You will recall a previous post where I referred to the power of positive thinking.
Many books have been written on the subject, the most famous of which is Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.
The idea is that the more you think about what you wish to become, the more likely it is that you will grow into that person.
But it’s a lie.
Actually, more than that, it’s pure unmitigated crap.
How many people have you met who have only thought about the person they wish to become and, hey presto, by some transcendental process a new being has emerged (think of a film like the Fly)?
Don’t get me wrong. I am not denigrating the whole paradigm. In fact, I think, as a process, it is important in reconnecting with your mojo, but it has the feel of some elixir that is all powerful.
I am well aware that a thought is the genesis of any great project, life or accomplishment, but before you start espousing the total majesty of positive thinking, be prepared to:
overcome your greatest fears
focus on the habits that are holding you back
enter into a non-negotiable pact with your (lazy) self that you will do something different
stop talking so much.
I don’t talk on motivation where I hope to raise you to the ceiling of expectation with my positive affirmations, and then leave you to flounder in your own thoughts. For me the key to any process of change (which underlies the idea of positive thinking) – backed by a heavy dose of realism – is focus.
But before focus you have to ardently desire something different.
I don’t mean the sort of … “it would be nice” type of self-discussion. I mean the sort of discussion where you agree unreservedly to put every moral fibre on the line and commit every waking hour to your new project, self or accomplishment.
I think it was Steve Jobs who said “Passionate people change the world”.
I don’t know about you but when I believe in myself, a cause or find an inner connection that lifts me to a higher place, I am f***ing passionate as hell.
I don’t have a problem getting into the zone. It happens pretty much of its own accord.
Once you have connected with your cause, you need to work out a process of change.
Starting with the end in mind is easy where you can see the end, but, of course, if you don’t yet have a picture of what the end looks like, then doing something different may be enough to guide you in your endeavours.
If you take something real like changing your exercise regime, you need to have some destination in mind perhaps more than just getting fit.
What does getting fit feel or look like?
Does it mean that you can walk the stairs without being out of breath or is it more ambitious like completing a 10k run?
Whatever it is, you have to give yourself something to focus on, or, no matter how focused you think you are, you will give up sooner than you think.
Don’t confuse this process with goal setting (although there are some similarities).
This is about working on one or two things that will make a major difference in your life.
They could fall into any number of categories:
saving more money
spending less money
earning more money
working shorter hours but being more productive
spending more time each week with your family
enjoying your surroundings
finding time to think
taking up a new hobby and being more than just proficient
doing just one thing that you have been putting off in your life.
You may have read about 21 or 30 day programmes being the period of time it takes to change a habit. It seems reasonable to me, but if it is a task, it takes as long as it takes. If it is an attitude or lifestyle change, then it is likely that you will be working on the project for the rest of your life (let these words sink in).
If you haven’t yet found what you are looking for in life then you are not alone. Many people are searching. Indeed as long ago as 1953 Rollo May wrote about this very issue in his book Man’s Search for Himself.
But this post is not a recitation of another person’s writing.
It is about doing something.
You might think I am being contrary, but far from it.
My point is this: if all you had to do was think positive then why aren’t:
(a) people doing it religiously every day?
(b) acting on those positive thoughts – deeds count not words?
(c) and changing direction to unify their thoughts with their deeds?
Change is much much harder that people think.
If anything, by dint of a programme of self-sabotage, many people have to come believe that what lies ahead is dictated, to a large extent, by what has gone before.
How many of us are willing to try something new, off the beaten the track or just allow ourselves to think differently?
The truth is that those thoughts are subsumed by something more powerful: fear of failure.
And this isn’t the type of fear that is controllable with a few deep breaths, a girding of the loins and a leap into the unknown. No this is the type of fear that is fashioned and developed over many years of scripting.
All of us have a dream of one kind or another. It may be to emulate our hero, to become a superstar or to change the world in some way.
When we are young nothing seems impossible.
But at some stage – and it appears to be moving down the age scale – we strangle those dreams or others do it for us.
Don’t let your dreams stay buried on the shelf.
Start living a few of them. Even changing the hour you start work can seem quite radical but you will find it will give you a different perspective on the week. I know it sounds way too easy but sometimes we let our routine get in the way of our happiness.
If you want to change then do something different.
Just being is sometimes enough but the market, our circumstances and life, doesn’t allow us to wallow for too long hoping that life will get better.
Have a vision for your life.
Think about the becoming (focus on the feelings like happiness, love and financial independence) and not just the label: “I want to be successful”.
Take daily action but don’t repeat yesterday’s behaviour if you want to change tomorrow’s outcome.
Overcome your fear by starting before you are ready.
Sometimes you just have to leap.
If you must recite a positive mantra, make sure the outward manifestation mirrors what you say. Too many people say they are positive, but they are as miserable as hell judging by how few times they smile, laugh or enjoy their surroundings.
Stop reading books that promise the earth.
They seldom, if ever, deliver.
Take inspiration from nature.
You can learn a lot about adaptation, survival and staying in balance.
If all this sounds to remote then talk to someone about what you really value, and ask yourself why you are not living out the life you desire.
Put the positive self-affirmation on the back burner: act on more of your existing thoughts.
If that voice keeps telling you to do something – speak to someone, visit a new place or recreate yourself – then chances are the voice might be right. If all you want to do is coerce it, talk it round or deceive it in some way, then sure as hell you will regret at least some of your decisions.
Living a full life is not easy. There is so much to contend with and so little time to get everything done, but don’t fool yourself into believing that ++++ thoughts alone will bring to a place of self-fulfilment and happiness.
Only you can do that each and every day you live.