Each of the three people you’re about to meet used a remarkably similar technique to achieve their wildest dreams.
This technique costs nothing to use.
And it takes no more than a few minutes a day to do.
In fact, you’ll be able to use this technique for yourself immediately after finishing this article.
All you have to do is take out a piece of paper and a pen right now. Trust me –you’ll be glad you did.
The Lou Holtz Technique
Lou Holtz is one of college football’s winningest coaches of all time.
He has coached teams at the Universities of Minnesota, South Carolina and Arkansas.
But he’s most associated with a long string of victories and championships at Notre Dame.
In his book, Winning Everyday: The Game Plan for Success, Holtz describes a turning point in his life.
In 1966 his wife was eight months pregnant with their third child, and they’d just used every cent of their savings for a down payment on a house.
Holtz was an assistant coach at the University of South Carolina when he lost his job.
After being unemployed for over a month, he described his savings account as being down to four figures: $10.95.
It was a difficult time for Lou.
His wife took a job as an X-ray technician to keep food on the table while he looked for another coaching job.
She also bought him The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz.
In his chapter on goals, Schwartz says if you’re bored with your life, it’s probably because you have forgotten your dreams.
He encouraged readers to get back in touch with their dreams by making a list of everything they had ever wanted to accomplish.
Lou divided his list into five categories of things he wanted to accomplish:
- as a husband and father
- simply for excitement
It was this last category, “simply for excitement,” where he let his imagination run wild.
He wanted to do things like land a jet fighter on an aircraft carrier, jump out of an airplane and go on an African safari.
Also on his bucket list were things like…
- attend a White House dinner with the President
- meet the Pope
- be a guest on the Tonight Show with then-host Johnny Carson
- be the head coach at Notre Dame
Pretty lofty stuff when you consider Holtz was not the least bit famous at the time.
Over the years Holtz chipped away at his goals. And today he and his wife have achieved 102 of the original 107 goals – including the big ones!
The Scott Adams Approach
Former cubicle dweller Scott Adams is the creator of the enormously popular Dilbert cartoon.
The syndicated cartoon lampoons the corporate world and inept “pointy-headed” bosses.
Well before Adams made it big he’d read about a technique that also involved committing goals to writing.
But unlike Holtz’s lengthy bucket list, this one focused on one goal at a time.
First you visualize the outcome you want. Then you write it down fifteen times in a row every day until it happens.
It worked for Adams in the stock market and again when he passed his graduate school qualifying exam at the exact percentile he wrote down (94th).
Then There’s Me
I heard about Adams’ technique in 1998.
At that point I’d been publishing the Changing Course Newsletter for three years. I was making steady progress. But hardly enough to support me.
Fortunately, a couple of local newspapers profiled the newsletter as did the more far-reaching Boston Globe.
But I was shooting higher.
So I decided to give Adams’ technique a whirl.
Mimicking his exact phrasing, I wrote:
“I, Valerie Young, am going to be in The Wall Street Journal.”
Within weeks two reporters called me. Where do you think they were both from?
Yup. The Wall Street Journal!
I’m honored to say I did get into the WSJ. There was just one “tiny” problem…
The reporter never mentioned my newsletter!
That’s when I remembered something Lily Tomlin’s bag lady character said in Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe:
“When I was growing up I always wanted to be someone. Now I realize I should have been more specific.”
So the next time I got specific writing 15 times a day: “The Changing Course newsletter will be in The Wall Street Journal.”
A year later Work & Family columnist Sue Shellenberger once again interviewed me for an article titled, The Tomorrow Trap: You Can’t Postpone Life. (Although Sue wrote this article 17 years ago, its message about not deferring our dreams is as apt now as it was then.)
My point is — Adam’s technique worked!
Why It Works
There is nothing mystical or magical about writing down your goals.
The technique works, in part, because the process of committing something to writing makes it feel real – and therefore doable.
A phenomenon Adams spoke to in his best-selling book The Dilbert Future:
I used the affirmations again many times, each time with unlikely success. So much so that by 1988, when I decided I wanted to become a famous syndicated cartoonist, it actually felt like a modest goal.
The odds of becoming a successful syndicated cartoonist are about 10,000 to 1. I knew the odds, but figured they didn’t apply to me.
When I submitted my samples by mail to the major cartoon syndicates, I had a feeling of being exactly where I needed to be and doing exactly what I needed to do. I never once doubted it would work out the way it has.
Writing down his goals had a similar confidence-building effect on Lou Holtz.
So much so that before signing a coaching contract at the University of Minnesota, Holtz insisted on a clause that would allow him to leave at any time if offered the head coaching job at Notre Dame.
That day came two years later.
“From the moment we made that list,” says Holtz, “we became participants rather than spectators in life.”
Writing down your goals can definitely put you on the path to achieving them.
Unfortunately, you may still struggle with those inner voices that say things like…
“I don’t know enough.”
“I have no experience.”
And of course, “Who do you think you are?”
If confidence is holding you back, I’m working on a new program called 5 Weeks to Confidence for people just like you.
The program won’t be ready for a month or so… but if you want a heads up when it’s open, click below and I’ll give you a shout.
We’ll talk about the action part of goal setting in another post.
For now I invite you to stop right now to think about a present goal.
Next get out your paper and pen and fill in the blanks: “I, [name], am going to [goal]”?
Then every day, write it another 14 times until it happens.
For some instant accountability — why not post it here?
Who knows… a fellow Changing Course reader just may be able to help!