Creating A Cycle Of Success

| | Personal Leadership

“New Year’s resolutions rarely work, because good intentions don’t often survive a collision with reality.” –Seth Godin

You have no doubt heard of the term “vicious cycle”.  It’s that incredibly frustrating experience of repeating the same patterns over and over with less than desirable outcomes.  It’s “vicious” because every time you think you have outsmarted the cycle, somehow there it is again.  It can seem like there is no way out!

The good news is that it is also possible to consciously create a “cycle of success”.  The cycle of success is what can help you avoid those unpleasant “collisions with reality” Seth Godin refers to by instead adapting given reality.

In thinking about my own successes and failures this last year I began to see a pattern.  With each success I completed a cycle of 5 practices below at least once, sometimes more than once, for the same intention or goal.  I call this the “Cycle of Success”.  On the other hand, with each thing I failed to do or failed in my attempt to do I unwittingly took an “off-ramp” from the Cycle of Success by failing to complete one or more of these practices.


Get Clear:  Clarity is power.  Get clear about what (the outcome) and why (why this outcome is worth pursuing) before you begin anything.

Narrow Your Focus: Progress requires a sufficient concentration of effort.  When you find you are having trouble making progress no matter how hard you work consider you may need to narrow your focus even more.

Do the Work: Be mindful of confusing activity with actual work. Consider what the most important actions you must take to make progress and invest your energy in doing those.  Working very hard while making little progress is an indication you may not be doing the [important] work.  If you want to fully understand what I mean by “do the work” I suggest you read Do the Work by Steven Pressfield.

Pull the Weeds:  Our minds are the number one impediment to our success.  Don’t believe what you think!  Mind chatter can be an impediment to your personal success, just like weeds can be an impediment to an abundant harvest from a garden.   When you experience being stuck or stopped consider it is time to pause and go inward to “pull the weeds” in your mind before you can get the work done.

Celebrate and Learn:  Being able to see and acknowledge your progress will fuel your motivation to keep going when you need it most.  Mark your progress periodically by celebrating your successes, acknowledging both what you accomplished and what you have learned/how you have grown throughout the year.  When it comes to your failures big and small there is still much to celebrate – you took action, perhaps even took a risk, and learned something in the process.

My biggest stumbling block personally in 2012 was insufficiently narrowing my focus to make satisfying progress in all I set out to accomplish.  The “dark side” of my intense curiosity is I all too often take on too much and/or allow too many distractions.  This will be one of key things I work on this year.

What about you?  What will you be at work on to ensure you establish your personal cycle of success for 2013?


Enter A Comment

Jon Mertz   |   02 January 2013   |   Reply

Such a great way to approach this, Susan. Focus, do the work, pull the weeds…. wonderful things to do in order to move forward and achieve what we are called to do!

Resolutions don’t work. Using this cycle will!

All the best,


Susan Mazza   |   03 January 2013   |   Reply

Thank you Jon. Happy New Year! P.S. wondering what the “un-cycle” correlary would be 🙂

Lori Gosselin   |   02 January 2013   |   Reply

Hi Susan,
It’s interesting that you found yourself in this cycle and were able to identify it and then use it deliberately! I like it! Right now I’m in the first phase – get clear! It is so important – especially the why. It’s a great cycle to be caught in!

Susan Mazza   |   03 January 2013   |   Reply

Thanks Lori. It can be hard to resist the urge to jump right into action, but without clarity you can work really hard and make little meaningful progress! Here’s to a year being caught in the Cycle of Success!

Jennifer V. Miller   |   02 January 2013   |   Reply


Love the “pull the weeds”! And, I can totally relate to having too many things about which I’m curious.

Here’s to a focused, well-cycled 2013!


PS: LOVE the blog’s new look.

Susan Mazza   |   03 January 2013   |   Reply

Thanks Jen. It’s also good to have great friends like you around that help you pull your weeds!

P.S. Thanks for the feedback on the new look! It is amazing how different the blog looks and ALL I did was change the header image. A continued work in progress…

Kent Julian   |   02 January 2013   |   Reply

Excellent process! “Narrow you focus” and “pulling the weeds” are so essential. Thanks for the reminder.

Susan Mazza   |   03 January 2013   |   Reply

Thanks Kent. Wishing you many Cycles of Success in 2013!

Yahya Almarzouqi   |   03 January 2013   |   Reply

Very interesting article. I do agree with most of the points. I think it is a good start. However, I would like to add that cutting all the weeds out will remove all the excitement and joy of starting something. If we do not build passion along the way, then nothing will be achieved.

Yes, clarity of purpose, perseverance, focus and celebration of all victories are all good to have as parameters of the “formula”, but leaving along the way few elements that will be bringing excitement is the key element for continuity and the passion to pursuit till the end.

Don’t set limits to your mind; or you’ll lose seeing all the angles. There is an old saying that goes “the mind is like a parachute, it functions only when it is open”.

Susan Mazza   |   03 January 2013   |   Reply

Yahya, a very intriguing point that cutting all the weeds out will remove the excitement and joy. You and I may have very difference interpretations of “the weeds”. I think of weeds as the negative thoughts and beliefs that are holding us back. Those I suggest not just cutting down, but rather pulling out by the roots!

On the other hand, if you see the weeds as getting down on the ground and engaging with the complexities of things, being comfortable with chaos and open to discovery – now those kind of weeds are fabulous to spend time in. Yet if you want to make any meaningful progress at some point I believe you must get clear and focused enough to move forward in the face of the “weeds of chaos”. Thanks for making me think more deeply!

Pam Davis   |   03 January 2013   |   Reply

Thank you, well said. I find that to make resolutions stick there is a macro cycle of assessing priorities for the year in addition to each micro cycle for specific goals. Get clear on your overall goal and let projects go that no longer serve you.

Susan Mazza   |   09 January 2013   |   Reply

Yes Pam, I think there is actually a cycle for each one of these practices. Letting go is key as well and also inevitable if you truly narrow your focus. Thanks for engaging!

MarketechInteractive   |   03 January 2013   |   Reply

Agree with your list… narrow your focus and getting clear are the first steps. There is just one item I would add- if you want to make changes and stay with them, do them one step at a time until they become part of your routine, then focus on the next one.
Have a wonderful and successful New Year!

Susan Mazza   |   09 January 2013   |   Reply

My husband continues to try and teach me to do one thing at a time! I agree that lasting change often requires that we take one deliberate step forward at a time. I will continue to work on that this year. Thanks for engaging!

Yahya Almarzouqi   |   03 January 2013   |   Reply

You are welcome Susan. When I read your statement in paragraph 7 “pull the weeds”, I understood we should not listen to our mind, which could hinder the progress of reaching out to our goals. However, reading it again, I believe that you meant “self talk”. Now, yes “self talk” can be destructive to many people, unless we control it be replacing the negative thoughts with positive perceptions. Another method is thinking out of the box to remove all the in the box thoughts.

Delighted to share my thoughts with you Susan.


Susan Mazza   |   09 January 2013   |   Reply

Yes Yahya – there is a big difference between actual thinking and the self talk that runs through out mind. Thanks for clarifying.

Danilo Vargas   |   05 January 2013   |   Reply

Happy New Year Susan! An excellent primer on how to make a difference and get things done! Thank you!

Susan Mazza   |   09 January 2013   |   Reply

Thank you Danilo. Happy New Year to you as well!

Rubén Gonzalex   |   05 January 2013   |   Reply

Great thougts and I think the mostrar challenge must be create the cycle with all the Team. What do you recomend to achieve this

Susan Morosoli-Roeddiger   |   07 January 2013   |   Reply

Susan – I just keep feeling the weeds being pulled! You can’t have a beautiful, successful garden if the weeds (tho sometimes lovely to look at) keep taking the nutrients from the plants! And celebrating the successes! I have resolved to make a my new years resolution a “release” from the word origin of resolution. And thanks to Jon Mertz, was inspired to create my first blog! If you want to see my resolution plan, embedding mindfulness, check out my blog.
susanmorosol@wordpress.com. Thanks for this inspiring article and please put me on your blog list.

Susan Mazza   |   09 January 2013   |   Reply

Congratulations on starting your first blog Susan. So like Jon Mertz to inspire someone 🙂

What you provided is an e-mail address though – can you post the link to your blog so I can go check it out.

My we all “release the resolutions” and embrace many cycles of success in 2013!