The Ultimate Success Formula: 4 Steps to Do Anything

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Awaken the Giant Within" by Tony Robbins. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is Tony Robbins’ ultimate success formula? How can the ultimate success formula help you to achieve the life you want?

Tony Robbins’ ultimate success formula contains four steps to achieving any goal or vision. The first step (and perhaps the most important) is to decide what you want to accomplish. From there, you need to take the steps to achieve it, assess how effective your approach is, and adapt your approach accordingly. 

Find out how to use Tony Robbins’ ultimate success formula below.

Understanding the Ultimate Success Formula 

“The truth of the matter is that there’s nothing you can’t accomplish if: 1) You clearly decide what it is that you’re absolutely committed to achieving, 2) You are willing to take massive action, 3) You notice what’s working or not, and 4) You continue to change your approach until you achieve what you want, using whatever life gives you along the way.”

If you want to take action and achieve the life you want, Tony Robbins’ ultimate success formula is for you. Follow the steps of the ultimate success formula to achieve your goals and take steps towards your vision. 

The first step in taking control of your life is deciding to make a change. When you make a decision about what you want, you’re making a commitment to do anything necessary to bring that vision to fruition. This is the Ultimate Success Formula: 

  1. Decide what you want to accomplish: What do you want to accomplish? What is your goal? What do you want for your future?
  1. Take steps to achieve it: What steps can you take to achieve your goals? What do you need to do to get there? How can you take action immediately?
  1. Assess how effective your approach is: Are you getting where you want to be? Is your approach working? How can you make it better?
  1. Alter your strategy until you reach your goal: What can you do differently?

Step One: Decide What You Want to Accomplish

The first step of Tony Robbins’ ultimate success formula is about making decisions. Decision-making is like a muscle—you have to use it and strengthen it. Follow these steps to keep this muscle in tip-top shape and harness the transformative power of decisions: 

  1. Remember the power of decisions. Each decision—no matter how small—sets into motion a series of actions and events that ultimately shape your life. The best part is that you can make a decision anytime, so when you feel helpless or overwhelmed, remember that you can make a decision to change something. 
  2. Know that making swift decisions and actioning them is hard, but necessary. Make your decision wisely, but don’t mull over it endlessly; if you think about it for too long, you’re likely to lose your conviction and sway more easily even after you’ve made the decision. Be clear about the action that will flow from your decision, and immediately take a first step toward manifesting it. 
  3. Make a lot of decisions. Strengthen your decision-making muscle by using it often. Start right now with decisions you’ve avoided making. Once you get started, you’ll feel liberated and energized, which will inspire you to make even more decisions. 
  4. Learn from your successful and failed decisions. Instead of allowing failures to deter you from moving forward, consider them lessons in better future decision-making. 
  5. Commit to your decisions, but be flexible in your strategies. When you make a decision, you’re committing to a destination, but the route you take can change. You may find that you only know one route when you make the decision, but, over time, you discover a better way to get there. Keep your mind open to different approaches. 
  6. Enjoy your decision-making power. Decisions are powerful and empowering. They can be difficult, and sometimes they don’t turn out the way you expect, but making decisions is essential to shaping your destiny. 

Take Control of Your Destiny With Three Key Decisions

No matter your circumstances, there are three critical decisions that you make constantly—whether or not you realize it—which impact what you notice, how you feel, what you do, and who you become. Controlling these three decisions is the first step in controlling your life and your destiny: 

  1. Decide what you focus on.
  2. Decide what certain things mean to you. 
  3. Decide what you’re doing to produce the results you want. 

If you’re not living the life you want, change the way you’re making these three decisions moment-to-moment. This will help you to understand and implement Tony Robbins’ ultimate success formula. 

Step 2: Take Steps to Achieve It

Once you know what change you want to make, create a sense of urgency about making it. Often, people don’t make the changes they want to because they continually delay them. They know that the change would improve their lives, but they don’t muster up the motivation to actually do it. 

This lack of motivation often occurs because people have mixed emotions about change: They associate both pain and pleasure with it. Sometimes those mixed emotions come from a secondary gain, which is an often-subconscious association of pleasure with the bad behavior you want to change. For example, a smoker who wants to quit may associate pleasure with the thought of better health and the savings from not buying cigarettes, but she may also associate pleasure with the social aspects of smoking. These mixed associations prevent you from committing your full focus and energy to making the change. 

If you’re struggling to get enough motivation to make a change now, due to a secondary gain or something else, you need psychological leverage. Psychological leverage is a tool that makes the heavy burden of change more achievable, just as physical levers are used to lift heavy items. You gain this leverage when you reach the pain threshold, where the pain associated with continuing your behavior finally outweighs the pain of change. This is the moment when you feel you just can’t take it anymore, and that feeling gives you the motivation to finally take action. 

You can have external leverage, when someone or something pushes you to make a change—for example, when your spouse nags you to stop smoking or your doctor implores you to lose weight. However, you’re more likely to push back and rebel if someone else is pressuring you to change. 

By contrast, the most effective leverage is internal leverage, when you’re motivated to make the change for yourself. One way to gain internal leverage is by realizing that the behavior you want to change contradicts your personal standards, values, and principles. Realizing that you’ve failed to act in a way that honors your standards and your identity causes a lot of pain, which in turn creates a strong motivation to change. Gain insight into whether your behavior is undermining your principles by asking self-reflective questions, such as “How does this specific behavior support these specific values?” and “What kinds of actions support this specific value?”

Step 3: Assess How Effective Your Approach Is

When you work hard to pursue a goal, it can be disappointing when you don’t reach it—but there are two reasons that not reaching your goal does not equate to failure:

  1. You benefit from the experience of pursuing a goal. As we discussed, setting big goals is inspiring, and you can enjoy happiness and meaningfulness in the pursuit of them. By the same token, happiness is not contingent upon achieving your goals—rather, you must decide to be happy and make a consistent effort to be happy right now, and that joy will help you to succeed (even if that doesn’t mean achieving this particular goal). (Shortform note: Read our summary of The Happiness Advantage to learn about the scientific proof that happiness improves performance.) 
  2. In not reaching your goal, you could achieve something even better, even if it’s unexpected. Sometimes, the journey itself is more important than the finish line, not only because of the happiness and meaningfulness you feel, but also because it brings you through experiences that shape and prepare you for your destiny. For example, Little House on the Prairie actor Michael Landon had dreams of becoming a track and field star, but those aspirations were dashed when he was injured in college. However, the athletic training he’d done and the confidence he’d gained through the sport prepared him for an unexpected opportunity to audition for a role on the TV show Bonanza.

Review all of your goals every six months or so, and revise or reprioritize them as needed. You can also do a new brainstorming session at that point, and you may consider adding or eliminating some goals. There are various ways to reassess your goal and your approach: 

  1. Think about what you can learn from this situation. After gaining more knowledge and skill, you may be able to achieve this goal in the future. 
  2. Set a new goal that’s not only more achievable, but also inspiring enough to motivate and energize you, which will ease your disappointment. The new goal should be something you can immediately start making progress toward reaching. 
  3. Consider whether your goal is impossible, or if your timeline is impossible. You may simply need to allow more time to reach this goal. Extend your timeline for reaching this goal, bolster your patience, and brainstorm a new approach to achieve what you want. 
  4. Keep your expectations about the future optimistic, and don’t allow this disappointment to dictate your attitude about approaching goals and challenges in the future. 

Step 4: Alter Your Strategy Until You Reach Your Goal

For this step, you need to repeat step three until you find a strategy that works. Keep questioning how effective the approach is and whether it is taking you closer to your goals. 

Once you have found a strategy that works, stick with it until you achieve your goals. 

The Ultimate Success Formula: 4 Steps to Do Anything

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Here's what you'll find in our full Awaken the Giant Within summary :

  • How to make transformational changes to your life through small adjustments
  • How you create your destiny every time you start a sentence with “I am…”
  • Strategies to take control of your thoughts and emotions

Elizabeth Shaw

Elizabeth graduated from Newcastle University with a degree in English Literature. Growing up, she enjoyed reading fairy tales, Beatrix Potter stories, and The Wind in the Willows. As of today, her all-time favorite book is Wuthering Heights, with Jane Eyre as a close second. Elizabeth has branched out to non-fiction since graduating and particularly enjoys books relating to mindfulness, self-improvement, history, and philosophy.

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