Success Requires Planning, Practice, and Perseverance

We all know of brilliant, straight-A students who barely even study. The other 99% of us mere mortals have to earn it the hard way! It might be easy to conclude that most successful people owe it to raw talent and brilliance, but that’s rarely the case. Usually, other factors like commitment, focus, discipline, and a winning attitude have an even greater impact.
Most things in life aren’t handed to us on the proverbial silver platter—success being one of them. People who do well at what they do—whether it’s academics, sports, art, music, business, a trade, or a hobby—generally have these things common. They overcome challenges and opposition, and they do it through planning, practice, and perseverance.
I can’t think of a better illustration of this than the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. The team of collegiate athletes was gathered randomly from around the nation under the leadership of Coach Herb Brooks, who developed a brutal training regimen and a strategy to win.
The prospects didn’t look good. They were dominated by the Soviet team in an exhibition game by a score of 10-3. But, that didn’t deter them. They tied Sweden, upset perennially strong Czechoslovakia, and proceeded to defeat Norway, Romania, and West Germany. There was just one problem. The next stop was another crack at the Soviet team, and the players were haunted by their previous humiliation. Nonetheless, Coach Brooks was relentless, challenging the team to do their best when it counted.
Amazingly, the U.S. scored the upset of the ages, defeating the Soviets 4-3 in a win dramatically captured in the 2004 film Miracle. As one of the millions of Americans who watched it live, I can honestly say that the last ten minutes of the game were the slowest 600 seconds in all of eternity! They went on to win the gold medal game over Finland, and rallied the country like (in my opinion) no other sporting team in history.
When it comes to achieving your goals, remember that you, too, can overcome great odds by applying the same 3 P’s the 1980 U.S. hockey team did: planning, practice, and perseverance. What good would it have done for the 1980 U.S. Olympic team to skate out onto the ice without the practice and grit to compete? Unfortunately, many people live that way—and they live frustrated, underperforming their potential.
They (mistakenly) believe they “deserve” success they’ve not earned. They show up the first day of a new job expecting the corner office and the respect of the CEO when they’ve not made the sacrifices necessary to deserve either. They resent not receiving the career opportunities they’d like or the salary they think they deserve—when they’ve not put in the study, effort, or commitment needed to earn those rewards.  We call this mindset one of entitlement—and it’s becoming a pervasive issue in our society.
Don’t let this attitude mark you. When you set your mind to something—whether it’s academic studies, a job, a sport, or anything else, I encourage you to do it with intentionality and excellence. Remember the adage, “Plan, practice, and persevere to succeed.” Doing this will give you the best chance in life and build great character along the way.
Is there a young person in your life who needs a reminder he or she is not “entitled” to success? Challenge him or her, “If planning, practice, and perseverance are keys to achieving goals, how would you rate yourself in each of these areas? Think back on a goal you didn’t achieve. How might the outcome have been different?” These are good discussions to have. Share your results with us by commenting below; we’d love to hear your stories.

Develop (and Stick to) Your Financial Goals

“The person who makes a success of living is the one who sees his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly. That is dedication.”
– Cecil B. DeMille


I’m writing this blog on “Black Friday,” the proverbial biggest shopping day of the year. How many people, I wonder, are out there this very minute, frantically accumulating more “stuff” (for themselves and others), with little thought for the overall impact today’s purchases will make on their financial goals—if they even have their goals identified. Many, many people do not.
Are YOU a goal setter? If you are, and you’re a diligent planner and implementer, you’re probably a pretty successful person. If not, you can be!
Goal setting is a critically important discipline in every area of life but especially so in the area of finances. Many of your goals will involve substantial sums of money, and it takes planning to reach them. That’s why it’s so important to make a financial plan and set goals that stick.

For each of your goals, you need to develop a financial plan that gets you there. This means determining how much you’ll need to save and invest each month for each goal.  It also means exercising self-control (and avoiding the credit card trap) along the way so you don’t sabotage your own plan!
By developing financial plans, you’ll be in a much better position to reach your goals than if you go about it casually. All of this requires effort and discipline, but it’s not that tough once you start and stick to it. You’ll reach your goals sooner and more cost effectively if you become a dedicated planner, saver, and investor.
Looking ahead, which of your goals do you think will require significant sums of money? How have you planned for them? How do you stick to your plan when you’re tempted by “right now” wants? Share your ideas and questions with us; we’d love to hear your comments!