Mark Harrison

This blog post was written by Mark Harrison.

Staying the Course: How to Keep Your Resolutions

how to keep your resolutions

How are your New Year’s resolutions? Are you still going strong or are you flagging already? When we first make a resolution or set a goal, we are naturally motivated to make progress and so we can’t wait to get out there and make things happen. But, of course, resolutions often fall by the wayside – I recently read an anecdotal statistic that 95% of New Year’s resolutions are never followed through.

So is there any point in making them? Obviously, people do succeed in achieving their goals – 5% at least! There are, essentially, two rules for becoming successful. Set goals, and take consistent action towards them. Most people don’t even do the first part, and of the minority of people that do, most will not follow through. There are many reasons for our lack of resolution. Here are some common ones, and some suggestions for overcoming them.

Change Happens: What to Do When Circumstances Shift Unexpectedly

change happens

Making plans and following them is important. We need to know where we are going and keep this destination in mind. The psychologist Fitzurgh Dodson echoed many other writers when he said, ‘Without goals and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.’

While this is certainly good advice, we also need to ensure we sail with the wind, not against it, and this requires a sensitivity to the current situation and how it is changing. Sometimes we need to take down the sails to avoid getting blown off course, but at other times, an unexpected wind can take us on wonderful new adventures, and bring success and fulfillment. Some of the most useful things have come about accidentally – penicillin, Viagra, X-rays, brandy, to name but a few. None of these things would have been developed if people had refused to follow a new and unanticipated direction. Indeed, creativity usually requires a willingness to be open to novelty and innovation.

The Limits of Our Freedom


Viktor Fankl, the Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning, ‘Between stimulus and response there is a space, and in that space lies all our freedom.’ In the most extreme conditions of privation imaginable, Frankl discovered that he was, remarkably, free to choose his response to any situation.

I love this quote because it sums up the essence of my philosophy. I believe it is the cornerstone of a happy and effective life. A real, experiential understanding of this radical freedom is life changing, liberating and empowering. To suddenly come upon the realization that we have always been free, not in some abstract sense, but in a real, personal and imminent way, is like being let out of prison.

How to Succeed at Anything

how to succeed

Success is very simple. But it is not very easy for most people. In fact, success boils down to two simple steps.

Set goals – have an intention to do, have or be something
Keep acting in a way which is consistent with your goals
Just doing these two things will almost certainly bring you success. The trouble is that most people don’t do either of them. Most people drift along aimlessly, not really knowing where they are going and having no clear vision of the future. If you ask most people why the get out of bed in the morning, why they work, what is the purpose of their life, they won’t be able to tell you. The few people who actually set goals are way ahead of the crowd. And those who take the second step, and keep acting to support their goals make up the tiny minority of people who are successful in life. In fact, the second step flows naturally from this first. If you’re serious about your intention, then you cannot help but act in the direction of its fulfillment. The action is effortless.

5 Fundamentals for Success in Life

success in life

What can we do to become more successful? How can we excel in all areas of life, whether professional or personal? A vast body of literature has been written on this subject over the decades, but here are five points which I regard as being fundamental.

1. Be Proactive

Viktor Frankl said that between stimulus and response there is a gap, and within this gap lies all our freedom. Even as he was suffering immense privations in a Nazi concentration camp, he realized that he was responsible for his thoughts and actions and was not simply a bundle of conditioned responses.

Why a Strong Foundation is the Key to Change

strong foundation

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey gives some brilliant insights into living a truly effective life. The key is, before anything else, you must have a good foundation. This foundation is a ‘private victory,’ a self-mastery which comes before the success we aspire to achieve in our interdependent social environments – our work, our business, our family. This foundation is twofold, consisting of ‘habits’ which constitute the cornerstone of our lives. Without practicing these habits we build our life on quicksand, on the shifting, uncertain tides of a complex and ever changing world.

When we have mastered ourselves, when we have this foundation, we need not fear change. Indeed, we can embrace it and use it creatively, integrating new learning and insight into our lives, building greater synergy and reaching higher peaks of personal and social achievement.

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