People overestimate what they can accomplish in one year and underestimate what they can achieve in ten years.

Or so “they” say.

I first heard this proclamation from two business owners at a small-closed door meeting of maverick business owners. Everyone in the room nodded their heads in agreement, but to me it just didn’t seem right. I believed it was a classic case of the anonymous “they” being wrong.

The quote was “filed” in my memory and a few weeks later I started to research this “rule”. My investigation brought me to this quote from Anthony Robbins.

Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!”

Now I don’t disagree that Anthony Robbins has helped thousands and thousands of people, but I do disagree with what he says.

Here’s why.

Recently my business partner, Bedros Keuilian and I held a Mastermind Meeting in Las Vegas. As we went around the room we asked four questions to each client.

Where are you now?

Where do you want to be?

What do you need to do to get there?

And finally, perhaps the most important question of them all:

What ONE thing has to happen in 2012 for you to consider this to be a breakthrough year for you?

The answers were revealing and NOT in line with what Anthony’s quote would suggest.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

Our Mastermind Members, and there were 31 of them, tended to make mountains out of molehills with their problems and dramatically underestimated what they could achieve in 2012. Their dreams were big, but not big enough for the next year, certainly not big enough to be called “breakthroughs”.

For example, one member wanted to replace his $2000 per month gym manager stipend with income from his online business. That was his BIG goal for 2012. But that’s just a tiny stepping-stone in comparison to what he can truly accomplish. After all, in just the final three months of 2011 he was able to sell 700 copies of his online program for over $21,000 in gross revenue. So for this member adding an extra $2000 in revenue each month was too small of a goal.

Yet small thinking is what I find common to almost everyone in life.

What stops people from thinking big are the obstacles in the way of progress. And worse, almost everyone gives too much power to the obstacles that block them. As a result, I’ve found the following statement to be more common than the Anthony Robbin quote above.

Most people OVER-estimate the obstacles in front of them and UNDER-estimate what they can accomplish.

Case in point: Another Mastermind member spent days and days working on a technical problem on his website, thus taking valuable time away from what really mattered in his business – which is working on the sales copy.

When asked why he did this, our Mastermind member said, “I didn’t know where to find someone else to do it.”

To be honest, it left both Bedros and I shaking our heads. We reminded this member, and all of the members in our group, that if they have a problem, all they need to do is ask. Either ask us or ask another person in the group for help. This is the simplest solution to what was actually a very small problem.

And we were validated by the fact that three of four Mastermind members immediately volunteered resources for this other member that could have solved his problem in minutes for a small investment.

Again, that would have freed up his time to work on the more important aspect of the business – selling – that would have brought in more money during this gentleman’s recent website promotion. However, because he spent too much time trying to figure out a technical problem on his own, the sales copy on his website was not compelling enough to his prospects.

The obstacle in his way was small, yet he perceived it as large. As a result of this mistake, his results were small, and therefore he under-estimated his future prospects of success.

Had he initially recognized how small of an obstacle he was dealing with, he would have been able to overcome that quickly, had better sales, and therefore had a bigger, and more accurate estimation of his future potential.

This situation is not uncommon. In meeting after meeting both Bedros and I solve our client’s problems in seconds.

You might do the same for your clients in your daily work. Your experience has shown you simple solutions to almost every problem, no matter how stressful the problem seems to your clients. But I’m willing to bet your clients think those problems are mountains, not molehills, right?

Don’t make the same mistake. Don’t over-estimate the obstacles in front of you and under-estimate what you can accomplish… otherwise you’ll just be proving “them” right.

Go back and identify where you are now, where you want to be, what you have to do to get there, and then answer the most important question of all, “What ONE thing has to happen in 2012 for you to consider this to be a breakthrough year for you?”

Thing big. Make big plans for 2012. And don’t be afraid to prove them wrong.

[Ed. Note. Craig Ballantyne is the author of Financial Independence Monthly, a complete blueprint to helping you take control of your financial future with a web–based business that you can operate from anywhere in the world – including a coffee shop, your kitchen table, or anywhere around the world where there is Internet access. Discover how you can achieve the American Dream and your financial independence here. You’ve never seen anything like this before.]

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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 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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