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When you begin to plan your long-term future, one of the most valuable exercises you can engage in is called ““zero based thinking.”” In zero based thinking, you ask this question, ““Knowing what I now know, is there anything that I am doing today that I wouldn’t start up again today, if I had to do it over, knowing what I now know?””
No matter who you are or what you are doing, there are certain things in your life that, knowing what you now know, you wouldn’t get into again today if you had them to do over.

It is difficult, if not impossible, for you to make progress in your life if you allow yourself to be held back by decisions you have made in the past. If there is something in your life that you wouldn’t get into again today, your next question is, ““How do I get out, and how fast?””

Apply zero based thinking to the people in your life, both business and personal. Is there anyrelationship in your life, that knowing what you now know, you wouldn’t get into? Is there any person that you have hired, assigned or promoted that, knowing what you now know, you wouldn’t hire back again today? Is there any person that you are working with or for that, knowing what you now know, you wouldn’t get involved with again today? Be perfectly honest with yourself when you ask and answer these questions.

Evaluate Each Area of Your Life

Examine every aspect of your work life and career. Is there any job that you have taken on that, knowing what you now know, you wouldn’t get into? Is there any part of your business or work, that knowing what you now know, you wouldn’t start up again? Is there any activity, process, product, service or expenditure in your business that, knowing what you now know, you wouldn’t embark upon again today, if you had to do it over?

After people and work considerations, look at your investments. Is there any investment of time, money or emotion that, knowing what you now know, you wouldn’t get into again today, if you had to do it over? If the answer is ““no””, how do you get out, and how fast?

Circumstances Are Continually Changing

Fully 70% of the decisions that you make will turn out to be wrong in the fullness of time. When you made the decision or commitment, it was probably a good idea, based on the circumstances of the moment. But now, the situation may have changed and it is time to ““zero base”” it based on the way things are today .

You can usually tell if you are in a zero based thinking situation because of the stress that it causes. Whenever you are involved in something that knowing what you now know, you wouldn’t get into, you experience ongoing stress, aggravation, irritation and anger.

Sometimes people spend an enormous amount of time trying to make a business or personal relationship succeed. But if you zero base this relationship, the correct solution is often to get out of the relationship altogether. The only real question is whether or not you have the courage to admit that you were wrong and take the necessary steps to correct the situation.

What Is Holding You Back?

If you want to earn a certain amount of money, ask yourself, ““why am I not I earning this amount of money already?”” What is holding you back? What is the major reason that you are not already earning what you want to earn? Again, you must be perfectly honest with yourself.

Look around you and identify people who are earning the kind of money that you want to earn. What are they doing differently from you? What special skills and abilities have they developed that you have not yet developed? What skills and abilities do you need to acquire if you want to earn the same kind of money they are earning? If you are not sure, go and ask them. Find out. This is too important for guesswork or chance.

Determine Your Level of Skills And Ability

Do a skills inventory on yourself. First, identify the key result areas of your work. These are the tasks that you absolutely, positively have to fulfill in an excellent fashion in order to do your job well. What are they?

In every job there are seldom more than 5-7 key result areas. These are critical tasks. You must be excellent at each one of them in order to do the whole job for which you are paid. You must be good at every one of these tasks if you want to earn the kind of money that you are capable of earning.

Here is an important discovery: Your weakest key skill sets the height at which you can use all your other skills. Your weakest key result area, whatever it is, determines your income in your field. You can be absolutely excellent at everything except for one key skill, and that skill will hold you back, every step of the way.

In what area, at which skill are you the very best at what you do? What particular skill, or combination of skills, is responsible for your success in your career to date? What is it that you do as well or better than anyone else?

Identify Your Weakest Areas

Once you have answered these questions, you then look at yourself in the mirror and ask, ““What are my weakest skill areas?”” Where are you below average or poor? What is it that you do poorly that interferes with your ability to use your other skills? What is it that you do poorly, that other people do better than you? Especially, what key skills do you lack that are essential for your success? Whatever they are, you need to identify them accurately and honestly and then make a plan to improve in each area.

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