Terminal 6 at LAX is my home away from home. About twice a month I call an Uber from the Westin Hotel, drive the 1.9 miles (I wish there was a walkway!), and proceed to hurry up and wait my way through security before breaking through to the other side where I’m greeted by the all-to-familiar 90-minute wait for my flight back to Toronto. .

Immediately upon getting through security and recovering both my laptop and my dignity, I take a left into the Hudson News. I grab a bottle of water and a handful of Quest Bars (my greatest vice). Just as I’m about to turn to the cash register with hands full, I always think “just one more”.

What follows is a scene that seems like it’s straight out of that “I Love Lucy” candy factory episode. I grab an extra bar and two fall out of my hand on the floor. Then I put my water down on the dirty airport floor, pick up the two bars, grab my water, and then my credit card slips to the floor.

Now, if you’ve ever tried to pick up a 2mm thick credit card off the ground without long fingernails, you know how this is going to end up. The next thing you know I’ve been kneeling on the ground for two minutes alternating between dropping my candy bars (I mean protein bars), bottled water, and other assorted personal items.

One time I even left my garment bag lying on a counter and walked away. Fortunately a kind employee tracked me down, otherwise, I’d be out a $3,000 suit… but hey, at least I got my Quest Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars!

We’ve all experienced such exercises in futility. Picture filling a leaky bucket. You can put as much water into the bucket as you want. You can turn up the pressure, add a second hose, or even tap a local fire hydrant (I would not recommend this!), but at the end of the day, you cannot fill the bucket until you plug the holes. You might be able to fill it momentarily, but after a little while, you’ll always end up exactly where you started out. Empty.

Your life and business are the same way. You can set goals, get motivated, chant affirmations, and pump yourself up all that you want. But if you have holes in the bucket of your life, you’ll arrive at the end of each week, month, and year with the all-too-familiar sense that you’re doing something wrong. I’m going to let you in on a little secret… If you’re feeling stuck in your business or life, it’s not what you are doing that is sabotaging your success, it’s what you’re not doing.

No matter what you do, no matter how many motivational YouTube videos you watch, if you’re missing any one of the following three “links”, your success will be short lived. When I sit back and reflect on the worst periods in my life, those times when nothing seemed to be working, when my anxiety was overwhelming, and when I felt stuck in an unbeatable rut… I realized that it was always because I was forgetting to implement one or all of the three success accelerators I’m going to share with you today.

1. Outside Eyes

It’s easy to get so caught up in the daily grind of putting out fires, attending meetings, and handling new clients that you become oblivious to huge opportunities for growth and income. I’ve helped many of my millionaire clients increase their bottom line by 20-30% simply by offering an objective set of eyes on their business operations and helping them identify the 1-2 leverage points that they were missing out on.

The simple fact of the matter is this: You cannot do it alone. No matter how hard you hustle, how much content you consume, or how many advanced training courses you attend, you need another set of eyes on your business and life to help you identify opportunities you might be missing.

Other experts in your field have unique experiences, thoughts, and ideas that can help you increase your income and impact in ways that you would never expect. If you haven’t done so already, I recommend hiring a professional coach or consultant with unique expertise in your niche to help you identify opportunities that might be right under your nose.

And listen, this goes for me too. In 2015 I decided to ‘retire’ from my lucrative fitness business, virtually shutting down a multi-million dollar stream of revenue. It just wasn’t what I wanted to do anymore. It was risky, yes, but a calculated risk, because I had my business coach (not to mention best friend and Retreat speaker) Bedros Keuilian on my side.

I spent $30,000 on his coaching, and in the first hour of our first coaching session he identified a new 6-figure stream of income thanks to his outside eyes. Prior to Bedros’ coaching, I couldn’t see the forest because of the trees as I was too deep in the weeds (yes, I know it’s mixed metaphor, but you get it). Within four weeks of getting Bedros’s advice we generated over $157,000 in a series of just four emails to our list.

That’s what good coaches do.

2. Raise Your Personal Standards and Set the Bar Higher

Oftentimes the biggest thing that is holding us back from the income and impact we desire is not our bad habits, market fluctuations, or lack of discipline. It’s that we simply haven’t raised our standards to the appropriate level.

You will get out of life what you tolerate in life. For example, if you were to take the average grad student and offer him or her a full time marketing position earning $200,000 a year in exchange for only 35 hours of work a week, they would be ecstatic. However, if you were to extend this same offer to a highly successful entrepreneur who is accustomed to earning more than $200,000 a month, they would laugh you out of the room.

Why is this? The successful entrepreneur has higher standards and expectations for themselves than the recent college grad. They expect more out of themselves and know what they’re capable of and, as a result, they are unwilling to settle for anything less than what they know they can achieve.

Now, this sounds all fine and dandy, but the question still remains, how do you actually raise your standards? The best way that I’ve found is simply by spending time with people who think BIG. You are the average of the five people you associate with most. If your five closest friends all earn $35,000 a year and are content to spend their weeks screwing around at work, playing video games, and getting hammered at the bar every Friday night, you will slowly but surely begin to mirror those behaviors.

However, if you associate with people who are not satisfied by the status quo, people who refuse to settle for average, and people who constantly push themselves and those around them to think, act, and achieve bigger and better things, you will adopt their mindsets, beliefs, and actions. Refuse to settle for anything less than your full potential.

I don’t care if you’re making two grand a month or two grand a day. Always raise your standards and continue pushing the envelope on what you believe is possible. Remember, your life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Never settle and never accept anything less than 100% from yourself.

3. Unbreakable Accountability from Someone You Don’t Want to Disappoint

While the previous steps are important, they aren’t enough by themselves. You need to add an extra layer of accountability to ensure that you don’t back slide into your old patterns, habits, and ways of thinking. The ONLY way to permanently raise your standards and increase your level of impact, income, and influence is to create unbreakable accountability systems with someone you deeply admire and do NOT want to disappoint.

Whether it’s a friend, mentor, or professional coach, you need someone in your corner who will hold you to your word and guarantee that you won’t allow excuses and a fixed mindset to hold you back from your goals. Because trust me when I say that you will not always feel motivated to rise to the level of your new standards. Despite the fact that I’m notorious for my habit of rising at 4 a.m., I’m tempted to hit the snooze button nearly every day of the week.

The only reason that I don’t give into the temptation of smashing snooze and sleeping away the most valuable part of my day is because I have external accountability built into my life. My team, my friends, my clients, and my mentors all expect me to be up early and to have my day well underway by the time we connect each morning. In fact, one of the first things I do each morning is text a motivational message to a few of my top coaching clients, including my friend and Perfect Life Retreat speaker, Joel Marion. If that text wasn’t waiting for him when he woke up, there’d be hell to pay.

To strengthen your resolve, I recommend that you include financial incentives in your accountability agreements. For example, my new Editor recently asked me to hold him accountable to a number of personal boundaries he’s committed to keeping and agreed to donate $75 to a charity of my choice if he breaks them. I can promise you that when the alarm goes off in the morning or the temptation to skip the gym in favor of watching Netflix arises (and it always does) that $75 promise will be the extra push he needs to overcome temptation and do what needs to be done.

Find your personal pain point, be it money, shame, or simply disappointing someone you admire and press on it until you have no choice but to level up your game and perform at the new standards you’ve set for yourself. This simple tactic has changed my life and the lives of dozens of my top clients.

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By implementing these three simple strategies into your daily life I can promise you that you will begin to increase your impact, income, and influence faster than you ever believed possible.

With outside eyes, higher standards, and unbreakable accountability on your side, it will feel like success is happening “automatically” because you’ve created a life that pulls you towards your dreams instead of a life where you must push yourself forward.

Get started now. Make the first phone call, send the first email, drop that first comment and I promise… You’ll never look back.

Use this millionaire-vetted Morning Routine to achieve the impact, income, and influence you desire, TODAY!

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Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is the author of The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day and Control Your Life. Craig has been a contributor to Men's Health magazine for over 17 years. Today he teaches his gift to high-performing entrepreneurs how to squeeze more out of their days, increase their income, and make more quality time for their families in his Perfect Life Workshop and Work-Life Mastery programs. Craig used his own advice to overcome crippling anxiety attacks in 2006, and he'll teach you his 5 Pillars of Success so you can increase your income, decrease your work time, and live the life of your dreams. Learn more about Craig at craigballantyne.com

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