How to Take this Year to the Next Level

by Dave Ramsey


Last year I set an intimidating and seemingly unreachable goal for myself – to complete a marathon. Overwhelming? Definitely. Crazy? Probably. Reachable? YES. There was no question of whether I would do it halfway, just doing enough to get by. I was going to give it my all. To do this, I knew I was going to have to change some habits and sacrifice in ways I never had before.


After months of training, I did it. I completed the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, and you know what? All the sacrifices were worth it. All the people I’ve talked with agree. The early-morning runs, the loss of sleep, the physical pain, the mental battles… all are worth it in the end. Yes, I achieved my goal and learned a lot about running, but I didn’t tell you all that just to say I ran 26.2 miles and got a medal for it.


Here are three keys points I took away from my marathon experience. I hope you will take these valuable lessons that I’ve learned recently and apply them to specific areas in your life – your money, getting out of debt, marriage, parenting, spirituality, you name it. These principles go far beyond the world of running.


High-Performance Achievement vs. “just getting the job done.” You have to go beyond your normal efforts to achieve high performance. You have to sacrifice intentionally. You have to do something different from what you’ve done before to reach a new level of personal excellence. People who reach a level of high-performance achievement grasp this. That’s why they’re different. If you want to distinguish yourself from people who are normal and just want to “get the job done,” aim high, set clear goals, and give it all you’ve got.


Keep away from negative people. If you’re trying to reach a positive goal, what benefit are negative people to you? NONE, so get away from them. Stick to positive influences in your life. It was so great to see people along the course that were cheering and encouraging me to keep going while I was running. There’s nothing like encouragement while you’re trying to achieve a big goal, is there? It may be tempting to have a “pity party” or jump on the cynical bandwagon, but it won’t be worth it in the end. Continuous negativity brings you down, so stay away from it.


Visualize achieving your goal. While I was training, I studied the course route over and over. I knew where I would be in the city at every mile marker. I knew where the hills were and where the straight stretches would be. The course wasn’t going to surprise me because I visualized myself working toward achieving each small goal along the way. The same goes if you want to get out of debt. If the big goal is to be debt-free in two years, that may seem a little overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to set small goals along the way – paying off your debts smallest to largest. Quick wins will give you momentum to keep working toward the larger goal and help you visualize achieving it as well.


Be sure to talk with those around you who have achieved great goals they set for themselves. Find out what they did to overcome their intimidating obstacles and what they learned throughout the process.


Always aim for your absolute highest and best – “gazelle intensity” is what I call it. Doing anything halfway should not be an option. Extend this kind of intensity and focus into all areas of your life, and you can and will transform your life for the better.


Dave Ramsey is a personal money management expert, an extremely popular national radio personality and best-selling author of  The Total Money Makeover. Dave is changing the face of America by helping people get out of debt and build wealth. Ramsey exemplifies his life’s work of teaching others how to be financially responsible, so they can acquire enough wealth to take care of loved ones, live prosperously into old age, and give generously to others.


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