Friday, December 14, 2007

Success Tools: The Major Definite Aim

If you haven’t read Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich this would be a good time to pick it up. This book is one of the “uber-classics” of success literature, and many successful people re-read it frequently. One of the main concepts in the book is the Major Definite Aim: a short paragraph defining your main goal and how you plan to implement it. The MDA is re-read on a daily basis.

I first tried using the MDA in 1981 when I set a ridiculously high goal for a future income. It worked.

Recently, I set a trading goal using the MDA. I wrote out an exact amount that I wished to attain in my trading account, and I started writing down those actions and approaches I deemed necessary to achieve that goal.

I achieved that goal within 45 days, I am happy to say.

Now, as I reflect upon this gem of a concept, I can see a number of aspects that wise Mr. Hill embedded in this success tool that I did not see years ago when I was starting out in my career.

First, The Major Definite Aim acts as a prioritizing system. If you are constantly stating to yourself what your MDA is, other ideas, opportunities, and distractions are automatically prioritized downward, below our MDA. The existence of the MDA will create cognitive dissonance when you attempt to violate it by focusing on other priorities.

Second, the list of methods that you generate for achieving your MDA keeps you pursuing your main course of action. In the case of my trading MDA it kept me trading my systems day in, day out, without obsessing on any particular daily result. In other words, it worked as a “forcing system” to encourage both persistence and consistency. I have no doubt that there were fewer deviations in my behavior than there would have been had I not been referencing my Major Definite Aim.

Here are a couple of examples of how it worked for me:

I am an emotional, “jumpy” person. I often say and do things that I wish I hadn’t, and my emotional nature has derailed a lot of progress in my life. One of the “methods” that I listed under my MDA was “Maintaining emotional balance and focus, and engaging in behavior that promotes emotional balance and focus”. I was surprised particularly at how I was able to “edit out” behaviors that I knew would cause animosity from other people in my life: I knew I had a particular path to pursue, and I knew that I did not want to be distracted by emotional skirmishes as I pursued that path. Thanks to that same “method”, I also found that I was less apt to engage in over-simulative behavior. I did not want to come into my trading room one morning filled with self-loathing or with a splitting headache. Thanks to the MDA, and my list of methods of achieving it, I was able to stay on an even keel.

Another bad habit is taking “discretionary” trades, outside of my system, usually out of panic. I noticed I tend to lose money on these trades. I listed as one of my MDA “methods” to “take no discretionary losing trades”. I am positive that part of the reason I attained my goal so easily was because I was not “driving with the brakes on” (by losing money when I didn’t have to).

Finally, I want to mention one other benefit I found from the MDA. I found that I was constantly coming up with new methods to add to my list of how I was planning to achieve my goal. I found myself producing a flow of creative ideas related to my Major Definite Aim. I have posted frequently on Mind Power and I believe that a Major Definite Aim produces a response in the unconscious that results in an outpouring of creative solutions directed toward your goal.

Adding it all up, the Major Definite Aim provides a compass to your daily activities. All activities, whether related to the MDA or not, are automatically referenced to the MDA , which you read to yourself frequently. You begin to see each action, each possibility in terms of whether it leads toward, or away from, your Major Definite Aim. Remember also, the Universe is chaotic. Random. It is we, through our minds, wishes, thoughts, and plans, who affect this formless collection of events in ways that lead us to our goal.

I find the concept of the Major Definite Aim of even more value to me today than it was when it first changed my life, many years ago.

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