For over ten years now I’ve had a coach of some kind. Whether it was my personal coach throughout grad school or the series of professional coaches I’ve had throughout my career as an entrepreneur and consultant, I’ve often sought the wisdom, experience, and guidance of those who have both been my strong critics and great supporters.

My most recent coach, Jean Kuhn, had me “read” or, more accurately, experience one of the most influential “books” in my library that has had a profound effect on the way I manage my daily routine. I use “books” and “read” in quotations because it’s actually an audio recording which I often play on my MP3 player in my home or in my car. It’s quite a brief listen, and, while it’s certainly old and dated in it’s form, the message it contains is both timeless and priceless. In fact, the message has purportedly been around since the early ages of philosophy and has been expressed in various ways via various media by a wide variety of famous cultural icons for centuries.

The literature of which I write is called “The Strangest Secret” by Earl Nightingale. The basic premise of the piece is that to be a success we must think success. When we are consumed by negativity and drift aimlessly through life as so many of us do going to work without a thought about WHY we are doing so, success–that achievement of a worthy ideal–is completely out of our reach. It’s this concept and what Jean had me do that would like to share with you today.

This information, by the way, has successfully so far increased my yearly earnings by over $20,000, and I suspect that it will continue to pay dividends not only monetarily, but in the time I spending doing what I want to do and growing closer in my relationship with God, my wife, family, and friends.

Business and Personal Success Secret

Spoiler alert: I’m going to know tell you an important and probably the most critical take-away from the Earl Nightingale book: write down what you want in life. This simple concept has been passed down throughout the generations, but few of us have heeded the clarion call to follow through with this.

The “Strangest Secret” states to write down one goal on a card. That goal should be very specific. It can be more money, a better job, a vacation, better fortune, etc., but it should have some specificity to it. On the other side, you should write the words of Matthew: 7:7:

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

For 30 days you should look at that card and think about your goal. Not only will one day you achieve that goal, but, if you truly think about it and want it, it can scarcely not happen for you.

For your worthy ideal, your goal, to occur, it must be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time constrained. That is, you may wish to become a superhero, but that’s never going to happen because it’s a fictional state of being and, therefore, unattainable. However, you can become significantly physically stronger by a certain degree and by a certain realistic time based on your physiology.

Similarly, you can think about attaining financial or influential success, but really think about what you want, where you want to be, and realistically when you can reach that goal.

My Personal Experience

A very good twist to this method of achieving your goal is what Jean shared with me. I’m going to show you know the simple steps I use to achieve my goals. To illustrate the successes I’ve achieved over the last three months, I have written the following:

  • Get a better gig making more money and having more influence than I have now by June 30, 2014. I have since been offered several new assignments, the largest of which will begin exactly on June 30, 2014 when I begin work for a new company and leader in their marketplace to help them to grow.
  • Play music with a group. Last Friday, I was on my way home when I received a phone call from my wife Lisa telling me that I was on my own for dinner that night as she and the kids were going out elsewhere. Immediately after hanging up the phone, as I came to a red light, I received a notice on my phone via Facebook that a dear friend of mine was performing with his group at a local Cajun eatery I’ve wanted to try for over a year. I made my way to the restaurant, ordered some great food and a couple of micro brews, and watched the first set. Having been a former band mate of this friend, I was asked to sit in for the entire second set playing the “tee fer” (Cajun triangle). Indeed an honor, and certainly an excellent and satisfactory fulfillment of one of my written goals.

The Easy 10-Minute Formula to Success

I strongly believe that the achievement of what I write comes not only from the fact that I write what I wish to have, but to be thankful to God for what I have and to write that down as well. This is the formula taught to me by Jean, and it’s what I’m going to share with you right now:

  1. Get a journal. I highly recommend getting a Moleskine leather-bound lined journal available at most bookstores and even some drugstores and major retailers.
  2. Use a high-quality pen. A ballpoint of virtually any kind is fine, but avoid using pencil as it lacks conviction and permanence.
  3. Start each entry with the date. Dating your journal entries is important for your own reference. In fact, I’ve even posted empty dates to illustrate the emptiness left when I don’t fill out the requisite entries. It’s important to strive for making this a habit and doing this for at least 30 days in a row. If you do, inevitably, miss, don’t worry and don’t give up; simply shoot for 30 days as of the next entry.
  4. Write “I thank God for:” and write 10 short phrases about that for which you are grateful. This can be anything from your faith to your spouse and children to your talents and abilities. Be specific, and use this as a form of written prayer.
  5. Write “Things I wish to manifest:” and write 10 short phrases about that which you want in life. Again, these goals should be SMART. They should include some kind of date–even if the date is somewhat ambiguous. For instance, I write “Take a Disney vacation by 2016 with the family.” I don’t exactly now know when that might happen in 2016, but I have faith that this date will become more clear as we progress, save, and think about the goal.
  6. Write your daily “to-do” list on the other side of the page. Make a list of what you will do during that day (if you do this in the morning) or the next day (if doing this in the evening). Make sure your daily tasks align well with what you wish to achieve.

Do this daily, and do so thoughtfully.

Remember, we are what we think we are. This daily journal exercise can help you to become who you wish to be. I’m already seeing this manifest in my life, and I pray that this is helpful to you and yours. Pass this on to your friends, spouse, family, kids, parents, or anyone who might wish to achieve a little success.