Spot your dot

Is there something in your life that you've always wanted to do or be, but despite its importance, you just never seem to be able to get started? What if you could have a clear pathway to help you overcome the obstacles that stand in your way? Read on. You'll get a really simple way to jumpstart yourself into action, and create the life you want.

Still here? You should know that this site doesn't have an app or any software solutions for you. Instead, we'll show you a simple system to help you achieve your goals using just a piece of paper, the size of a business card. The system has five basic principles...

  1. Direction
  2. Action
  3. Repetition
  4. Destination
  5. Inspiration

Then repeat. That's it.

But wait... maybe I've gone ahead of myself. Why should this matter to you at all?

You are being bombarbed with a massive overload of information and activities

How many times have you clicked on an online video, realized that it was over two minutes long, then closed it because you didn't have the time or attention span to complete it? That's the world today. You have so much to do in your day and so much information coming at you, that if it isn't "BREAKING NEWS," it doesn't get through. You have dozens of apps on your phone that you never use. Your email inbox is overflowing with unread messages. And the list goes on! As a species, our brains haven't had time to evolve to handle this amount of stuff.

A few people will thrive in this environment. Most of us won't

If you're already highly motivated to make a change, you might find ways to break through the clutter to do the things necessary to develop yourself... like attend classes after-hours, or consistently go to the gym.

The rest of us will struggle. We'll be distracted, and trapped by the routines of our lives. We'll have an idea of what we want, but procrastinate and hold off on getting started. It's too easy to do nothing about the things you WANT to do, because you're so busy dealing with things you HAVE to do.

To make progress, go small to grow BIG

You can't fight this Overload Monster head on. It will defeat you. It's too strong. You will have great intentions to make changes in your life, but the monster will demand your attention. To defeat it, you have to go small. You have to find something small you can do, that's fully within your control. Then you have to repeat that simple thing, until it becomes routine. You have to find a series of these simple things that you'll repeat, all the way to your goal.

In other words...
you have to SPOT YOUR DOT

Un-app yourself

Apps are great. But they are tools that your Overload Monster can use against you. Instead, work with something tangible. Something that you can keep in your handbag or wallet. I've created the Spot your dot card so it's easy to keep and carry, and can be with you when you need it, to support you on your journey.

Card FRONT

Step 1: Direction

What's a specific achievement that will take you in the direction you want to go? For example, if your direction is to become healthier, can a specific achievement be to lose 10 pounds? If your direction is to improve your relationships, can a specific achievement be to become a better listener? Once you decide on a general direction, think about something specific you want to achieve that can get you moving. This is your goal. On your card, note your goal under the space, "my goal."

Step 2: Action

It's not good enough to have a goal. You're going to have to shift your focus away from your goal and toward the process. Think of it as "cause and effect." What event makes another event happen? To use a sport analogy, "What arm action causes the ball to move in a particular way?" You'll get better by focusing on your arm, not the ball.

To continue the sport analogy, you'll need to drill even deeper than just shifting your attention to your arm. There are tiny changes you can make that will help give you mastery of the action. Once you identify, or have someone point out that small change, it can have a big impact on the end result. That's your dot! And when you spot it, you'll have a simple activity that you can practice, until you can perform it repeatedly without thinking.

What's your personal dot? If you're going to achieve your goal, what simple action can you identify that if you can master, will take you one step closer to your goal? If you want to become a better listener, maybe you can focus on stopping yourself from interrupting others when they're speaking. Maybe you want to become happier by identifying things to be grateful for. Maybe you want to become a better leader by noticing when you can give someone in your team some genuine praise and positive feedback.

As you try to spot your dot, look for a small action over which you have full control, and can complete despite your existing routine. Once you think you've spotted you dot, write it under "my dot."

Step 3: Repetition

Once you've spotted your dot, you need to track how often you perform that specific activity. For example, if you want to stop biting your nails, pay attention to every time you put your finger in your mouth. Fill in a circle for each time you do. Soon you'll make a shift. Instead of tracking when you put your finger in your mouth, you'll be tracking how many times you stopped yourself from putting your finger in your mouth. That's a behavior shift toward your goal, and a new dot for you to track.

To illustrate another example, I want to improve my empathy when dealing with others. In the beginning, my dot was identifying when I missed opportunities to show empathy during conversations. Once I did that for a while, I changed my dot to situations where I added empathy instead. Don't think of it as, do "A", then "B", then "C", and so on. It's more like, do "A", then do "A" again, then again, and repeat until you think it's time to move on to "B". Don't move from one dot to another until you feel like you've mastered the current one. Track each of your actions on the card using the "seven circles."

Step 4: Destination

Your Spot your dot card has seven tracking circles. Does this mean that you only have to repeat your activity seven times and you're done? Nope. I expect you to use multiple cards as you make progress. But you should pause at a specific date to ask yourself the following questions and decide on your next move...

  1. Have I been doing my dot?
  2. Should I continue with the same dot?
  3. Should I move on to a new dot?

You might reach your deadline and fail to fill out any circles at all! This could be because you didn't make an effort. In that case, you should think about if this goal is really important to you, and if you want to continue trying. If it is, renew your commitment and try again.

Or, you might have all seven circles completed, but want to continue practicing the same activity using a new card. Finally, you might decide that it's time to go on to another dot. While this end date is a destination, it's not your final destination. You're just chunking your progress into more manageable segments. Think about a realistic time for you to complete your dot activity seven times, and write it on your card where it says, "end date."

Card BACK

Step 5: Inspiration

This section is on the back of your Spot your dot card, but don't think of it as something you do at the end. When you set a goal for yourself, reflect on why it's important.

I mentioned earlier, a example of stopping nail-biting as a goal. That was actually a personal example. I travel to London often and found myself frequently getting sick the week after I returned home. I tried loading up with vitamin C before my trips, but didn't see any improvements. Then I decided to spot my dot. My first dot was to stop biting my nails. Once I got control of that, my next dot was to use an anti-bacterial hand wipe every time I used public transport. So I had two goals that I worked on, identified the dots, and tracked every time I completed each activity. The result? I've noticed a dramatic drop in the number of times I get sick when traveling.

For every goal you set, write on the back of the card, "this is important to me because..." This will give your goal a deeper meaning, and help you to connect with the higher purpose behind your effort. Here are some examples:

Goal - To lose weight
Importance - To lead a more active life
Goal - To listen more
Importance - To be a better leader
Goal - To not overreact in certain situations
Importance - To build a better marriage
Goal - To find work-life balance
Importance - To protect my health
Goal - To create better sleep habits
Importance - To be more alert at work
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But... does this really work?

My name is André Bello. I'm the Caribbean commercial manager for Virgin Atlantic Airways. I've also been coaching and creating corporate solutions around behavioral change, for more than one hundred organizations over the past ten years. I've created unique software applications that apply the nature of dots to improve business results through behavioral change. One such tool was created to track the sales activities of a team managing millions of dollars under investment. Another app reduces HR effort in delivering thousands of employee surveys in nine countries. And now, I want to ensure that the same thinking that has been so effective in the corporate world, can be available to help YOU with your personal goals.

This method might be perfect for you. It might not. But I will encourage you to give it a try. It's underscored by solid theory and lots of practical experience, and can make a huge difference for you. The key is to identify something small to start with and keep moving forward in a way that doesn't interrupt your regular routine too dramatically.

Good luck on your journey!

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