This is the final article of the series on the Rudiments of Personal Success.
Track Your Performance
Tracking your performance underscores the importance of record-keeping in order to succeed at anything you do.
Performance tracking entails measuring and recording the results of your efforts. Just as corporate organizations track their performance by keeping records of their business activities in the form of financial records; it is imperative that you keep records of your performance.
Record keeping is imperative because to succeed, you must deal in the realm of exactitude not conjectures. You are either doing well or you are not, and keeping records enables you reach this conclusion.
Almost a decade ago, I had a goal of attaining a level of net-worth over a period of one year. To track my performance, I designed a net-worth statement on Microsoft Excel. The net-worth statement had: a cash-flow statement – a record of cash inflows and outflows; assets and liabilities record; a list of financial goals and a few other memorandum records.
I found the cash flow statement worksheet particularly instructive because within a few months, I realized where my major cash outflows were going. This availed me the opportunity to ask myself the hard questions on the importance of what I spent money on. As a consequence, I reduced my spending on certain things and stopped spending on some other items altogether. More importantly, it became very clear that spending on consumables does not add to my net-worth. Secondly, I realized that as I paid down my indebtedness, my net-worth increased. Even though I knew all these as a chartered accountant, seeing it at work in my personal finance proved more valuable than what I studied. The activity paid off because I doubled my net-worth at the end of the year. This has continued to serve as a source of inspiration to continue to keep a personal net-worth statement.
Record keeping is not only for quantitative items, it also covers qualitative matters. This is where the concept of keeping journals comes in. Your journal should be more a record of your ideas and experiences than anything else. In my journal, I keep records of my creative thoughts and ideas. It also contains accounts of valuable experiences I have with people I meet.
Just like anything new, keeping records would not be easy when you start out, however, if you stay with it, within a very short time, the habit will be formed. Eventually, you will be encouraged to continue when you begin to see the benefits.
Record keeping is largely an account of your own experiences (quantitative and qualitative). It is said that the use of other people’s experience (OPE) is invaluable in generating the needed emotions to do whatever is necessary to succeed. I agree with this viewpoint because OPE is less expensive. However, your own experience, which you track by keeping record, is more compelling in overcoming lethargy and performing daunting tasks on your personal success journey. What readily comes to mind on account of your own experience is, “If I did it before, I can do it again.”
Maintaining focus is another important activity for you to achieve success in life. The principle here is that you must keep your set goals in mind always if you must achieve them. It follows from the above statement that the biggest obstacle to your goal achievement is distraction.
Someone said “the easiest way to stop a man of vision is to give him another vision.” In essence, the second vision becomes a distraction. A man who is given another vision now has a ‘di-vision’ which makes it difficult to achieve his original vision. The reason ‘di-vision’ is a problem is because the moment you start pursuing another vision, the energy, drive and passion with which you will pursue the original vision get dissipated thereby making its accomplishment more and more difficult.
The distraction to your vision / set goals could also arise from within; non-achievement of your vision could result from previous failure or success in the achievement of your goals. The reason failure could be a hindrance is more clear-cut because it leads to discouragement which invariably jeopardizes your goal achievement. However, the adverse impact of past successes arises from its tendency to make you become complacent and thus not give your goal all the attention it requires. It’s therefore a good advice to beware of the snare of past successes if you must achieve your set goal.
To maintain your focus, you need a good judgment of things that are important to achieve your set goals. Once that is sorted out, you must do away with what is unimportant. Holding on to things that are irrelevant to what you want to achieve amounts to lack of focus. I had a rather unique experience with the damage bringing unimportant issues into focus some years back. Then I used to have a persistent headache whenever I focused on particular tasks. However, one day I came across a personality test quiz on the internet. After taking the test, the result was that I am both highly visual and a deep thinker. The explanatory notes to the test result stated that being highly visual quality implies that I take in a lot of information from my environment and my being a ‘deep thinker’ means that I try to process and absorb all the information visually taken from the environment! Talk of biting more than I could chew. Immediately, I knew this was the reason for my recurring headache. The program suggested a solution, which was that I should learn to sort through information and process those that are really important (same as being more focused). Armed with this information, I was able to solve my headache problem by being selective with my information gathering and invariably the things I focus on.
Without maintaining focus, the achievement of your set goals would be a mirage. Focus brings all you need to achieve your goals within reach and lack of focus does the opposite. I believe focus enables your spirit, soul and body to work in unison. Hardly is there anything that you can’t achieve when your spirit, soul and body are united.
Maintain focus and you’ll improve your chances of succeeding!