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Success Through Positive Thinking: How to Achieve Your Goals by Overcoming Negativity
What's Really Standing in the Way of You Reaching Your Goals? Stop Making Excuses and Turn Your Ideas into Reality!
Whether it's starting a successful business, losing 20 pounds, or running a marathon, we all have goals in life, both big and small, short- and long-term, that we set for ourselves in order to achieve a higher state of happiness. A common factor among goals in general is that there is always something that stands in the way of our achievement of them. Or in most cases, it seems, several 'somethings'. That's just the way the universe works!
Now, this particular article is written in the context of making a business idea into a reality, but you will see that most of these examples apply to anything. In my opinion, one of the most ominous foes that stands in the way of success is relevant to just about everyone and applies to any goal of any size.
This towering obstacle, this giant sheer cliff of doom, this horrific hurdle is...(dum dum DUM!) negative thinking.
Why is Negative Thinking Such a Sonofabee?
Let's say your goal is to start a successful business and make a million dollars. (Don't pretend you've never dreamed about having a million dollars and all the things you could do, if only...) Now think about it, and be honest with yourself. Close your eyes and listen to the voices in your head (--and no, don't be ashamed, we all hear voices, and as long as they're not telling you to hurt people or do terrible things, it's perfectly normal--) and be aware of every thought that pops into your mind. Do you hear things like, "Ha! I wish! But that'll never happen." Or, "it's a nice dream, but don't get too attached to the idea or you'll only be disappointed."
Guess what, folks!? These are negative thoughts. And they're bad because they will only stand in your way of properly visualizing a goal and identifying all the practical steps toward making it happen. If you can't convincingly picture the outcome as a reality, it automatically seems unachievable and it becomes just a dream. If you think of it as just a dream, you're not going to break it down and analyze what it's going to take for you to get there.
Although the words are often used interchangeably, let's separate them for this example by saying that the difference between a 'dream' and a 'goal' is the difference between 'if' and 'when'. It's a minor difference at first glance, but when you go from saying 'if I ever made a million dollars...' to 'when I make my first million dollars...' you've made a very important shift in the paradigm and are one step closer to finding success. You've managed to Jedi mind trick yourself away from the dark side, and sometimes that's all it takes. Do or do not. There is no try. Yeah. I just quoted Yoda. Believe it.
Let's break it down further.
If your automatic responses are like the ones above, ask yourself why. WHY do you think you can't do it? Your answers will probably be something like this:
- I've never done anything like that before. I don't know how! I wouldn't even know where to start
- I don't have any good ideas...all my ideas are stupid. I can't make money with a stupid idea.
- I don't have time. I'm already busy enough and I don't have the energy after working all day.
- What if I fail? I don't want to waste all that time and effort and still end up feeling like a failure
Stop being so predictable!
Did I call it? Yep. I guarantee at least ONE of those 'reasons' is what you came up with. Well, here's the thing. Not a single one of those 'reasons' is a reason at all! They're all just excuses...pretty frikkin' lame excuses. And you better believe I have a compelling counterargument for each and every one of them. In fact--here they are now!
Lame Excuse #1 Busted Wide Open:
I've never done anything like that before. I don't know how! I wouldn't even know where to start.
"I don't know how" is never a reason for not doing something. If you asked your child to spell 'broccoli', and the answer was, "I don't know how," I'm pretty sure your response is not gonna be, "Oh. Ok then. Just stick with what you know." Nope. Unacceptable.
How do you go about learning how to do something you don't know how to do? It's so easy! You know the answer--you research! Find resources pertaining to your topic, and read, listen, or watch...and learn. Let's say, you've never cooked meatloaf before. All you need is a recipe, and BAM! You have the steps broken down for you and you make sure you have all the ingredients, follow those steps, and voilá ma cherie, you have meatloaf.
I shouldn't have to tell you where or how to research and find resources. Duh, the internet. Just like you found me (and you're so glad you did!). You want to learn to play the guitar? You can teach yourself through free online tutorials, videos, articles, and podcasts.
You want to start your own business? Same thing. You can find all the information you need for free, through articles, blogs, tutorials, videos, and podcasts. There is something out there for every step of the way. Yes, it is much more complex than just learning to make meatloaf, and slightly more complex than teaching yourself to play the guitar, but people do it every day.
As for where to start? Start at the beginning of what you don't know. If you don't know how to start your own business, start there. If you know that but you don't know how to come up with an idea start researching that. If you have plenty of ideas, but you don't know how to turn them into a million dollars, then that's where you start. If you think it sounds crazy for me to tell you to do a Google search for "how to turn an idea into money." Don't laugh at me--I just did and it returned 662,000,000 results. There is no lack of information, so that is absolutely, positively, NOT an excuse.
Lame Excuse #2 Destroyed and Disassembled:
I don't have any good ideas...all my ideas are stupid. I can't make money with a stupid idea.
Um, sorry that's total bullsh*t. Have you heard of the iphone app iFart? It's exactly what it sounds like. An app that makes a variety of fart sounds. Yup, a virtual whoopee cushion. Now, that sounds like a genuinely stupid idea...however...the guy who came up with that idea has made millions of dollars from the sale of that stupid app because he was smart enough to know that millions of people would spend 99 cents on it for a few laughs before they get bored and forget all about it. Just like, I'm guessing, the inventor of the whoopee cushion did.
Does that make you feel a little bit better about your ideas? Usually the rule is, find a need in the marketplace, and fill that need. But obviously novelty items and ideas have just as much potential as ideas that have a bit more merit, or usefulness, in today's society. And I've heard countless successful entrepreneurs say that it's not necessarily the quality of the product, but how you market it. Based on these examples, I tend to agree.
So, if you have what you think is a stupid idea, keep that in mind. Maybe you should just think of it in those terms instead. Change the word stupid to novelty,and by golly, run with it!!
The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo
This is an incredible book by one of my favorite authors. It tells the story of how Michelangelo overcame countless obstacles and adversity to be a sculptor, working long hours at his day job to be able to pay his bills and buy stone and carving tools, and then often all through the night sketching and sculpting and learning. He even broke into a morgue to study human anatomy to better understand the human form.
This is truly a motivational tale of one of the most famous artists of all time and all the pain he went through to do the only thing he ever wanted to do. And he did it until the day that he died. A must read!!
Lame Excuse #3 Crushed and Obliterated:
I don't have time. I'm already busy enough and I don't have the energy after working all day.
Hogwash. Do you think people like Einstein, Michelangelo, Leonardo daVinci, and Benjamin Franklin had extra hours in their days? Nope. 24 hour days, just like the rest of us. How do you think they managed to accomplish so much? I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess it was how they used those hours that is what set them apart.
If your excuse is that you don't have time, and that's what's keeping you from attaining a goal, and you really, truly, and honestly do want to achieve that goal, then here's whatcha do. You make time. I know! It's crazy!! Make some minor changes, and yes, some sacrifices.
Instead of watching 4 hours of television every night, tape all the shows you really want to watch, do 3 hours of work, then watch an hour of what you recorded. You could get up 30 minutes earlier, or go to bed a little later. Maybe instead of killing time playing Angry Birds during your lunch break, you do an hour's worth of research. Skip drinks with coworkers after work, and head to the bookstore and sit and read for a couple of hours instead. At the very least, listen to an informative audio book or podcast while you're on your way to and from work, or while you're jogging your 4 miles in the morning.
We can all find at least an hour in our day that we can use better to help move our ideas toward reality. The more time we spend absorbing salient information, the more we think about our goals and are motivated toward making them a reality.
Lame Excuse #4 Vanquished and Vaporized
What if I fail? I don't want to waste all that time and effort and still end up feeling like a failure.
Ah, fear. Yes, this is a tough one. But let me put it this way; would you rather live with the regret of never trying, or with the knowledge that you tried your best, fought bravely against all opposition, courageously marched into a barrage of bullets while ducking hand grenades...?
The way I see it, not even trying is an automatic failure, and the pain of the regret that causes is much much worse because it feels like a double failure. Not only did i not get what I want, but I didn't even try.
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
Of course it won't be easy, but it actually won't be like war at all. Nobody's really going to be shooting at you and I guess the stuff about the hand grenades was a little over the top too. So, sorry about that. Yes, there will be obstacles, no, there won't be bullets. Glad we got that straightened out. So, what do you have to lose?
"Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life... as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”
The importance of overcoming negativity is clear by this point, I hope. So how do you do it? The best advice I can give is a handful of tips that have helped me immensely:
- Be aware of your thought processes. Pay attention to the way you think and speak about things, especially with regards to your goals, and when you notice a negative thought, zap it! Restructure it, tear it apart, question it--ask yourself why you're feeling that way and you will be better equipped to find and address the real issue. Restate your ifs as whens and get back on track!
- Make sure you are being realistic about your goals. Don't set yourself up for failure. For example, if you think you're going to make a million dollars or lose 40 pounds in one month, you probably won't. I'm sure people have done it before, so it's not impossible, but the odds are clearly against you. Setting a target of reaching that goal in one to two years is much more realistic, and therefore more attainable...and easier to visualize as a reality.
- Break every big goal into smaller chunks--baby goals along the way. This makes it much less daunting, but it keeps you moving forward. You will feel like you are making progress, because you are! And that extra encouragement will help you to stay positive! Break them into as many pieces as you need to; whatever works for you.
- Help yourself by helping others. If you hear a friend being negative about something, instead of agreeing, point out the positive in the situation. If you commiserate, you allow that person to drag you down too, and you leave the conversation with a more negative mindset, which will color the way you face your own encounters. Plus, you will probably make them feel a little bit better and hopefully, slightly more positive.
- Be flexible with your route, but not so much your destination. That is to say, if things don't go according to plan along the way, change the steps instead of the goal. When you hit a roadblock, pull over, take a look at the map (or reset the GPS) and reassess the situation. Then get back on the road and proceed toward your destination! It's ok to take a few detours as long as you're mostly moving in the right direction. Cuz here's the deal--if you promise the kids a beach vacation, they're gonna be pretty upset if you end up in Omaha, Nebraska instead. Just sayin'.