Can one transform ideas into achievements? Of course! In nature, a seed does not analyze why or how it will turn into a tree. It simply converts nutrients from the soil, water, and air to transform into the tree that's embedded in its DNA.
Humans can do the same thing, but unlike the seed, we can achieve the results we want consciously, using the power of our mind. Whatever you'd like to achieve in the coming months, here are eight steps to help you succeed.
Be for something, not against it.
A statement such as, "I want to quit smoking," doesn't contain any positive ideas you can build on. The first step to achieving success is to convert your statement into positive ideas. What are you striving for? To live a long, happy, healthy life? To breathe deeply, and to taste and smell everything? To free yourself of addiction? Focus on being for those ideas, instead of against smoking.
Tap into desire, which creates energy.
Desire is an emotion that attracts success. Consider what you want and what you're working for. Now ask yourself, "How much do I want this? Why do I want it so badly?" Connect to that strong feeling of desire and you'll generate a new sense of urgency and motivation.
Believe in your success.
Belief is a critical aspect of achieving success. It's what helps us surmount obstacles. When we strongly believe that we'll succeed, it's easier to take baby steps, or pursue small successes along the way, without getting impatient or becoming discouraged. Small, incremental change is a terrific way to get to your destination.
Strive for a sense of knowing.
Knowing something is achievable is a higher level of thought than believing something is achievable. We arrive at a state of knowing by taking the same steps over and over until they become second nature, easy, and automatic.
Set an intention, not a goal.
Instead of setting a goal, which is something we don't have that we aim to get, set an intention, which is a goal but with all the doubt about its attainment removed. State your intention as if you've already achieved it, with lots of specific details. For example, "After a year, my beautiful, new, sun-filled shop in the trendiest part of town is swarming with excited customers. I've repaid all my startup loans and I'm making a nice profit." Speak your intention out loud.
Be flexible, open and imaginative.
One of the keys to succeeding at what you want is to be open to surprises and serendipity. Perhaps your resolution is to get out of debt this year, but when someone offers you a lucrative job that entails moving to Chicago, you automatically say no. When you're trying to transform ideas into achievements, help and solutions in many guises may pop up all around you.
Think bigger than what you desire.
If you want a raise, imagine instead that you got a promotion and a new office too. If you set your intentions much larger than your core desire, the more modest desire starts to feel extremely attainable. This is a psychological trick that helps you accept and invite success.
Most of us are familiar with the standard warning given by flight attendants to put on our own oxygen mask first, before attempting to assist someone else. Self-interest is placing one's own needs above the needs and desires of others. It doesn't mean being unkind or selfish. However, in order to achieve success, you have to focus on controlling your own behaviour and destiny.
Living your vision means being aware of your choices as you move through the day. Get clear about what you want your life to look and feel like. As you bring the behavior you wish to change to conscious awareness, pay close attention to your thoughts and feelings surrounding this behavior. Notice the physical and emotional responses that your unwanted behavior evokes. Start with one particular behavior rather than overhauling your whole lifestyle all at once.
When we feel deprived of the object of our desire and do not have a substitute, we are setting ourselves up for failure. We will likely return to our old familiar patterns because there is no reward to help us through times of heightened cravings or unhealthy patterns. When you want to eat compulsively, for example, get yourself to take a walk or call a friend, so that rather than caving into emotional eating, you are getting fresh air or social support. Giving up an unhealthy behavior is not about deprivation. It is really about gaining authentic self-love.
Practice mindfulness, being in the moment, or a meditation exercise for a few minutes a day. This will train your mind and body to react differently to the usual stimuli that can trigger unhealthy behaviors, like overeating, smoking, and drinking. You can change the brain through the regular practice of mindfulness. This can be accomplished by simply sitting silently and observing whatever you are feeling physically or emotionally for several minutes at a time.
It is not unusual to experience feelings of loss around giving up or changing a particular behavior. Making a change can be challenging under the best of circumstances. You may notice that disturbing feelings emerge as you begin to change old patterns of behavior. For example, smoking and overeating or eating junk food may be a way of self-soothing. When you modify any of these behaviors, you might notice an increase in stress, anxiety, and perhaps even depression or fear. Your current habits may temporarily alleviate painful feelings and allow you to go numb or relax in the short term. Remind yourself that this feeling will pass and know that it is okay to feel uncomfortable. Practice your substitute behavior!
In each breath, we have the opportunity to change. Every step of the way, we have a choice to go this way or that. Deep breathing helps to calm the body and allows us to think more clearly. The power lies within at any given moment to make healthy or unhealthy choices, to love or to be unloving, to be compassionate or show indifference. Ask yourself: "How is this going to help me?"
Rather than focusing on thoughts of deprivation, affirmations are positive and reinforcing statements that can support us in making lasting behavioral change. "I can do this!" "My lungs feel clean and clear." "My body feels healthy and strong." "I can handle these powerful feelings." These are examples of affirmations that can strengthen you in anticipation of cravings or during vulnerable moments. Remember that feelings are fleeting and that the intensity of any emotion you experience will subside in time. Reminding yourself of this can be quite liberating. Consider that in this moment you can handle these sensations and know that they will not endure. Breathe and let your simple, positive affirmations sink into the recesses of your brain. Repeat them often throughout the day.
Ideally, get plenty of sleep and keep chaos to a minimum when you are trying to make behavioral change. You will be most effective when you are rested and not feeling stressed. Of course, it is not always possible to maintain ideal conditions, but moving in that direction will help you in the process of making lasting change. Also, know that it takes time and can take several if not many attempts before the old behavior is in the past and the new, healthier behavior is internalized. The good news is the more often you attempt to change a behavior, the more likely you will succeed. It behooves you to keep reminding yourself of your vision, going back to the basic mindfulness exercise and to practicing your affirmations.
Changing a habit takes practice and commitment. Write down a realistic plan for the habit your want to change and establish a start date. You can continue to refer to your strategy once it is written. Make note of the triggers of your unwanted behavior. Keeping a journal gives you a place to record your thoughts and feelings. It will also help you to stay the course and to see patterns and progress. Write down the substitute behaviors you will put into action preemptively or when the urge for old habit strikes. Perhaps you can also explore: What are your fears and doubts concerning making this change? What keeps you from having the life you want and deserve? What would your life be like if your were to truly make this change? Keep your journal active for at least two months or until the replacement behavior feels firmly established.
Perhaps you can join a group for support until the change is firmly in place. Let your family and friends know what you are trying to accomplish and enlist their support. Share your plan with trusted others, not for approval, but to make it more real for you. You might need to stay away from places where you can become easily triggered. Shaking things up a bit from the routine also helps you from reverting to the old familiar patterns. Until the awareness of triggers and your replacement behaviors are strong, it is best to be exquisitely mindful of your choices.
When and if you slip and return to your old behavior, remember to practice self-love. Be deeply compassionate and then head right back to step one. Go back to your plan stronger and more resolved. Remember, the more times you try to change a behavior, the more likely you are to succeed in making that change.
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