rethink your values. Maybe now is the time to rethink your goals.

Maybe now is the time to give up on what society wants you to be and start being what you've always wanted to be. 

Maybe it's time to stop listening to that deep voice within that says, "I'm not good enough. I'm not smart enough. I'm not worthy. I'm too old. I'm too young, and on and on..."

Maybe it's time to stop living in your head so much and start following your heart's calling.

Please don't wait until you're 60 before living the life you've always wanted to live. 

Top 5 Regrets of The Dying

In 2012, the Australian author Bronnie Ware wrote a brilliant book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

Despite having no formal qualifications or experience, Ware found herself working in palliative care. She spent many years tending to the needs of those who were facing their own mortality. And during that time, she questioned the dying about the regrets they had or anything they would do differently if they had to live their life over again.  

As a result, here are the five most common regrets in ascending order:

  1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.​
  3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

"I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me." This was the number one regret expressed by the dying. As Bronnie Ware said, "Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made."

The question is... What choices will you make starting RIGHT NOW? 

Conclusion​

Please don't underestimate the power of a single step. As Thomas Huxley put it, "the rung of a ladder was never meant to rest upon, but only to hold a man's foot long enough to enable him to put the other somewhat higher."

Besides, please don't underestimate the small, little things. Because in the end, those little things performed each day with consistency will lead to BIG results over time. 

And lastly, I'd like to leave you with a quote that can change your life if you'll choose to fully embrace it:

When you were born, you cried while the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a way that when you die, the world cries while you rejoice.

Rabindranath Tagore

Stay humble my friend. Stay well. Be great and make 2018 your best year ever. 🙂

NOTE: If you want to take back control of your time and your life and achieve your goals 10x faster in 2018, make sure to check out my new eBook "How to Become Insanely Productive" by following this link.


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Daniel Cerescu

I’m Daniel Cerescu, and I’m the guy behind this blog. Even though most of the material on this website is free, I aim to make this free content better than anyone else’s paid stuff. My goal is to provide you with valuable, straight-forward insights on how to become your greatest version, reach your full potential and create an extraordinary life.