We're all about making real and practical changes in our very real and practical lives, so I thought it was about time for us to roll up our sleeves and move from the theoretical to the practical. We've explored behavioural science and the psychology of change for long enough, now it's time to do. The following is a process that I use with my clients when working towards life-long change; forever results. It's simple and it's effective. If you actually do it, that is.

Step 1. Do a stock take.

Honestly, unemotionally and practically assess where your life is at right now. Your body, your career, your relationships, your financial situation, your personal goals, your mindset - anything and everything which has an influence on your overall life experience. Be practical, logical, unemotional and brutally honest. It's not about beating yourself up or indulging in self-loathing; it's about stepping into reality and addressing those things in a realistic, no-crap manner. You may (or may not) want to enlist the help of a friend or a relevant professional to assist you in effectively working your way through this process. Keep a journal of what you discover.

Step 2. Identify what's held you back in the past and address it.

If you don't address the things which have limited you in the past, then all the planning, dreaming, talking, hoping and potential will amount to nothing. Again. Be honest, be realistic and don't be precious. Typically, things like laziness, procrastination, fear, dis-organisation, ignorance, pride, lack of planning and research, and poor preparation stop people from succeeding. But at the top of most people's list is inconsistency. So often, we simply don't finish what we start. We're world-beaters for about two weeks. How many things have you started which you've never completed? How many empty promises have you made. Don't you get sick of that? If we don't identify and do something about the things which have held us back up to this point in time, we'll simply keep making the same mistakes and producing the same frustrating results. Remember: If nothing changes, nothing changes and if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.

Step 3. Get clarity and certainty about what you do and don't want for your life.

Some people will never get out of the rut they inhabit because they never really get clear about what they want their future life to look like. They want different but they don't know exactly what that means. If you can't get clarity about what you want for your future, you ain't gonna create it. In my workshops, when I ask this question "who wants to be wildly successful" every hand in the room goes up. Of course. But when we follow that question up with a few minutes for the audience to write down what success is for them, the majority sit there with a dumb look on their face. And sadly, if they can't define it, they probably won't live it.

Step 4. Make some real decisions.

You know the ones. The ones you've avoided for too long. The ones you constantly put off. Not the fluffy, which-socks-will-I-wear-today decisions, but those massive, I'm-gonna-change-my-life decisions. The ones which require courage, commitment and a different attitude. Be courageous, be focused and make those decisions that will enable you to build your best life. And stop waiting for some cosmic sign to address what you should have long ago.

Step 5. Set specific goals around those decisions.

Of course we all have a theoretical understanding of what goal setting is all about... if only we actually did it. We don't. We think we do, but we don't. If life was a theory, we'd all be high-achievers. Sure we have a wish-list and some vague aspirations of what life could be, but the truth is we don't consistently and methodically set goals and create different outcomes. We start, we stop. We get excited, we lose the plot. Some examples:

Behavioral goals: I will walk to work three days per week instead of taking the bus. I will not use the F word from today. I will work at becoming a more effective listener.
Health goals: I will lose 10kilos (22lbs) over the next ten weeks. I will drink alcohol only one day per week.
Career: I will open my own business within eighteen months.
Financial goals: I will reduce my debt by XYZ over the next six months.
Lifestyle goals: I will take a minimum of four weeks holiday annually. I will play with my kids for a minimum of thirty minutes every day.
Fitness/sporting goals: I will complete a half marathon within six months.
Personal development goals: I will read one book per month.

Specific, measurable and time-based goals work best; they keep us accountable and pro-active. Vague goals are ineffective and pointless.

Wrong: I want to get in shape (vague, wishy-washy).
Right: Over the next ten weeks I will lower my blood pressure to 120/75, lose 5% body-fat and reduce my run time by three minutes - (specific, measurable, keeps you accountable).

Step 6. Create a plan

You know where you want to go, now you need to figure out how you'll get there. You won't accidentally succeed. Passion, commitment, determination and positive attitude are important, but if you don't have a map, you'll never arrive at your preferred destination. Create the map, then follow it! Many people fail simply because they are dis-organised and haven't planned appropriately. Motivation and excitement will only get you so far. They need to be attached to an intelligent plan.

Step 7. Take action and keep taking action

Doers succeed. Less talk, more action from you thanks! Do something (big or small) today which will get you closer to where you want to be. Make a phone call. Buy some runners. Make an appointment. Go for a jog. Clean out your pantry. Fix a broken relationship (you know the one). Start reading food labels. Enrol in a course. Buy a diary. Get uncomfortable. Do it again tomorrow. And the next day.

Step 8. Improvise, adapt, overcome, deal with set-backs

Often the most successful person is simply the one who deals most effectively with hurdles, obstacles and challenges. Life's messy, lumpy, bumpy, unpredictable and unfair. Get your head around that and you'll do better than most. The difficult stuff is where we learn, grow and develop. Believe it or not, a life without challenges is actually a handicap to our personal growth.

Step 9. Finish what you start

The number one reason we don't achieve what we set out to is... we don't finish what we start. You know that. We are a nation of people who have almost done a lot of things. If only we'd actually complete something. Consistency is the key. Why don't most people who join gyms achieve their goals? They don't go. They start but they don't finish. Even when the motivation wears off (and it will), do it anyway. Even when it ain't fun (and it won't be sometimes) do it anyway. When everyone else throws in the towel, you stay committed. If you want to be like everybody else, then do what they do. If you want to be exceptional, then do what most won't; persevere.

Simple huh? Let me know how you go.
Enjoy your week and do something out of character. Surprise yourself. Just because.

Author's Bio: 

Craig Harper (B.Ex.Sci.) is the #1 ranked Motivational Speaker (according to Google). He is a qualified exercise scientist, author, columnist, radio presenter, television host and owner of one of the largest personal training centres in the world.

Motivational Speaker - Craig Harper