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Aside from time management and other personal tools people can use to accomplish their goals, there are a series of external factors that can help keep them on the right path. Creating constructive relationships is one of the keys to actualizing a personal goal.

Positive Relationships

It’s true that everyone we come into contact with influences us in some way, for good or ill. Some negative thinkers actually work at getting others to think like they do. Just as you use positive affirmations to combat your own negative thoughts, you develop a positive attitude by surrounding yourself with caring, positive people.

Where to start? Most of us know at least one friend or family member with an optimistic joy for life. Spend time with that person. If you’re close enough to confide in him or her, then share your personal goals and plans. This person may prove to be a formidable ally. And don’t forget to share your secrets for succeeding; the best relationships run in both directions.

Take the time to listen, really listen, to what positive people have to say—in fact, to what anyone has to say. We can “listen” by waiting for our turn to speak, or we can actively listen to people. Even the most boring individual occasionally blurts out a pearl of wisdom.


When the time comes to embark on a goal, try to find someone who’s already done it. If you’re trying to quit smoking, find a successful ex-smoker to use as a mentor. If you are willing to try something new – ask someone who’s an active user of resources like are few things that someone else hasn’t done first. If they did it well, learn from them. (You can learn from the unsuccessful too; just don’t tell them you’re looking for pitfalls to avoid!).

Finally, learn how to approach people positively. This takes some practice. Don’t approach someone announcing “I can’t . . .” try more for “I’d like to learn . . .” or “Will you show me. . .” Make it clear you know they’re good at what they do, and that you’d like to learn from them. Most people are flattered when others see their skills as worth learning. Capitalize on this!

Help Groups

An important component of your self-improvement plan is taking time to check out what works. The most successful weight loss, quit smoking and alcohol recovery methods are those that involve formal groups.

When Sadie had to lose 80 pounds, she was humiliated at the thought of anyone knowing what she weighed, so she had a hard time losing that very first pound. Her husband promised her a new car if she met her goal, but she couldn't seem to picture herself thin. One day, a friend who had lost 45 pounds invited Sadie to come to a weight loss club meeting.

She was surrounded by women who had taken that first step and shed the first ten pounds—and they all knew how difficult it was! They all had positive attitudes, and women even heavier than Sadie had their weight recorded each week. Sadie reached her goal in 19 months—and she only missed two club meetings in all that time.

Help Yourself

Self-motivation isn't about isolating yourself. It's about making good choices; surrounding yourself with people who know something about good choices is an important first step.

Positive Symbols: Motivation in Symbols

When my wife and I took prenatal classes, the instructor suggested that we select a positive symbol to focus on during labor. Some women brought photographs or small figurines. My wife brought a framed picture of a puppy cuddled up with its mother. Medical practitioners have found that delivery goes well when the mother focuses and concentrates on her breathing.

If you're working towards a goal, you might improve your concentration by focusing on a symbol of that goal. For a short-term goal—say, a new job—you might put positive quotes on the wall above your desk. If you're working on several goals, you overall aim might be “success.” The folks at Symbols of Success have found that the eagle is a powerful symbol for people wishing to set and attain lofty goals.

Visualizing your goal helps you work towards it. Holding your eventual achievement in your mind while you work motivates you to work harder. You can also assign your goal a success image. Perhaps you’re trying to quit smoking. As a symbol of your goal, you might choose a proud eagle, soaring high above the smoke into the fresh, clean air.

It helps to go out and buy an actual representation of your success image. Find an attractive eagle sculpture, for instance, and put it somewhere—your office, your living room, wherever—where you’ll see it constantly. Every time you look at it, see yourself attaining your goal, and silently reaffirm your commitment to reaching your objective.