“Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent action.”
Whether you’re sharpening an athletic skill or working toward a personal goal, nothing happens overnight. Improvement and working toward excellence requires paying attention to the quality of your work and making tangible steps in the right direction.
When an athlete wants to improve a specific skill, he must talk to coaches, focus on strengthening specific parts of the body, and practice that skill. If he were to only wish for improvement, but not utilize the tools available and necessary for change, he would be wasting time.
In the wise words of John Ruskin, “Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent action.” We see this truth played out in our everyday lives. For example, millions of people make New Year’s resolutions that never become reality. This is not due to an inability to accomplish a goal, but rather a lack of understanding how to do so. Substantial improvement and changes are not made by luck or accident—they are made through hard work and intelligent action.
No matter where you come from or what you’re trying to accomplish, it is possible if you put in the work. This may seem like a daunting task, but developing a focused plan to work toward goal will not only make it seem possible, but will bring you to the finish line.
Here are six steps to accomplish your new goal:
- Select a target area for improvement. It is crucial that you know your goal and the work that will be required of you from the beginning. It is also important to choose a positive mindset to constantly remind yourself of during your journey. Choose from one or all of these areas: commitment, focus, confidence, positive imagery, mental preparation, and distraction control.
- Pinpoint your best performances. Knowing your talents is just as important as understanding your goal. Reflect closely on what has already worked well for you in past situations, and allow those successes to propel you into your new challenge.
- Review the strategies of the other chapters. When preparing for your goal, you should choose a strategy that has worked well for you in the past. When you face your goal head on, you will have firsthand knowledge and wisdom from your past that will affect the present.
- Write down your plan of action. When you decide on your strategies, it is important that you document them for accountability. You should decide how to initiate the change you are seeking, how often you will practice, when you will practice, and what you will need to accomplish your goal. Your plan is not real until you write it down.
- Practice your plan. Practice is the key to progress and continual improvement. It allows you to perfect your imperfections, and move forward each day with more progress than the day before. As you practice, think about what worked well and didn’t work well and what you need to change. This process will continue as you move forward in hard work.
- Share your pursuit with others. Community is everything. When you confide in your teammates, family, and friends, it keeps you in full focus and allows you to work through the challenges and victories you are seeing throughout your journey. When you become mentally stronger, your pursuit will be joyful and wholesome.
These six steps can help you realize where you want to be and what steps you need to take to get there If you do not have a strategy and a plan, you will lose sight of where you are going and where you have been.
Above all, redefine a plan to fit who you are. There is no cookie-cutter solution for making an improvement in your life, and if you do not personalize it to your story, the plan will do you no good in the long run. Intelligent action means developing a plan that fits you, because your challenges and victories are unlike anyone else’s.