It wasn’t easy. I almost quit – several times – in the first few days in developing this new habit. And this wasn’t the first time I tried to take up meditation. But each time in the past I had failed miserably.
There was the time in 2006 when I tried to use meditation to help deal with my anxiety attacks. I only lasted a week.
Then in 2009 I worked up to 15 sessions in a row before shamefully giving up.
But this time I knew it would be different.
This time I had my 7 step success formula in place.
Each morning, after I’ve written TT programs or ETR essays for two hours, walked the dog, and finished my Daily Document review (but before I go to the gym), I sit down on my meditation pillow, close my eyes, sit upright with legs crossed, and focus on my breathing.
At first the habit was excruciatingly painful – both mentally and physically. It was almost impossible to turn off my “monkey mind“. My brain would shift from thought to thought to thought, reviewing my to-do list or coming up with other ideas to implement or people to contact.
And frankly, my mind still wanders during each session, even though I’ve made significant breakthroughs in my ability breathe deeply and focus on practically nothing.
I’m getting better every session. I’m not giving up on this habit.
It’s made me more calm during the remainder of the day. I no longer feel a tiny bit of tightness and anxiety in my chest when my schedule becomes overwhelming. I breathe better (sounds silly, I know, but most of us don’t know how to breathe properly). I relax easier. I have more patience – and this was sorely needed.
This simple meditation habit, now almost 90 days strong, has made a big difference in my life. It’s become a success habit. (And I’m going to show you my 7 Step Success System for any area of your life.)
This time I was able to stick to my meditation habit because this time I also listened to my own advice.
Over the past 16 Turbulence Training Transformation Contests, I had been telling you and 90,000 other TT readers that:
“Success is simple once you accept how hard it is.”
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that success is easy. I’m staying that it is simple. Big difference.
That means, if you understand and accept that success – in any area of life – requires sacrifice, only then you will be psychologically prepared to make those sacrifices. Then, and only then, with the right mindset in place, success simply becomes a matter of following proven blueprints…and never, ever giving up on what is important to you.
After reviewing my own success habits, and those of the dozens of winners of my 16 Turbulence Training Transformation Contests, I’ve identified the following 7 Step Success Formula:
SUCCESS = Outcome Goals + Process Goals + Action + Accountability + Support + Incentives + The Deadline
Let’s walk you through those 7 Steps.
1) Outcome Goals - This is simple. If you want to lose 15 pounds in 6 weeks, that’s your Outcome Goal. It’s your Vision. It’s the Destination you want to arrive it in a given time frame. That’s Goal Setting 101.
2) Process Goals - These are a little different, and yet an often forgotten part of a Goal Setting program. Process goals refer to what you are going to do in order to succeed. For me, I had to make time each day to practice meditation. For someone that wants to lose belly fat, your process goals will include 3 Turbulence Training workouts per week plus 90% compliance to your nutrition program. By hitting your process goals, you’ll ultimately achieve your outcome goals.
3) Action – All the optimism and goal-setting in the world does you no good without Action. You must plan and prepare to take action. And then you must force yourself – even on those tough days, for example, when you want to skip your meditation session or workout because you are tired or too busy – to take action. Action takers rule the world.
However, there’s one Politically Incorrect truth that I must share with you. You need to know this, because if you don’t, you might give up. Worse, you could be giving up just when success was around the corner.
So read this once. Let it sink in. Read it again. And then print it out. Post it on your computer or your fridge.
It’s that important. Here are some of the most important words of wisdom I could ever share with you…
Success comes in spurts.
But there will be times when you’ll work and work and work, and you’ll feel like you’re getting nowhere. You might be experiencing this right now. So stay strong and keep on pushing.
Believe me, I know how you feel. Back in 2006 I struggled with an anxiety attack that lasted more than six weeks straight, but I never gave up on looking for solutions.
And what I discovered was that success only happens by taking action every day, strong and steady, by overcoming obstacles and powering through the dips, by trudging onward through tough days and getting energized by great days.
The backbone for your success and persistence will always be a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Make sure that your Outcome and Process Goals are clear. Realize that each action you take is a small victory for you, and each accomplishment is another step closer to your big breakthrough.
Everyone goes through those struggles where it feels like nothing is working, those dips, those stretches where you are seemingly making no progress, and then suddenly…
The scale will change by 2-3 pounds seemingly overnight. The person of your dreams will walk into your life. A big break will happen at work. Whatever it is, it WILL happen if you keep taking action.
It happened to me and it will happen to you too. I dealt with the anxiety every single waking moment for six weeks, and then I finally found the answer to my problem. And poof, I was cured almost instantly. Success. It comes in spurts. Trust me on that.
So never, ever, EVER give up on what is important to you.
But how can you help yourself to stick with your action plan and process goals through these tough times?
The answer is in the Four Pillars of Success, which are also the final four steps of our formula. These are Accountability, Social Support, Incentives, and The Deadline.
4) Accountability – Research shows that being accountable to an authority figure increases your chances of success. This might be me, in the TT contests, or your doctor, or your pastor or your supervisor at work. But you need accountability. It can also come from your friends and family too, as we’ll see in the 5th Step.
For my meditation success, I held myself accountable to Matt Smith, my business partner, and my chiropractor, Dr. Michael Sommers. Both of these men have been long-time practitioners of meditation and gave me expert advise on making my sessions better.
5) Social Support - Lean on positive people in your life to support you when things are going well, and yes, to give you a kick-in-the-butt to get back on track when you are slipping.
I used the support of other members in the Turbulence Training forums to stay on track with meditation (as I do everyday to stick to my nutrition, as well). And almost every single winner of the TT Transformation Contests has done the same. The more active they are in the forums, the better results they are getting.
You can’t go it alone and expect to succeed. You must find positive people – and research shows that online support groups work as well as ‘real life in-person’ support – to be there when you need a shoulder to lean on.
6) Incentives – There are two ways to implement Incentives into your Success Formula. You can use the “carrot” or the “stick”. The “carrot” approach is based on a reward you’ll give yourself for taking action and hitting your process and outcome goals.
For TT Contest winners, it’s the big cash prizes that motivate them to action every day.
On the other hand, you can motivate yourself with negative consequences. That’s the “stick” method. For example, you can punish yourself for not taking action or for not hitting your outcome goals.
When I quit swearing late last year, I created a virtual swear jar. Each curse word cost me $10 that had to go to a charity I did not want to support. (You can also choose to donate to the political party you don’t support.) I quickly cleaned up my swearing habits in just six days with this approach.
7) The Deadline – This might be the 2nd most important component after Action. Without The Deadline, we will procrastinate. Our outcome goal of losing 10 pounds of belly fat drags on and on and on without success, unless we say, “I’m going to lose 10 pounds of belly fat by Memorial Day(May 27th, 2013)” and then make this public to our Accountability partners and Social Support while attaching an Incentive to it.
If you do all of those things, I guarantee you’ll have dropped those 10 pounds by the big day.
That’s the power of the Four Pillars of Success. They make you take action, stick to your process goals, and achieve EXACTLY what you want in life.
Put it all together and you have a formula for SUCCESS.
It doesn’t matter if it’s losing belly fat, learning how to meditate, finding the life partner of your dreams, re-establishing your relationship with God, getting a raise, or starting your own business, those 7 Success Steps are a proven blueprint to helping you achieve EXACTLY what you want in life.
The best proof of the 7 Step Success Formula in action that I can offer you is from our Turbulence Training Contest results.
You’ll discover ordinary folks becoming extraordinary, folks just like you with the same hurdles in life, that put the Success Formula into action and made incredible changes.
Our most recent TT contest just finished. And then, come next Monday, it is YOUR TURN.
Our 17th Turbulence Training Transformation Contest opens. And you’ll have a chance to win $1500 of my money in one of four categories:
1) Men Under 40
2) Men Over 40
3) Women Under 40
4) Women Over 40
So get ready to succeed, transform, and win, starting next Monday, April 29th. All of the details of the contest (it’s so simple to do) can be found here:
Craig Ballantyne, CTT
Certified Turbulence Trainer
PS – And never, ever, EVER give up on what is important to you.
Because I finally listened to a little voice (growing every louder) that kept on yelling at me, “Shut Up Craig and take your own advice!”
I know, I know, that sounds a little weird. So let me explain in this week’s personal note to you, because there’s a big lesson for you in my wild little surgical adventure.
It all started over breakfast with a friend a couple of years back and I finally made the big decision when we were having another breakfast meeting at a seminar in Nashville at the Opryland Hotel.
“Craig, it was the best decision I ever made,” my friend Rich D. said to me. This was the fourth time we’d had the same conversation at breakfast over the past two years.
Every few months we’d meet up at a seminar, sit down and catch up on all great things going on in his business (his family owns Equity Trust in Cleveland, a bank in Texas, and a few other non-fitness gigs) and inevitably the conversation would turn to this one little thing that annoyed me in life.
“You really need to do this. You won’t regret it,” Rich would say as we stood to leave the hotel restaurant.
In the past, I’d just nod my head and ignore his advice for another 6-12 months and not do anything about it. And so at our next breakfast, the conversation would come back to my eyesight and how wearing glasses was a pain in the butt for some of the adventures I was going on (like surfing, hiking, and even during my daily workouts, etc.). And Rich would again recommend LASIK.
Finally, I’d had enough of my procrastination. After all, I was practically becoming a hypocrite. Each day I’d recommend to you and hundreds of thousands of other TT and ETR readers that you needed to “Take Action” and “Get out of your comfort zone”, and here I was doing NOTHING.
This was unacceptable.
There was that voice in the back of my head yelling – ever louder – “Shut Up Craig and take your own advice!”
Finally, I did.
I resolved to fix the situation. The first step was to schedule a consult with a world-renowned Bochner Institute in Toronto. That was easy enough. Unfortunately, so was cancelling the first appointment. Ugh. Why was I self-sabotaging myself? Sure, I’m busy, and yes, I hate interrupting my workday to leave the house, but this was important to me.
After the first false start, I rebooked the appointment and it went smoothly. “You’re a perfect candidate for the surgery,” said the clinician. Even better, they had an opening just two weeks later. “Put me down for that,” I said, “And let’s do this.”
Finally, I was taking my own advice and taking control of fixing a problem in my life. (If you want to hear all about my experience, just read Part 2 below.)
Change in my life and your life all starts with commitment to taking action. It will be with little baby steps at first, and then big, giant steps, towards solving a problem in your life.
If you need to change, here’s what you must do. This is politically incorrect. It is not warm and fuzzy. So I’m warning you, these words are a little harsh. But it worked for me and they will work for you to. Here goes…
Stop saying you want to change if you’re not actually going to do anything about it.
BUT if you want to change, take action today, even if it is just the tiniest step in the right direction. Visit a website to learn more about how to achieve your goal. Buy a book. Start reading the ones you have.
Contact people who can help you. Take that first action step. And then take another one tomorrow, and another the day after that. Every single day from now on take another step forward toward your goal, toward the change you want to make. Never stop and never give up on something that is important to you.
“You are responsible for exactly who, what, and where you are in life. That will be just as true this time next year. Situations aren’t important. How you react to them is.” – Kekich Credo #58
And understand that there might be setbacks. So if there are, remember these words:
Put your head down and get the work done that you can control. Don’t get upset by things you can’t control.
Go with the flow. Breathe. Work on improving everything else. Don’t take setbacks personally. Keep on moving ahead. Don’t allow yourself to get knocked off course by negative people. Stay strong, get stronger, and keep on pushing.
You hear me?
Commit to your decision. Take action. Keep pushing. And stay connected to positive people that are going to support you on your journey.
That’s the most important advice I could ever give you about making changes in your life.
You can do it. I believe in you.
Stay strong and get stronger,
Craig Ballantyne, CTT
Certified Turbulence Trainer
Part 2 – So you want to know more about my LASIK experience?
Ok, here it is. Uncensored. If you’re squeamish or not interested, skip this part. Rich was right, I don’t regret having the surgery done because the results are amazing, but it is an intense procedure and quite the experience.
On Friday morning I showed up for my surgery and started going through the regular pre-operation gauntlet. One assistant did a few last checks of my eyes and asked, “So, are you nervous?”
“No,” I replied with a sideways glance at her. “Should I be?”
“Most people are either nervous or excited,” she replied. “Oh, well, I guess I’m curious, but not nervous or excited,” I told her.
“That’s a unique response,” she said before adding, “Do you want a Valium?”
I laughed. “No, I’m good.”
The reason I wasn’t nervous or excited all came down to how I approached the surgery. In situations like this, or when I did my first rappelling session down a cliff in Aspen, Colorado, or when I flew fighter jets in the Nevada desert, or when I’ve driven race cars at 168mph on the Las Vegas speedway, what I’ve learned to do is simply put my faith in the experts (just like you should when using a Turbulence Training program).
You see, when an expert has built decades of experience and thousands of success stories, it’s just wasted energy to second guess their work or to be nervous or to think that you can improve upon what they do.
Instead, the best approach that causes the least stress and best results is to simply put your faith in them and follow instructions. When you do that, everything will work out.
Next up was a chance to meet the Doc before the surgery. The first thing he said after greeting me was, “We’ll have you seeing like a hawk. You’re going to love it.”
That was well done on his part to manage my expectations, and would have calmed any worries had I had them. He knew what I wanted to hear.
But then it got weird.
The next 20 minutes of my life was what you’d expect an alien abduction and oracular probing to be like, should I ever get abducted by extra-terrestrials.
To be honest, I don’t feel like the company literature or anyone that I talked to in my consultation fully prepared me for the actual procedure.
It was intense, and now I understood why they offered me the pre-surgery Valium.
Ten minutes before surgery you lie down in a separate room and something gets put in your eyes to stop them from blinking during the surgery. First, they apply anesthetic drops. That’s fine.
But then the doctor and his assistant use a machine that generates intense pressure on your eye socket, one at a time, to get some equipment in place over your eye to prevent the blinking.
You also lose your vision. It becomes incredibly blurry.
And if I hadn’t placed full faith in the doctor and “let go”, it could have been quite traumatic. Instead, I just relaxed, trusted that all was going well – as they said it was – and focused on doing deep, meditative breathing.
Fortunately, you are quickly led into the operating room where the final procedure, while still intense, is actually less stressful than the pre-operation experience.
The surgery requires your full concentration. You must stay focused on a small green light while the doctor pokes and prods your eyeball. It’s tough, and then there’s an awful smell as he fires up the laser for 20 seconds and rearranges your eyeball shape. It’s similar to the odor your smell at the dentist’s office when he drills into your molars.
Fortunately, the laser doesn’t make any noise and it’s all over soon. The assistant counts down from 20 seconds, and when one eyeball is done they quickly switch over and complete the process for the other.
Now you can breathe easy. It’s all over.
They help you up, and the doc is in good spirits as he sends you on your way.
See, nothing to worry about, just like I told you.
For the next hour my vision was blurry. It felt like those days back in college where after too many beers I’d fall asleep still wearing my contact lenses (the kind you have to take out at night).
But after 15 minutes of recovery, my sight was already improving and they gave me the “OK” to head home. I put on my sun blocker shades that I was instructed to wear for the next 5 days, jumped on my motorcycle, and raced home on the highway (just kidding, you’re not allowed to drive for at least 24 hours).
In reality, I grabbed a cab and closed my eyes for the 20-minute ride home. It was too annoying to try and read anything on my phone. Focusing my eyes for the next couple of hours proved difficult, so I followed the doc’s instructions by putting in my eye drops and taking a 90-minute nap.
That will forever be known as the Miracle Nap because when I woke up – wearing the sunglasses as instructed – it was amazing. I could see clearly now my nearsightedness was gone.
Over the rest of the day it just got better and better. There wasn’t any pain, and I had no need for the pain medication that they give you. A day later and the only side effects are slightly dry eyes.
Today, I’m still reaching my glasses out of habit, and I also think that I’m wearing contact lenses. It might take a while for the reality of my new HawkEye vision to set in.
Rich was right. It was a great decision. No regrets. I’m still in awe of the changes and how fast they were made. It’s borderline miraculous.
But that’s just one tiny improvement in my life. There are many, many things I still need to work on.
And so surgery did not completely silence that voice in the back of my head. It’s still there yelling, “Shut up Craig and start taking your own advice! Make a commitment to living better. Take action. And never give up!”
It’s so loud that I hope you can hear it too.
Stay strong, my friend, and get stronger every day.