Keep Your Eye on the Prize

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Principle #27 is Keep Your Eye on the Prize in Jack Canfield’s book “The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be”. The opening paragraph sums it up perfectly.

Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. They stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps that will get them closer to the fulfillment of their of their goals rather than on all the other distractions that life presents to them.

– Jack Canfield

But how?

One of the processes is to do a daily review. It’s a simple exercise, but it can be very powerful. More, it can be used to improve almost any area of your life.

Do a Daily Review

A daily review is a simple exercise you can use to reflect on your actions of any day. Reflective thinking is simply revisiting the past to gain a true perspective of what happened and gain a better understanding of the future. It’s an important part of learning and growth. 

 

Reflective thinking turns experience into insight.

– John Maxwell, author and speaker

Jack recommends doing this by getting yourself into a quiet state of mind at the end of the day and asking yourself a question such as “Show me where I could have been more effective today.” You’ll find that events of the day will begin to replay in your mind.

The key here is to just be receptive and allow the events to come to mind without any judgement or self-criticism. Many times we just aren’t present in a situation or event and we respond negatively or more harshly then we might have done if we were more conscious and intentional in our actions.

Next, pick one of the events and replay it in your mind the way you would have preferred it to happen. The goal here isn’t to rewrite history. Instead, the goal is to reflect on your actions and think about how you might react differently the next time you encounter a similar situation. Without taking the time for reflective thinking you could easily repeat the exact same response repeatedly, even though a part of you knows it’s not the best response.

Note that this isn’t the same as allowing self-talk to constantly repeat an incident in your mind. This can easily cause a downward spiral allowing you to beat yourself up because you didn’t do as well as you might have liked. However, taking the time to do a daily review can shut this inner voice down. You listen to what it shows you and you figure out how to do it better the next time.

Ideally, you’ll be able to replay all of the events in a more positive light, but doing at least one a day can be very powerful. John Maxwell, in his book JumpStart Your Thinking: A 90-Day Improvement Plan, suggests setting aside just 15 minutes a day and devote it to thinking. Doing this exercise for 15 minutes a day for 90 days will significantly increase your insights.

Variations on the Daily Review

Jack recommends doing the daily review right before going to bed. He stresses that “whatever you read, see, listen to, talk about, and experience during the last 45 minutes of the day has a huge influence on your sleep and your next day.” Doing a review like this right before going to sleep can cause your subconscious to continue to work on it.

Personally, I find that I’m not consistent when I try to do a review like this right before bed. However, I have found that this is effective for me by doing it the morning of the next day. I just change the words to “Show me where I could have been more effective yesterday.”

Also, you can reword the phrase to just about anything:

  • Show me how I could have been more assertive today.
  • Show me how I could have been a better manager, supervisor, employee, salesperson (or whatever your professional title is) today.
  • Show me how I could have been a better friend, husband, wife, brother, or sister today.
  • Show me how I could have been a better student or learner today.
  • Show me how I could have learned more today.

Last, there are many ways to get yourself into a quiet state of mind. You can do so by just sitting in a chair, closing your eyes, and taking some deep breaths. I frequently get myself into a quiet state of mind by taking a walk or while mowing the yard, though I don’t close my eyes. Any time you’re doing some mindless task that doesn’t require any high-order thinking, you can still put your mind to work.

Give it a try.

“Sometimes you win
Sometimes you learn.”

– John Maxwell

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About This Post

I’ve been learning from Jack Canfield (of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame) since 2008. I credit much of my success (including authoring or co-authoring more than 40 books) to applying principles in my life that he teaches. I’m currently going through his book “The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be,” covering one principle a week.


Here’s a link to other musing’s on Jack Canfield’s Success Principles.


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