Rule III. _Search systematically and persistently._
When once you have started upon an effort at recollection, persevere. The date or face or event that you wish to recall _is bound up with a multitude of other facts of observation and of your mind life_ of the past. Success in recalling it depends simply upon your ability _to hit upon some idea so indissolubly associated with the object of search that the recall of one automatically recalls the other_. Consequently the thing to do is to hold your attention to one definite line of thought until you have exhausted its possibilities. You must pass in review all the associated matters and suppress or ignore them until the right one comes to mind. This may be a short-cut process or a roundabout process, but it will bring results nine times out of ten, and if habitually persisted in will greatly improve your power of voluntary recall.
Rule IV. _The instant you recollect a thing to be done, do it._
Every idea that memory thrusts into your consciousness carries with it the impulse to act upon it. If you fail to do so, the matter may not again occur to you, or when it does it may be too late.
_Your mental mechanism will serve you faithfully only as long as you act upon its suggestions._
This is as true of bodily habits as of business affairs. The time to act upon an important matter that just now comes to mind is not “tomorrow” or a “little later,” but _NOW_.
What you do from moment to moment tells the story of your career. Ideas that come to you should be compared as to their relative importance. But do this honestly. Do not be swayed by distracting impulses that inadvertently slip in. And having gauged their importance give free rein at once to the impulse to do everything that should not make way for something more important.
If, for any reason, action must be deferred, fix the matter in your mind to be called up at the proper time. Drive all other thoughts from your consciousness. Give your whole attention to this one matter. Determine the exact moment at which you wish it to be recalled. Then put your whole self into the determination to remember it at precisely the right moment. And finally, and perhaps most important of all,–
Rule V. _Have some sign or token._ This memory signal may be anything you choose, but it must somehow be directly connected with the hour at which the main event is to be recalled.
Make a business of observing the memory signs or tokens you have been habitually using. Practice tagging those matters you wish to recall with the labels that form a part of your mental machinery.
Make it a habit to do things when they ought to be done and in the order in which you ought to do them. Habits like this are “paths” along which the mind “moves,” paths of least resistance to those qualities of promptness, energy, persistence, accuracy, self-control, and so on, that create success.
Success in business, success in life, can come only through the formation of right habits. A right habit can be deliberately acquired only by _doing a thing consciously until it comes to be done unconsciously and automatically_.
Every man, consciously or unconsciously, forms his own memory habits, good or bad. Form your memory habits consciously according to the laws of the mind, and in good time they will act unconsciously and with masterful precision.
“‘Amid the shadows of the pyramids,’ Bonaparte said to his soldiers, ‘twenty centuries look down upon you,’ and animated them to action and victory. But all the centuries,” says W.H. Grove, “and the eternities, and God, and the universe, look down upon us–and demand the highest culture of body, mind and spirit.”
A good memory is yours for the making. But _you_ must make it. We can point the way. _You_ must act.
The laws of Association and Recall are the combination that will unlock the treasure-vaults of memory. Apply these laws, and the riches of experience will be available to you in every need.
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The purpose of this book has been to make clear certain mental principles and processes, namely, those of Retention, Association and Recall. Incidentally, as with every book in this _Course_, it contains some facts and instructions of immediate practical utility. But primarily it is intended only to help prepare your mind to understand a scientific system for success-achievement that will be unfolded in subsequent volumes.