To succeed in business and your personal life, you often hear that you need to be more competitive – that you need to keep “raising the bar.” But is that really necessary… or even a good idea?

“Raising the bar” is a metaphor that was borrowed from the sports world. So let’s see how it works there.

Let’s say you come to me because you want to be a world-class high jumper. I’ve written a best-selling book called How to Be a Champion High Jumper, so you ask me to coach you. You come out onto the field all excited and ready to go.

I set the bar at seven feet, because that’s what the world’s best high jumpers can do. So you stand there looking at the bar waaaay up there.

I say, “Come on, you can do it! Think positive! Get psyched!”

You, being the trooper you are and not wanting to disappoint me, take a few steps back, then run as fast as you can, jump up with all your might… smack!

Not even close. You miss the bar by a mile.

“That’s okay!” I say, clapping my hands. “You’ll do better next time!”

You gamely try again and again. I try to keep you encouraged and motivated. But you miss that damn bar every time.

Do you realize how many people put themselves in a similarly impossible situation? They raise their “bar” so high that even when they do accomplish something, it never seems good enough. Sound familiar?

That’s why I often tell my clients to lower the bar. Here’s the difference…

“Raise the bar” means:

  • Close more sales.
  • Finish writing your article.
  • Make a million dollars.
  • Find the right person.
  • Lose 20 pounds.
  • Don’t make a mistake.

“Lower the bar” means:

  • Listen more than you talk.
  • Start writing your article.
  • Learn about smart investing.
  • Be the right person.
  • Exercise for 15 minutes today.
  • Give yourself permission to be human.

Write down five ways you can lower the bar today, this week, and this month. Write down how and where you’ve expected yourself to be perfect the first time out. Then lower the bar… and give yourself permission to succeed.

[Ed. Note: Noah St. John is founder of SuccessClinic.com and author of the upcoming book The Secret Code of Success. He’s been featured on CNN, National Public Radio, and in The Washington Post.You can get Noah’s Special Report “How to Double Your Income in 12 Weeks by Working Less” at SuccessClinic.com.

Get dozens more proven techniques that can help you accomplish your longest-held goals with ETR’s Total Success Achievement Program]

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