Brian Tracy’s 12 Steps to Goal Achievement Meets The Habit Factor®


“Success equals goals; all else is commentary.” ~Brian Tracy

By: Martin Grunburg

First, let me say that BT is a living legend, a friend, and perhaps the greatest authority in the personal development space (not to mention a hero of mine). The amount of time he has dedicated to his knowledge and wisdom related to productivity, personal development and the psychology of achievement is truly encyclopedic, and he’s authored some 57+ books! (Check out some of his YouTube videos!)

I recently revisited BT’s fantastic 12-step formula for goal attainment (see mastery and the art of learning about why I keep listening to the same lessons over and over). This great lesson on goal attainment is contained within The Psychology of Achievement which is one of the greatest personal development programs I’ve come across, and what I love most is how easily The Habit Factor integrates, intersects and envelops this program, specifically the 12-step formula for goal attainment.

While the program was released in the ’80s (Nightingale-Conant), for the most part it really doesn’t age because the topic is rooted upon so many timeless principles. Having said that, there is just one part on goal achievement where appending/updating just might make a little sense — particularly with The Habit Factor® in mind. ; )

For fun, I’ve essentially transcribed how BT sets up this powerful lesson. When you listen to the program firsthand, you will be amazed by his conviction, authority and enthusiasm!

Here is the open (verbatim):

“We have examined hundreds of studies on goal-setting and we have taken the very best steps and the very best concepts that have ever been developed in the history of goal-setting by anyone, and we’ve combined them into the method that follows. This method is so powerful as a method for programming the subconscious at a deep level with your goal that if you will run your goal through this process, taking every single step in order, you will find that the speed at which you accomplish the goal will absolutely amaze you, and that you can accomplish more using this methodology in one year than you could in four or five years trying any other way.”

How’s that for authoritative? He says (and I don’t doubt him), “In the history of goal-setting.”

Can you guess what was NOT included in the 12-step process or even in the history of goal-setting?

Here’s an indirect clue: Notice how Brian says, “This method is so powerful as a method for programming your subconscious at a deep level.”

Well, I ask you, “Where do you think your habits reside?”

Granted, this program was produced in the ’80s, so I’ll cut to the chase. Just like S.M.A.R.T. goals (video), this 12-step process completely omits HABIT as a key, elemental force for goal achievement! Incredible, I know… ; )

I would suggest, though, through no faults of BT’s, he was just referencing studies and all the various research that all preceded The Habit Factor®.

Here is a brief synopsis of BT’s 12 steps to goal attainment, along with a bit of commentary from me as it relates to The Habit Factor® and where/how THF method deviates somewhat.

Step #1, Desire:

According to Brian Tracy, this is the very first step in all achievement: possessing a sincere and intense desire or need. Desire is what motivates and propels us toward our goals! Importantly, Brian points out that desire is very personal; others cannot desire goals for us, and we cannot impose our desires upon others. Your goals must be desired independently of others and have a truly personal meaning!

Step #2, Belief:

Belief is one of the most important elements, since you must absolutely believe the goal is attainable and real. The achievement, Brian advises, should be at least 50% achievable. This way, Brain explains, your conscious mind will accept it and be able to successfully relay it to your subconscious. The key to believability is setting “next level” goals by climbing in approximately 50% increments. He advises against leaps that are so great you immediately can’t buy-in or believe them, like a jump in income from $50K a year to $1 million a year.

Step #3, Write it down:
Brian commands, “Writing it down may be the single-most important thing to help program your subconscious mind.” He advises that you should write down your goal in precise detail as to exactly the way you wish to realize it. Brian insists that writing down your goals transforms them from “wishes” to authentic goals.

MG: From my experience, what is most successful when it comes to “programming” your subconscious is developing HABITS, since habits reside within your subconscious. In my view, the great value of writing down your goals is that it takes the goal from the invisible, intangible world and makes it visible (if not fully tangible); that is, the goal itself is not in the physical plane yet, but it can be seen in written form. You might call this the “middle realm” of goal attainment. First it’s invisible, then visible but not tangible, and then finally, fully materialized, tangible/experienced!

Step #4, List all the benefits:
Taking the time to identify all the benefits — all the reasons WHY this goal is significant and has substantial meaning — will help to provide the necessary dedication and commitment when (not if) the going gets tough! Most people don’t hit their goals because they simply quit too soon. Having a long list of 50-100 benefits and reasons about WHY the goal is important helps to ensure you stay the course — that you are, in fact, unstoppable!

Step #5, Take stock of your current position:
Since you know where it is you want to go (your ideal destination, goal), it’s essential you stop and assess where you are, measuring your current status against the ideal to appreciate what it’s going to take to get to your goal. If you don’t know where you are, it’s hard to get anywhere! It’s almost like you’re at the amusement park or the mall and you’re staring at the sign that says “YOU ARE HERE!” Make sure you truly know where you are relative to your goal!

Step #6, Establish a deadline:
Brian recommends you identify the latest possible date as a deadline for your goal, and he reiterates that the idea of success and happiness is often realized when you feel as though you are progressing toward a worthy goal or ideal. This is the key distinction of a “winner” and a person with a high, healthy and positive self-concept, he assures us, ” . . . as they progress toward their ideal self. The only way to feel like a winner is when we are moving toward the accomplishment of a meaningful goal.”

Step #7, Identify the obstacles you will have to overcome:
Brian says, “If there are no obstacles it isn’t a goal at all; it’s simply an activity.” He then assures us this is a worthy undertaking because when the obstacles are written down they tend to become “smaller” and easier to address.

Step #8, What knowledge will be required?
BT says that any goal of any significance will require that you gain additional knowledge for its attainment.  Any worthwhile goal is certain to require that you learn something new, perform additional research, and/or talk and interview people to learn more and bridge the gap.

MG: Here I would add skills and, of course, HABITS! So, “Step #8” would probably be best re-titled, “Identify the knowledge, skills and habits required to achieve your goal.” Not too long ago I wrote about how similar skills and habits really are. I would stress that habit, more than any other element, will determine your ability to achieve your goal, since habits are behaviors that are performed consistently. When done consistently, these behaviors will take on a quality of automaticity; they will soon be stored in the subconscious, thereby aligning your very personality and character with the goal that is to be accomplished.

Step #9, Identify the people, groups and organizations with whom you’ll have to work and collaborate:
Brian says that the initiation of this step tends to invokes three additional and important “laws” that are essential to understand when it comes to goal achievement. The first law is the “Law of return.” This is simply the law of sowing and reaping. The key idea here is that what you reap today is a product of what you have sown in the past.

The second law is “The Law of Compensation.” This law says that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The wise person will simply ask the question, “How can I serve the other so that they may want to collaborate and return the favor?”

The third law Brian references is the “Law of Service.” This is essentially the law of over-compensation. It’s the law of going the extra mile. Concentrating on what you can give and how you can serve without any intention or concern about getting anything in return is a key trait of high-achieving men and women. Unfortunately, Brian says, so many people will get this process backwards and start by assessing what they can get from a situation without first giving. He says that it is inevitable that those who do more than they are paid to do — and do it willingly and gladly — are certain to be repaid by the law of over-compensation.

Step #10,  Make a PLAN!!Make it complete in every detail!
“All plans are simply activities which are laid out in terms of time and priority,” Brian assures us. However, he also says that “no plan is ever perfect the first time and that all plans must be made and remade because they will be flawed due to the great number of mistakes and new information that will be presented over time.”

“All great achievers,” Brian says, “think on paper!”

MG: Here is where I would personally struggle with such a process and begin to check out mentally. “How in the world can I possibly know all the steps and create a plan for a goal I’ve never attained?” This is precisely the challenge I had/have with the SMART goals system, as well. Once you go through the SMART criteria, you are left with a to-do list — a bunch of steps you are supposed to envision to help you achieve your goal, yet you may not know all the steps.

Not that I don’t like to plan or think I can’t plan, but writing out all the things I must do, the steps and even the obstacles (see Step #7), quickly becomes overwhelming, daunting and, frankly, very discouraging. And, most importantly perhaps, this where I would lose any excitement and momentum— essentially killing the goal before it gets launched!

<<If this sounds like you, keep reading!>>

This is precisely just ONE of the KEY benefits of following The Habit Factor® method for goal achievement. NO PLANNING/NO STEPS! It’s a greatly simplified/streamlined process for goal-achievement, and this is why it has taken off and been copied and duplicated so often! So many people find it easier to follow and how quickly they gain momentum, rather than losing it! There is no requirement to “plan” other than identifying and aligning the core related behaviors (habits) that will be necessary to achieve your goals and following the P.A.R.R. method for habit development. This may even help explain why The Habit Factor® is so popular in the ADD/ADHD arena.

Step #11, Visualize:
Get a clear mental picture of your goal as though it were already in existence. Brian advises, “See it on the screen of your mind and play it over and over and over again! We will achieve our goal to the degree we are capable of seeing it within our minds, and the more we think about it the more clear the image becomes.”

MG: Brian suggests that all the prior 10 steps precede this one because they help with vision and clarity. My thought is that this should be at the front — perhaps even preceding desire — as the vision will beget the desire, and as Stephen Covey used to say, “Begin with the end in mind.”

Step #12, Back your plan with relentless determination, persistence and resolve to never give up!

You may think this goes without saying, but I think it’s worth repeating by sharing Calvin Coolidge’s great quote:

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and Determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press On” has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race. ~Calvin Coolidge

MG: Bottom Line:

As much as I am a fan of Mr. Brian Tracy, (and, that can’t be overstated!) I am also an advocate for simplicity: Less is more, particularly when it comes to following processes and procedures. I’m sure that even physics (or a physicist) would bear this out: The fewer number of “steps,” the greater likelihood for success.

So, in the interest of simplicity, I would propose that a few of these 12 steps be removed and the order adjusted slightly — every plan is always changing (evolving ; ) — even plans about plans and strategies and processes!

So here is a revised offering:

#1) Vision, #2) Belief, #3) Reasons (Why), #4) Write it DOWN!, #5) Identify the Skills and Habits necessary, #6) Identify the People, Groups, Orgs and Models you can follow, #7) Follow the P.A.R.R. Method for Habit Development (TRACK!), #8) Be Relentless and resolve to never give up!

There you go! EIGHT steps vs twelve and we’ve added habit development and tracking (following the PARR method).

Finally, if this intrigues, excites or just piques your curiosity, I invite you to fill out this survey and your name will be added to a special list who will gain early-bird access to a FREE course called, “The 28-Day Breakthrough!

So, be sure to sign up, and I’ll see you on the inside soon-ish!

Until next week!


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