The 5th and Final Step of Success – How to Make Course Corrections

Dave_conscious_openCongratulations! You made it to the fifth and final step of success.

Step five is learning how to make course corrections. In this post, you’ll discover why course corrections are essential for success and how two simple, yet powerful methods can improve your chances of success.

So why is learning to make course corrections so important for success?

Eleanor Roosevelt said it well. “I have lived my life as an adventurer, and my goal was to taste things as fully and as deeply as I could and to learn from every experience because there is not a single experience that you can’t learn something from.”

Like Eleanor Roosevelt, learning from every experience is something financially successful people value. In fact, many millionaires think that learning the steps of success is more important than earning a high GPA.

From: Psychological Foundations of Success

Millionaire Mind reveals that the average college GPA of millionaires is just 2.92 (slightly below a B average), and they rank “graduating at or near top of their class” dead last when making attributions for their personal success, but they value learning the kind of “success skills” covered in this book.

Both millionaires and Eleanor Roosevelt value learning from every experience. And some successful people learn in even the harshest of conditions.

From: Psychological Foundations of Success

Incest victims who derive some sense of meaning from their abuse, who learn from it in some way, fare better than those unable to do so. They have less psychological distress, better social relationships, and higher self-esteem, whereas those still searching for meaning often find themselves “stuck” in negative ABC cycles triggered by intrusive and disruptive memories.

Sometimes learning through hardship initiates positive change, especially for cancer survivors.

From: Psychological Foundations of Success

Over half of breast cancer sufferers report that the disease triggered positive changes in their lives. Some feel a stronger sense of priorities, refocusing on important goals and intimate relationships.

The good news is that learning from hardship isn’t a requirement for making course corrections on the road to success. Sometimes learning comes from the personal willingness to challenge ourselves.

Benjamin Franklin is a great example. In his effort to improve his personal behavior, he tracked 13 personal goals. His 13 goals combined to create a year long “virtue course.”

From: Psychological Foundations of Success

Benjamin Franklin used a slightly more complex process for tracking progress toward the 13 goals he had set for himself.

  1. Temperance (eating and drinking in moderation)
  2. Humility (in his words, “Imitate Jesus and Socrates”)
  3. Resolution (setting and accomplishing goals)
  4. Industry (working hard and being productive)
  5. Silence (avoid unnecessary “small talk”)
  6. Justice (treating others fairly)
  7. Tranquility (staying calm)
  8. Order (being organized)
  9. Frugality
  10. Sincerity
  11. Moderation
  12. Cleanliness
  13. Chastity

How did Ben learn if he was succeeding?

From: Psychological Foundations of Success

Ben Franklin used detailed progress grids in his personal journals. He worked on one goal each week, making marks for each failure; his progress could be seen “by clearing successively my lines of their spots.” The following week, he would move to the next goal, cycling through his 13 week “virtue course” four times a year.

Ben enjoyed his success and talked about it.

From: Psychological Foundations of Success

He was pleased with the success of his technique: “I was surprised to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined, but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish…Perhaps the most important part of [my journal] is the plan found in it…for the regulating of my future conduct in life.”

Ben’s journal gave him feedback and satisfaction as he saw improvement. Just like research shows progress leads to happiness, feedback helps performance, especially when it teams up with goals.

From: Psychological Foundations of Success

Goals only enhance performance if you get feedback about whether your efforts are taking you closer to your objectives. One study found that the combination of goals and feedback led to performance improvements of nearly 60%.

So how can we use feedback to help us succeed?

  1. Ask someone for feedback based on your goals.

Maybe a partner, spouse, friend, co-worker, trainer, teacher, therapist, family member or coach can help. With feedback from others, you can discover what’s going well and what needs improvement. Focus on the positives first. Focusing your attention to the positive first will help you feel better about your progress.

From: Psychological Foundations of Success

People with low self-esteem or clinical depression too often focus only on the negative things that happen to them;

recording positive events, or using other techniques that focus their thoughts and attention on the positive, helps alleviate their problems.

(For the simple question to ask yourself for a happiness upgrade, click here.)

  1. Use “Self-monitoring” tools.

    “Self-monitoring” tools are tools that help you track your progress. Tracking your progress with a journal like Ben Franklin works.  With modern technology, you can use a fitbit to track exercise or the MyFitnessPal app to record diet habits. All forms of “self-monitoring” are backed by research to help you succeed.

Here’s 3 Ways “Self-monitoring” Helps

From: Psychological Foundations of Success

  1. Self-monitoring is a self-reward. Recording progress encourages you to celebrate success and counteracts the natural tendency to overlook progress, as when dieters focus on when they broke their diet, overlooking all their successes.
  2. Self-monitoring is self-focusing. Recording your progress focuses your attention internally in much the same way as posting your goals or looking in a mirror. It makes you more aware of your actions and how you spend your time.
  3. Self-monitoring enhances accountability. Without self-monitoring, it is easy to rationalize weak progress or ignore repeated setbacks. Recording progress forces you to be honest with yourself.

How Did Bob Use Step  #5 to Succeed?

Here’s a recap of how Bob did it all.

Step #1. Have a Vision. Bob envisions a healthier future for himself. He see himself 15 pounds lighter with a stronger core, an improved work-life balance and a healthy lifestyle for next ten years.

Step #2. Create Your Strategy. Bob’s strategy is loaded with approach goals. He gets a Zero Belly cookbook, experiments with a low carb diet, researches how to find safe and effective supplements, hires a trainer, gets his family involved with fitness, and runs with a friend.

Step #3. Build Your Belief. Bob begins with baby steps and guaranteed successes. He commits to personal training twice a week. He and his trainer get started with goals he can achieve to be a success. Bob builds his belief with guaranteed successes, which fuels positive emotions for him to move forward.

Step #4. Increase Your Persistence. To increase his persistence, Bob reshapes his home and work environment with a healthy nutrition focus. Bob starts in his kitchen. He leaves a healthy bowl of organic nuts on his kitchen counter and in his office to remind himself to snack healthier. He also surrounds himself with excellence in several ways. He and his wife hike weekly, he meets with his trainer twice a week and he runs with a friend a few times a month.

Step #5. Be Willing to Learn How to Make Course Corrections. To support his success, Bob needed feedback. For his fitness goals, his trainer tracked his program. For his running goals, he ordered a fitbit and tracked his distance. For his nutrition goals, he downloaded the FREE my fitness pal app to count his carbohydrates. Additionally, after a minor lower leg injury, Bob learned how to get rid of the muscle pain with a foam roller and corrective exercises so that he could continue to stay active.

Did Bob get results?

Sure did.

After one year, Bob lost 15 pounds following a low carb diet, improved his work-life balance by working out with a trainer twice a week and enjoying hikes and ski trips with his family. He also managed to squeeze in some runs with a friend, not to mention the amount of time he dedicated to help his kids in college.


  1. Step 5 of success is learning how to make course corrections.
  2. Successful people learn from all experiences, even negative ones.
  3. Research shows success and performance increase with feedback. Ben Franklin’s 13 goals and detailed progress grids gave him the feedback he needed to become the type of person he aspired to be.
  4. Two ways to receive feedback are 1. Asking someone directly 2.Self-monitoring. Feedback from others expands our perspectives and enhances our learning. Self-monitoring helps us celebrate our successes, increases self-awareness, and enhances accountability. Three ways to self-monitor include journaling, using a fitbit, and the MyFitnessPal app.
CATEGORY: Success , Well-being

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