1. Make a Decision and Act
“In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”
No matter what our options are in any given situation, we should always decide to do something. We should never choose to do nothing. I found this out the hard way. When I was 29, my business collapsed I was shocked. I was going broke. I felt I couldn’t make a proper decision and therefore I did nothing about my problems. I ran away from my responsibilities by going into denial about the fact I was broke. I put my head in the sand.
Following my suicide attempt, I realised that inactivity and feeling sorry for myself was not the way to go. I went to the bank and negotiated a plan. Everyone cooperated and helped me rebuild my business because I had taken action and was honest about my situation.
When we are without focus, we feel we do not influence our future. If we have a huge goal or dream that we want to achieve, we can start moving towards that goal by deciding to take even a small action. By making a statement of intent for ourselves and to others. Each step we take brings us closer to our goals, but we must decide to take that initial step.
2. Identify Your Goals
“It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goals to reach.”
To start any journey, we need a destination. I have a system for all my own goals. Whenever I set myself a goal, I write it down. I commit it to paper, and in this way, I commit myself to make it happen.
Identifying and setting goals is vital if we want to engage in exploring our potential fully. Our level of achievement is much higher when we have clear and identifiable goals. If we imagine what reaching our goals will feel like, how we will react and the emotions we will experience when we get to our ‘destination’. It makes the goal more tangible.
3. Make a Plan
“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”
When we have identified our goal, the next step is to make a plan. Planning is crucial to success, and if we don’t plan properly, we run the risk of almost inevitable failure. Proper planning helps keep us focused. The act of creating a plan helps us mentally because it anchors us and demands that we start engaging in the process.
When we set out on a big adventure we make sure we have a plan and know our itinerary, we have a good map, the clothes we need and enough money to cover our costs. We do everything to ensure we have the best possible chance of having a successful journey, dangers minimised and enjoyment maximised.
4. Examine your Options
Choices always exist. In some circumstances, this is difficult to believe, but there is a choice available to us even if the options are limited. If we think back to times when we felt we had no choice, overwhelmed by the weight of something we couldn’t negotiate our way around. Looking back, we see that we did not recognise the existence of another alternative.
In 2003, I was one hour away from the top of the world. I was utterly exhausted and felt as if I was in an altered state of consciousness. Unknown to me my oxygen had jammed, and I had developed pulmonary and cerebral oedema. I became hypoxic and lost my peripheral vision. I sat like a drunk on the south side of Mount Everest, quite happy not to move as I watched the team I was leading reach the summit.
I had to make a choice. Sit there and die or descend and have a chance of survival. It seems like such a simple choice to make, but at that moment it took all of my willpower to get up and go down the mountain. I learned that there are always choices and sometimes we have to do the thing we don’t want to do, to survive.
5. Opportunity is Everywhere; Learn How to Find It
Opportunity is everywhere. How often have we heard of a great idea and said ‘Why didn’t I think of that!’. The answer is that opportunity is everywhere but unless we look for it, finding it will remain a mystery. When we go on a treasure hunt, we know the treasure is somewhere usually in our immediate vicinity. We have a list of clues, we set off, eyes open, looking for what we know is around us.
It’s the very same with opportunity. There is an opportunity around us. Sometimes the opportunity we see may not be the one we want, but we shouldn’t doubt that it is there.
6. Time is Not Endless; Plan Yours Wisely
We are lucky to live in an era when the average life expectancy is 80 years. It seems like a lot of years, but in the vast scheme of things, 80 years counts for nothing in a world that is over 4.5 billion years old. To live our best life, we need to manage our time well. It is not about controlling it, as much as it is about teaching us perspective.
A good exercise is to look at our weekly schedules and make a list of our activities and, measure how much time is spent on each including checking emails, going online and taking breaks. When we analyse our ‘time diary’ we can decide if we are happy with how we spend our daily allocation of 24 hours or if we can be more efficient, so that we can achieve a better balance between work and leisure time.
I learned clear lessons about efficiency on my polar expeditions. Where wasted time equalled wasted energy, which could spell the end of our hopes of reaching the Southpole and, crucially of surviving in such a harsh environment. When we become more efficient in how we spend our time, then we work and play smarter.