Top 10 Secrets To Make 2011 Your Best Year Ever (All Of Which You’re Currently Ignoring Or Screwing Up)

Thursday, 4:51pm
Reno, NV
“I’ll have what she’s having…” (When Harry Met Sally)


I figured I’d end the year in a ball of fire, and just lay it out for you here.

If you tried, really really hard, and weren’t successful last year…

… it was probably mostly your own damn fault.

Yeah, sure, the economy sucked, politicians were mean, your prospects are all screamin’ idiots, and God had it out for you.  All totally excellent excuses for having a crummy bottom line again.

It’s not your fault.  It can’t be your fault.  That… that’s just…

… that’s just completely unacceptable that it might be your fault.

And, hey, maybe you did piss off the universe, and spooky forces beyond your control mucked things up so you had a bad year.

I believe you.  I really do.


After you’ve been around the block a few times in life, you start to notice some very interesting things about success.

And the big realization, I’d have to say, is that the idea that success is somehow magically bestowed on people in a spontaneous burst of luck and being in the right place/right time…

… is just bullshit.

It is.  It’s total bullshit.  Hollywood likes to pretend it’s a real plot point.  And folks clueless about how the world works — who spend their lives outside looking in — use this myth as a comforting excuse for their own lack of goal attainment.

Once you’ve spent even a little time with successful dudes and dudettes, you notice something startling: They all have well-defined goals, and they focus on nailing them like terriers going after a squirrel.

They are not stopped by lack of skill, or lack of time, or lack of connections in the right places.

They are not stopped by ADHD (which a LOT of the entrepreneurs I know are saddled with, btw), or feelings of inferiority (many of the best are entirely motivated by “I’ll show you” revenge fuel), or lack of education (drop-outs galore).

And they are not stopped by the main reason most wannabe entrepreneurs never get past that “deer in the headlights” pose: Not knowing what to do next.

Every single excuse ever floated by anyone in the history of mankind…

… has been met and conquered by people with less brainpower, less money, less skill and less luck than you.

This can really piss a guy off.  Especially if you’re deeply invested in believing that anything other than growing the fuck up and getting serious about attaining your dreams is what creates success in this world.

Let me remind you:  You have one ticket in this life.  You’re already on the ride — it doesn’t “start” at some future point, when you’re finally ready or finally have your shit together.

The game is on NOW. Nobody knows how long your ride will last.  There might be a little meteor headed for your ass this very second, BANG, ticket cancelled.

More likely, you’re going to continue (for a while) living in the rarest of times, considering our history.  Unlike nearly ALL of your ancestors — who ground out a living with back-breaking work, under the yoke of oppressive authority, without even a vague sliver of a dream that things could be better.

You OWE it your under-nourished, vulnerable-to-germs, knowledge-hobbled, bug-infested ancestors to take FULL ADVANTAGE of the mind-bending opportunities swirling around you every second.

I mean, really.

How dare you whine about how tough it is to succeed.

Those poor schlubs in your past fought, slaved and died for centuries inching toward a reality where a person might have a little freedom to choose how they lived their life.

And yet…

… we DO complain, don’t we.

Everyone loses perspective over the course of a lifetime.  It’s not like the culture helps us out.  The distractions built into modern life read like a solid science fiction story.  George Orwell is rolling over in his grave.

Nevertheless, just because there ARE distractions and obstacles that trip up nearly everyone trying to get something going…

… doesn’t mean that YOU have to succumb to them.

The biographies of the most successful people you know about ALL have chapters — sometimes multiple chapters — where things looked bleak, and the story could easily have played out as one of a total loser.

At some point, a switch just clicks on for most of them.  One second, life seems dull and you feel trapped.

The next second… BANG, the most critical decision of a lifetime is made.  And the adventure begins in earnest.

You know what that decision is?

It can be as simple as deciding to get started.  To take the first step.

Success junkies talk about passion a lot.  But most people confuse passion with “desire”, which ain’t the same thing at all.

Desire is helpless.  A long sigh, a breathless wish.

Passion is all about movement.  You’re breathless only because you’re engaged in hot and heavy action.

So, okay… you wanna hear my Top Ten list for turning your life around, starting right now?

You may not like this. I’m warning you.

Here we go…

Step 1: Stop wasting time.

You don’t “need” multiple hours every night to relax… and racking up time staring at the Boob Tube isn’t helping your brain, your digestion, your nerves or your future.

Knock off just ONE TV show you’re currently watching every week… and you’ve just found a hot little hour to devote to your new life.

Tear the plasma monster off the wall and donate it to charity, and you’ve recovered a second lifetime of hours.

Look, don’t go cold turkey if you can’t handle it.  But stop pretending you aren’t wasting massive piles of time doing things that… if you were to suddenly come face-to-face with one of your exhausted, oppressed ancestors…

… he wouldn’t haul off and slug you as hard as he could, for squandering a life crammed with possibilities that he never dreamed of.

Seriously… “Dancing With The Stars?”  Are you fucking kidding me?

Step 2:  Take a deep breath, and allow the dreaded “D” word to enter your world.

That stands for “discipline”… something few Westerners have even a nodding acquaintance with.

It’s simple to put to work, too.  Every day, do something you really, really, really don’t want to do (that needs to be done eventually).  It can be doing the dishes, or exercising, or getting up early (by going to bed at a decent hour)…

… or it can be diving into that biz book on your shelf, or that DVD course you bought last year that you never tore the shrink-wrap off.

Living even a mildly disciplined life will change your future immediately.  You often know what needs to be done… but you use all that potent gray matter in your skull to find ways to AVOID those things.

Just stop it.  Become an effective person.  Start DOING shit that needs doing.  Right now, you have a backlog of chores and items on your “to do list”.  It’s a happy day when your new chore is to find a new project to dive into, because you’ve mopped up everything else.

Step 3:  Be a good animal.

Eat better (and less often), treat sleep as a sacred necessity for advanced living, get your butt into the gym or onto the tennis court (or just on a trail), allow for quality “ponder” time (or uninterrupted meditation), and plan (and enjoy) life with gusto.

My motto has always been “moderation in all vices”.  Steady as she goes, but let’s kick it up a notch every now and then, test the adrenaline pump.

But the Prime Directive remains: Never pretend you’re something other than a complex biological machine, requiring good fuel, attention to wear-and-tear, constant routine maintenance, and ample opportunity for gleefully maxing out the emotional, spiritual, intellectual and kinesthetic possibilities.

You could do worse than follow your dog’s lead in most of this.  (Except for eating garbage, of course.)

Step 4: Face your fears.

If you’re not keeping a private journal where you can air out everything on your mind without reservation (even if you have to write in code a lot), then start one now.

The first pages can be a list of what you’re afraid of.  Just get it out of your head and onto a page… so you can stop obsessing for a while.  (Obsessive thinking often comes from your brain’s whack notion that if you don’t obsess, you’ll forget.  I’ve found that your brain actually knows that writing it all down means it can relax with the memorization nonsense.  It’s like burying your bone in a familiar place — you can stop carrying it around for a while, and concentrate on something else.)

The biggie: If you’ve got something bugging you that ain’t going away with simple pop psychology tricks (like journals), then get some pro help.  Psychology is a field that has never lost its inferiority complex among other sciences, and so it keeps dabbling in pharmaceutical bullshit and elaborate protocols for treatment.

Now, you may need high-end treatment.  There’s zero shame in that — sometimes, our wiring just goes berzerk, and modern chemistry may help.  I’m not a doctor.  If you have serious problems, get serious help.

However, if what’s troubling you is more along the line of emotionally-hobbling guilt, or feelings of inferiority or inadequacy, or the all-too-common problem of feeling like you’re a freak trying to hide your freaky nature among the throngs of normal people out there…

… you’re ripe for something as simple as “talk therapy”.  I’ve slugged my way through every dark alley of pop psychology there is, from Gestalt encounter groups to dream analysis to primal screaming and other stuff you don’t need to know about.  (I have a mostly-worthless degree in psych, you should know, from a California university.  A California university, mind you.  Every shocking notion you have of what that might mean is true, I’m proud to say.)

And often, what ails us is primarily the incorrect notion that we’re “naughty” and abnormal… when the truth is that everyone out there harbors a squirming nest of personal demons and private failures.

Life isn’t something you “figure out” and then coast through.  The lessons and challenges come fast and furious, and never let up.  It’s sensible to be wary of danger.  It’s crippling, though, to be afraid of your own shadow.

If you need help, get it.

The people having the most fun (and scoring the big results) in life aren’t normal.  They’ve just come to terms with their individuality, and figured out how to rock on with the hand they’ve been dealt.

You can do it, too.

Step 5: Stop lying.

To others.  And to yourself.

This doesn’t mean you suddenly become that azzhole who constantly delivers “the truth” to everyone around them.  The “truth” is hard to ascertain in many situations, and living well includes being diplomatic and sensitive to other people’s feelings.

Lying often has nothing to do with the truth.  It’s just a weak but persistent form of protection for your ego.

The key to being honest to yourself and others is to realize that you aren’t required to respond to every question put to you.  It’s perfectly all right to say “no comment”, or “um, yeah, I’m not gonna share that”.  (The “Magic Word” that all professionals and successful business owners need to have in their arsenal is “No”.  Said politely, with a smile, but firmly and without explanation.  “I understand that you want me to answer that question.  No.  What’s the next topic…”, repeated as often as necessary, is NOT being rude.  People learn, growing up, that persistence will wear others down and get them to do what you want.  Which is fine, for the rest of the world.  As a pro, however, you have the right to opt out of that game.  Without explanation.)

Lying is a hard damn job.  You have to remember all kinds of stuff that isn’t true, so you don’t cross up your stories.

Being honest means you are freed from the restraints of a complex relationship to what’s going on.  To others, you may stop blabbering so much, and instead be a little circumspect with your answers (which is always a good thing).

You may even start listening more, which can also change your life.

Being honest with yourself is the big payoff, though.  Our default position is to spin things so our little ego isn’t damaged.  But you can “spin” honestly, too — there are always multiple realities to any situation, and you can look at shocks like failure in ways that put it in perspective, while being honest.  (Most successful people have failed a LOT in their career.  They just didn’t take failure as the last word on the subject… but rather looked at it honestly, to learn the lessons and come back with better chops for the second round.  THAT’S how you win.)

Step 6: Do constant reality checks.

I often say that good salesmen lead better lives… because to make sales, you must see the world and everyone in it as it IS…

… not as you wish it was, or believe it should be.

People will tell you they’ll act in a certain way in a certain situation, and then do the exact opposite.  They’re not “bad”, they’re just doing what people always do — ignore reality.

Top marketers constantly observe people’s actions (not their words).  Gary Halbert, when he wanted to get a reaction on a new ad he’d just written, had a favorite bar he would go into and read the ad aloud.  If everyone said “that’s a great ad, that should be a winner” then he knew he had written a bomb that would fail.

The ONLY reaction he wanted to hear was “Holy crap!  How can I get one of those for myself?”

This same kind of reality check needs to happen inside your head and heart, constantly.  What’s really going on with you, right now?  What do you want, what do you NOT want, what are you willing or not willing to do to make the good stuff happen?

Step 7: Reach out to loved ones.

People miss you.  You’re horrible at staying in touch, and old timers will vouch for the fact that years can zoom by and destroy even strong relationships if you ignore the maintenance they deserve.

You don’t have to stay in touch with anyone, of course.  Relationships that are burdensome can sap energy from you, and they need to be shelved if you’re gonna move forward in life.

Still… somebody’s waiting for a call from you, right now.

Make it.

Step 8: Reach out to colleagues.

People love to talk about what they love doing…

… and entrepreneurs are starved for networking with other entrepreneurs.  Both to find out what’s working or not working out there for others, and to share what they’ve learned.

It can be shocking, at first, to realize just how much support you can get even from competitors sometimes.  Business can be like a hockey game — brutal, but with total respect for the other team.

Every single successful marketer I know has a deep network of buddies and colleagues they call frequently, and share information that outsiders would pay a fortune for (like testing results, and experienced advice).

This is why most of the success junkies hit up events and seminars.  You can’t really get to know someone from phone chats, or reading their blogs.

The real connection comes from face-to-face meetings, hanging out and breaking bread (while sharing gossip).

Step 9: Reach out to experts.

Mentoring changed my life.  I’ve had multiple mentors along the way, and some didn’t even realize they WERE mentors.  (I just observed them very carefully, and deconstructed what they did and how they did it.  Some of the writers I learned the most from were dead when I came along, so I had to use critical thinking instead of actually working with them.)

But I also learned to quickly recognize others who had lessons for me (again, whether they realized it or not).  Some thought of themselves as experts, others were just damn good at their job.

All had fountains of knowledge and skills worth exploring and figuring out.

Side note: It’s not a coincidence that many of the best marketers alive are also quite good at a musical instrument.

You know why?

It’s the PROCESS of learning.  It’s hard to get even the basics down for an instrument… and you must dedicate yourself (and use the “D” word) to get to a point of competence.

Most people, given the choice, will not go through the physical pain (your fingers will bleed when learning guitar) and mental anguish (because you will fail over and over again on each step — no one gets it right the first hundred times) of learning something as sophisticated as a musical instrument.

Most guitarists I know didn’t really have a choice.  The desire to master the beast came from within, and we were driven to do it.

Still, I’ve met others who did it to please parents, or just because their reference group of friends all did it.  And they got the same benefit as the driven ones:  The realization of what it takes to learn something new.

It’s a process.  And you CAN learn it, and you CAN do it.  It just takes a little guidance.

There are a lot of great experts out there who teach.

There are also a lot of bogus assholes who fake it, and if they teach you anything at all, it will be to never trust someone without vetting them first ever again.

The key is to first find ONE expert you feel you can trust. Make them earn your trust.  Triple-check their credibility and credentials.

Through this first relationship, you will be introduced to other teachers and guru’s they recommend.  It’s still up to you to be an adult, and be critical of anyone you get advice from until they’ve also earned your trust.

But the first move is always yours.

When you’re ready, reach out.  Get involved, take advantage of all interactive opportunities, and don’t be shy about sucking up all the free stuff that experts willingly ladle out.

Much of the rookie entrepreneurial world is populated with cynical fuck-ups who would rather tear an expert down, than learn anything.  It’s like TMZ for business — there will never a lack of rubber-necking, sneering wannabe’s trashing everyone who has dared to be successful.

You can hang with these types, if you like.  You’ll be entertained.

But you won’t get anywhere in life.

Cynicism is for bench warmers.

You wanna play, put your ego and your sneer away.  Find the experts with the experience and the willingness to teach that fits what you need…

… and get involved.

Step 10: Master the art of setting good goals…

… and putting together a doable plan to achieving them.

This is not something you can do intuitively.  Nearly everyone thinks they understand what a real goal is.  And they also feel they should be able to achieve a goal just with positive thinking (and maybe a few inspirational catch phrases).

And they are wrong.

Goal setting isn’t rocket science… but it is more like learning a new instrument than it is like buying a new car.  Change doesn’t come easy — there are all kinds of obstacles in your head, your heart, in the universe and in the cards that need to be met and conquered along the way.

There is a process.

Most people don’t even know what they really want.  They just know they lack happiness or fulfillment or something…

… and early goal setting under these conditions will be wildly ineffective.

Fortunately, with just a little bit of coaching, you can become a goal-achieving monster.

And that is the key to moving from where you are in life, to where you want to be.

Now, it’s late, and I’ve given you too much good stuff already in this post.

If you’re ready for more of the real shortcuts and inside advice to making this coming year your best ever…

… whether you measure “best ever” in terms of cash, or happiness, or achievements, or all of it put together…

… then I recommend you at least check out the Action Seminar we’re hosting at the end of February.

Get the details on the Action Seminar by clicking here.

Yes, it’s a live event, so you’ll need to travel and get your act together enough to attend.  We’ve made that part as easy as possible, by having the seminar in San Diego (with one of the easiest airports in the country to get in and out of)… where it’s also going to be nice, with ocean breezes and suntanned happy folks everywhere (even while your home town gets slammed with another blizzard or locust invasion or whatever other horrors winter usually brings).

Plus, we’ve arranged for discounts at the hotel.  Good times.

But best of all, you’ll get to hang out with a small army of experts we’ve hand-picked… along with a roomful of other entrepreneurs and veteran biz owners and rookies and budding professionals who are PERFECT for networking and forming new joint ventures and sharing info.

Skip it if you’re scared, or distracted, or “out in the weeds” with your life.  Your choice.

But make your decision at least with all the facts:

Get the details on the Action Seminar by clicking here.

I doubt we’ll host this event again.  It’s tough work putting it together, and corralling all these hot experts for a whole weekend.  And it’s going to be exhausting (though exhilarating, too) for us…

… because we do so much interactive teaching.  This is an event focused entirely on attendees, and the needs you bring with you when you arrive.

It’s all about making 2011 your best year ever… however you want to define “best”.  For most, it’s profit and income.  We excel at teaching that.  But happiness is also important, and we have the goods on that, too.

First step, if you’re at all interested, is to get the details.

Get the details on the Action Seminar by clicking here.

Don’t screw around and miss this event because you got distracted.  Veterans and rookies alike are welcome, and will get breakthrough insight and real plans you can implement without taking huge risks, or finding new sources of investment cash, or changing your biz radically at all.

This is DOABLE stuff.  It’s the key to making things happen fast… so you have the rest of the year to maximize results, and enjoy life.

From where I sit, this should be a no-brainer decision.  But you gotta make up your own mind.

Check it out.

Stay frosty,


P.S. What are YOUR top ten secrets for success?  Do they jive with mine, or do you have insight on something I may have skipped over?

The comment section is now wide open, and ready for threads.

This is THE most important period of the coming year.  Getting your year off to the best possible start means months of doing it RIGHT, as opposed to months of wasted effort (that can murder your profits).

It’s your movie.  You’re writing most of the script, and here’s an opportunity to see how the best in the game write boffo blockbusters for themselves, year after year.

Will I see you in San Diego?

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"11 Really Stupid Blunders You're Making With Your Biz & Career Right Now."

  • Always right on target, Johnny…great advice!

    I have a friend who was admiring my house and cars and other goodies one day, who said to me, “Steve, I want what you have. I just don’t want to do what it takes to get it.”

    Well, at least he was honest about it. Most others say “Teach me how to do what you do,” and then as soon as they find out it requires constant disciplined effort and ongoing education, they slink back to their day jobs, never to be heard from again.

    Some people just aren’t cut out for success. The ones who are…will be wise enough to attend your Action Seminar!

    • John Carlton says:

      Very true, Steve. I’ve tried to teach dozens of people how to play guitar, and also how to write copy. None ever came back for the second lesson in guitar (their little pinkies hurt too much), and only one ever stuck it out with writing.

      What’s frustrating is how liberating it is to break your cherry with some real discipline, and especially to achieve something with it. I remember my first kiss and my first check I earned as a freelancer — the two most astonishing and wonderful events in my life.

      Both took a lot of work, by the way, to accomplish, but I won’t bore you with the former story right now…

  • Full Power says:

    I came across your page and found the blog really engaging. It not only got me reading but was also very informative. I am hoping to get more such worthwhile content to read. I will subscribe to your site right away. Please keep posting more.

  • Geoff Dodd says:

    John, top sh^t man. I am appreciative of you rare professors of harsh reality. Keep talking because I listen well. Geoff

  • Bond Halbert says:

    Great post John. It may be my favorite so far. Terrific advice and a fun read.

    I especially love the line “Be A Good Animal”

  • Golden advice.

    I’ve been reading and listening and hanging out with you for two decades now and I still get new insights and inspiration from posts like this.

    Either I’m a slow learner or you’re brilliant. Maybe both.

    Hands off my plasma, though. It’s not hooked up to cable — only plays DVDs. And if you think Dancing with the Stars warrants a “you’re fucking kidding me”, they now have Skating with the Stars. Brand extension gone bonkers.


    • John Carlton says:

      Actually, DD, we’re sorta doing “Writing With The Stars” in the SWS… don’t think it would fly as a reality show, though. Too many pan-shots of people thinking hard and typing…

      Thanks for the post, pal. Have a great new year… and see you in SD…

  • As always, a fantastic revelation from a simple blog post. This is why I unsubscribed from nearly every email I receive except yours – AND why I just forwarded this blog post to all of my colleagues.

    I suck at goal setting, and I’ll publicly admit that. Analysis paralysis, procrastination, fear of failure, whatever you want to call it I suck at it. But I’m working on it, and that counts too! Great tips here to make it happen.

    Happy New Year 🙂

    • John Carlton says:

      Be sure to convince your colleagues to sign in here, too, for alerts on future posts.

      And don’t beat yourself up — EVERYONE sucks at goal setting, because almost nobody teaches it correctly. Once you understand it, though, you’re off to the races.

      Are you coming to San Diego for the event?

  • Thanks, John…you been following me?

    Seems like it from you what you wrote.

    Hurts so good!

    Happy 2011!

    Ken Donaldson
    The HEAD Coach
    Licensed Mental Health Counselor
    (727) 394-7325

    • John Carlton says:

      “Head” coach, very clever. Has all sorts of other double-entendre connotations, too. We spend so much time in our heads, and know so little about that square foot of mush and synapse…

      And no, I haven’t been following you. That must be your other stalker…

  • Great article John and exactly what I needed to read. Thanks for always finding the words I need to hear/read.

  • Vince Testa says:

    Hey John… I think you missed one? All of the successful people I know are “real!” They aren’t afraid to do what you just did… tell the truth without holding back! Not trying to win a popularity contest or protect others feelings. Saying what it takes with the best intentions of really trying to help. I guess you can sum it up as they are “honest!” That’s it! No need to sugar coat and bullshit anyone. The other thing I have found is that the truly successful people are not afraid to share what they know. They have an abundance attitude and don’t appear to ever be too concerned with someone taking something they have. Of all the “gurus” online, I have continued enjoy listening to you (I have removed myself from practically all other lists) because you don’t hold back… you tell it like it is! Happy New Year John! I am making this my best year ever, which will be tough because the numbers keep getting bigger, but if I don’t, I know it is my fault. There is no one else to blame!

  • Wayne Sharer says:

    This is a great list of key items for making the year better.

    I think the most common one I deal with when consulting others is to get them to stop lying to themselves.

    Boy oh boy, don’t we all love to blame someone or something else for our problems – at the exclusion of ourselves.

    It’s amazing. Until we all can except that we made our choices – some good, some bad — and therefore we cause our own problems…

    well, you know, at the point you accept yourself as the decider of your fate, you will begin the big change in outcomes.

    So, I really can appreciate Step 5.

    Happy New Year

    Wayne Sharer

  • Jay says:

    Constant reality checks might be the most important puzzle piece of all. A person who can solemnly acknowledge the unhappy facts of life (even when their ego is involved) will usually be amenable to the other steps. They’re humble in spirit…they don’t believe the universe owes them anything. Instead of being driven by entitlement, these people can think in terms of cause-and-effect.

    It’s when your entire psyche is steeped in denial that success is most difficult to obtain. In my experience, people who whine about how things “should” be are also the least likely to make any constructive behavioral changes.

  • Jason Parker says:

    haha… some of this was hilarious.

    I’ve been wanting to say some of it for a long time, but either couldn’t find the words or didn’t want to take the blowback from it.

    What’s especially true is your comment about cynical people being the benchwarmers. All they do is hang out with other grumpy benchwarmers and point fingers at others blaming them for their failures and criticizing them.

    Good stuff.


  • Steve Faber says:


    WOW! A truly great post, and right on target. I’m trying to pick my favorite out of the 10, but they are all so applicable, it’s a difficult task. I’d probably have to go with number 1, because most people have so much time in their lives that they simply throw away, then complain they just can’t get anything done.

    It’s sad that so many people just don’t want to do what it takes to advance their station in life even a little bit.

    My mother, for example loves quilting (a multi-Billion $ niche)and writing, and is very good at both. She is also retired and complains about being on a fixed income. I suggested she start a quilting related blog, where she could combine two of her passions and make some money to boot.

    I explained to her about affiliate marketing and how she could easily earn the extra income that would really improve her lifestyle, while leaving her free to do all of the things she loves doing now.

    Her response? “I retired so I wouldn’t have to work/” Well then, that’s all very well and good, but don’t complain about being on a fixed income.

    One of the things that’s made a big difference to me in the last year was your #8, Reach Out to Colleagues. I noticed things started to get easier when I put establishing relationships with colleagues as a priority. Thankfully that goes hand in hand with number 9, because many of our colleagues are experts in one thing or another. Their skill sets are varied and substantial, in most cases.

    Anyway, thanks again for the great post.

    • John Carlton says:

      Hi Steve. This kind of networking is a central part of events like the Action Seminar, too. Folks tend to scoff at the value of a good network until they see its power in their own lives.

      Thanks for the note.

  • Mike Taylor says:

    Spot On, John. With the psych background, did you ever do ‘est’? The stop lying to yourself and take responsibility messages are quite familiar (and thanks for the reminder).

    • John Carlton says:

      I did do est, in the late 70s (when they wouldn’t let you pee for hours). I don’t recall anything about lying, but I do remember the shock wave that went through the crowd when they discussed taking full responsibility for everything in your life. Folks just reject that, unless it’s pounded into their head. Even then, it often only “sticks” for a short time. Interesting stuff, encounter groups…

  • Great wisdom in this article John. A harsh dose of reality for some, and a nice reminder for others.

    So perhaps I didn’t see it, but adding an accountability partner (or group) to bust your chops when you aren’t getting where you want to would help as well.

  • Suzanne says:

    Hey, John,

    I love your list. It’s the same as mine, although I tend to say things a bit differently.

    I deal with clients who are trying to create goals for writing and need my help figuring out what is a true goal and what is just an action that needs to be taken to reach that goal. But I really think you’re right that there are NO excuses for not reaching your goals. But most of the time, I find that clients aren’t clear about what they’re really trying to achieve. Once they get clear about what they really want, then it’s much easier to figure out what to do to get it.

    It’s nice to read someone else who sees the same things among those who have trouble reaching their goals.

  • Joel Helfer says:

    This was a fabulous post.

    I think it is possible you were Moses in a former life and the one who came down the mountain with the original 10 commandments.

    The post you just created is a modern day version of the 10 commandments. Thank you very much.

    I wonder if you’ve ever considered starting a new religion. If you do, let me know and I’ll gladly join.

    I wish you health, happiness, and prosperity for 2011 and the rest of your life.

    And may you continue to have the creativity and energy to continue to enlighten us all with your elegant use of language.

    You have a true gift that was hard earned.

    You have my respect and confidence.

    Live long, and well.

  • gary says:

    Spizzerinctum, just like you said. You got to have it to get it done. Great stuff! Happy New year!

  • ken ca|houn says:

    Another brilliant one, and this is one of your best ever (maybe make a book of all your blog posts someday and sell it, I’d pay at least a couple hundred for it; your gems are priceless here)… gotta love the edgy copy in this one and your message.

    Agree w/David D, I haven’t watched cable or television in years, just use it to watch tv/movie/concert DVDs at night.

    Concert videos are a great way to get ‘pumped’ to have energy to carry over into the next day’s work (i like ac/dc, kylie minogue, pink, beyonce, madonna, police, rush, rolling stones, pink floyd, phil collins, yes, eagles, etc).

    Goals are always critical for action, I post mine (quarterly and project-based) on two large whiteboards in my home office. Tip: I put small “nagging wife” type notes on the edge of my monitor, like “What’s the most valuable use of your time right Now?” or “Have You Finished (project x) Yet?”.

    Your 10 steps are all on the money.

    Response of successful people to adverse conditions is to “scramble”, eg work harder, smarter, never give up, just figure out the right answers and zero in on what works. I work a lot harder, and therefore sleep a lot better at night, I’m crushing my competitors to little bitty pieces and loving it.

    John – thanks for keeping it real, and for writing the most interesting posts in the world, you’re a great role model.


    • John Carlton says:

      Several books are in the offing, Ken, and will be ready for consumption soon…

      I like your “nagging wife note” idea. We all need to get in touch with that Inner Taskmaster in our heads who gets stuff done…

  • Ray Edwards says:


    I always read your rants, and they’re always thought-provoking – but more than that, they’re also ACTION-provoking.

    This one, though… DANG.

    My favorite post from you thus far.

    I’ve learned so much from you — and yet you’re always able to deliver still more.

    Thank you for a great read on the last day of 2010.

    And now… I’ve got some work to do.


  • Robert Gibson says:

    Hi John,
    This is one of my all time
    favorite posts of yours.
    Thanks for taking the time to write it.
    Happy New Year!

  • Jurg says:

    HS! Unbelievable….

    When the student is ready the teacher will come….

    Will this never end….?

  • Carl E Rowe says:

    John- I love your writing style-the pithiness of it-the emotion-the rawness-the truthfulness

    I took your writing course and it was very helpful in crafting readable and actionable websites.

    I believe what you may have left out in your list of 10 is the concept of charity-
    to be charitable to yourself and others-to give for the sake of giving- to give back for your success is another real measure of just how successful you really have become.

    • John Carlton says:

      Hi Carl. That IS important, and it’s been part of my own personal philosophy since I became an adult. However, it’s not specifically required for success. For peace of mind, and squaring yourself with the universe, yes. For getting your act together, not so much.

      I give until it hurts each year (Food Bank is my choice), and it makes me a better, more conscious man. But you must do it WITHOUT believing you will “get paid back” by the universe for doing it. You will not. No good deed goes unpunished, we like to say.

      You give generously because it’s the right thing to do.

      Thanks for the note.

  • Great post John! Well timed to kick the new year off right. My favorite part was your analogy to learning a musical instrument. Been there…done that, so I can really relate.

    I think I’ll post a great big note above my computer,
    “Nobody Gets It Right the First Hundred Times”
    as a reminder to myself and to my kids.

    Happy New Year John!
    Thanks for all you do for all of us.

  • Great post John, I couldn’t think of a better way to end the year than reading the best post by anyone this year! My year is complete.
    Have a Happy and Safe New Year.

  • Jean Paul says:

    All I can say is thanks! I’m gonna apply what you just said and dive straight into work.

  • Peter Wright says:

    Thank you John, I have to agree with many of the wiser commentators who have already said it’s one of your best ever.

    Your list of 10 about covers it.

    For anyone wondering what it’s like to get the meteor up the fundamental orifice that can cut the ride short,it’s scary. Believe me it took surviving a heart attack this year to finally wake me up to the fact that life IS finite.

    Thanks again John, now I’m wondering how you are going to raise the bar in 2011.

  • Kevin Rogers says:

    I love when you write pissed!

    Humbling and inspiring as always, John. Thanks!

    Favorite chunk:

    It’s like TMZ for business — there will never a lack of rubber-necking, sneering wannabe’s trashing everyone who has dared to be successful.

    You can hang with these types, if you like. You’ll be entertained.

    But you won’t get anywhere in life.

    Cynicism is for bench warmers.

  • Hey John,

    I read most of your post on my droid while sitting on the can while taking my 10 minute break which is part the Eben Pagan, Wake Up Productive “Action-Plan”.

    For me, just reading the part about my ancestors wanting to break their foot off in my ass for actually thinking that today’s “work” of “writing bullets” was tough, was enough to motivate me.

    It helped remind me of my Granddaddy (yep, he’s from the South and prefers Granddaddy over the Yankee Grandpa) & Grandma sweating their balls and breasts off in humidity so thick you could cut it with a knife, at the small cattle ranch they owned in the Rio Grande valley down near the very bottom tip of Texas.

    If they witnessed me roll out of bed today, flick the mousepad on my laptop to fire up the computer and start “working” under the cozy heater vent which keeps the room a perfect 78 degrees… they’d probably shake their head calling me a punk bitch if I even whined just a teeny bit about how “hard” the project I’m working on is.

    And they’d be justified in doing so.

    So, remembering what Dan Kennedy taught me about Psychological Triggers, I went to my closet and pulled my Granddaddy’s off-white sweat stained, Texas ranch dust coated, size 10x Stetson cowboy hat that I inherited, off the shelf and laid that bad boy upside down on my desk to serve as a visual reminder that I’m living the good life.

    I don’t know if you’ve kept up the tradition of sporting a writing cap but I think I’m gonna start donning this battle-tested Stetson to keep me focused on gratitude for what I call “Work”.

    Thank you John for the inspiration!

    Note Taking Nerd #2

  • Mike Weber says:

    Your post was a kick in the face – exactly what I needed.

    So many of those zingers applied to me. Admitting this publicly is my first effort in turning from my wimpy ways.

    Even now, hours later I still feel like I need to apologize to my family for sleepwalking thru 2010.

    Today, tomorrow and all of next year I am leaving the sidelines — willing to take some shots on my way to achieving my goals.

    Enough talk, I got some work to do.

    Mike Weber
    (recovering ‘CPA’ turned Social Media Mktg Coach)

    • John Carlton says:

      Don’t beat yourself up, Mike. We ALL phone-it-in once in a while. Our mojo gets low, and the energy levels just aren’t there to deal with stuff.

      That’s why “be a good animal” is so important. Part of that is to recognize, as early as possible, what’s sapping your zest for life… and kill it dead.

      It’s not important what you didn’t do last year. What’s important is what you’re gonna do this year.

      It really can be the adventure of your life, too, if you get in the right jet stream…

  • Frank Daley says:

    John, you deserve replies to this.
    I could write as much as you here (or more!), but I’ll try to be brief. (Part of good writing, right John?)

    No 1. Time. Right. Time is more valuable than money. You can always get more money. Try that with time as it rushes by. Even if you are a good time manager (which means you know yourself and are a good self-manager)) you do need down time (your Pt No 2 ) and you do need help (Pts 8 and 9).

    2. Discipline. Right again. Like many forgotten virtues, most people don’t know the meaning of the word and if they do, they’re afraid of both the word and the actions required to manifest it. I’d add another D here: Discrimination (and I don’t mean regarding religion, race etc.). We need to be discriminatory about almost everything in out lives, people, food, time etc. Otherwise everything is the same, has the same value, which is patently not true.

    4. Fear. Huge! Get over the victimhood. We might all want to be taller, smarter etc. Play the hand God (or whomever or whatever you believe in) gave you. If you do not like those cards, think analyze life and work until you get the ones you want.

    5. and 6 Lying and reality check. Yes. Of course.

    7. Yes again. Lots to discuss here but think only of a Swedish survey wherein some investigators asked elderly millionaires (in a home for the aged) what were the most important things in life. Not money or toys, they replied, but people: friends and family. They don’t cost anything in financial terms but they take time and care. Given our mobile society we are not physically close to many of our “people” so we must take affirmative action (Social media is one way) to stay close.

    8. and 9. Yes again. You simply cannot do it all alone. As a person starting a new business, I can’t afford to pay a staff yet but I am learning from experts and will start to do the same from colleagues in 2011.

    10. Essential. They can be temporary, transitional, or small goals but you have to have them and you have to write them down. If it isn’t written down, it isn’t a goal; it’s a wish, a notion, or a dream. Lots of luck with that.

    Here’s my 2 cents.
    11. Self-Knowledge. You have to take the time and be rigorous in the process of getting to know who you are and what you want. Not on a superficial level, on a deep level. As you do this you will make appropriate choices (for yourself—not what society dictates) regarding success, choice of a mate, career or college program. You will choose well and be happy with the choice because you have not blindly selected what others (including society) says about what you should be doing.
    You will probably not have the Paris Hilton or Donald trump kinds of success (!) but the success you have will be on your terms and it will bring you satisfaction.
    Thanks, John

  • Nic says:

    Along these lines, I’ve had a recent, simple change in vocabulary that has radically changed my ability to hit my “goals” by about 70%.

    I recently hooked up with a very successful business mentor who encouraged me to stop trying to achieve goals… and instead stick to my promises.

    There is a whole psychological back story to this that involves the neuroscience department of Harvard, but the basic point is that we have equal but different emotional reactions to the word “goal” and “promise”.

    If some one says, “My goal is to have this on your desk by 5 pm”, do you REALLY expect them to have it to you?

    If they said “I promise to have this on your desk by 5 pm”, do you expect to have it on time then?

    So instead of posting my “goals” around my office, I now post my “promises”.

    And you know what?

    Just in the past 30 days, I have hit about 70% more of my benchmarks successfully than has been my pattern in the past.

    Give it a shot. Try making promises to yourself instead of goals. See how your language with yourself changes. See how it makes you feel and react from a different place.

    More importantly, if you struggle with hitting your goals, see your results change for the better.

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by James Chartrand, WatchUsFlip. WatchUsFlip said: Top 10 Secrets To Make 2011 Your Best Year Ever (All Of Which You’re Currently Ignoring Or Screwing Up): Thursda… […]

  • Great Article John. I paused my DVD of your SWS to read it. I can sure stop wasting time and hang out with winners more in 2011. The TV really is a time suck and does not get the blood flowing like a hike or dollars into the bank like focused energy to a written down goal.
    I have been negligent in keeping a personal journal and I am reminded that it IS important and this is another positive change for me to implement today.

    • John Carlton says:

      Hi Clay. I kept journals for years, and I regard them as excellent ways to get back on track if you’ve wandered off the reservation. Longhand is great, too — it’s a very direct line to your brain.

      Lately, though, I’ve been typing out my journal-posts in Word and keeping them in a file. Whenever I need to sit down and sift through the conversations swirling in my head, I hit the keyboard and let ‘er rip.

      It’s cathartic, and it lessens the load… and it also helps you come to better decisions.

      In fact, I just wrote one out before an important call where decisions had to be made, and it really cleared my head…

      Journals: Good. Trying to keep everything straight in your head by memorizing shit: Bad.

  • Blistering post JC.

    I’d second some of the guys above; this is probably my favorite post on the whole blog.

    Thought-provoking, action-provoking, LIFE-provoking.

    Timely too.

    Thank you.


  • Phoenix says:

    A nice slap in the face. I piss away far too much of my time every day watching TV, especially stuff i’ve seen many times before.

    A very enjoyable, yet sobering post.

  • Nitin Mistry says:

    Hi John,
    just put your amazing article on my PPC Keyword Toolz forum for all my members – with credits and a link back to your site ofcourse. I hope you don’t mind!
    It’s a great message that all us mortals need to engrain in our brains.

    Nice job…

  • Adil Amarsi says:

    Hey John,
    Brilliant post. It does jive with what I set myself.

    My new year began October 1st (The day after my 21st birthday). And I set some pretty heavy goals. Just having them defined as, what, why, how, when and where. Really pushed them to my front “Door”.

    As I’ve stated before I got offered not 1 but 2 opportunities, one to be a copywriter for a marketer and the other to be an apprentice and be taught under some of the best guys out there… I needless to say, chose the latter.

    Now reaching out to the experts was a bit crazy, but it does work, if they respond. But all depends.


    The Copywriting Guy

  • Rezbi says:

    “Step 5: Stop lying.”

    I haven’t lied… to myself or others.

    I have, however, been guilty of almost everything else this year.

    Okay, I’ll say it… I’ve been a lazy good-for-nothing so and so.

    There, I said it.

    Now to change things…

  • Printing this one out and sending it to people… SNAIL mail.

  • Dana says:

    It’s been said many times here, but I’m gonna say it again. I think this post is my favorite, and the timing is ideal. Thanks for the journaling reminder. I do good for awhile, then for some reason I start blowing it off, and it really is beneficial. Go figure, a human that quits doing something that’s good for him.

    I also have to agree with Carl…add gratitude to the list. Because when you wake up in the morning and think about all the bullshit surrounding yourself, it’s hard to go down negative alley. But when you think about ALL you do have, it can put a smile on your face pretty damn fast. And we do have a lot.

    Then there’s a cynics. How do you catch a cold? Hang out with someone that has one. This is probably even more true with cynics, and the adverse effects will last much longer. As soon as you join in with a cynic it’s lights out. You have just bought a ticket for the train to nowhere. After all your bitchin, criticizing and excuse making you’re no better off. And the victim of your criticism has separated the gap between you and them even farther.

    I really got a lot from this post. I’ve tried a lot of things to make it in this world, and failed at most. I know the result if I quit trying. I’m still not where I want to be, but since I quit putting writing on the back burner(mainly because of critics that didn’t know wtf they were talking about) I think I’ve finally found the right path. And no more freakin mlm’s!

    Happy New Year!

  • thetomr says:

    John, That is a sweet post dude. Well said, something for everyone, and balls to the wall! Quite likely the BEST thing I’ve ever read online. That includes all my favorite “gurus” too. I have work to do!!Have a safe and happy new year brother. Thanks again for the schoolin’. tr

  • steven robello says:

    Love the authenticity. Thank you for the kick in the Ass. The recession will probably get worse for those who are still buying into it.
    I once heard that 5 words would summarize all the self-help books ever written – Get up off your Ass!
    John, your post says it so more eloquently! Looking forward to the best year ever.

  • Matt Stewart says:

    I have a new wallpaper for my laptop for the new year. It says:

    Start DOING shit that needs doing.
    John Carlton

    ’nuff said.

  • Robert Scanlon says:

    Hi John,

    Having been a whingeing Pom for many many years, I still find complaining to be one of the best pleasures.

    Therefore I wish to complain about this blog post.

    It hurts …

    Seriously, thanks for the beautifully succinct summary – there’s a blueprint for anyone wanting more from their life …

    Thanks and have an amazing 2011. I may not be in San Diego in person, but will be there in spirit 😉


  • Great post John, thanks. Always appreciate your wisdom and frank delivery.


  • Lisa Wagner says:

    Great post! My 10 – there are only 3 – do more of what works, do less of what doesn’t, and have fun.

    I gotta keep it simple…

    See you and your crew SOON!

  • Henk Vos says:

    Great post John, many salient points for us budding internet marketers. My wife will be very please to add to the ‘it’s your fault’ comments and I buy it.

    Two action points for me:
    1) Spend less time looking and at trying out new courses and things and just get some of the ones I have done implemented (ADHD??)
    2) I’m going to print it off and summarise it as an approach to life for my 12 year old son.

  • David says:

    Wow! This is the first time I have read a post on your blog- by way of a friends recommendations. The pioneers coming west in the 1800’s had it right. They risked everything, stopping or failure was not an option, and death was a real possibility- all to reach their goal of a better life in the west. We stand on their shoulders. Thanks for reminding me to stay focused, and WORK HARD all of the time I work.

  • Lovinia says:

    Great post. Thank you. I, too think you make your own luck and I especially hate those email that start…”the gurus have lied to you” or..”it’s not your fault”. As you say, yes it bloody well is.

    If I didn’t live in Australia I would certainly attend your Action Seminar



  • Matt Morris says:

    Fucking great. So good I’m re-subscribing to your newsletter. I went through an anti-info-overload process a while back and unsubcribed to all the newsletters/blogs I hadn’t read in a while. Wondering what the hell I’ve missed from you now…


    Matt Morris

    • John Carlton says:

      Matt… we may be bringing back the mailed version of the Rant again. By popular demand.

      Be sure to watch for word of it. A trembling package of wonder that arrives in your mailbox every month, loaded with good stuff.

      I’ll announce it here, first…

  • Stewart Shaw says:

    Yes John you will see me in San Diego. And for that you and I can thank my bank that just let me book on the payment plan with a maxed credit card! Plus my decision to give up my 2 week vacation due to start next week and instead work extra casual shifts at my day job to produce the cash to do so.

    For mine, your hard-hitting post has cut through the bullshit that’s masqueraded as my life up to the present.

    That’s it for words. I’m off to run some laps at my local park to get this animal back in tune. Then to work an extra night shift starting in 2 hours.

    Thank you.

    Stew from Brisbane, Australia

    • John Carlton says:

      Stew! I can feel the energy vibrating off your brain from here.

      Vacations are okay, but I’m betting that part-time job will provide you with stories that are just as good… and you’re using the money to create even more exciting adventures in your life, to boot.

      I skipped a long vacation to Amsterdam (!) to stay home and write “Kick Ass Copywriting Secrets of a Marketing Rebel”… 2 solid weeks of writing and research and hard-core thinking, instead of vacationing in Amsterdam (!)…

      Hell, yes, it was a difficult decision to make. Difficult, but it took all of ten seconds to make, nevertheless. I invested the time in my future, and the adventures that resulted have been spectacular.

      Good on ya, mate. Just stay focused on paying your way as you go, and don’t go into debt (which sucks).

      Thanks for the note…

  • Virgina Drew says:

    Hi, John

    Great post.

    Your words remind me of a good friend.

    He has worked hard all his life…raised 11 children along the way.

    He did the work of 5 men, 7 days a week.

    Never lived beyond his means, and always saved a bit of what he earned.

    Today, he is worth several million dollars.

    There are a few people who, in the good times, were earning a lot and spending more, and looked down on him. I guess it make them feel superior, or something.

    Anyway, today, when things are tougher, several of them are looking to him for work, or a loan, or some type of help. These are the same people who, 3 years ago, wouldn’t give him the time of day.

    I guess what I am trying to say, is that his experience teaches the importance of working hard and never forgetting to save a little for a rainy day.

    Happy New Year, and I am looking forward to meeting you in San Diego.

  • bang bang says:

    Yeah should of been a fucking philosopher/song writer along with Captain Beefheart..RIP)….
    Where’d you grew up in the fuckin Hampton’s, Daytona Beach..or some Ladida garden suburb chanting the ways people should be..with white flowers, pom-poms and incense.
    Your definitely not from any hood..
    So now your successful so what.. many many many and I mean many people want and do all those things you mentioned upstairs..
    I wonder why we all aren’t like you.
    So now your giving a fucking show like the way Glen Beck did In Washington DC telling Americans we should take back America..And now we can listen to you pay for your venue, to listen how fucked up every miserable, unfortunate, mental midget,
    human being(animal) is that better, that comes along your path who just quite doesn’t measure up. Is that it..
    I here do not pander to this type of rhetoric as do these other commentators.

    AS far as I’m concerned your the one who has a lot to learn..

    Don’t worry I wont be looking for this post to get posted.. it wont matter anyway..I dont give a shit what you and your cronies think.

    • John Carlton says:

      Of course this gets posted, Bang Bang (if that’s your real name).

      Since you ask… I grew up working class (Pop worked construction) in Cucamonga, which was a tiny and very old part of the California inland valley… where, you should know, Don Van Vleet lived for a long time (that would be the good Captain Beefheart). Frank Zappa’s dad taught at the local high school. 5 person family in a 3-bedroom tiny house (with one bathroom) right next to the Southern Pacific tracks. Not exactly a slum, and I didn’t meet my first stick of incense til I was a teenager.

      And this blog is free — six years of content in the archives, yours for the reading, gratis. Nobody’s twisting your arm to do anything you don’t want to do.

      I DO have a lot to learn, too. I admit that frequently — life is one long lesson, and nobody gets it perfect, ever.

      You seem to feel you’ve got life nailed, however. Good for you. Why are you wasting time on worthless blogs like this?

      Seriously, man, get a handle on your incoherent rage before it eats you alive.
      You’re confusing business advice with Fox News television shows. And you’re just making shit up and assigning it to others. That’s troll behavior. Stand tall and use your real name next time. Negative input is fine here, as long as it’s not name-calling nihilism.

      Go back 4 blog posts here and read “The Envy Cure”, too. It’s free.

    • Holly says:

      Bang Bang–John’s not the only one who came up from rough beginnings. I grew up in a single-wide trailer with an alcoholic, womanizing, pathological-liar father and a mother with delusions of religion.

      They dragged my brother, sister, and me when we were kids into some of the world’s crappier shitholes (including a country in the middle of a civil war–who knew?) as friggin’ missionaries.

      I started building my own life when I paid for my two years of community college with student loans, worked as a nurse for ten years, and went on to write 30+ novels that sold to major publishers and around the world. Not because I got any special education to do it. Because I wrote and sent of stories for seven years before I sold a damn word.

      I now write novels and teach others how to do the same.

      Ever word John said is true. If you want to live a better life, get off your lazy, whining ass and do it. Be persistent. It’s better than being smart, or talented, or rich. It’s the one quality that you cannot succeed without.

    • Jurg says:

      Hey Bang Bang:

      I totally get your points…it’s just directed at the wrong dude…seriously.

  • Joe says:

    This is exactly the type of advice I needed going into the new year — setting goals and nailing them, stop wasting time, be disciplined, reality checks. I kind of knew it already, I just needed to be kicked in the ass with it like this.
    I do massage in Miami and am starting a service to do internet marketing in Miami for tourism businesses.
    I quit my part time job and now it is sink or swim. I have to hit the pavement now and get clients. These are rules I can live by. Thanks, John.

  • Viv says:

    John, MARVELLOUS post. Thanks so much, it’s just the clip over the ear I need right now. And how timely – for the first time in my life, I am going to write down proper goals and put it on my home office wall to see every day (which my hubby will see too – no more lying/hiding).

    As many others have said, this has got to be the best post ever, and so I’ve shared with all I know too.

    Thanks again,

  • Mike Morgan says:

    Hi John,
    Thanks very much for this post.
    Serious inspiration for the many who are looking for a reason to FAIL!
    Watching the many ways people ‘self-sabotage’ is really fascinating…
    Why are they afraid of success?
    Also loved your comment about reality(??)TV – Dancing with the stars. The list of cheap to produce garbage which does nothing to enrich anyone’s lives is pretty long now – why??!
    Thanks again – awesome work.
    All the best for 2011.

  • All great stuff … with one exception.

    It is critical to see things as they are. This is the realm of science. But we also must see things as they ought to be. This is the realm of Values, the domain of the visionary (which you are). The tension between the way things are and the way they ought to be provides the dynamic of progress.

    • John Carlton says:

      Hi Larry. I appreciate what you’re saying, but I’ve seen too many marketers go under believing it. Idealism will hold you back in almost everything you do. I had to learn that the hard way.

      Not wasting time thinking how things “ought to be” doesn’t make you any less able to change things for the better. In fact, skipping the idealism allows you to be MUCH MORE effective in actually putting change into motion. Because, first, you really do NOT know how things “ought to be”. It’s fantasy. It’s your ego talking. Second, no one can predict how change will affect things — it’s the law of unintended consequences.

      Believing you can “control” life is a waste of time. You CAN write your own script… meaning, you set your own goals and you make the decisions, as much as you can given the variables and unpredictable nature of life…

      … but you’ve got to be ready to roll with the punches, and know that your “script” will constantly change at the last minute.

      You can hope and pray every hour of every day that people will be more loving and able to work things out…

      … and you’ll get zip results. But you figure out ways to influence people like a salesman, and you can change the world.

      Action trumps daydreaming every single time.

      Thanks for the post, Larry. I’m not trashing you — I’ve just butted heads with people too many times over this detail, and I refuse to let it go.

      • ken ca|houn says:

        good points, John — back in my consulting days the corporate suits would always waste a lot of time on the “to be” vision bs instead of focusing on action to implement changes and improvements… (that’s one reason I left the corporate world, too much visionary bs vs solid action today)…

        Ultimately it became an excuse for non-action (‘we’ve got our vision meeting at 1pm, let’s look at our 5 year plan vs actually Working today on something concerte)… I like quarterly action plans/specific goals/timeframes/deadlines, to get stuff done. “outta be” is nice for writing books and making movies…

        It’s “what am I going to work on today, to add value and make sales?” that’s the domain of us entrepreneurs. -k

  • Phill Mason says:

    John, what a brilliant post, thanks. I especially liked the reference to discipline as similar to learning an instrument.

    Being a muso myself, I can appreciate the commitment required to becoming as disciplined in business too.

    One of my favourite tips is to set deadlines. This has by far been the most productive for my business last year.

    When you work for someone else, you’re always expected to meet deadlines and working for yourself should be no different.

    It’s sometimes good to kick your own arse because something wasn’t finished on time and setting these small but simple deadlines usually results in things getting done within a schedule rather than just jotted down on another “To Do” list.

    My tuppence worth.

    Happy New Year John, thanks again for the great post and may this year bring you continued health, wealth and happiness.


  • Tom Stannard says:

    I read somewhere that when you write something down and read it back to yourself, you are using a different part of your brain that would would employ buy simply thinking about something.

    That my explain the benefits gained by diarists, in that they are able to provide themselves with a private second-opnion.

    My top ten ‘secrets’ of success in navigating life with the least resistance are;

    1) Never waste mental energy by thinking or speaking negatively about anyone of anything for too long.

    When the eagle are silent, the parrots begin to jabber– Winston Churchill

    2) Always forgive

    3) Each day, seek to improve yourself in some small way. The Japanese philosophy of
    Kaizen is a good example.

    4) It is useful to remind ourselves that we have two ears and just one mouth. Try to maintain this ratio in the use of same.

    5) Do not just look, see

    6) Do not just touch, feel.

    7) Do not just hear, listen.

    8) Eat less, walk more.

    9) Strive not for a fine life, but a fine day. Every day.

    10) There is nothing above the man who is above fortune.

  • Holly says:

    Beautifully said.

    I had a wonderful year last year, by the way—in spite of at one point being checked for brain tumors or a brain aneurysm because of some sudden horrible symptoms I started having.

    Every one of your points is something I internalized at the lowest point of my life, and while I’ve had some thin years since, I’ve never had a bad year.

    Hope your next year is even better than the last.


  • Awesome post John. Great advice presented in your unique style as usual.

    In the end I believe I all comes down to your priorities. If the most important thing in your life is your entertainment or leisure then you can never really be successful.

    At some point your success (in business or learning or whatever) has to have a higher priority than your leisure or failure is certain.

    Wishing for you a great 2011.

  • Blair says:

    John , I think this is one of the best things you’ve ever written. Its the Heineken of blog posts – reaches the parts that other blog posts don’t reach!
    Was always a fan – but you’ve gone one step further

  • John Kane says:

    Entertaining-as always, a pleasure to read a powerful and effective author’s work
    Enlightening-Awakened some sleeping Dragons “inside”, some I made take a “nappy” others Mr ego put into the deep freeze which I forgot about.
    Annoying-You got my number…You…muth..Grr 🙂

    Thanks for the so strategically placed steel-toed-biker-boot in the butt.
    Reverberations were felt Alllll the way up to my own 5 lbs of Polish SweetBread Goodness up yonder.
    Curse you JC for not writing this 45 years ago LOL(me>>>57! F)


    off to check youtube for that one.
    This John-Boy has git and mando Jones.Ukes are cool too.

  • Rod Beckwith says:

    Hi John,



  • Grateful Al says:

    1) I had a profound change that boosted my productivity last year. I came to believe 80% is good enough. *See Microsoft – cripes 80% ‘good enough’ would be huge with those bastards! (Helps me deal with my perfectionism/obsessive/compulsive BS = 25/yrs clean and sober).

    2) Some wise guy once wrote:
    A) “First, learn your craft. It won’t stop you from being a genius later.”
    B) “Movement gets more shit done in this world than all the pondering in history.” (Write that down and stick it on your wall.)

    Lastly: This is about MY economy – MY work – MY sales and NOT dependent on any world trends. I spend more time watching the Business News than world/cultural/war events now. A little more healthy spiritually, methinks.

    *Side note – as far as you starting your own ‘religion’, it’s been done:
    “Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wanted to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion.” L. Ron Hubbard (Founder of Scientology)

  • arwan says:

    it’s a hard thing to do when i have to face my fears. i’m trying and trying but it’s not successful yet. really, it’s hamper my career and happiness. i’ll keep trying, so wish me luck mate.

  • Chris says:

    I’ve invested massive time and money preparing myself for success. In the process my habits have become the opposite of the “secrets” listed in your post. Your words have moved me to a mental/emotional state I’ve experienced previously, however, you raised a point that has me breaking down as I write this. A strong dose of reality can be very motivating. Normally I’d feel the positive effects for several hours. Then my highly developed ability to lie to myself would push away the harshness of truth so I could resume my downward spiral. But you illuminated a dark corner I hadn’t noticed before. I’m close to burnout from doing a wrong set of the right things and I need to get some help. It’s obvious I went pathological over a year ago and pulling just one more all-nighter to act upon the inspiration you’ve provided would not be intelligent although it’d be typical. Averaging a few hours sleep to every few days has become a point I boast on. No wonder I can’t attract a partner in the game, from the outside looking in I’m obviously fucked in the head! I’ll come back to thank you if I make it through this mental shift without losing touch completely. Right now, I’m compelled to leave my computer and wander the streets until I’ve wandered enough to not need to wander further whan I’ve wandered to that point

    • John Carlton says:

      Hi Chris. We’re all vulnerable to doing the things that humans tend to do… which are often at odds with what’s best for us (and our future).

      Personally, I tend to feel heavy, stupid and mildly depressed when I am deprived of sleep. It’s really one of the keys to high-end creativity and productivity — getting plenty of sleep, all the time. You can survive the occasional all-nighter (especially while still young), but making it a habit can fuck with your brain.

      I hope you find a good groove, and follow through on examining your belief systems and adjusting what needs to be adjusted.

      Good luck.

  • Nelson says:

    Hi John,

    Thanks for all the terrific posts.

    I have been following you for a few years now and am ashamed to admit that I have a man-crush on you (no, just messing with you!) I am ashamed to admit that I feel like I know you (a compliment to your writing), and that this sense of knowing you has given me a weird sense of satisfaction that makes me feel bigger than I actually am. I quote you to friends; even say things like “I know a top marketer and copywriter who says…” implying that in some way I have a connection to you. It’s quite pathetic, and I have found that it has given me a false sense of confidence.

    There’s a weird feeling of superiority that comes with staying in the loop in the Internet Marketing world and talking about who’s doing what, instead of doing things yourself. It’s a Weird and vicious cycle, that’s very celebrity and pop culture-ish. But now, I’m ready to step up, show my face and admit that I have fucked up, and I have learned a lot from my fuck ups, now I must grow and use said fuck ups as my strength cause without them I would not have any level of experience in anything…my life would have been boring and I would never wish that for anyone. Good and Bad; my experiences are my credibility.

    I’m ready to get into action mode, I’ve got the websites registered, prospects lined up, game plan put together and framework for my book and program all in place. Now it’s just
    completing them (fine details) and putting it all together.

    I am planning on attending your Action Seminar.

    However, I can ‘t make any promises. Money is tight, I suffered my second business failure in June (my close friend, mentor and business partner died of a heart attack (he was 48), thus leading to the failure…long story) and am in the hole $450,000, not bad since my first business failure left me $545,000 down…(I have had plenty of successes as well, I did make it out of the first failure, I’m not a complete loser, joking.)

    This last venture, I made sure that my investors got back everything they invested, which left me in the hole, (getting loans, credit cards and selling shit to pay it all back).

    stupid? – perhaps,

    noble – maybe,

    the right thing to do – no doubt. (One investor said to me “My RRSP (Canada’s 401K) was down 50%, when I called my banker, he said “the markets fluctuate, sorry” you came here face to face and handed me back my principal and apologized. That is integrity.”) If nothing else, I have my dignity and integrity left.

    Now this leaves me with $1000 in available credit to use for building my marketing practice and investing in education.

    The other issue is that I almost lost my wife last year, she was diagnosed with type 1
    Diabetes (at 24…WTF?), at first, she was misdiagnosed and nearly lost her life. The monthly expenses are heavy and more so, we are still adjusting to it. We are living for free with my in-laws, been here for 6 years (since the 1st biz failed, almost got out too until this last one tanked…someone is playing a very cruel game with me!) I can’t leave her with our 2 daughters for 2-3 days. I am hoping to make enough extra cash for all us to fly out there from Toronto. (for those wondering – I’m 28 and my wife is 24 our kids are 2 and 4 and half.)

    I thought about whether or not to include this paragraph as I didn’t want it to seem like I am going for sympathy…far from it. (Though it is nice to vent a little) I wanted to illustrate a point, if you go back and re-read the above paragraph (which is only half of the story of all that transpired in 2010, yes there’s more) and realize that…

    My wife is still with me! Not only that but after 6 years of marriage 9 years total, 2 kids, a hundred hair ball schemes and million dollar ideas, and living in an apartment in her parents house! We are still insanely happy together…we have literally been through thick and thin, and no matter what – we ARE together.

    Here’s the point

    Recently, I was asked how I was able to handle everything that happened this past year (with a smile, please don’t get me wrong, shit could be worse and I’m sure it is for many others) my response was…

    My business and all my money was taken from me, but I still have my wife. I have been humbled, and definately needed it, it has been the greatest year of my life!

    Number 11 on your list, IMHO…Get solid support and a build a good team, (whoever they are)for each of your goals. People you can truly rely on.

    Number 12 – Be humble, work with dignity and keep a quiet confidence about everything you do.

    All the best in 2011 to you and everyone who reads this.


    P.s. sorry for the long post! I guess I had a lot to say.

    • John Carlton says:

      Hi Nelson. Getting your act together is a process, remember. There are no magic solutions for fixing stuff like massive debt and being in a hole… but does very much pay-off to be pro-active, and to get your goals together in realistic ways, and get after them in a coherent, well-planned way.

      I’m sorry to hear about your troubles. I tell everyone not to get into debt to come to any of my events, or to buy anything I offer. I’ve laid out the simple plan to do these things without rolling the dice (in a prior post this past year, the whole idea is notated… basically, take a second job and save all the money in a special account dedicated for your investments in events and products you want.)

      Just don’t let things get you down. Bad things happen to good people, life is unfair, we all go through periods where nothing goes right and it seems like the universe has it in for us.

      Hang tough, and make the best decisions you can as you adjust to whatever hand you’ve been dealt. You can’t do everything at once, which is where a sensible (and easy to implement) plan comes in handy.

      Do what you can, each day, to clarify your goals and take the steps you can take to reach them. A life well-lived is a life of movement guided by critical thinking.

      Good luck. It looks like you’re keeping your sense of humor, which is great. Remember that all things pass.

      • Nelson says:

        Thanks John for the reply! You are really doing something special here with your blog and your dedication to its readers. I look forward to the day we meet (hopefully it’ll be cause you are looking to partner with the hottest business and marketing strategist IN THE WORLD! BWHAHAHA…ok maybe a bit much, I’ll probably hire you for private mentoring…) lol

        I have successfully broken down all my goals and projects into daily tasks and as long as I follow through (with that damn “D” word!) I will be on pace to wipe out most, if not all of the obligations I have by the end of 2011.

        By the way, are you still selling the Action Seminar Recordings from 2010? I would love to, at the very least, be able to watch it…not as good as being there but it’ll still impact my life! I would have bought it when you were promoting it but was trying to save for the 2011 event.

        Thanks again for the reply!


  • Sami Parker says:

    Oh well this story is really amazing or I may say interesting, thanks for sharing such a nice post.

  • Thomas Green says:

    Hi John,

    Thank you for this post! I have been reading your post every day, first thing in the morning. I try to implement at least something from your post each day.

    It has really kicked my production into high gear and is making for a great start of the year.

    Thank you for taking the time to bring all this together for me!

  • Andrew says:

    Probably the best post I’ve ever read.


  • Doug Rawady says:

    Hey John,

    I just got around to checking out this post and it’s a doozy…an entertainingly written, no-holds-barred, success directive! Your Top 10 Secrets aren’t really “secret” at all, but it’s amazing how many people (myself included at times) upon being exposed to them act as if they’re hearing this stuff for the first time.

    Like the old saying goes, “There ain’t nothing new under the sun, just regurgitation.” Quite often, though, it’s the regurgitation that has the greatest impact. And dude, you’ve spit out one powerfully inspiring compilation of tips here in a way that truly cuts to the chase. I love it! As always, thanks for sharing.



  • Great post John.

    The old B&C (browse and collect) habit for good techniques keeps many from moving forward. (sometimes me)

    I love your observation about the D word and connection to playing a musical instrument! I have a dusty guitar that has been ‘played with’ for too many years.

    Time to master it, and in short order, other new skills!

  • Vince Samios says:

    The new year started with two burst pipes, bring on the good stuff!

  • Right now I’m starting to make this year my best year yet

  • […] this year. Heres the link to the original post, please visit his page and comment if you liked it:… –Start […]

  • Great points you’ve made and all very true! I especially liked your point in number three about treating sleep as an essential. This is one that I constantly find myself struggling with and it just has to become a priority. Thanks for the post!

  • Funny that I found this post. I just posted on a chat forum how I was sick of marketers that use the “It’s not your fault” sales technique over and over. “The gurus lied to you, so I’ll be your savior” type of thing.

    I suggested telling it more like it is. That ticked one guy off and he responded with something like, “Tell that to Carlton. He would be washing dishes if he listened to you”. Lol. Then I found this post.

    How are those dishes coming along?

    Great stuff, John.

  • I am definitely going to try to become a better animal this year. Better food, better rest, better sex…. Better life.

  • I would like to express appreciation to you for bailing me out of this type of trouble. After looking out throughout the world-wide-web and coming across notions which are not helpful, I believed my life was over. Being alive without the solutions to the problems you have sorted out all through your guide is a crucial case, and ones which could have adversely damaged my career if I had not encountered the blog. Your actual capability and kindness in taking care of almost everything was precious. I’m not sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t discovered such a solution like this. I’m able to at this moment relish my future. Thanks very much for the impressive and result oriented help. I won’t be reluctant to propose the website to anybody who needs and wants counselling on this situation.

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