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Natural Awakenings Boston

The Science of Success A Three-Variable Formula

Dec 31, 2019 04:40PM

by Bary Fleet

When setting goals, whether big or small, there is a scientific formula for success. 

Whether the goal is as simple as keeping New Year’s resolutions or as ambitious as becoming a millionaire, the principles leading to success are identical. 

While people can’t control what happens to them or the conditions around them, there are three aspects of response that control the experience afterwards. Cognitive psychologists have been teaching this for decades, proposing that there is an activating event, which is filtered by an unconscious belief, which then creates the subsequent conscious experience. More recently, Jack Canfield, in his book The Success Principles, describes the process as: Event plus Response equals the Outcome. The response is made up of the three variables which can—and must—be controlled: thoughts, images and behavior. These all combine to create the outcome, or the eventual experience.

For example, many people resolve to lose weight as they enter the new year. Here are the variables that need to be controlled:

Belief System

People need to believe that weight-loss is possible, and they must know what specific changes are necessary to lose the weight. Henry Ford is credited with saying, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re probably right.” He was acknowledging the power of belief to create experience.


It is important for people to imagine themselves getting on the scale and seeing the goal weight. It is important to imagine wearing smaller-sized clothing. Visualization is a powerful tool and a critical piece of the success process. If a person can’t picture themselves being successful, the process is doomed.


Success requires a change in behavior. People need to choose behaviors that are consistent with achieving the desired goal. Whether it is enrolling in a weight-loss program, or counting calories or choosing to forego sweets and midnight snacks. Old behaviors will not yield new results.

Implicit in this process is the need to let go of blaming and complaining. Successful people don’t blame outer circumstances or situations; they take responsibility and control that which is within their power. Successful people look at the results they are getting—or not—and adjust their responses. Sometimes that means getting additional information or thinking about the project in a new way. Sometimes it means reaffirming the visual image of what success looks and feels like. Sometimes it is changing strategy and behavior. 

Finally, without commitment there will be no success. When it comes to being successful, the journey starts with being totally committed to the goal and controlling the three variables of how we respond to every situation: what we think, what we imagine and what we do.

Dr. Bary Fleet, RScP, is a Canfield Certified Success Coach and is in demand as an inspirational speaker for organizations and individuals. He has served as a local church pastor and adjunct professor at several universities. His new book, Embrace Your Magnificance, can be purchased at See ad on page 8.

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