I don’t know about you but the ‘new year, new you’ theme is wearing a bit thin with me. It seems like every January we read the same things, make half-hearted resolutions which generally involve giving things up, and then before the end of the month, revert to type and life goes on. This brings with it a sense of having somehow failed, and a certain hopelessness which is both draining and unproductive. In 2018, I decided to do things differently and the results have been remarkable.
Last January I started the year by identifying what I wanted to achieve. Unsurprisingly, there were a number of things that came up that I had been grappling with for a while and never managed to crack. My inability to find solutions was frustrating me and sapping my energy. It was irritating to find the same things on the list from one year to the next and I was determined that that was not going to happen again.
I realised that something much bigger than simply writing things down and then working as hard as I could, was required. I needed to change my approach. In particular, I needed to change my thinking. I had to go beyond the ‘what’ and look at the ‘how’.
As often happens, the first step presented itself by chance as a result of a casual conversation. I started to read books that I previously may have disregarded, covering topics that I hadn’t explored before. They were many and varied, some more scientific than others, but all of them opened up new ways of thinking and challenged my existing patterns. I had unwittingly tapped in to the world of personal development and now I am hooked.
‘Your level of success will rarely exceed your level of personal development, because success is something you attract by the person you become’ Jim Rohn
As we start a New Year, here’s some of the key things that I learnt and which helped me to shape my year very differently and find solutions that had eluded me for so long:
It is so easy to slip into the habit of negative thinking and it is shocking how it can invade so much of our life without us noticing. The problem is that it not only leads to inertia and lack of action, but it also becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. In short, if you think you can’t then you probably won’t!
The brain is not capable of distinguishing between positive and negative, it simply delivers on what is input into it. Those inputs come from a multitude of sources, some conscious and some not. Whether it is our own thoughts, those of others, or the media, each and every one has its impact.
I once heard the brain likened to a computer keyboard: it will be programmed by who/what you allow to have access and will deliver outcomes accordingly. Closely guarding your keyboard and what is tapped in to it will immediately change results for the better.
It is incredible how altering the way you talk to yourself or how you decide to perceive things (and there is a choice) will bring immediate change. As a simple example, getting up in the morning and listing the things I am looking forward to and everything I am grateful for, will set up a day that feels very different than when I open my eyes and think about all the hurdles I have to jump through and how challenging it is likely to be. The negative energy that creates is difficult to come back from.
Similarly, if you consciously monitor your own language and that of others and you will be amazed at how much inherent negativity exists without any of us even realising it. These days I am so intent on protecting myself from its influence, that alarm bells ring immediately and I feel a desire to either challenge the person on what they are saying, or extricate myself from the situation. Communicate as clearly and as positively as you can with the brain. Learn to control it and make it work for you and the possibilities are endless.
Setting your intention
Although not always easy to establish, working through exactly what you want to achieve is important. Real clarity is what is needed, as is a confidence that you can do it even if you don’t know exactly how. Get excited about the task in hand, think about how you will feel when you get it, represent it visually if it helps and make sure you revisit it regularly.
Irrespective of what has gone before, try not to get caught in the ‘rear view mirror syndrome’. Look forwards. Be firm in your belief and allow it to happen. Don’t force it. Often it is not about pushing harder and working more. Opportunities present themselves in ways that you would never imagine. Be open to them when they come and ready to grab them with both hands.
Feel the fear
Any change is scary but, as the book says ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. Fear leads to paralysis. It leads to ideas that are never developed, dreams that are shelved and lives that are compromised. In my experience, the best things come when you push on beyond your comfort zone. Don’t allow the fear of the unknown to clip your wings nor the worry about what others will think to take root. Ask yourself, what is the worst that can happen and, because we always tend to imagine that things will be worse than ever are, it will never be as bad as you think!
In our age of consumerism and self-promotion, it is easy to get swept up in useless comparisons. There is little good that can come out of comparing ourselves to others, especially as what we perceive them to be is often a very long way from reality. We are all guilty of rushing headlong towards our next goal or desire without ever stopping to acknowledge what we do have. Gratitude goes a long way. It is not only much more healthy, but it is also more likely to attract more of the same.
Personal development is an ongoing process. Unlike here-today-gone-tomorrow resolutions, it not only guarantees that positive change will result, but it is also a journey that is enriching, enlightening and ever-evolving. I can confidently say that by opening my mind and using the techniques above, I have achieved much more and with far less effort than ever before.
Although there are lots of things that I still want to do and, right now, I have no idea exactly how I am going to do them, I know for sure that the solution will present itself. Looking back, 2018 was a landmark year that marked a shift not only in my thinking but, fundamentally, in who I am. I am looking forward to what 2019 will bring.