I was untouchable.

At least, that’s what I thought.

At age 25, I was a young man on top of the world. In addition to my job as a personal trainer, I was also leading several (heavily funded) research studies for a major sports nutrition company.

Unfortunately, my “untouchability” was short lived

I unwittingly became a living and breathing case study of the Peter Principle in play.

The Peter Principle states:

“Every employee rises in the hierarchy through promotion until they reach a level of respective incompetence.”

In other words, my hustle and drive caused my superiors to promote me too quickly and put me in deeply over my head. In my youthful arrogance, I decided to simply power through without asking for help.

And as a result, I ended up royally screwing up a major research study..

…One that had cost the company millions of dollars.

I still remember getting the call in my office in Toronto at about 2pm on Thursday, November 28th (American Thanksgiving Day).

“Craig, I need to see you before you leave today,” said Terry, the VP.

I knew exactly what was coming.

When I entered his office at 5pm he was waiting along with the Founder of the company–waves of anxiety crashed over me.

The Founder escorted me back to my office, informing me of the company’s decision.

“Take your time,” he said as I gathered my things.

“I tried to do my best…” I said meekly.

It was my dream job and I had blown it. I’d put 110% into this job. I expected to be there forever, leading an exciting industry, traveling the world doing research, and supporting new scientific discoveries that would help millions.

Instead I was being walked out–in one of the most humiliating moments of my life–with all of my meager belongings in a cardboard box.

“See you in the gym?” one of my co-workers said, attempting to distract me from my misfortune, as we walked down the stairs.

“Nah, skipping the gym tonight,” I lied.

And that was it.

The next day the dreaded “Effective immediately, Craig Ballantyne is no longer employed here” email went out to my friends…my brothers, that I had worked with, trained with, traveled with, and partied with for the past two years.

Foolishly I had poured my personal identify into my work, and I was left with a gaping void in my life that I went on to fill with drinking, depression and isolation for the next six months.

But there was a silver lining.

Thanks to the support of my friends, my family, and so many of my peers who knew I was capable of so much more I was able to lift myself out of the lowest point in life thanks to the lessons I want to share with you today.

1. Create Numbers-Based Outcome Goal and Reverse Engineer Them  

If you’re reading this right now, then I have no doubt that you already have goals for your life and business. However, simply having ‘goals’ is not enough. To build and empire and create legacy-level success, you must set a specific type of goal.

While there are countless goal setting systems, strategies, and formulas, I’ve found that simplicity is king.

To effectively set goals, you need only two things:

  1. A quantitative outcome
  2. A deadline

You see when most people set goals, they do so with vague generalizations.

They say things like, “I want to be healthier” or “I want to make more money” or “I want to build a lifestyle business.” Although these might be great sentiments, they are terrible goals.

Instead, you’re going to set what I call “numbers-based outcome goals” for your big vision–typically something 3-5 years in the future–and then reverse engineer this goal into yearly, quarterly, monthly, and weekly targets.

When I was coming out of my funk, I set a goal for doing 30 personal training sessions per week, and then broke down the action steps needed to generate ten clients that would train with me three times per week.

Here are a few other examples that might suit your situation.

  • “I want to be healthier” becomes, “I will lose 60 lbs. of fat, average 8 hours of sleep a night, and complete no less than 150 resistance training sessions by the end of 2020.”
  • “I want to make more money” becomes, “I will increase my monthly income by 500%, earning no less than $250,000/month by December 31st, 2020”
  • “I want to build a lifestyle business” becomes, “I will generate $10,000 a month in revenue from my online business by May 2020, and work no more than 25 hours a week to maintain it.”

Then, once you know the big overarching goal for each area of your life, you can reverse engineer it and break it down into more manageable phases.

For example, if your goal is to generate more than $250,000 in monthly revenue by December 2020, and you’re currently making $100,000 a month, then you now know that you need to earn an additional $25,000 in revenue each quarter between now and then.

That’s an extra $8,333 per month or $2,083 per week.

With this numbers based outcome goal in place, you can now set about identifying the exact processes and structures you need to have in place to achieve it on time.

2. Identify the Processes Required to Achieve Those Goals

Once you know what you want to achieve, it’s now time to shift your focus and figure out exactly how you’re going to achieve it.

Listen, no matter what your outcome goal is, you cannot control whether or not you achieve it.

You cannot force your body to burn off 60 lbs. of fat. You can’t force your customers to buy an additional $150,000/month worth of products and services from your company. You can’t guarantee that your lifestyle business will actually generate 6-figures with 25 hours of work.

But you can control yourself and the action you expend to try and achieve your goal.  

You can show up everyday, implement the right processes, take the correct actions and drastically increase the odds that you’ll achieve success.

So, the next step in the goal setting formula is to identify the most important habits and behaviors that make it more likely for you to achieve your goals.

What habits and behaviors, if followed consistently–and that’s the key here–will make it almost impossible for you to fail?

For example, if your goal is to lose 30 lbs. of fat while improving all of your standard health metrics (blood pressure, triglycerides, etc) by 20%, your processes might be:

  • Complete three 30-minute resistance training sessions each week
  • Consume, on average, 300 fewer calories each day than I burn off
  • Sleep for 7-9 hours a night
  • Drink 1 gallon of water a day.

If you follow these processes, you may or may not hit your goal. But you will most definitely be a healthier and happier version of yourself than before.

Or, if you want to increase your personal income by 50% while working 10 fewer hours each week, your processes might be:

  • Ask for referrals from all existing clients and implement a results-based referral request with all new clients.
  • Double down on my follow up campaigns to maximize my existing marketing budget.
  • Hire a sales team to close down new leads and free up my schedule so I can focus on the big picture of the company.
  • Create two new products by the end of 2019

Again, you may or may not double your income, but if you follow these processes, you will make more income in the future than you do today.

To help you with this process, I’ve created a simple “90-Day Reality Maker” blueprint that will help you identify your #1 goal and then reverse engineer the exact processes you need to complete in the next 90 days.

Click here to download your planner now.

3. Focus on the ‘Who’ Not the ‘How’

Although the “what” (your goals) and the “how” (your processes) are important, they’re only half of the puzzle.

An even more important question you should ask yourself is not “how” can I accomplish this, but “who” can I bring into my team to help me accomplish this faster, or better yet…to do it for me?

Listen, as entrepreneurs and high-performers, it’s easy to fall for the “self made myth.” It’s easy to think that we can do it all alone and that we’re the exception to the rule.

But you can’t and you aren’t.

We all need a team of other A-players around us who can make our lives easier and help us achieve success faster and if you’re doing it all by yourself, you’re doing it wrong.

So ask yourself, who do you need in your corner to accelerate your success?

Do you need a personal trainer and dietician to make it easier for you to lose weight and perform at your best?

Do you need sales people and marketing consultants to help you acquire and convert new leads?

Do you need a coach or mentor to whom you can be professionally accountable (more on that later) and ensure you follow through on your most important processes?

Who do you need to hire or bring into your team to cut your “time to achievement” in half?

And if you’re thinking, “Craig, this sounds great…but I can’t afford to hire help” then you absolutely must hire new team members.

With enough creativity, you can find a way to get support on any budget.

Whether you bring on an unpaid intern and invest in their professional development or hire a salesperson who is paid only on commission you can do something to get the right people in your life and business and help you move faster while you stay in your area of genius.

4. Do This One Exercise to Increase the Likelihood of Achieving Your Goals by 91%

Researchers at the University of Bath discovered a rather interesting psychological “trick” you can play on yourself to dramatically increase the likelihood of achieving your goals.

Here’s what they found:

First, they gathered 248 adults all of whom claimed they wanted to exercise more consistently, and separated them into three groups.

They instructed the first group of participants to read a novel before working out.

The second group was instructed to read a pamphlet on the heart benefits of exercise before working out.

And the third group, in addition to reading the pamphlet, were also instructed to formulate and articulate a specific plan for their training using this following structure:

“During the next week, I will partake in at least twenty minutes of vigorous exercise on [Day] at [Time of Day] at/in [place].

Two weeks later, here’s what they found:

  • 38% of participants in the first group exercised at least once a week
  • 35% of the participants in the second group exercised at least once per week.
  • 91% of participants in the third group exercised at least once a week.

Read that again… 91%  of participants followed through on their commitment to exercise simply because they took a few minutes to write down what they were committed to doing and when/where they would do it.

And you can use this same formula to dramatically increase your follow-through on your goals and processes at every level.

Try this today.

Pick one process that you want to follow through on tomorrow and write out your “What-when-where” statement to help you stick to it.

For example, “Tomorrow on Tuesday, May 13th, I will wake up at 6:30 a.m., drink a cup of coffee, and go to my office where I will spend 45-minutes of distraction free time writing my new book.”

Give it a go and let me know how it works in the comments below.

5. Get Professional Accountability

Listen, having a blueprint for success is great. In fact, it’s essential. But if you don’t actually put in the work and take the required action to execute that plan, your preparation doesn’t matter.

Luckily, with the right accountability systems in place, you can “force” yourself to take the action you want to take to achieve your goals.

Specifically, you must have professional accountability from someone whom you deeply do not want to disappoint.

For example, even though we’ve become close friends and business partners in recent years, I still write my buddy Bedros Keuilian a big check each year for his business coaching and consulting.

I don’t do this because I ‘have’ to–I could still get plenty of value from my personal relationship with him–I do it because I know that having professional accountability is paramount to success.

Writing the check is simply what my friend Sharran Srivatsaa calls a “Symbol of seriousness.”

It shows Bedros and, more importantly, myself that I’m serious about achieving the goals I’ve set and having the added pressure of disappointing the ‘Armenian Giant’ makes it harder for me to be lazy than it is for me to take the action I know I need to take.

Find a coach or mentor that has achieved what you want to achieve and aligns with your ethics and moral code and set up some sort of accountability arrangement.

Share your outcome goals with them, inform them of your processes, and check in with them every week (every day if possible) to ensure that you’re staying on track.

This is your “secret weapon” against the forces of procrastination, laziness, and resistance and will make achieving your biggest goals 100X easier.

6. Account for Contingencies

Planning for success is important. But even more valuable is accounting and planning for obstacles, setbacks, and failure.

Listen, no matter how hard you work or how smart you are, you are going to fail at one of your goals at some point in time. It’s inevitable.

Life happens. Family members pass away. Business partners steal from you. Employees leave. Markets turn. Your health deteriorates unexpectedly.

The question is not ‘if’ these contingencies will happen or even ‘when’ they will happen but rather what you are going to do to deal with them.

Similar to the “What-when-where” statements I shared earlier, there’s another simple exercise that researchers have found to dramatically increase your resilience and “stick-to-itiveness” and it goes like this…

After writing down your goals and the processes required to achieve them, think of the 5-10 biggest obstacles you are likely to encounter along the way. Sit down and think seriously about all of the different things that could go wrong. Apply Murphy’s Law and remember, “What can go wrong, will go wrong.”

Then, once you have identified the 3-5 most likely and devastating obstacles, write down your new contingency plan using an “If/Then” statement.

For example, if your process goal is to wake up every morning and write your book for 30-minutes, you might write:

  • If I don’t get enough sleep, I will still wake up at 7 a.m. and spend 30-minutes writing before going back to bed for a 30-minute nap.
  • If I miss a writing session for any reason, I will do it after work at 6 p.m.
  • If I can’t complete my writing session, I will set aside an additional 30-minutes Saturday or Sunday at 9 a.m. to make up for it.
  • If I suffer a tragic loss or unexpected accident, I will take one week off of my writing process to recover and then resume it immediately thereafter.

As simple as this exercise is, it will have a profoundly positive impact on your resilience and ability to follow through on your goals.

When you take off the rose colored glasses and look objectively at your life, goals, and processes, it’s easier to pick yourself back up when setbacks happen.

Do this exercise now and let me know your three most important contingency plans below.

7. Create Meaningful Incentives

The final step in achieving your biggest goals faster and easier than before is to tie them to meaningful incentives.

Sure, we all want to be healthier, wealthier, happier, and wiser…but why?

In a day and age where you can coast by with ease and spend every waking hour in the hedonic pursuit of easy pleasures and instant gratification, why are you willing to forgo what is easy to achieve what you desire?

What gets you out of bed every morning and inspires you to get to work? What is the end goal that you’re working towards?

For me, I believe that I was put on this planet to help 100,000,000 people become healthier, happier, and wealthier. My incentive is the amount of value that I’m able to provide to the world and my hope of leaving the planet better than I found it.

To be blunt, without this incentive, without this burning reason WHY I do what I do, I would never have shut down turbulence training and turned to business coaching. I would have ridden it out for another 2-3 years before retiring with a big sack of cash and heading somewhere tropical.

Instead, I’m awake by 3:57 a.m. every morning in–decidedly not tropical–Toronto, Canada working towards my vision of 100,000,000 happy, healthy, and wealthy people.

It is my burning desire to serve others, not the money or celebrity, that gets me up and keeps me going.

Like Tony Robbins says, “With a strong enough ‘why’ you can overcome any ‘how.’”

Take some time this week to revisit your ‘why’? Spend a few hours out in nature and think deeply about why you do the things you do and why you want to achieve your biggest goals.

When you discover what is truly driving your goals and desires, you’ll be able to tap into it for motivation and drive when things get hard.

And trust me, it is the only thing that will get you through the hard times and help you achieve the goals you’ve set.

Conclusion

My path from “recently fired research leader” to “best selling author, entrepreneur, and 7-figure business owner” was not a straight one.

It was marked with pot holes, set backs, and obstacles along the entire journey.

However, using the system that I shared with you today, I was able to overcome the challenges standing in my way and achieve a level of success my 25 year old self could have barely imagined.

Today, I still use this system to help me accelerate my life and continue to grow as a leader and businessman.

What about you? What do you think of this guide? What was your biggest takeaway?

Let me know in the comments below.

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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