In my last ETR essay (“Accessing Your Inner Guidance”), I gave you three questions to ask yourself. The objective was to get in touch with your feelings — to look deep inside in order to evaluate your life and determine what truly makes you happy.

The most important part of this process of getting in touch with your feelings is to begin to practice solitude. Solitude is the most powerful activity in which you can engage. Men and women who practice it correctly and on a regular basis never fail to be amazed at the difference it makes in their lives.

Most people have never practiced solitude. Most people have never sat down quietly by themselves for any length of time in their entire lives. Most people are so busy being busy, doing something — even watching television — that it’s highly unusual for them to simply sit, deliberately, and do nothing.

But as Catherine Ponder, the author of many inspirational books, points out, “Men and women begin to become great when they begin to take time quietly by themselves, when they begin to practice solitude.”

To get the full benefit of your periods of solitude, you must sit quietly for 30 to 60 minutes at a time. If you haven’t done it before, it will take the first 25 minutes or so for you to stop fidgeting and moving around.

You’ll practically have to hold yourself in your seat. You’ll have an almost irresistible desire to get up and do something. But you must persist.

Solitude requires that you sit quietly, perfectly still, back and head erect, eyes open, without cigarettes, candy, writing materials, music, or any interruptions whatsoever for at least 30 minutes. An hour is better.

Become completely relaxed and breathe deeply. Just let your mind drift. Don’t try to think about anything. The harder you “don’t try,” the more powerfully it works.

After 20 or 25 minutes, you’ll begin to feel deeply relaxed. You’ll begin to experience energy coming into your mind and body. You’ll have a tremendous sense of well-being. At this point, you’ll be ready to get the full benefit of these moments of contemplation.

The incredible thing about solitude is that, if it is done correctly, it works just about 100 percent of the time. While you’re sitting there, a river of ideas will flow through your mind. You’ll think about countless subjects in an uncontrolled stream of consciousness.

Your job is to relax and listen to your inner voice. At a certain stage during your period of solitude, the solutions to the most pressing difficulties facing you will emerge quietly and clearly, like a boat putting in gently to the side of a lake. The answer that you seek will come to you so clearly — and it will feel so perfect — that you’ll experience a deep sense of gratitude and contentment.

You may get several answers in one period of quiet sitting. But you’ll get the answer to the most important question facing you every single time.

When you arise from this period of quiet, you must do exactly what has come to you. It may involve dealing with another person. It may involve starting something or quitting something.

Whatever it is, when you follow the guidance that you received in solitude, it will turn out to be exactly the right thing to do. Everything will be okauy. And it will usually work out far better than you could have imagined. Just try it and see.

That brings us to the final point on getting in touch with your feelings: You must learn to trust yourself. You must learn to take time to listen to your emotions and your feelings as to what makes you happy or unhappy, as to what feels right or wrong. You must absolutely trust that what is right for you is the right thing to do. You must never compromise on what your inner voice tells you to do. You must never go against what you feel to be correct. You must develop the habit of listening to yourself and then acting on the guidance you receive.

When you listen to yourself and act on what you hear inside, you are setting out on the road to personal greatness.

[Ed. Note: Brian Tracy, author of the new book No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline, was born in Canada in 1944 and grew up in California. After dropping out of high school, he traveled and worked his way around the world, eventually visiting 80 countries on six continents. His extensive studies in business, sales, management, marketing, and economics enabled him to become the head of a $265 million company before he turned his attention to consulting, training, and personal development.

You can also check out Early to Rise’s own Epiphany Alliance goal setting program. Success mentor Bob Cox has helped thousands of people achieve their most treasured life goals. Find out how Bob can help you here.]

Brian Tracy

Brian Tracy has accumulated over four decades of studying the success habits of successful people. He has then taken these practices to train groups, both individual and large corporations what is necessary to make personal success simple. Find out about Brian Tracy and his expertise here