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Aug 22, 2008

The First Law Of Action: A Refined Outcome Is Easier To Achieve

Well, my last two rants about the Law of Attraction “attracted” a lot of solid discussion, so I thought I’d carry the ball a little further.  If you missed the last two posts, check ‘em out now and join the comment thread:

Now on to our regularly scheduled (de)programming. :-)

The Laws Of Action:  What They Are All About

I recently described the age-old “Law of Action” (which I made up off the top of my head) as this:

To have more of what you want in life, you have to get clear on what you want, get emotionally invested in achieving it, act from a position of certainty, and keep yourself from self-sabotage.

That’s a mouthful, so I think I’ll start breaking it down into some smaller points which I’ll call the “Laws of Action.”  And when I say “Law,” I’m being a little bit facetious as very few things are actually universal laws.  But it seems a good antidote to the mainstream version of the Law of Attraction (the one that’s all about magic and not about action at all).

So let’s break the big law up into some nuggets that you can use right freaking now.  First up:

The First Law Of Action: A Refined Outcome Is Easier To Achieve

This is the First Law of Action because this is the one that most people miss, because they use fuzzy words like “more,” “better,” “happier.” The problem is, words like that don’t drive you to action because they are fuzzy.  And fuzzy don’t pay the bills.  If your outcome is fuzzy – like “I want to make more money” or “I want to lose weight,” then that’s not going to drive you to do specific things – the action part.

Tony Robbins had this funny trick he’d do in seminars.  Basically he’d ask someone, “Would having more money make you happier?”  Naturally, the person would say “Yeah!” and smile.  Then Tony would toss the guy a quarter and say “There.  You have more money.  Are you happier?”  Of course, the person would shake his head “no.”  Tony would shrug at the guy and say “Maybe you should start being more specific about what you want so you can start being happier.”

A Quarter Just Doesn’t Cut It

Whether you’re a Robbins’ fan or foe, he’s nailed this point.  Fuzzy goals create fuzzy, unfocused action.  I used to want to “make money” online.  For a few years I did make money, in fits and starts.  It sucked.  Then I decided to get very specific about what I wanted.  In February I started an experiment called the Freelance Smackdown where I took Christine O’Kelly’s freelancing book and put it to the test to get a specific result: $1000 – $2000 in 30 days doing nothing but freelance writing.

Because I got specific, I nailed it. And every month thereafter, I set specific goals for my freelance writing and nailed them, too.  Not because I’m magical, or I’m so fantastic, but because I got specific.  Instead of trying every strategy in the world, I tried specific things – and more importantly, I stopped pursuing other strategies – and the focus paid off.  Focus is key, because it helps you make distinctions about whether you’re taking the right actions to meet your specific results.  (Harry understands this.)

Here’s What You Need To Do

If you’re not getting what you want out of your goals, ask yourself whether you’ve refined it enough to take specific action.  Is your goal to “lose weight” or have you refined it to “exercise 30 minutes, 3 times a week?”  Or better yet, “Yoga on Mondays, jogging on Wednesdays, hiking on Fridays?”  Fuzzy goals leave you wondering about which way to go to achieve your goals.  By getting specific about the “what” and “how” parts of your goals, you are increasing the chance of taking relevant action.

So Start Typing And Put The First Law Into Action, Dammit

In the next 60 seconds, before you go onto another blog post, before you check your email, or twitter, or whatever, take a look at that big goal you have – the one that you want to make faster progress on – and begin refining it like this:

  • “I want more blog subscribers” -> “I want to add 100 subscribers in the next 60 days.”
  • “I want to make more money” -> “I want to make $5,000 in sales before Christmas”
  • “I want to lose weight” -> “I want to phase soda out of my diet in 30 days.”

Then post it in the comments.  The more you refine it, the higher your chance of getting off your ass and doing it.

If You Need Help, Ask For It

Not sure how to get more specific about your goals, put your current goal in the comments and I (and maybe my awesome readers) will help you out.   And when you’re done, subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss the upcoming Laws of Action.  Now get to it.  *whipcrack*

40 Responses to “The First Law Of Action: A Refined Outcome Is Easier To Achieve”

  • Aug 22, 2008 James Chartrand - Men with Pens

    I’m going to specifically NOT post what you’ve asked, for one simple reason.

    Recently, I decided to start taking decisive clear action on what I wanted in my life and what I didn’t. I realized that I had to sit down and think of what worked for me and what didn’t work for me across many levels and in many areas.

    And I started taking a stand. I began drawing lines. “Enough is enough. No more this – it’s not good for me. I don’t like that. It’s not good for me. I don’t want this. It’s not good for me.”

    The what I want is still fuzzy, and to be honest, I’ll keep it that way for now. I have a general vision and I’m getting a much clearer definition about what I want and need for myself by knowing what I *don’t* want.

    And that’s why I won’t answer you. I’m doing what you ask, only backwards :)

    James Chartrand – Men with Pens’s last blog post..Finding Your Ideal Reader

  • Aug 22, 2008 Dave Navarro


    You nailed it, though. The most challenging part of getting clarity is realizing how much you have to define what you *don’t* want. But doing that creates clarity in itself.

  • Aug 22, 2008 Tim Brownson

    I agree wholeheartedly on that Dave. I want to finish my e-book on stress so wtf am I doing commenting on and Stumbling your blog for?

    I have no idea, so I’m outta here!

  • Aug 22, 2008 Dave Navarro

    I don’t know … but keep doing it anyway :-)

    BTW, if you haven’t been following Naomi’s ebook tips on Ittybiz, you should be :-)

  • Aug 22, 2008 steph

    Great post!

    My husband’s told me this time and again. And I keep saying, but I can’t be specific, I don’t really know what I want! (Everything?)

    So he tells me to work backwards, as James is doing. But sometimes I get stuck on that. On what I don’t want. And I lament that for too long.

    While I was reading your examples at the bottom of getting specific, I felt something akin to fear, and it hit me: I can’t get specific because I’m scared to. I think there’s two reasons why.

    1. I’m afraid to commit to something. What if I want to change my mind? What if I choose the wrong thing? (I know, what’s the big deal? But still.)

    2. I am afraid that getting specific will hold me to something I fear I’ll fail at before I start.

    Huh. That’s a lot of fear.

    Thanks for making me realize this. It’s inspired a post – but I hesitate to say when exactly that will be written! :)

    steph’s last blog post..No Lamb For the Lazy Wolf

  • Aug 22, 2008 Michael Martine

    Dave, you are KILLING IT with these posts. I’m following you on this but I need to keep my goals private. :)

  • Aug 22, 2008 Dave Navarro

    @Steph –
    #1 – I’ve got news for you – you probably *will* change your mind, and that’s a great thing. When you get specific and try something, you discover more about what you really want, and that leads you closer to getting it. It’s like changing your majors in college … each experience helps you figure out what you really want.

    So go into it as an experiment. I did freelance writing as an experiment, and I’m enjoying it a lot more than the internet marketing stuff I was doing prior :-)

    #2 – Then set the bar small, to start. Failure is really cool, actually, because it’s a learning experience. You’re SUPPOSED to fail, it’s part of the process. Read this:

    Why Failure Costs Nothing And Success Can Steal Everything

    @Michael –
    Thanks, man. I think your goals are pretty refined as it is :-)

  • Aug 22, 2008 Karen Swim

    Dave, these posts have been so on target I can almost see them hitting that big fat bullseye in the middle of my forehead. I have weeded out so much of what I don’t want and like James my list of “dont’s” has really given me greater clarity. One of my immediate goals involves throwing a few new things at the wall to see what sticks. Yea, sounds crazy but as part of a longer term goal I realized that I need to expand to see what will be the best path to get me there. I know that I haven’t hit “that thing” yet which means branching out, trying some new things in my quest for the perfect fit. So this murky as heck comment really is crystal clear in my notebook, honest.

  • Aug 22, 2008 Dave Navarro

    @Karen –
    LOL – that’s great. You can still get clear on all the things you’re throwing at the wall –

    a) What has to happen to prove that it “sticks” and
    b) how long will you try each one?

  • Aug 22, 2008 Brett Legree

    I’ll go one step further, replacing “want to” with “will”.

    I will finish the draft of my book by December 31, 2008 (and I’m on track to do it).
    I will get a copy of it to Oprah by March 31, 2009 (if I have to hand deliver it).

    Sound good?

    Brett Legree’s last blog fridays – a shield for its shelter.

  • Aug 22, 2008 Karen Swim

    @Dave oooh good questions! I’ve committed to 60 days of trial and error. Of course some things may get booted sooner because it would be insane to commit to something that’s clearly not working (either doesn’t work for my style or doesn’t fit the parameters of my master plan). To prove it sticks, must noodle more but my initial thoughts are it has to be something I can sustain long term with a minimal investment of daily time (1hour tops) and I have to like it!

  • Aug 22, 2008 Dave Navarro

    @Brett –
    Sounds great :-)

    @Karen –
    Ahh, clarity …

  • Aug 22, 2008 Tara

    Well, today I feel good about goal-setting, because I just accomplished a long-term goal and sent out my first newsletter. It was small, but makes me feel SO good!
    My long-term goal is to be a full-time artist. I’ve figured out what I’d need to make per year (and thus, per month, per week, per day) but I seem to get hung up on actually making the products to sell to get to that goal (I sell a handmade, physical item, so before I sell it, I have to create it!)
    So, my short-term goal: make $1,000 in sales in September.
    That ’s still smaller than my long-term goal but closer to it than my current production. Baby steps.
    You know, now that I write it, I’m all nervous, afraid the writers and marketers will laugh at such a measly number. But. I’m doing it. I’m hitting “Submit”…

    Tara’s last blog post..The life of Yarn – in the studio

  • Aug 22, 2008 Dave Navarro

    @Tara –
    Here’s a tip: If someone laughs at you, they can screw off. :-)

    Keep making baby steps and the $ will increase …

  • Aug 22, 2008 steph

    Thanks, Dave, for the advice! I’ll follow that link soon, too.

    Talk about changing my mind in university. I was there five years deciding what I wanted out of a four-year program… :)

    As for setting the bar small…DUH. I actually never thought of that. Which tells you a lot about my personality, when I think about it.

    Thanks again!

    steph’s last blog post..Voluntary Lab Rat

  • Aug 22, 2008 Lodewijk

    There’s more to it than just defining it right, which you’ll undoubtedly write about in follow-up posts. But if you’ve got this one wrong, you’re heading for a very unsatisfying mess indeed.

    @Brett – To Oprah before my birthday? Hmm, wow! Now those are goals :)

    Lodewijk’s last blog post..A New Home

  • Aug 22, 2008 Brett Legree

    Hey Lode – when’s your birthday?

    Brett Legree’s last blog fridays – a shield for its shelter.

  • Aug 22, 2008 Lodewijk

    @Brett – euhm… March 31?

    Lodewijk’s last blog post..A New Home

  • Aug 22, 2008 Dave Navarro

    @Steph –
    Nothing wrong with that. Big decisions don’t need to be rushed.

    @Lode -
    What I’d hoped to impart in this post was the need to get “specific” rather than “right.” But yes, I’ll be going into more detail in upcoming posts to be sure.

  • Aug 22, 2008 Brett Legree


    :) Right *on* your birthday then!

    Brett Legree’s last blog fridays – a shield for its shelter.

  • Aug 23, 2008 Alex Fayle

    I want to launch in the next two weeks my email workshop and by the end of the calendar year be selling one a day.

    (Stumbled and Twitted)

    Alex Fayle’s last blog post..My Summer Someday List

  • Aug 23, 2008 Janice Cartier

    Dave- Excellent. Not posting that publicly, but will refine 2 things on my map. :) Great series.

    I think I remember reading that the LOA says that focusing on what you don’t want brings more of that into sight. Any thoughts there? I’ll go look again to see if I can find that.

    It seems like a good way to clarify to me, the what I don’t , that is.

    Janice Cartier’s last blog post..Not this Color, Exactly

  • Aug 23, 2008 Harrison McLeod

    My goals have nothing to do with business or blogging and they’re ones I’ve been wrestling with for the last 30 years.

    I can’t really say what I want, but like James, I know what I don’t want. I’m at a point of enough is enough, too. I’ve gotten a lot bolder with many things across the board. The hardest part is stepping outside the comfort zone when you know deep down in your soul you have to do exactly that if you’re going to make any kind of progress at all. Each of us is our own worst enemy.

    Yes, Dave, I understand exactly what you’re talking about.

    Harrison McLeod’s last blog post..Finding Your Ideal Reader

  • Aug 24, 2008 Lance

    Reading this, it just makes so much sense – when we quantify our goals, they become achievable because we’ve got a target we’re aiming for. And, I think I am missing this in areas of my life.

    I want do resistance training 3 times/week.
    I want to double my blog readership within the next 60 days.
    I want to write a guest post on another blog within the next 90 days.

    Lance’s last blog post..Sunday Thought For The Day

  • Aug 24, 2008 Dave Navarro

    @Alex –
    Thanks for the stumble/tweet.

    Have you mapped out your plan for how to market it thru end of year yet?

    @Janice –
    Glad you liked. :-) Refine away …

    Re: the LoA … without the “magic” of attraction, you can look at focusing on what you don’t want as two sides of the psychological coin – let’s take making money for example:

    Focusing on fear: “I’m worried about being broke … I’m scared of what will happen if I don’t make more money …” –> Makes you more likely NOT to take action to support your goal.

    Focusing on personal standards: “I refuse to be broke – I will not tolerate going through today without doing something that will move me forward on my financial goals … I won’t settle for inaction.” –> much more likely to take action :-)

    There’s nothing wrong with focusing on what you don’t want if it’s for the purpose of taking action against it. If your garden is full of weeds, you’d better focus on each and every one if you to purge those suckers.

    Don’t focus on fear. I think what the LoA attempts to translate is that if you’re locked into focusing on fear, you won’t take the kind of action you need to rise above … and lo and behold, you manifest it … But in reality, you’re just settling for it.

    When you say “focusing on what you don’t want brings more of that into sight.” think about the phrasing of that … if you’re looking for more of it, more of it will come “into sight” … the same way that wen you buy a new car or outfit you see it everywhere because you’ve elevated its relevance to your own mind.

    @Harry McAwesome –
    When you say “enough is enough,” you do indeed get bolder … :-) Since we’re both movie buffs, I can recommend that one easy way to step outside the comfort zone is to role-play … imagine that kick-ass action hero is helping you through the issue. Do what they would do … and rock it.

    @Lance –
    That’s great definition there. Now the next step is to put the first and third points on your schedule and map out a plan for the second one …

  • Aug 24, 2008 Harrison McAwesome

    @Dave: Already ten steps ahead of you.

    And I don’t need the action hero’s help – I am the action hero ;)

    Harrison McAwesome’s last blog post..Drive-by-Shooting Sunday: Yes to Me

  • Aug 24, 2008 Dave Navarro


    Wish I had more bandwidth .. Would love to be part of your Escaping Reality game. Looks fantastic.

  • Aug 24, 2008 John Hoff - eVentureBiz

    Whenever I hear someone say more money would make them happier I tell them, is it really the money that would make you happier or the benefits that money can provide?

    We don’t want the money, we want the freedom to travel. We don’t want money, we want to buy name-brand products . . . etc.

    Focus, like you say, is so key. The problem I find is most people just don’t know the right questions to ask themselves (and others).

    I have many goals, of course. I’ve even worked many of them backwards which always helps bring things into clear steps. The problem is, they’ve been pushed aside and have been collecting dust, kinda like my business plan.

    Thank you, Dave. This post has inspired me to pull them out again and refocus. We so easily drift away from our true goals, don’t we?

    My (our) #1 goal right now – to allow my wife to quite her job as a wedding planner and stay home with our kids while doing a part time business making beaded jewelry.

    I actually have not focused this enough for us. There are many avenues to explore, some of which might get us there faster but at the cost of slowing down on our current business, eVentureBiz. But that’s my passion, so should I starve that for another goal?

    Any insights before I start my backwards time table?

    Thanks ;)

    John Hoff – eVentureBiz’s last blog post..Fluffy’s Guide To Securing Your WordPress Blog – Post 1

  • Aug 25, 2008 Alex Fayle

    Marketing plan – right – added to the to-do list. (I have it in my head, but just not formalized – thanks for the reminder!)

    Alex Fayle’s last blog post..When Too Much Stuff Happens: Nada Thomson Interview

  • Aug 25, 2008 Jamie Simmerman

    GOALS! You had to pick on my weak spot this morning? :D

    I am awful at setting goals. I usually just sit down with a huge to do list and plug away until I either pass out from exhaustion or get everything finished. Consequently, I spend a lot of nights with keys stuck to my forehead. Yeah, I guess setting goals would help that.

    My goal is to complete a time schedule for each workday today and stick to it at least three days this week. Wow, that feels better all ready. Thanks Dave!

    Jamie Simmerman’s last blog post..Do You Have What it Takes to be a Top Blogger?

  • Aug 25, 2008 Jamie Simmerman

    A second goal, inspired by James’ post this morning, ( )is to stop reading all my posts in my feed reader and visit my favorite websites and let my favorite bloggers know how great they are.

    Let me start that one right now.

    Thanks for inspiring me to be more structured, focused, and motivated. Your posts are exactly what a need many days and have been a real blessing. Thank you Dave.

    Jamie Simmerman’s last blog post..Do You Have What it Takes to be a Top Blogger?

  • Aug 25, 2008 Janice Cartier

    Dave – That’s a wonderful way of distinguishing the difference. I lifted their words right out of the copy of the Secret that a friend gave me. It is not the original version of the LOA that I read and like much better.
    I “refined” and posted about it today because there was a huge gaping hole in my production goals. We’re all going to owe you a good pair of boots for all the fab a$$s kicking you do. ;-)

    Janice Cartier’s last blog post..How Many, How Much?

  • Aug 25, 2008 Jenny

    I do need help! I’ve been trying to lose weight for 2 years and at first I did really well and lost 20 pounds, some came back and now I have pretty much stalled where I am!

    Your post definitely is invoking thought in my head! I may have to re-read these posts again and sit down and work on pinpointing the goals more concisely.

    Jenny’s last blog post..Holy Macaroni!

  • Aug 26, 2008 Carole

    I’m discovering that it’s really, really hard for me to be specific and nail my goals down. Every time I start to clarify one, I find three others that it depends on. (Must do THIS before moving on to THAT….)

    That said, I’m going to find a way to clear my plate enough that I can start calling and/or writing book publishers (and/or authors who may be able to help…) to find out what steps to take to help my father-in-law get his book published — and I’m going to do it by mid-September.


    Carole’s last blog post..Twitter Updates for 2008-08-24

  • Aug 26, 2008 Dave Navarro

    @John –
    Freedom’s the good stuff. I’m sure you and your wife will figure out how to get that part time business cranking.

    What I’d suggest is to find someone who’s in the early-mid stages of doing the same thing and asking them for some lessons learned.

    @Alex –
    That’s what I’m here for :-)

    @Jaime -
    “No mercy!” Now rock that schedule.

    Glad to help you out.

    @Janice -
    I’m size 11 :-)

    @Jenny –
    Always keep in mind that you did it before, so you can do it again – that will help keep you going when it seems tough.

    @Carole –
    Sometimes it’s easier to focus on what you *don’t* want your goals to include, and that can help you get clarity and refine it. Good luck with the book publishing!

  • Aug 27, 2008 Gina Ryan

    Goals …out of my head and on to the screen.
    I want 10 full pay client hours per week by October 15th
    get website and blog viewed
    find prof help in getting the word out
    any suggestions are greatly appreciated from this web newbie
    I know my work but the web is blowing me away as to how to get in and be seen.
    Aloha to all!

  • Aug 28, 2008 Lodewijk

    @Gina – I just went over and viewed your website. So you can scratch that of your list as completed. Couldn’t find a blog though. (I think it’s kind of cool that you live in a town called Haiku!)

    Just kidding of course, but I noticed that your first goal is pretty specific, but the other ones need work. And I couldn’t help but pull a Tony Robbins trick myself :)

    @Dave – We were talking about the same thing. Being specific in your goals was what I meant with “getting this right”.

    I think it’s better to have specific goals that are ‘wrong’ than unclear goals that are ‘right’. The former makes sure that we find out soon that we’re not on the right track. Or as Brett says: Fail early. Fail often.

    Lodewijk’s last blog post..Review week 34-2008; Goals, blog and productivity habits

  • Sep 1, 2008 Ntarugera François

    Once you come up to understand how to combine both self-sabotage&the one around you you finally stage strategy how to avoid it. It is always more wise to clarify your goals rather than waiting others to do it for you.

    Keep writing even if it needs to sleep on a dead lake which doesn’t move any more. Should we call that desert area with dangerous heat?

    Ntarugera François

  • Mar 11, 2009 Designer jewellery

    Very nice information. Thanks for this.

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