THE PATH: This is the term that I use to describe the act of Intentional Living, goal-setting, and SMART execution. In order to meet your goals, you need an intentional Path to improvement.
Intentional Living: For the sake of clarity, The Path is simply about being intentional and goal-oriented. This is true for fitness and other areas of your life , which you can and should define. People who are committed to intentional living are committed to a Path towards self-improvement.
Humility: There is no arrival, and there are many dips. Further, it is not arrogant or elitist to be committed to excellence. If you live with an intentional commitment to excellence, you will find yourself, before long, in the company of other such people, and these people have a way of helping you remain humble.
Fail Forward: Know too that winners fail far more often than other people do ... because they are trying to do harder things, and they are poignantly aware of their past failures. But those failures lead to greater learning than successes, and while failures are never enjoyable, per se, a winner accepts - and even embraces - the fact of failure. In building muscle and fitness, there is zero improvement without failure. Athletes talk about "training to failure" as a badge of honor, and rightly so. It would literally be a wasted workout plan without intentionally incorporating failure. No, not every set, or even every workout, but it is known to be the single most valuable concept.
Said another way, a top fuel drag racing car is always right at its performance limit. It's very easy, then, for their engines to exceed their limitations and break - even explode - because they live right on that line. The entire engine must be rebuilt after nearly every 1/4 mile run down the strip. This is an extreme example, but it is in the extremes that we can most easily see illustrations.
Perfectionism is not The Path: Perfectionism is in fact the enemy of achievement. While it is true that we should plan before we execute - "look before we leap" and assess the risks - perfectionism leads to procrastination, and this leads to inaction. Many people - to include Bruce Lee and most successful entrepreneurs - call this "paralysis by analysis." The willingness to execute is what leads to success. It is often messy, and the mistakes will happen. Sometimes they even pile up on The Path behind you. When this happens, the simple word "forward" is very helpful for use as an internal dialogue. Sometimes we move forward rapidly, but usually we do not. It is all progress, even when the wind in our face pushes us backwards for a moment.
Quitting is the Only True Failure
Constantly Improve Your Position: The best way to manage the balance between planning and execution is to use what the military calls the "1/3-2/3 Rule." Given the time allotted, first devote 1/3 of your available time to planning; and the remaining 2/3 to execution. When your planning period is expired, get moving. Elite military units practice this time-honored, battle-tested strategy ... and it is a major portion of the "secret" to their success.
Entrepreneurs and the great people of history practice the same idea. They are willing to act, and they accept the fact that even when that action will be messy, it is important enough to engage in anyway. The autobiographies of all such people include failures that are often crushing for a period, and can be colossal. These books are riddled with all the self doubt that you yourself may find familiar. The difference is that they at some point get up, dust off, and Press On. This personality trait is in stark contrast to the example of a University professor who spends all his time discussing theory, rather than producing results.
You Cannot Control the Wind, but You Can Adjust Your Sails: When we find we are off Course, we humbly adjust our rudder and our sails.
Know Where You Are Going: This is THE universal thing that separates ALL successful people. When you are on The Path for answers, you will find more of those answers more often than you would by wandering the woods at night without keep your eye on The North Star. Yet this latter approach is how most people approach life. They take a job because it is available - maybe even moving to another state or country to do so - without asking "does this fit my Life Plan?" My "Path."
What does your Path look like?