The other day a friend dropped ‘I dream it and then it happens’ into the conversation. Just like that…with no added explanation…and as if it were the most natural thing in the world. No irony or telltale subtle smile. Just a statement of fact as she saw it. So, I realised it was my own limitation that produced the doubt. My own self imposed cynicism. Since then I have discovered many people I know treat visualisation as a real and practical tool to create the life they want – using a combination of mental imagery and positive thought to manifest change they need in their lives to achieve their goals.
These visualisations are not fantastical improbable ideas tinged with a rosy daydream. It’s not dreaming about marrying Prince Harry but about open, honest hopes and dreams for a happy, successful you. Visualisation is about creating a mental intention, an image of what we would like to happen in our lives in the near to medium future – or even beyond. An initial step towards an end result.
Fear and doubt will be the greatest barriers. We have our own but you can be sure there will be ‘opinions’ from those around us. Remember, however well meaning friends and family might be, they are victims of their own fears and doubts and this underlying (often subconscious) agenda colours what ‘advice’ they seek to give – whether you ask for it or not. So, a strong brave heart and mind is needed to negate this. Stay true to your inner voice. Your own fear and doubt is your biggest enemy. This is why it is recommended that you keep your visualisations in the front of your mind and reiterate them very frequently. Keep them real and vibrant in your mind so you get used to them too – the more you ‘see’ them, the more you’ll believe in them too. Strong belief lessens the fear and the less fear you have the more likely you are to succeed.
Many people believe that the mind has a powerful effect over the body, that it can influence the body directly – which has obvious advantages if your goal is physical, health or sport related. Fundamentally this also means you have the power to directly create the self belief you need to achieve the goals you visualised.
We all have goals, big or small, things we’d love to do or achieve one day. This is the easy part – but sometimes that’s as far as many of us get! The road to Hell is paved with good intentions and all that. There are many perfectly reasonable reasons that we get stuck – time issues, fear, social pressures and doubt – but this is where visualisation can be very useful. This mental image of our future can be the first time we ‘see’ that we could actually achieve it. This is the first step before the motivation, hard work and self belief.
I’m skeptical about the ‘imagine it, believe it and it will simply happen’ mantra we hear so much of these days – it sounds like an over simplification and is usually followed (somewhat conveniently) by ‘if it doesn’t happen it wasn’t meant to be’. It’s no surprise that the harder you work the luckier you get…!
I think visualisation is best used in the more proven way that athletes use it – to focus, concentrate and motivate them. Scientific research has shown that the brain doesn’t distinguish between real and visualised actions so even when you are simply visualising an intention the neurons in our brains generate the impulse to perform the act and this creates a new neural pathway. These neural pathways are the key to our every behaviour. These are our memories, our learned behaviour. So you can see how even a visualisation alone can prime you for the practical achievement of your goal.
Most exponents of this self help technique divide the actual process into two sections. One being the visualisation of the actual goal or outcome and the other being the visualisation of the process or steps needed to realise that. The process also helps you see what the next step is. It’s very important, however, not to visualise negative outcomes!
Visualising is memory, it’s planning, it’s all around you as you ‘think’ about what’s happening else where etc. All this imagination and imaging can go horribly wrong and that’s called worrying! But the future is a slippery, unreliable thing so let’s change worrying about it into visualising and planning for a desirable outcome shall we? This where the ‘power of now’ comes into its own. As the past is just a record of where you’ve been and what you’ve done, and the future is uncertain and unknown then the present is the best place to live and truly ‘be’. (Mindfullness and such practises are the key to achieving this ‘present in the moment’ state).
When creating your visualisation use every sense and be sure to attach strong emotions to it too. The brighter, the brasher and more detailed your vision the more committed it becomes.
All athletes use this technique and what’s more they practice it as tenaciously as the sport itself. This ‘mental practise’ is a routine part of their training and so it should be for us as we move towards our goals.
Some elements to consider as you practise your visualisations:
try to set aside time every day
choose a quiet time and space with no interruptions or distractions (that’s what the off button is for on your mobile phone!)
some people use meditation techniques – it’s important to clear space in your mind, get rid of cluttered thoughts to focus on your goal
many find a detailed written statement/version useful – read this each night before sleeping
it’s important to be specific and visualise yourself alreadybeing or having the goal you desire
many employ a vision/dreamboard as a focus for the goal and this allows for actual visual representations – both images and words (I would caution against choosing images such as super models if you’re trying to visualise a healthier weight – as these types of images have the potential to be counter-productive as these images of extremes are not necessarily a practical visual stimulus)
practise and persistently visualise – create that neural pathway! The added by-product is that the creation of new neural pathways is touted as a way to fend of dementia type illness.
The subject divides here into those who believe in the Law of Attraction or a similar ethos and don’t concern themselves with the ‘how’ just allow the universe to deliver the goods (believing this and accepting it will happen are key here). Others think the visualisation of the process is vital. Creating a pro-active pathway to follow as-it-were. This allows for knowing what steps to take to achieve your goals and marking off the small steps as you progress spurs you on through the power of achievement. You must decide this for yourself…
Today I found myself expounding a plan of something I want to achieve to a dear friend and realised to myself that I had said these words a few times before. How many times? Dunno but enough to be inwardly embarrassed by my ‘all talk and no action’ state. Similarly, I once heard myself say to another person when they were expounding their plans, ‘don’t think because you’ve talked about it you’ve actually done something about it!’ Harsh but oh so true. A slap around the chops for me, a taste of the bitter practise-what-you-preach fruit…
…what am I going to do about it? How am I going to realise these plans; how am I going to break this all talk and no action cycle; how am I going to move forward…?
I muttered about this in a previous post about motivation but it’s always a topic worth revisiting methinks. If we agree that motivation is the psychological process that initiates, guides and maintains our achievement of our goals and we clock that no matter how much we say we want to do something we never seem to move any closer to doing that thing…then what’s stopping us? One possible barrier is inertia.
I’m going to approach this in a CBT kinda way by not tackling how I got to this state in the first place, what past actions and happenings created this – but rather what am I going to do in the present to get out of this state and stay out of it. I suppose the first step is realising isn’t it? As with all these things self awareness is key and recognition and acceptance that this is in fact the state of things. So, stand up and admit it. Hello my name is Mathew and I’m an inert.
The principle of inertia is Newton’s first law of motion and it states that inertia is the resistance any physical body has to change in its current state of motion. So, an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion both with the same speed and the same motion unless (and this is the key part) acted upon by ‘an unbalanced force’. Physics was never my strong point so I now realise that I have always remembered this wrongly; I mean to say that I’ve only remembered the ‘staying still and motionless’ part of the law. I see that inertia is actually the force that stops things from moving!
Inertia is everywhere. It applies its principles just like all the other laws and principles governing the world around us. The simple way to look at this is to realise that ‘objects keep doing what they are doing’ unless this state is broken by an unbalanced (unbalancing) force. This applies to us physically obviously – as anyone who has tried to carry a full coffee cup in a car passenger seat will know! The car stops due to the application of its brakes (the unbalanced/unbalancing force) but the coffee keeps doing what it was doing and, as it has no force stopping it moving at the same time as the car, it carries on moving forward! As do you in your seat a bit too, right? unless stopped by an unbalanced force – the vital seat belt! This elementary physics is all good and interesting but let’s apply it to our psychology and motivation towards our life goals shall we?
When there is something you want to achieve or a goal you wish to pursue the first thing to overcome is this ‘barrier’ of inertia. Inertia is intrinsic in the routines and habits that we need to break to make the changes. It can be the main hurdle between you and the start of movement in the desired direction. The best news being that once you have started in motion the same principles of inertia will keep you in motion!
SO, how do I leap this hurdle as easy as Jessica Ennis might leap over a poodle?
I suspect the answer either comes from within or without. Sometimes I’m not exactly, honestly sure if it is inertia or actually my subconscious feeling fearful or insecure about the task. I suppose these are times when it’s best to face that fear and do it anyway as they say. Within us there is the power to do many things we may never believe we can do SO simply harnessing self belief, and aligning things to our core beliefs as incentive, should push us on to achieve the goals we desire. Hmmm…I also suspect that if I were blessed with such inner strength I’d not be feeling the freeze of inertia…so that leaves the external influences.
I asked some of the most (seemingly) together and achieving people I know for any tips – here is what they suggested:
Set achievable short term goals. Break the bigger goal down into manageable, bite-size pieces. This way you’ll be encouraged by your mini successes and spurred on to continue to complete the entire task. Life style changes for life long benefit must be taken in small gradual steps – after all you may have taken quite a while to create the issue/barrier in the first place!
Incentivise yourself. Reward or treat yourself for completing the task you set yourself. (A carrot, if you like)
A ‘shock’ from outside forces might well do the trick. If you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes then you know it is vital that you follow the recommended changes to your lifestyle otherwise you will die. That should be incentive enough, right?! (A stick, if you like)
Try these types of ‘delayed gratification’ – if you like a certain TV program reward yourself with it after you have gone for that walk/run you always promise yourself you will go on. OR make a list of the things you need to do that day. Prioritise them and do the most important first – the relief of that getting finished will spur you on to complete the others! OR similarly do the worst tasks you need to do in a day first and the things you’d like to do after them – that way the day can only get better!
I am self-employed and keeping the motivation and momentum going can be tricky. Whenever I get stuck in a vortex of inertia I schedule my day like a school day! Two hours of one thing then a break. Then two hours of another thing and then lunch and so on…!
A tidy house means a tidy mind. A tidy desk means a tidy mind which in turn means progress and achievement.
Pre-set the scene to limit the chances of failure to complete the desired task. For example if you are wanting to go for a run first thing in the morning then set out all the running gear ready to just jump into and set off. Set the alarm clock to not only wake you up at an appropriate time but place it across the room so you have to get up to silence it! And look right there next to the clock is your running stuff…might as well go run then eh?
Spend a pre-allocated amount of time on the hardest goal – the one you are struggling the most to move forward. Try to do this every day but only spend a maximum of 120 minutes on it – maybe more like 90 minutes actually. Some people say no more than 45 minutes of full uninterrupted concentration is truly useful but judge that for yourself. If you have to return to the same task then make sure to take a short break in-between and do something completely different.
Keep distractions and interruptions to a minimum. Place phone away from the area you are working in, no social media (!) and prevent emails pinging up.
Use a holistic approach and factor that in to achieve the things you want – you need to be well rested, eating as healthily as possible and with the least amount of stress affecting you as you can.
Remember you are in charge of yourself. You make the rules. Your personal world around you is there for you to create as you wish. Dream big!
I always say to myself when I’m feeling a little unmotivated that ‘this too shall pass…’. I do something I fancy doing for a while, a kind of ‘regrouping break’ and the focus returns and I’m back in the room!
I dunno if it’s true but I read somewhere that it takes 21 days to set a habit so I just mark off the days in my diary and I actually never finish marking the full 21 days as I’m usually into the new habit or routine by then and don’t need to!
I’m not certain about 21 day habits and I think from all these answers that some folk have a propensity for being proactive and have a good dose of self confidence (entitlement?) which propels them forwards.
Hmmm…whatever the truth is I think I’ll start by changing that mindset that a world free of mental inertia is for others and draw it into my life as a new place for me to operate from…then I’ll wrangle ‘carrots’ and ‘sticks’ and schedules and so on…wish me luck!
Whether you want to begin a project, focus your mind on your dreams, believe in the power of manifestation, the law of attraction or just plain want to put all the things you love the most into one place, then a dream board is the way forward for you.
Dream boards (Americans often call them vision boards) are in essence a collection of images and words that you put in one place to reflect the dream life you desire. The visual representation of your ideas, goals, hopes and dreams. Life goals are often left as dreams or fantasies that we think we would love to do ‘one day’ but never really give full and proper energy and focus to making them happen. Seeing things in a visual framework makes them more solid, more real, more ‘doable’…
First, think about all aspects of your life – career, relationships, body and mind, fun and travel and so on…it will help to start by writing out a list of the things you want to achieve, the places you want to go, where you’d like to live, the work you’d like to do, the people you want to meet etc…relax your mind, tap into your unconscious and really get into it! Accept and don’t judge anything. Just write down everythingyou can think of, gleaned from every corner of your life and no matter how big or small. Just get it all down and start seeing where your subconscious mind is aiming to be! I sat quietly for a bit with a pen and pad and just let my mind wonder. Literally anything and everything that came into my head…I jotted it down. It’s so liberating to just let yourself dream without barriers…a real treat.
Your next stage is to find the images. They must be exactly what you want – this is important! Scour magazines, online images, family photo albums, headlines, art books, literally anywhere there might be a visual representation in pictures and words of the exact thing, feeling or place you wish to bring into your life. Think bold and be descriptive. Take your time over this and be sure to carry on the search beyond the first dream board creation, as you never know when you might find a preferable image or even find that your desires have changed and require a new image and focal point.
Then, when you’ve collected a good few, go for it! Really have fun with this too. Play!! Collate and collage bright inspiring images that create the precise world you want to be involved and wrapped in. Some people like to place a happy photograph of themselves in the centre to really make it personal. Use anything you fancy too, maybe paints, ribbon, glitter etc!?! Unleash the imagination abundant artist within…and don’t give me that ‘I can’t’ business, there’s no wrongs or rights here, it’s personal expression!! I played loud and rousing music when I made mine and then I sang along and cut, pasted and daubed! Awesome fun…!
Remember it doesn’t have to be perfect as it can be so easily adjusted later – just get it started and build it and then change it as the time goes on. If you can’t find words you like printed anywhere , write them on the photos or board. Write them bold and brash so they leap out at you. You only need to be sure that everything on the dream board is there to inspire and motivate you. After all the dream also wants to become reality…and why the hell not?!?
Make multiple boards for different aspects of your life if that suits you better, or maybe you have a lot of dreams and want to include them all. Do it! Create your dream board however you like, it can have themes in various areas, or be random, or even tell some kind of chronological story. It really has no limits to it’s manifestations, it’s your board so dream it the way you want it…
There is, of course, software that will create a board for you and many websites offer the service too. Go with whatever suits you – I have a bit of hardboard that was left over from some random DIY so I used that, and before this I had a box that I just had all the stuff placed in! I kept it by the kettle so every time I waited for the water to boil I had a rifle through which then put all the images back into the front of my mind (a friend keeps hers, lets just say, in the bathroom – captive audience I guess!)
Place the board somewhere prominent. Different places for different needs if you have chosen the multiple board idea. Digital versions will need to be printed out, maybe specific images can be your screen savers etc?
If there seems to be too many things on your dream board, it can help to distill down the essence of it, if you like, and then create a board using the more urgent and prominent ideas as you see, interpret and feel them. Creating notebook traveling versions can be a good idea if you are going away from home or travel a lot (it’s also a place to keep images you find while you are away).
Much is made of manifesting these things into your life and ‘attracting’ them to yourself, but no matter what your belief, the use of visuals to keep something current and important, vibrant and possible is intrinsically part of achieving it – so whether you’re after a new car, a new career or a meditative space in your life…get dreaming…and don’t leave anything to chance I’d say….!
Self awareness is a keystone to attaining and creating the dream you and dream life you wish for. Self awareness is properly knowing and understanding yourself. Properly and truly as much as you can. Knowing your personality – the weaknesses as much as the strengths – and really understanding and clearly perceiving your thoughts and motivations. It is building your belief system actively for yourself and not just accepting the beliefs around you. And critically it is getting to grips with your emotional state as effected by all these things…thus honing your emotional intelligence.
A brilliant by-product of knowing yourself is you can also be aware of how others perceive you, and in turn understand them.
We may well believe we are self aware and not feel we need any development at all, but just thinking that might well be a sign that we do need a little awareness! There is always room for self improvement…!
Often our emotions and attached behaviours are the obstacles between us and the success we desire, they are the things that trip us up and allow us to repeat patterns of self sabotage or remain in a state of inertia. To regain control of ourselves and our lives we must develop awareness and then use this new and wonderful knowledge to make the changes in ourselves and our reactions to the world around us, to achieve our goals. We can improve every aspect of our lives from work and relationships, to health and spirituality.
Awareness is a visceral, in the moment thing, rather than an abstract idea that you might read here or in a multitude of books. It is about actual, practical observation of yourself and focusing your attention on the emotional reactions you are experiencing at that exact moment. Making these observations and changes is only truly possible in the actual moment the emotions are flooding through you. Afterwards or in a removed state the truth might be lost or distorted. Being self-aware mustn’t be confused with being self-conscious.
Two very usual but destructive emotions are frustration and anger. By paying specific attention to your emotions at these times, you will start to see revealed the behaviour, thought patterns and reactions that led you to be in the emotional state that you now wish to change. A hyper awareness of the self, if you like. Study that process and see where there was a chance to re-interpret the situation, or pivot a chosen reaction to create a different, positive emotion and final outcome.
Note that it is as important to put effort into supporting and enhancing your strengths as identifying and dealing with your weaknesses. It’s not judgement or a ridicule of something wrong or bad, it’s just tweaking and adjusting established patterns to achieve a happier state or a smoother journey towards the dream life you wish for. It’s awareness of strengths and limits that will then give you the self-confidence to overcome negative emotions and to prevent them destroying the life around you.
Self awareness can be developed, of course, and it takes time and effort. Ideally some time needs to be set aside to do this. Reflection on your emotional intelligence and where the problems might be. Mindfulness and meditation can help this process. Keep a diary of your emotional journey and write down every reaction and the thoughts you had around them. Do you see patterns forming? If you have a trusted friend who you feel will give you honest feedback then ask them how they see you and try to be open to their thoughts.
Throughout don’t judge yourself and criticise your actions, your values or habits. You’re on a journey of discovery and acceptance and self-praising is as vital as the ultimate awareness.
If a belief you have about yourself is holding you back in some way – known as a limiting belief – then it’s likely as anything to be the product of some kind of fear.
Fear of failure.
Fear of success.
Fear of embarrassment.
Fear of rejection.
Do any of these sound familiar? You are by no means alone. However, you may not realise that the reason you are not taking action in your life is because fear is deeply embedded in your thought processes and creating seemingly valid excuses. Ever hear yourself saying anything like this:
‘I’m too busy…’, I’m too old…’, I’m too scared…’, I’m not clever enough…’, I’ll be laughed at…’, ‘No one like me does that…’, ‘It’s too late to start…’, ‘I’m powerless…’, ‘I don’t deserve…’
…and so on…?
Fear is a natural thing. It is the way our body protects us from danger. That’s a good thing! We need it and a little spark of it can be a great help in keeping us alert or providing us with the thrill element to sports or theme parks. But when the fear just completes a self-fulfilling prophecy, keeping us locked firmly in our comfort zone and flat-lining in a state of inertia steeped acceptance, then it’s time to free ourselves.
Take a good hard look at these fears and beliefs. Are they real? Are they actually true? Do you absolutely know it is true or is it a perceived truth? Is it a truth you have just accepted but never questioned? Is it a truth that has been imposed from others?
Then ask yourself what the benefit of this belief is? What do you gain from holding on to it? Is it giving you value for the investment you are making in it? Or is it, in fact, costing you? And if so, what are you losing out on or sacrificing?
Then consider what would happen if you let go of that belief. What would happen to you and who would you become? Imagine your life without this limiting belief and the consequences? How would it look? How would you feel?
Finally pivot this limiting belief to the opposite, positive version. If ‘I can’t learn a new skill at my age…’ becomes ‘I can learn a new skill whenever I like…’ how does this ‘new truth’ differ? How does the future look with this new belief as the new absolute truth?
The ultimate step is taking some action, implementing this ‘new truth’ and accepting it as the fact that it most certainly is. If you are wondering if you can take on this new truth and accept and live it, then remember you accepted the old truth (the limiting belief) as fact – and that was based on no fundamental truth, it was just based on fear.
I think that fear is best confronted. Ironic huh? But often it’s just not as scary close up as we think. Our response to the unknown is what we are fighting against so it makes sense to begin to ‘know’ it. Know thy enemy. If it’s failure you fear then shining a bright light into the corners of why is only going to be beneficial ultimately. If you are afraid of letting others down, not being loved or just not being deemed good enough, then there is work to be done on you closing yourself off from new chances, bolstering your self-love or the way you view the overall discovery process. Fear of success can be the same set of issues wrapped in a different debilitating wrapper. Fear of looking stupid or being embarrassed is best countered by considering what truly is the worst that could happen? Other people actually admire those of us who speak up and follow our own paths! Remind yourself that other people have their own fears which can cause them to behave and react the way they are, and that’s not your responsibility. Rejection is part of life and best not taken personally, after all the discoveries we make because of them can be the most useful.
So why not start now, today? Write out those limiting beliefs and start to eliminate them. Re-word the way you talk to yourself and about yourself. If you catch yourself thinking or saying something that upholds a limiting belief, immediately think the opposite and tell your brain to stop that old behaviour and begin the new one. It takes time, effort and practice to embed a new habit but it is so, SO worth it…
Defined as the act of putting off an action until later. Delay. To postpone until tomorrow…and we all know tomorrow never comes…
Are you a procrastinator? Are you putting off the very things that actually help you achieve your desired goals? We can all think of times when we shoulda, woulda, coulda done something but didn’t because…we just couldn’t face it or some such. Perhaps we did another thing that we fancied doing more but was a lower priority task? Everyone does it, it’s hardly a crime – in fact it might be the right thing to do at that time – but when it becomes self-sabotage then that is the time to take some action!
Sometimes it’s just a minor issue that simply means some task or other has not got done but will be done soon enough, that’s fair enough – but sometimes it’s a debilitating problem that causes stress and anxiety. Indeed chronic procrastination could see an entire lifetime frittered and wasted.
The reasons why we might procrastinate are not straight forward, it is a complex psychological behavioural state, yet if we are truly to make those steps to achieving our dream lives, then it is a behaviour that we must root out, face down and manage, if not eradicate.
Procrastination is, in a way, a coping mechanism; a method of managing the stress of every day tasks and demands. It allows a cover for low self-confidence and the consequent feelings of insecurity and frustration. Maybe the task seems too huge and unmanageable, or too difficult to do and/or we feel that we might fail or be criticised for the mistakes we make. We can feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of ‘stuff’ we feel we are expected to fit into a day. Sometimes too high levels of self-imposed perfectionism are the cause, or the thrill seeker in us wants to leave things till then final hour. All this can be a compensatory behaviour for insecurity and lack of confidence in one’s own abilities, too. Often, time seems the issue, triggering claims that it’s a big task and we will start fresh the next day, or there simply isn’t a big enough chunk of time this week so…
Distractions are a major force in procrastination too. It is so easy to be nudged off course by the endless social media, email checking, Internet surfing and so on…and we deceive ourselves in tiny ways to forgive and excuse the delay and distractions. If you are distracted too easily then a stint of seclusion is needed!
The thing to be most aware of is that it is a choice. Ultimately, however you slice or dice it, the self has made a choice. The emotional reaction to the task we are avoiding is the true aspect we are unwilling to experience. All the negative feelings and emotions…I don’t blame you at all but to achieve that dream ‘you’ and dream life then this will all have to be tackled and overcome.
Let’s do it! Er…now…! NO…not tomorrow…sheesh…!
At risk of sounding like I’m stating the obvious, the surest way to overcome procrastination is to start…just beginning something can lead to great things, and often it really isn’t as bad as you’d imagined!
If it is fear that stops us then we need to face it. Look it straight in the eye and address it. When we really study it with our whole body and mind it suddenly doesn’t look so scary. We’ll laugh in it’s face soon enough…
If the vastness and complexity of the task is the barrier then try breaking it down into lovely bite size, manageable pieces and completing it step by step, being sure to congratulate yourself upon the successful achievement of each and every piece…till it’s done. Don’t set yourself unfair goals and therefore set yourself up for failure, though eh?! Don’t even think that far ahead…just think to the next chunk that you’re looking at tackling. If you are disorganised then learn how to schedule and project plan, keep to-do lists and make action plans. Being decisive and thinking positively about the task will energise and propel you through.
Regimented time management schedules usually don’t help as the procrastinator often knows fully well what they should be doing just cannot seem to actually get around to doing it. They will convince themselves and others that they are fully in control of the situation and have plenty of time to complete the task, but time will tick by and there will be no start.
Other people might think, and indeed comment, that the desire for the result and achievement might be motivation enough; sufficient drive to get the task done. If only it were that easy, eh?
If you need incentive and motivation think of the the times when you did successfully complete things and were victorious over complicated, daunting tasks, times when you were at the top of your game, or consider the unpleasant consequences of you not completing the task, or ask a peer to check in with you to see if you’ve moved forward.
Oh, and a word about will power…if you are born with it then hooray! – but loads of us are not and it is a stick we beat ourselves with. One failure does not mean another will automatically follow and it wasn’t your lack of will power for sure! If you develop will power as time goes on then that’s lovely, but most people who seem to have will power are in truth just avoiding the original temptation as much as possible. Think about someone trying to avoid chocolate – if they don’t buy it then the likelihood is it won’t around to tempt! Then when temptation wins (someone else brings the chocolate!) then enjoy it for all it’s worth and return to your original track. Guilt is a futile and destructive nonsense….get rid of it!
Motivation can be helped by reframing. Guilt, motivation and reframing are discussed elsewhere on this site.
To give yourself a fair chance of overcoming procrastination you will need to recognise the problem and when you are doing it, then face it and discover why you are doing it, and finally, take action to stop it. Procrastination is, ultimately, learned behaviour which means it can be unlearned and reprogrammed. It’s not so scary and it’s certainly not a crime. It does’t make you a ‘bad person’ – it is simply a case of owning a character trait that is part of who you are and how you go about your life.
Knowing that the choice is yours means you can adapt and change it at will.
Why put off till tomorrow what you could do today? Good question.
If you want something done then give it to the busiest person you know. True.
These might seem like cliches to you but, like, most cliches, they are based on truth. In this case a fundamental one that is so basic and intrinsic that I think we drift from it far too easily. It’s all about NOW. The present. The past is just a record of where you’ve been and what you’ve done and said. It cannot be changed. Ever. The future is an unknown; it is an illusion of possibilities and if’s, but’s and maybe’s, but cannot be known – in any way- for sure. So, it’s a basic piece of logic to see that it is all about NOW. After all everything you ever did or do is in ‘the moment’. It happens NOW, doesn’t it?
So, it makes complete sense to think about this very moment as it is happening doesn’t it?
Worrying about what might happen is wasting energy, time and resources. Plan, of course, and create things that you will be doing and hope to do, but then forget about them and concentrate on the moment you are in. The NOW.
Go on…try it!
If you think about all the things that ruin your daily life like worry, guilt, regret and fear – they are all part of future and past elements that you are allowing to influence and supersede the present. Begin a mental process of liberating your mind from these negative forces by considering the NOW. Stopping the second you are aware that these negative emotions are creeping in and giving them thought and seeing that they are mere illusions based on unknowns and unknowables, then begin to take away their power and give it instead to yourself in the present moment.
Retraining your mind to think a more present and less usual set of thoughts takes time and patience. Give yourself space and devote energy and will power to this reconditioning process. This new quiet mind that is living in the NOW and hyper aware of this fact, will set you free…I guarantee it.
Live for NOW…it truly is the only thing that makes sense.
For most people staying motivated is hard. Fact. It doesn’t make us bad people, it just means we need a little extra help to keep moving forward. Let’s face it the ideas are all very well and there a thousand books to help us achieve these dreams, ready and waiting for us to open and consume them but until we actually do it they’re not worth the paper they’re printed on. The ideas remain vague thoughts we are aware exist somewhere but we give them fleeting thought and determine, perhaps, to come back to them at some point…and so the time passes and the dream stays an dream.
The process of beginning a task, especially one we loathe or are afraid of, is a significant one. Sometimes we are inspired, other times we are forced by circumstances like work. Placing ourselves into a set of circumstances that create the desire and need to begin our process is the key.
Then, of course, it’s not just starting it’s the maintaining. It’s why schemes like diet clubs have meetings and competitions. Anything to motivate. To keep you working towards your goal. The dream. Because most of us do truly want that something, that goal, but find the obstacles sometimes a little too high, too tempting, too tiring or too demoralising.
Let’s consider the following:
Be sure you want it. Truly and absolutely. Search the very bowels of your mind and heart. (See below)
Really think about it. Be realistic and honest with yourself and the possibilities. What are your weak points?
Break down your own ‘feelings’ and emotions about what you are attempting and going to achieve. This takes time and is a vital stage in the process before you take a single step. The mental blocks and pathways of failure and self doubt are the hidden traps that will sink the idea before it has a fair chance. Don’t let it!
Visualise it thoroughly (bright colours and use every sense) and then do this for a few minutes every day.
Break down the goal into realistic, manageable, nibble sized pieces. Make lists! They rock! Don’t go crazy at first – just ease yourself into your new way of thinking and behaving.
Put into place some schemes and tricks to help you stay on course.
Always think positively. Practise this tenaciously.
Find inspiration everywhere. It is actually all around you. See it in the people and world around you. Get it from the books, art, television, the web, anywhere that the steps you are taking to achieve your dream life are being discussed, praised and supported.
Build in LOADS of treats and many places to PRAISE yourself for all your hard work. You’ve started already after all…!
Start the whole process with love. Don’t be too hard on yourself and begin the failure before you’ve even started!
Self sabotage comes in many ways. A classic is putting a photo of a super model on your fridge door to ‘remind’ you of your goal each me you go open it. No! All it does is unconsciously reinforce the belief that you’ll never match that creature. You aren’t supposed to!! You’re doing the perfect thing for you not them! That’s a model. It’s an unreality. Please don’t torture yourself. Enough people will make you feel bad without doing it to yourself. They may not intend to but an ill thought out phrase or throw away comment can ruin your day. Yes, it’d be lovely if we could all just shrug it off. The old water -off-a-ducks-back routine but sadly we can’t…
Confidence, focus and direction are key elements in keeping ourselves motivated towards achieving our goals. Explore these themes and try to drench yourself in their brilliance. We’ll discuss these and more next time…but I’m going to leave you with this thought…
I believe people do the things they want to. Or conversely don’t do the things they don’t want to do. That simple process is the complexity that we must dissect to see if therein lies the root of our unwillingness to begin. Let’s use the example of Person A wishing to and being vocal about losing weight. The mental process that exists here before a single calorie is considered is immense. The psychology of why people diet and obsess about their weight is the subject of a gazillion books and articles so let’s just try to see why Person A might not be ‘getting around to it’. Procrastination isn’t a disease it’s a choice…
So, first, I’m going to start with a contentious question, ‘Does Person A actually want to lose weight?’ I mean really, truly, absolutely? It’s a contested psyche question as to whether people are truly just following the path of their unconscious desires. A path decided and resolutely followed by the brain and body without our conscious mind realising. The conscious mind, therefore, just factoring in the results and coping with the consequences of the unconscious mind and it’s decision making. Ultimately we have to actually, truly want to do something before we can achieve it. Obvious? Well, lets return to Person A and ‘their weight’. ‘I try and I can’t do it!’ How much does Person A want it? Enough to find a way? Enough to fight for it? Enough to work hard and suffer?
Difficult things to achieve come at a cost. Time, resources, emotions – but if we want the result, want it absolutely, then these are but necessary evils. And there’s no short cuts people. These only lead to further problems or, ultimately, a return to that awful place called square one. If a choice is made to start down a path to achieving the dream we want then the exciting thing is that, done properly, it will change our lives for the good, we will never be the same again and we won’t ever go back…goodbye square one…
Negative beliefs are those that we hold about ourselves that mean we see various aspects of the world around us, and perhaps more importantly, our ability to operate within it, in a negative way. These beliefs tend to be absolute in their nature, things like ‘no one can be trusted’, ‘I’m not worthy…’, ‘I don’t deserve…’, or ‘I can’t’ and we end up feeling we have done something wrong or there is something wrong with us. I say ‘end up’ because I think of it like the central element of a process that we go through; the Polarising Prism of Thought that exists between the event that caused the process to begin and the subsequent behaviour or emotion that we (and others) see as our consequent reaction.
Underlying negative beliefs can be core beliefs we formed at a very early age. They are the way we made ‘sense’ of the world around us and tried to fit in and be what others wanted. Over time they have become embedded and built on and tweaked and honed to be absolute. You may not even be aware you are in the grips of them; they’ve crept on on you slowly but surely and with the sneakiest of stealth. These beliefs are now involuntary responses and have been rarely, if ever, questioned and certainly not challenged BUT the foundation of these beliefs is more than likely untrue and quite definitely not a balanced view. Time for a review…
We all have examples where we tried something and failed, or enjoyed doing something that another told us we were no good at (drawing is a classic example) and the perceived failure remained (and polarised) into a belief. These ‘limiting’ self-beliefs, this framework of negativity, about our ability means we never get to have the life we deserve and dream about. I believe it’s never too late to ‘reprogram’ yourself and it’s most certainly never to late to have a damn good try!
There are many different ways that negative beliefs can materisalise in your everyday reactions to the life around you. You may find yourself over-reacting, blaming yourself for things that you are not responsible for, making assumptions as if the future was yours to predict, allowing a single incident to become generalised into the way you think you will be from that point onwards..and so on. Ideally, during these times we need to stop for an instant and ask ourselves what is actually going through our minds? How do we really feel? Cross question and interogate ourselves to explore why we are reacting this way to that situation. Open up the circumstances and reveal the Polarising Prism of Thought…
In order to change the way you feel you have to change the way you think. A belief is either sustained or changed by choice. A certain amount of free will is available to us to create our beliefs the way we actually want them rather than the versions that we are coping with and that are blocking our full potential. Things that have happened to us in the past don’t come with a ‘feeling’ that they force on us, we chose a feeling and decide an attitude about them and the ‘feeling’ is born from those thoughts. It doesn’t mean they are not absolutely okay but it’s worth checking in to make sure.
It’s important to continually reiterate that if you feel you have larger more deep seated issues to come to terms with then you must seek the help and safety of a professional therapist.
I believe you will find that many of the ‘beliefs’ you have held on to are no longer useful and are simply holding you back. They were created at a time when you were young and making sense of things so they are now possibly out-dated and obsolete. Chuck ’em out!
I believe we should always question our thinking, be our own life long coaches so-to-speak. We want to adopt new ways of thinking that enhance our lives and help us attain the goals we desire. We need to check-in with ourselves constantly, assess why we might be emotionally reacting to something, which will then help us find out what we are thinking. Emotions can often shut down any facility (or even desire) to think a thing through…you’re too angry or upset to stop for a second and try to process why. Lord knows I can relate to that, but the path to change for the better is through that emotion and into the thinking behind it. If we treat our entire thought process as a fluid, malleable thing, that we are free to challenge and cross question, we may well end up finding out a few lovely things about ourselves and take further steps towards our dream life and the dream ‘us’…
What do you really want your life to be? It’s an interesting question as often the answer isn’t actually what we might be tempted to say at first. We are perhaps loath to admit the truer desires beneath. The things that we want, or that we consider to be the sum total of that elusive ‘happiness’ will be unique to us, of course, but may not turn out to be fulfilling or thrilling after all.
Achieving the dream life you want or a life goal you desire depends so much on the vision you have for it. Currently this may be anything from crystal clear to a vague idea but you can begin to shape and create a tangible version and this is your first step towards achieving it.
Think about the life you’d like without any limitations. Really open your mind and imagination and let them fly! Visualise exactly how you want your life to be. Actually imagine living it too. Imagine it in as much detail as you possibly can, employ every sense and illuminate it with bright lights and colours. The clearer and more detailed the vision the better you will keep it in your memory. Don’t allow money, age or any obstacle restrain you! And ask yourself powerful questions like: What have you always wanted to try but have been too afraid? If you couldn’t fail what would you do? What’s stopping you having a go at these things now?
I found it hugely useful (and rather fun) to write it all out. I divided my dream life into areas (see the spinning plates) and went to town! I got a few pieces of paper (or if you’re at your desk and fancy grabbing a cup of coffee and creating a set of documents) and headed them up with the following:
Career and Work (financial)
Home and Space
Body and health (physical)
Mind and Soul (spiritual)
Friends and Family
Another version I was told about during my studies uses these headings:
Home and Family life
Professional/ Work life
Health and Well-Being
Other important areas
So take your pick or make your own perhaps? I wrote and wrote! I really enjoyed it and revisited it a few times afterwards and added things. I found it a fantastic base to begin my journey from…