As a culture, we overlook the very basic and simple. We are so caught up in the complexity of things that we forget or brush off the fundamental aspects of life. Then we wonder why we didn’t see the results we expected.

In order to succeed, you need a simple and concrete plan, something exempt from all the glitter and hype and specifically tailored for you. Whether you’re training for a competition, trying to improve conditioning, quitting smoking, taking an exam, or trying to be a better employee, you need a plan. Again, this concept is very simple. The only thing that fails people is discipline. However, if your goal is truly important to you, discipline won't be an issue and you won't make excuses.

If you were anything like me, you spent a good part of your day reading endless Q&As, forums, websites, and training logs. This isn’t a completely bad thing because I got some good ideas, but I was in denial. I was fat and weak and I thought I was right about everything regarding weight training. I even had the impression that I was getting stronger just by sitting at a computer. My idea of a good source of information was an internet troll who shared my attitude. Luckily, I see things differently now.

With a little patience, discipline, and a simple, effective plan, things will move in the right direction. Make a plan, persevere, and get it done (prepare, perform, and prevail). In reality, it can be difficult to come up with a solid plan. There is too much information out there on just about every subject you can think of. A practical attitude and commonsense should steer you away from idiots. Follow these rules to be successful.

Rule 1: Research
First things first, raise your awareness of your particular goal whether it’s training for powerlifting, training for tennis, curing an addiction, or building a better business. Each aspect is different. Try to consult with people you trust and are knowledgeable on the subject, preferably a local coach, tutor or guide. The internet is OK, but make sure the person you’re listening to has good credentials and proof to back up his praise. Don’t overlook books.

Have self-awareness. Accept your current level and progress slowly. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different methods if you get stuck. It’s valuable experience to see for yourself which methods work and which don’t.

If possible, find others with the same interests and goals. Having partners is a critical component of success because they expect you to be there for them and you expect them to be there for you. You build camaraderie and you have competition pushing you to be better.

Rule 2: Prepare
Create a plan with the research and contacts you have made. Visualize yourself actually performing your plan. Think it through step by step.

Make small goals. Don't get caught up in the future. Think of it this way—if someone is trying to dunk a basketball but he can’t touch the backboard, he’s setting himself up for failure. A better goal would be to actually touch the backboard and then progress up the net on to the rim box so on and so forth.

For example, if you have a bad habit that you want to kick such as soda consumption, limit the amount you consume on a weekly basis.
Week 1: 4 sodas
Week 2: 3 sodas
Week 3: 2 sodas
Week 4: one soda
Week 5: no soda

The goal has been met. Simple.

Rule 3: Take action
Now that you have a plan, do it! Keep track of your progress from day to day, week to week, and/or month to month. This is where all the learning, changes, and experience set in. The only person holding yourself back is you.

Rule 4: Maintain
Keep progressing and don’t stop. Be a role model to those younger than you or take someone with less experience under your wing. Someone did that for you.

These are four rules that will never fail. Keep it basic, simple, and to the point.