It's time to learn how to focus on what matters most to you so you can start experiencing more of what really matters.
Do you ever struggle with prioritizing your goals and figuring out which one deserves the most attention? Does that lack of clarity ever cause you to procrastinate or feel like you’re not being as productive as you should be?
In today’s podcast, I’m going to help you to overcome these common struggles by sharing Chapter 6 from my latest book/audiobook, The Miracle Equation, in its entirety. The chapter is titled “Your Mission: It’s Time to Get Clear About Your Top Priority.”
If you want to learn how to identify the single most important priority in your life, commit to one singular mission, and achieve your biggest goals and dreams, this episode is for you!
- How identifying your “mission” can enable you to achieve ALL of your goals.
- Understanding the key difference between a goal and a mission.
- You can’t win a gold medal in more than one activity/sport! Find out if multitasking is holding you back from achieving your biggest goals — and what to do instead!
- Why I was completely delusional about my priorities prior to being diagnosed with Cancer.
- Why the fear of going through another financial crisis (like that of 2008) prevented me from prioritizing what mattered most.
- How I was able to overcome my addiction to work and productivity. I share the radical changes I made to my schedule so I could be fully aligned with my highest priority… family.
- Why it’s okay if your top priority changes over time.
- How to choose your mission and accomplish any goal!
- How to achieve more in 30 days than most people do in 12 months.
- The problem with creating long-term goals.
- 5 safety nets you can use to ensure you successfully accomplish your mission.
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Hal Elrod: Welcome to the Achieve Your Goals podcast. This is your host, Hal Elrod, and thank you so much for tuning in today. I really appreciate your time. I know there are a gazillion podcasts you could be listening to. And so, it means a lot to me that you're listening to this one. And I do not take that lightly. I'll do everything in my power to make sure you always get a lot of value from the podcast. And so, lately, the reviews on iTunes and the feedback on the website, HalElrod.com/podcast. Thank you all for leaving your reviews, leaving your comments. It really helps me to know what's landing for you, what's helpful.
And today's a little different. We're doing a chapter from my latest audio book, my latest book, but in the form of an audio book, obviously, since it's the podcast, this is The Miracle Equation: The Two Decisions That Move Your Biggest Goals from Possible, to Probable, to Inevitable. And if you haven't read that book or listen to that book, this is Chapter 6, Your Mission. It's Time to Get Clear About Your Top Priority. This is very much related to your goals and that the focus of this chapter is helping you guide you through how do I identify, clarify, decide on your highest priority, singular. What is the single most important goal in your life? Once you've identified your highest priority, a.k.a. your mission, how do you line up all of your other goals so that you don't just reach one, but you achieve all of them?
And the story goes back to 2005, it was the first year I ever tried to go really big. I tried to double my income that year. I tried to write a book that I had been working on for six years. I was ready to meet the woman of my dreams and settle down. I tried to get in the best shape of my life physically. I started rock climbing every week. I led a team of my colleagues to have their best year ever. I launched a career as a speaker. Those were all my goals. It was, I don't know, six, seven, eight really big, significant goals that any one of them could have been crucial for me.
And using what you're about to learn, I was able to achieve literally every single one of the goals that I just mentioned. I wrote and published my first book. I launched my speaking career and got paid to speak. I doubled my income that year from my previous best year ever. I met the woman of my dreams, and we're now married with two kids. I got down to 5.7% percent body fat. I don't even know if that's healthy, but achieved– I started rock climbing every week. I was in the best shape of my life, physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, you name it. And the year was, again, 2005, a couple of years before the big crash, but that was that. And so, today, you're going to learn, you're going to get the official audio book, Chapter 6, Your Mission, and help you to identify your mission, your highest priority in your life, so that you can achieve not only that goal, but all of your goals. How do they all work together?
Before I do, I want to let you know that today's episode is brought to you by two sponsors that are personal friends of mine. If you're like me, first and foremost, you know the importance of eating healthy, but you may not always have the time or the willpower to cook with all the colors of the rainbow. And Organifi’s superfood blends make it easy and enjoyable to add more variety and nutrition to your day. Now, these are delicious organic powders that you can add to water, stir with a spoon, and enjoy any time for more energy, nutrition, hormone balance, and peace of mind. They're a great way to jumpstart your morning, energize your afternoon, or nourish your evening. So, head over to Organifi.com/Hal, that is spelled O-R-G-A-N-I-F-I, Organifi with an I, Organifi.com/Hal, and then use the code HAL at checkout. If you do find some things that you like and you'll get 15% off your entire order. I'm a customer, I'm a fan and I have been for many years of Organifi.
And then last but not least, my other sponsor is Self-Publishing School, and I only bring you these sponsors because I personally have benefited and use and believe in their products and services. And Self-Publishing School has enabled hundreds of members of our community, listeners of the Achieve Your Goals podcast, members of the Miracle Morning community to write and publish their first book. So, if you've ever had a dream, a goal of writing a book, whether it's to share your story, to leave a legacy, impact your children, or for a lot of people, it's to boost their business, to create another stream of income, passive income, to help support you and give you financial freedom. So, whatever your reasoning is for wanting to write a book, whether it's one of those or all of the above, head over to Self-PublishingSchool.com, that’s Self-PublishingSchool.com/Hal, and you'll get everything you need for free to turn your dream of writing a book into a reality. So, without further ado, let's dive into your mission because it is time to get clear about your top priority.
Hal Elrod: Chapter 6, Your Mission. It's Time to Get Clear About Your Top Priority. “Your work life is divided into two distinct areas – what matters most and everything else. You will have to take what matters to the extremes and be okay with what happens to the rest. Professional success requires it.” - Gary Keller. So, how does it feel to consider this new paradigm of possibility? Now that you understand the real purpose of a goal in a whole new way, you can begin setting goals as big as you want, goals that really matter to you. And there's no longer anything to fear because you cannot fail. You can only learn, grow, and become better than you've ever been before. Remember that.
The farther outside of your comfort zone you go, the more you'll learn, the faster you'll grow, and the sooner you'll embody the qualities of a miracle maven. A world of limitless inevitabilities is now open to you. Maybe you've even allowed yourself to daydream a little about what your life would look like and feel like as you start living this way. If you increased your income and established an unshakable level of financial security up to your exercise and got into the best physical shape of your life and finally, started checking off the items on that seemingly forgotten list that houses your biggest goals and dreams, wouldn't life be great, especially if your biggest goals and dreams came to fruition all at once? Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold up a minute there. All at once. Were you thinking that you would tackle all of your biggest goals at the same time? Let's talk about this for a minute.
The power of singularity. Over the last 20 years, as I have worked with people from all walks of life, a common obstacle I have seen is that most of us are trying to work on too many goals at once with no clarity as to which of our goals deserves top priority. We have health goals, family goals, financial goals, work goals, relationship goals. The list goes on and on. You know what happens when we fail to prioritize our goals? We stay busy, perhaps make some inconsequential progress, but almost always end up with missed targets and/or feeling overwhelmed. We can compare this kind of goal setting to multitasking. It's so easy to get caught up in taking on too many things all at once. We're culturally conditioned to go through our days like this, splitting our brain up to perform different tasks, seemingly at the same time. We quickly check a notification from Facebook while we are working. We talk on our cell phone while we drive. We read through text messages while we play with our kids. We seem to have conquered multitasking, but are we really more efficient? Are we really more effective? The simple answer is no.
A 2009 Stanford study found that people who often multitask using several different forms of media are actually less effective. They have more trouble screening out non-essential information and switching between two different tasks. Their memory is also not as sharp as that of those who do not shift their attention while working. Multitasking slows down your progress, and pursuing several goals with equal importance assigned to each does the exact same thing. Let's say, for example, you divide your focus among five separate goals simultaneously. In a few months’ time, maybe you will make 5% to 7% progress on a couple of the goals, while others trail behind it, only 2% to 3%, and some you haven't touched at all. Over a few more months, you might make another 5% to 7% progress on some, 2% to 3% on others, and completely avoid at least one or two, usually the one or two that are the most important.
After six months, you've barely scratched the surface of each goal. By then, you've likely lost the initial drive and motivation that you began with when you set each goal and you'll be tempted to move on to five new goals that are fresh, stimulating, and exciting. If you take the same approach, you'll make another 5% to 7% progress, maybe a little more or less on each of your five new goals. This approach of dividing your focus among too many goals becomes a never ending, perpetual cycle of failed goals and unrealized potential. It also prevents you from developing the ability to prioritize, focus, and remain focused over an extended period of time, which are crucial to achieving significant goals and creating those tangible, measurable miracles.
The more goals we set and give equal priority to, the less likely we are to achieve what matters most to us. If we're not crystal clear on our highest priority, singular, human nature leads us to stay busy by pursuing the path of least resistance and engaging in the activities with the least significant consequences. We send an email when we could be more effective making a phone call. We watch Netflix when we could be reading a personal development book. We allow our busyness to usurp our limitlessness. We need to stop doing this. It's time to learn how to focus on what matters most to you so you can start experiencing more of what really matters.
So, in this chapter and the remainder of this book, I'm asking you to focus on one goal, your most important one, the one that will make the most significant impact on the quality of your life. I realized that this might feel unsettling, but how you say lots of things are important to me. I have many goals that I'd like to achieve. How do you expect me to choose just one? I hear you and I understand how counter this feels to our whole multitasking culture, but I really want you to succeed in becoming a miracle maven, and you'll find that establishing and maintaining a singular focus is the most effective way to do that.
Priceline.com founder and billionaire, Jeff Hoffman, recently spoke at one of the Quantum Leap Mastermind Retreats that my business partner, Jon Berghoff, and I co-host, and of the many takeaways that I wrote down, the following stood out most. You can't win a gold medal in more than one sport. Let that sink in for a minute. Most Olympic athletes spend their entire lives focused on developing themselves to be the best in the world at one thing. And remember what we learned in the last chapter, that when you choose and commit to one mission, achieving your other goals will become more probable because you will be living in alignment with your highest priority.
In this chapter, you're going to come clean on whether or not you are living in alignment with your top priority. Chances are you're not, but don't worry, you're far from alone in that. Then you are going to take the plunge and commit to one singular mission. And I would urge you to do that while listening to this chapter when all the material is fresh in your mind. Next, I'll be offering up some safety nets to ensure that achieving your mission is something you can count on. This will all be in preparation for your first Miracle Equation 30-Day Challenge at the end of the book. Okay, take a deep breath. We're diving in.
Start with what matters most. Some would say that the fastest way to identify your top priority is to come face to face with your own mortality or the mortality of someone close to you. When I was diagnosed with cancer at age 37, I thought my priorities, yes, I had multiple priorities at that time, were number 1 family, number 2 health, 3 friends, 4 financial security, and 5 productivity and achievement, finally, number 6 fun, in that order. However, being told that I had a 70% to 80% chance of dying in the coming months revealed what you may soon realize is true for you as well. I was delusional about my priorities.
If you would ask me what was most important in my world, I would have told you without hesitation, my family, and I meant it. There was nothing and no one I loved more than my wife and our two children. They were my world. And I truly believe that all my other priorities lined up behind them, that everything I did was for them. So, what was the problem? Where was the disconnect? Well, it wasn't hard to spot the disconnect with a quick scan through my schedule. The way I chose to spend my time told a very different story. I went on frequent business trips. I worked 60-plus hours a week. I gave up family time on the weekends because I had yet another big project due. If my family were really my number one priority, they sure got pushed aside and often for my supposedly less important priorities, my actions were simply not lining up with what I was saying and even believing was most important to me.
Upon deep introspection and reflection, it turned out that I valued productivity and my achievements above everything else. Almost all of my time and energy went into finishing one project and securing the next. Instead of focusing on my children's bedtime story, I was preoccupied with my business metrics. Instead of listening to how my wife's day had been, I'd give her the obligatory head nod, while I scanned my emails and responded to those I deemed urgent. I wasn't really focused on any single thing, especially not on my family, but I had good reasons. At least I thought I did. I valued financial security for me and my family. I wanted them who meant more to me than anything else in the world to be well fed, well clothed, and comfortable. When I sat back and examined that line of thinking, though, I saw that my focus on financial security didn't stem from my love for my family as much as it stemmed from fear. The subtle shift in my priorities had nothing to do with them at all.
In the years following the economic crash of 2008, I went from what I thought was having complete control over my finances to losing more than half of my clients who were suffering the effects of the crash themselves and can no longer afford to work with me. I couldn't pay my mortgage, and with the big dent in my income, I ended up losing my home in foreclosure and ruining my credit. That was my rock bottom and it was terrifying. Nothing I did to try to drum up business worked, and I just kept spiraling farther and farther and farther into debt. I was really at a loss for how I was going to dig myself out of the financial hole that I was in. Even though I did ultimately turn my situation around and start moving forward, I realized years later that I was still driven by a deeply ingrained fear that I could lose it all again.
And so, every email from a client became paramount, every keynote speech I gave was like a lifeline. Yes, I did want to provide for my family. More than that, though, I was afraid of going through a financial crisis again and taking my family with me. Depression, the place of feeling as though I had zero control over my life, was in the back of my mind all of the time. To combat that fear, productivity had become my top priority, whether I was aware of it or not. And talking to countless people after my speeches this year, I see that this is the case for most of us, whether you call it productivity or success or accomplishment or just work, they all fall into the same bucket, and many of us are literally addicted to them. Not only do we focus on tasks that keep us busy and aren't highly consequential, but we focus on them to the detriment of what matters most to us. When we work nonstop in this way, it is damaging to both our bodies and our brains. So right there, we are undermining our own health. Look even further, we also undermine our family, our fun, our spirituality, and even our work all at the same time because we will ultimately burn ourselves out.
If you really can have only one top priority, everything else is automatically bumped down the list, but we don't do this only with productivity-related tasks, we do it with lots of activities that just aren't that important. Consider how much time you spend bingeing on Netflix or watching the news, surfing the Internet, checking Facebook, or even playing games on your phone. Yes, all of these count against the time you spend on your highest priority. If you've ever thought to yourself, I don't have enough time to get to my top priority every day, it's not necessarily that you don't have enough time, but more that you are spending your time on lower priority activities that you are thinking of as high priority simply because you spend so much time doing them. Remember, your schedule never lies.
It wasn't until my cancer diagnosis that I realized not only was I living out of alignment with my top priority, but also that I was living every day driven by fear. Sure, I had a good reason to live that way based on what I had been through, but I don't think any of us want to live our lives driven by fear. I know that I don't. So, I decided to make some radical changes so that my top priority, which is my family, actually came first. It all started when I came home from my first five-day chemo session. I sat in front of my then four-year-old son and said to him, “Buddy, we can do anything you want today. We can go to the lake, we can raise go karts, we can go bowling, we can do anything you want. What do you want to do?” His response, “Really? Hmm. Let's play with my toys in the bedroom.” I thought he must have misunderstood me, “No, buddy.” I said, “We can do anything you want. If you could do anything, what would you want to do?” His response, “I just want to play with you in my bedroom.” That was really eye opening for me. I realized that my son's top priority was simply to play with me. If family was really the most important thing in the world to me, then what was most important to my son had to be most important to me.
In a flash, I had a simple but profound realization. My kids aren't going to remember how many mortgage payments I made, they aren't going to care how many books I sold, and at the end of my life, which I hope won't be for a very long time, neither will I. I also realized that by waiting until after work to spend subpar quality time with my kids, I was giving the most important people in my life left-over dad. They weren't getting the best version of me. They were getting me when I was tired, worn out, and mentally drained, and so were they. I had to flip that around so that my family actually came first in my schedule, both literally and figuratively. So, before my son and I went and played in his bedroom that morning, I scheduled a 30-minute recurring timer to play with my son first thing in the morning every day before he left for school. It costs me nothing but a bit of time. And it meant everything to him and it means everything to me. And we've been able to deepen our connection every day as a result.
Align your schedule with your top priority. Since that day with my son, and after recovering from cancer, I've been hyperfocused on my family and extremely intentional about being the best father and husband that I can possibly be. That focus has led me to make radical changes to my schedule so that it is aligned with my highest priority and what truly matters most to me. Here's what a typical day and week now looks like in our home. I still wake up every day at 4:00 a.m. to do my Miracle Morning and the SAVERS for our reading time. I now have a rule that I'm not allowed to read a business book until I've read at least 10 pages out of a parenting or marriage book. This commitment alone reminds me every day that my family is my number one priority.
At 6:00 a.m., I head into my son and daughter’s bedrooms to wake each of them up, something my wife used to always do while I continued my isolated morning routine. I try to wake my kids up in a way that starts their day with a positive mindset and positive emotions. First, I usually crawl into their beds and cuddle or tickle them. Then I speak words of affirmation as they're waking up, such as Good morning to my favorite son or daughter. You are kind, loving, and intelligent. You are being filled with positive energy right now as you wake up. It's time to get out of bed and make today your best day ever. I just say whatever comes to mind, I kind of freestyle. Often, I will sing their affirmations, sometimes in a funny voice just to mix things up and make waking up enjoyable for them. Once my kiddos are dressed and teeth brushed, we do a kid-friendly version of the Miracle Morning, then I still play with my son his favorite thing to do, which has evolved from playing with action figures to now playing board games.
After our kid-friendly Miracle Morning and a little playtime, I basically act as my wife's personal assistant, helping her pack lunches and get the kids ready for school, something that again, I never used to do because I was hidden away in my office working. Helping my wife and the kids get ready for school in the morning is now a meaningful family experience. It's not an obligation, but an opportunity to deepen our connection and for me to positively influence my children. Next, I take my son and daughter to school, something I also used to mindlessly delegate to my wife. That quality time together every morning in the car with my kids, setting their intentions for the day, having meaningful conversations, listening to upbeat music and dancing, yes, we have dance parties in the car, has been priceless. I also started getting off work at 2:00 p.m. instead of 5:00 p.m. three days a week so that I can pick our kids up from school. It was difficult to carve those three hours out of my workday at first, but I'm so glad that I did.
Around 5:00 p.m., we have dinner together as a family, at which time we take turns playing the gratitude game, saying what we're grateful for, starting with something that starts with the letter A. I'm also part of the kids’ bedtime routine. I read them a bedtime story or I tell them a story from my childhood, which, by the way, is a great way to let your kids get to know you and teach them valuable lessons that you've learned throughout your life. This also ensures that I am bookending my days with my top priority, spending time with my kids first thing in the morning and last thing before they fall asleep.
On Saturdays, I take the kids for a daddy-kiddo fun day, which gives us another opportunity to spend quality time together, doing something that brings them joy, and it gives my wife a much needed and much deserved day to herself. And every week, my wife and I are religious about keeping our date night. We get a babysitter and head out to get some quality time together. All of these changes didn't happen overnight, but gradually, and they definitely weren't easy to make. I still have a deeply ingrained fear that the economy could crash again and I could face another personal financial crisis, which only reinforces my addiction to work and productivity. The good news is I found that the longer you stay committed to living in alignment with your top priority as this is with any change, the easier and more natural it feels.
The other day, someone invited me to an event that could be significant for my business and without hesitation, I said, “No thanks. I'm with my kids that day.” I'm also far from perfect, as some days, I still have to bow out and tag my wife in, but the biggest breakthrough with regards to my relationship with my top priority, my family, is that I'm no longer willing to spend enough time with them to check off an imaginary box for the day. Instead, while they're young and still want to spend time with me, which more experienced parents have warned me will end sooner than I'd like it to, I'm committed to spending as much time with them as I possibly can.
My number one priority in my life is to connect with and positively influence my children, and the only way to do that to the fullest is to spend quality time with them. The more I'm with them, the more we deepen our connection and the more I can positively influence their development. So, I'm running toward that time every chance that I get. I wish I were alone in my years of not living in alignment with what truly matters to me, but after sharing my new post-cancer keynote message, what matters most with thousands of people, I know that I was part of the majority. If you fall into this category, the most important thing for you to do is acknowledge it and commit to making changes. Be honest with yourself. If you want work to be your priority, that's okay. Just commit to it and don't feel guilty about it. Before I had a family, I was great with work being my top priority. Some days, work is still my top priority, but that is now the exception to the rule. If you know your health needs to be your primary focus, make sure that your actions and your schedule support that choice.
Know this, your top priority can and will change. I'm sure you don't have the same priority now as you did when you were 15 years old, and it will change again, maybe several times over the rest of your life. So, don't put too much pressure on yourself when it comes to figuring out what your top priority is right now. And don't be afraid that all your goals will suffer because of this choice. What you'll find is that once you get clear about what your top priority is and what matters most to you, your productivity will actually increase.
So, what matters most to you? Can you say with certainty that you are clear about what is most important in your life? Is it family? Friends? Is it your health? Your purpose? If you're not sure, I invite you to endeavor to find out as the most successful, most fulfilled people on Earth are those who have clearly identified what matters most to them, a.k.a. their highest values and their top priority, and they live every day in alignment with what truly matters. I do realize that not everyone has a life-altering event crash into their world that sets them up to see more clearly what's most important to them and how they want to live in alignment with that value.
So, if you're still trying to figure that out, let's try a different approach. Let's travel to the future for a moment and imagine that you've been living your life as a miracle maven. You now wake up and you approach every day with unwavering faith and you put forth extraordinary effort. You are consistently creating results that leave you feeling accomplished and fulfilled. People now look at you and think, "Jeez, everything just flows for them. They're so lucky.” Imagine you're the happiest you've ever been and you are at peace because you're living in alignment with your highest values and your greatest abilities and your schedule proves that. Although you see opportunities everywhere, you're able to say no to most of them because you only capitalize on those that are in alignment with what you've decided is most important to you. When you see this miracle maven version of yourself, what do you value most in life? Is it family, health, work, money, spirituality, fun, contribution, or personal development? How do you know this? Which activities in your schedule support your highest values and your top priority?
I realize that I'm belaboring this point but identifying what you value most is going to be essential to clarifying your mission. Miracles, especially the tangible measurable time, are much easier to attain when you are living in alignment with those values and top priority. Otherwise, you'll feel as though you're constantly being overwhelmed by the delusion of multiple priorities and torn about where to focus your energy at any given time. Now, if you're clear on your top priority, pull out your list of goals that you've written down. If you don't have any written goals, please pause this audiobook now and take a few minutes to jot down some goals that you would like to move toward in the coming months. Don't worry about making them perfect. Just get started with the first thing that comes to mind that you'd like to improve in each of the following areas: health and fitness. family, friends, work, money, fun, personal development, spirituality, and contribution. As you review your goals to determine which is important enough to be your top priority, answer this question: which one of these goals will enable me to develop the qualities and characteristics that I need to achieve everything else I want for my life?
This singular goal should propel you toward the miracle maven vision you had for yourself based on the qualities and characteristics that it would instill in you, qualities like discipline, resilience, consistency, and most important, unwavering faith and extraordinary effort. Does this goal align with the top value that you aspire to live by? If not, consider if either the goal or the value should change. Remember, you want all of your focus and energy flowing toward your new identity, so your top goal and your top value should be in sync. Also, don't back away from goals that seem intimidating or too difficult to achieve. It's normal for a top goal, a mission to intimidate or even scare you. It should be out of your comfort zone. It's going to force you into a new way of being so make sure it's significant. Would the goal of losing a substantial amount of weight require you to develop the qualities and the identity of a miracle maven? How about starting a business, changing careers, writing a book, running a marathon, or doubling your income? Those last two are the ones that did it for me. Once you are clear about which goal will most effectively carry you toward this new identity, it becomes your mission.
I use the word mission very intentionally in my own life as well because it evokes a more serious tone and suggests a higher purpose. By Merriam Webster's definition, a goal is an end toward which effort is directed. Setting goals is fun. You get to imagine all these great things happening, and if they don't, you just choose some new goals and have fun imagining them coming true. They end up often being more like fantasies. A mission, on the other hand, implies a different level of commitment. One hundred goals may never carry the weight of a singular mission. The military carries out missions. Humanitarian organizations carry out missions. The weight here is much different from that of a goal, and the objective is usually attached to a larger vision. Different language here will create a different experience for you. You can think of goals and mission this way: Goals represent many things we want to accomplish. Mission represents one thing we are committed to accomplishing no matter what. Remember, to decide on your mission if you haven't already done so, look at all of your goals and answer the following question: Which one of these goals will enable me to become the person that I need to be to achieve everything else I want for my life?
Now, I encourage you to pause this audiobook and write out your mission. Now that we've built up a bit of momentum by clarifying your mission, don't panic on me. “But how am I supposed to accomplish this huge goal?” you might be wondering. We aren't going to lay that out quite yet, but I promise we will walk through how to develop your process before too long. I'm going to tell you right now it will be much easier than you might think so let's keep things moving.
Create your mission safety nets. If you're an aspiring tightrope walker, I'm not either, before you ever step onto the wire, the first thing you make sure you have in place is a safety net. The same is true when you're attempting anything that is new, scary, and outside your comfort zone. Your first hurdle when it comes to creating a miracle is establishing unwavering faith, which we’ll cover in-depth in the next chapter. The more we can ensure mission toward probable, the more likely you are to get engaged and stay engaged with it. Before you plunge into your mission, here are a few strategies you can start working on to increase your chances of accomplishing it.
Number one, established monthly missions, how you can accomplish more every 30 days than most people do in 12 months. Every new year is an exciting time for goal achievers. It provides us with an opportunity to reflect on our progress in the previous year and set new goals for the coming 12 months. However, every year, millions of goal achievers set annual goals and every year most fall short in one way or another. Why is that? I once read an excellent book, The 12 Week Year, which opened my eyes to the new perspective that a year is a long time, maybe too much time. Not on track for your goals by the end of January? Not a big deal. You still have 11 months to get back on track. How about when you're still not on track in April? No worries. You've still got May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December to make up the slack. Plenty of time, right? The challenge of long-term goals is that by giving ourselves so much time, we miss out on an invaluable sense of urgency. When procrastination is combined with an unrealistic and perpetual sense of optimism, when you're always thinking, "I've got plenty of time,” delaying becomes a luxury that we mistakenly think we can afford. This cycle leads to missed opportunities, unreached goals, and unfulfilled potential. What if, instead of giving yourself 12 months to achieve your goals, you gave yourself one? What if every single month your new year began? What if every month were an opportunity to reflect on your progress, to set new goals, and give yourself a fresh start? Establishing a monthly mission, a single goal each month that supports your larger mission will provide you with a laser focus on your highest priority each and every month. It will also provide you with a healthy, consistent sense of urgency and keep you on track for your ultimate mission, developing the mindset and behaviors of a miracle maven.
Number two, engineer your environment. Without realizing it, we’re often the ones placing goal-deterring obstacles in front of ourselves. We say that we want to lose 20 pounds, yet we stock our pantry with cookies and soda. We intend to meditate or exercise in the morning, yet we check our phone and get sucked into emails, social media, and our never-ending to-do list. We claim to have big goals and dreams but the time to work on them seems to be missing from our schedule. Evaluate your environment and take a look through your schedule to make sure that there is nothing that will interfere with your number one priority. Ideally, mission time should be a recurring appointment in your schedule as early in the day as possible to ensure that you tackle your most critical tasks first. Because the longer you wait, as most of us know, the more likely you are to put them off until the next day. Raise your hand if you've ever done that before. It's also easiest to get through your most important task when you have the most energy and your head is clear. If instead of the morning, you want to hit the gym on your way home from work, keep your gym bag in your car. You can even change into your gym clothes before you leave your office. Just make it as easy as possible to fulfill your goal.
If you want to secure more clients for your business, make sure that you have a set time and a quiet place in which to make phone calls and set up meetings. If your goal is to master a foreign language, make sure that you surround yourself with books, radio stations, and even people who speak that language. We've already discussed how to make emotional space within ourselves so that there is room for miracles. You need to engineer your physical space as well. Also, consider the people with whom you surround yourself because they are part of your environment. If you are surrounded by people who make a lot of excuses and never seem to get anywhere in life, at least not where they want to go, you aren't going to gain much motivation from them. Look for people who are already doing what you would like to be doing, or at least who are living in alignment with their top priority and achieving success, whatever that may be. Personally, I recently joined a mastermind group called Front Row Dads. It's made up of a bunch of entrepreneurs who are also fathers and who make family their number one priority. Now that my schedule is aligned with my family mission, it's essentially on autopilot. This has allowed me to refocus on my previous mission of remaining cancer-free so that I can live a long, healthy life with my family, and I've arranged my environment to fully support that mission.
Every morning, I spend 10 minutes reciting cancer-free affirmations, followed by 10 minutes of cancer-free meditation, followed by reading 10 pages of a cancer-related book that teaches me how to remain in remission. I drink homemade organic lemon water with apple cider vinegar every morning and have delicious organic plant-based foods delivered to me every week from Veggie Vibes. You could check them out at VeggieVibes.com. I invested in an ozone sauna machine, which I use three times a week. I take around 30 supplements every day that have proven to help people with my kind of cancer and I do weekly coffee enemas. I can assure you, effort doesn't get more extraordinary than sticking a tube up your butt. I've intentionally set my whole environment up to support my current mission in life. Like my family mission, my cancer-free mission is also now on autopilot so I can redirect my focus onto another mission. As you align your schedule and engineer your environment to support each mission, eventually you two will reach an autopilot phase and be able to redirect your focus on your next mission. And as you develop the qualities and characteristics of a miracle maven, you tend to reach autopilot faster and more easily every single time.
Number three, establish a resource for accountability. I know how easy it is to get stressed and give up when you are trying to do something you've never done before, reaching out and surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals is a worthwhile pursuit. Here's why. Assembling and leading a team provides you with accountability, encouragement, and perspective, all of which can be invaluable in helping you to achieve your mission. First, you hold one another accountable for doing what you say you're going to do. One of the most powerful and underutilized resources available to us is our own integrity, which I define as doing what you say you're going to do when you say you're going to do it without exceptions or excuses. When you commit to living with impeccable integrity, you gain the power to speak your life into existence. Because if you value your word at the highest level and you say you're going to do something, it's as good as done, also known as inevitable. In reality, maintaining integrity all the time is easier said than done, especially since one of our default modes of action is searching for excuses. In fact, although we usually do it unconsciously, we tend to value our excuses above our integrity.
How can you assess whether or not you tend to look for excuses? Consider what happens when you aren't on track to meet a deadline that you've committed to. Where does your focus and creativity go? Instead of putting forth extraordinary effort to meet the deadline, no matter what, your default, which you might not even realize, might be to think of excuses that you hope will get you off the hook from your commitment so that you can delay the effort or eliminate it entirely. What began during childhood as my dog ate my homework becomes nothing more than a slightly more sophisticated attempt to dodge responsibility. Don't feel bad if you realize that you do this. Most people do. I've been guilty of it myself more times than I'd like to admit. And that's why it's so important to surround yourself with people who are equally committed to fulfilling their potential and achieving significant goals. They create a safety net of sorts. They can hold you accountable for doing what you said you would do or call you out when you are resting on an excuse.
They also can serve as support and encouragement. Let's face it. There is no straight path to any goal. There will be ups and downs, good days and bad days. And when you have enough bad days and feel like giving up, having a built-in support network will be vital to your success. It's like having a whole group of personal coaches dedicated to you. But this doesn't work only one way. Providing support for others also brings out the best in you. Holding others accountable tends to help us be more accountable as well. Your team of miracle mavens or whatever you want to call them can also offer up different approaches and strategies when you get stuck and vice versa that can accelerate your gaining the clarity that will move you from being stuck to getting unstuck. Simply not being alone also takes a lot of the fear out of a huge goal and being surrounded by a group of like-minded people, each with his or her own playbook of what has and hasn't worked can be invaluable. If you don't know a group of like-minded people who are also working toward significant goals or if you don't like working in a group, the next alternative would be to find an individual accountability partner. He or she can perform the same functions as the group as long as you have a recurring time to talk and the other person is rigid enough to hold you accountable to your process.
Two of my Miracle Morning co-authors, Cameron Herold, who wrote the Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs, and Joe Polish, who wrote The Miracle Morning for Addiction Recovery, are each other's accountability partners. They check in daily with each other and facilitate their shared accountability using a goal tracking app called CommitTo3, which calls on them to clarify their top three objectives each day and make sure that they follow through. The point is, just make sure you have someone else to support you and to ensure that you uphold your integrity. I would strongly suggest that this person not be your spouse, a family member, nor a loved one, because they are likely to let you off the hook more easily than someone not as close to you. Put some time into your schedule now to start recruiting your accountability team or your accountability partner as this single factor can make or break your success.
Number four, be on the lookout for your miracle mentor or mentors. You never know where you'll find him or her. It's beneficial to have at least one mentor because we're all limited to only one perspective, our own. Your mentor might be someone on your team of miracle mavens or even the person you've chosen as your accountability partner. While a mentor can hold you accountable, more often he or she gives you a glimpse into a wider pool of possibilities. Mentors offer advice and provide guidance. In some cases, your mentor will be able to give you advice based on his or her own experience, attempting and maybe even achieving the very goal you are working towards. Other times, your mentor may just be someone who knows you well enough to see a path that you had never considered or felt confident in pursuing. Jon Berghoff, who I mentioned earlier in the book, falls into the second category of mentors. He has positively influenced me over the past 20 years and has arguably made the most profound impact in my life. When we met, though, he was the last person I ever imagined would become my mentor.
First of all, he was younger than I. Second, we began as bitter archrivals at Cutco. He was hired a year-and-a-half after I was and quickly began breaking nearly every sales record I had set with the company. I still remember our first awkward meeting at a sales conference just minutes after he had taken down my precious push period sales record. Over the next year, we started getting to know each other and we eventually became great friends. Turned out that he was one of the most brilliant people I had ever met, which is partly why he was able to outsell every Cutco rep in the history of the company, including those with decades of experience, despite his being younger and less experienced than all of us. In 2001, while still selling Cutco, I was recruited by another company to sell its product part-time. I thought it would be a good way to diversify my income and I called Jon to see if he wanted to join me at the other company as well. His response, although unexpected, completely changed the trajectory of my life, “Hal, what are you doing?” His voice was serious. “Listen, man, you died and you were told that you would never walk again, but you did. I know you don't think it's a big deal because it's just what you did and it's just what came naturally to you, but it's not normal.”
He went on to tell me that I should share my story and teach people how I had responded to my adversity and how I'd overcome it so that they could do the same. Jon said, "If I were you, I would be investing every spare minute I had into writing a book about your story, not selling another company's product.” I thought about what he said to me and realized that he was right. That conversation became the catalyst for my life's work as an author and keynote speaker. When I met Jon, the last thing I thought was that he would one day be my mentor. That's why I always tell people to keep their ears open for good advice. It might come from an unlikely place, and that's okay. The more we seek to learn from different types of people and welcome their feedback, the more chances we have of finding new mentors and gaining new perspectives that will bring us closer to our Level 10 life.
Number five, make your mission public. To seal in your unwavering commitment to your mission and to help you hold yourself accountable, make it public. Tell those closest to you what you are striving for and why you're fully committed to it, no matter what, there is no other option. I know there's a school of thought that tells you to not share your goal, that you should show people instead of tell them but sharing your goal with others can make a lot of difference. When you don't, it's much easier to let yourself off the hook. We do it all the time. I've seen the impact that making goals public has because I've experimented with it several times. You know that I formed a team of other sales reps who were also striving for the $200,000 mark when I set out to achieve that goal, which made my mission public to my colleagues and provided each of us with support and accountability. I made an even bigger public commitment when I decided to run an ultramarathon that's 52 consecutive miles for charity. Now, let's get some context around this commitment. To all of the runners out there, I salute you but I am not one of you. Although I'm not particularly proud of it, I do belong to the I Hate Running Club. I always have and I probably always will. However, in mid-2008, I committed to a mission of running an ultra-marathon because I hate running. I know, it sounds totally backward.
During one of my Miracle Mornings, I had the thought, “I wonder who I'd have to become to run 52 miles in one day. I don't know that guy. I have never met him. I wonder what he's like. I imagine that he was a hell of a lot more disciplined and capable than I was. Shoot. He could probably accomplish pretty much anything he put his mind to,” and I really wanted to become that person. So, I did two things to leverage the support and accountability of others. First, I went to Facebook and I committed publicly to run an ultramarathon to raise money for my favorite charity, the Front Row Foundation. Making the commitment public set me up with the leverage I needed to follow through. I figured that even during those times when I felt like giving up, which we all experience on our journey to creating miracles, I figured I wouldn't want to be the flake who committed to raising money for charity and then changed his mind. I went online and I ordered a book, The Non-Runners Marathon Trainer. If you hate running, that book is for you. Luckily, I had three friends who were willing to do the ultramarathon with me: James Hill, Alisha Anderer, and Favian Valencia. We dubbed ourselves “ultrafriends.” In the end, we all completed that marathon and though I can't speak for my ultrafriends, I still hate running. But you know what I did in the process? I not only met that guy who could run an ultramarathon, I became him and my life has been the better for it ever since. When you make a public commitment to people whom you respect and whose respect you value, giving up is not an option.
When your mission leads to multiple goals in action. My friend and another former Cutco colleague, John Israel, I know, I know if it weren't for Cutco, I wouldn't have any friends. But John is another great example of how following one mission led to accomplishing multiple significant goals. John, otherwise known as Mr. Thank You, is on a mission to elevate the level of gratitude on the planet by 1% one thank you card at a time. The first year he committed to this mission, he set out to handwrite five thank you notes a day every single day for an entire year, and they had to be to different people. He actually had a rule, he could send a maximum of three thank you notes to any single person in a year. Interesting mission, right? The way he approached the rest of his life goals was also interesting. All of his other goals were fed through the filter of his mission, gratitude. That was how he accomplished so much that year. He had a baby, moved across the country, and grew a community of like-minded miracle maven dads. Through that filter, his relationships and community expanded quickly, and he ended up having the best year at Cutco that he had ever had, producing an impressive $445,000 in sales while achieving his mission of handwriting and sending out 1,825 thank you cards. By giving more gratitude to the world, he ended up with a lot to be grateful for. All of his goals lined up behind his mission, which supported him in accomplishing nearly everything else that he set out to do that year.
Don't forget about your other goals. I know that we've discussed identifying and deciding on one singular goal as your highest priority, your mission, but that doesn't mean the rest of your life needs to be left behind. It just means that your mission needs to come first. Once that's done, you can tackle whatever you want. If you remember, the year that I doubled my best year in sales was also one of my best years in terms of reaching nearly all of my other goals. Setting a singular mission forces you to prioritize your time and focus on one goal at a time in order of what matters most, which is much more efficient and effective than waking up and working on whatever feels easiest. It can actually be much easier to achieve multiple goals when you are focused primarily on one. Now that we've covered the real purpose of a goal and how to choose your mission, the next two chapters will dive deeper into the two decisions you must make to become a miracle maven and move your biggest goals from possible to probable to inevitable. If committing to a goal so big that it scares you still seems unthinkable, you may want to listen to what follows twice.
Hal Elrod: Hey, goal achievers. Thanks for listening to that Chapter 6 of The Miracle Equation. And if you enjoyed that and you would like to have the entire Miracle Equation book, you can get it on Amazon or get the audiobook on Audible. If you go to TheMiracleEquation.com that has your one-stop shop to find the book anywhere you'd like to get it. So, again, go to TheMiracleEquation.com and learn how to create tangible, measurable miracles in your life. Thank you so much.