Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Getting What You Want...

Here Is What I Know So Far

I’ve proactively changed many aspects of my life for the better, especially in the past five years. The key word here is “proactively”, which could be interchanged with the word consciously, or intentionally. The point being that I decided I wanted something and then went to work to create the change necessary to have what I wanted. It wasn’t just hoping, dreaming, or thinking about the change, it was all of those things AND focused action designed to take me there.

The end outcome of achieving what I set out to is usually different to what I expected, and of course as per the universal rules I talked about in the first article in this series, the process, the journey of creating the change turned out to be more valuable than actually arriving at the outcome.

Although we are motivated by changing certain physical circumstances we exist in, often it’s the internal shift, the growth we go through on a personal level, that turns out to be the most valuable outcome. The physical benefits are like having the cake, while the real change is learning how to cook, something you can take with you long after you finish eating the cake.

Although many of the stories I’m about to tell you relate to a personal milestone, event or challenge from my life, the cornerstone of the story is the lesson learned as a result. Luckily for us, I’ve been chronicling many of these lessons by revealing the stories here on this blog, so together we can go on a trip through the last ten years of my life and extract some of the most important and powerful revelations as they apply to creating positive change.

I’ve included a link to the original articles that recount in more detail the situations and the key learnings. I strongly recommend you read these articles too, as they will greatly reinforce the messages of this article series.

This is some of the most powerful content in this blog in terms of helping you change your mindset, increase your own self awareness and achieve what you want. I say this in confidence because they are the benefits I gained by living these experiences.

Here we go…

1. Personal Congruency (Confidence through training)

Source: Personal Congruency… At 21? How To Be Confident At Any Age

Way back during the first year of this blog I talked about my trip to Seattle to play in the 1998 Magic world championships (a card game that has a competitive tournament series, sort of like poker, but geekier). During this trip I was able to meet some of the stars of the game, and play against the best of the best. The result of this once-in-a-lifetime experience was a change to how I perceive people who are considered famous and a deeper understanding of how they got there.

People who are exceptionally good at something get there because they repeated processes over and over again in preparation for an experience, or in an attempt to qualify for the experience. They then had the experience, which helped them become more confident heading into the next similar experience. This is why in professional sports or competition of any kind it’s usually a huge advantage to have “been there before” as you’re not intimidated by what you don’t know.

This opens up the idea that expertise and success comes to people who choose to go after it. Yes talent, gifts and luck play a part, but the greater your “courage of conviction”, the more likely you will be successful. If you build the tools to create the courage through hard work, then you are more likely to succeed, even if you have never had the success you are striving for before.

It’s worth reading this article because I wrote it when I was 26. I’m 30 now and a lot happened during those years. I wrote that article having had minor financial success in my life at the time, but feeling confident about where I was heading because the positive signs were becoming very consistent and I truly began to believe I could have what I wanted, at least financially, because of what I was doing. I was starting to become proof of the concept I was writing about. I was starting a process of change, just as I was starting to build this blog.

2. You Control Your Perception (Interpretation is half the battle)

Source: The Key To Happiness

I read a book called Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman. It’s a really interesting book, and one of the most enlightening ideas I took away from it was this -

Optimistic people do not see reality. Instead they contort their interpretation of what they are experiencing to see it as positive, regardless of what is really happening.

Pessimistic people have a much firmer grasp of reality and as such often see the negativity in what is happening to them and other people around them.

Optimists are essentially fooling themselves so they feel better. They manufacture hope and as a result live longer, happier lives. Pessimists see a form of truth, which you might say is more accurate than the optimists, but they consequently suffer more.

So do you want to be the happy fool or the sad realist?

When I was in my early twenties clearly my mind had decided that it preferred to see the negative in what was going on around it. It became so good at this, that the body it had control of started to malfunction.

My mind created so much fear that I started to get panic attacks. Even when there wasn’t a large predatory animal trying to hunt me down, which is a more typical reason for my body to react the way it did, as if it was preparing to fight or run away from the danger, I was feeling these sensations. It was horrible.

I created danger and fear when it wasn’t there and it was because I had learned how to think about things the wrong way. I distorted my interpretation of reality to the point where I suffered physical pain. I call that a form of insanity, but I did find a way out…

As a result of this experience I became a very, very good listener, and this has nothing to do with listening to other people. I started listening to, or perhaps it’s more accurate to say I started to observe my own thoughts, and wow, were they broken.

Back when I wrote the key to happiness I was at a stage where I observed my thought process for the sake of becoming a better thinker. You can call this cognitive behavior therapy if you like, but it’s not that complicated, all you really have to do is “watch” how you talk to yourself. Once you do this you start to realize, at least this is the case for many people, that you really don’t like yourself very much. You spend your entire day being insecure about pretty much everything.

My god was this a turning point for me! I couldn’t believe how mean I was. I thought I was a good person before this, in fact I thought I was so nice that I deserved better in my life, but I was wrong. I was an absolute bastard to the person that mattered most – myself. I spent nearly every waking moment judging myself, and the world around me, and 90% of the time I was negative.

From the seeds of your worst moments, come your greatest strengths. Becoming aware of my own internal dialogue was a massive gift and has positively influenced my life since then. The awareness born from actively listening to how I talked to myself, and then making a very conscious choice to change how I interpret the world around me and thus how I talk about experience to myself, gave me the toolset I need to, well, be happy.

I can’t really put it any better than I did at the end of the article, so I’ll repeat it here…

Happiness is ultimately not in anyone else’s hands or controlled by any external element at all. It’s purely a choice you can make. As often as I can I choose to be happy. It’s not always as easy as that but by undertaking to change the way you think and create an ongoing positive dialogue with yourself you are both working towards the same goals – that’s you and your little voice – both aiming for happiness.

Once you gain the power by becoming self aware of your own voice inside your head and how you perceive the world around you, half the battle is won. You are in control and that will always be the case no matter what happens to you or your environment.

Creating positive change in your life begins with how you interpret life itself. If you want things to change for the better, the first step is to make the choice to see the world in a way that is beneficial, on the inside. The outside world is always open to interpretation, and you will never know the real truth, so why not create perceptions that help you?

The key take away from this article is self awareness is the first step towards creating the change you want, in fact, it is all you ever need if you really drill down to it. You are the master of your own universe.

3. Work Ethic (Do it even when you don’t feel like it)

Source: How To Remain Productive When You Feel Like Giving Up

This is still one of the most popular articles on this blog with almost 250 comments as I type this, I wrote the article because it is clear people need encouragement. Heck, I need encouragement too, so I wrote this just as much for myself as I did for you.

Your mind is your strongest asset and your weakest link, and can be a very clever saboteur. It has a huge influence on your emotional state, and your emotions are the fuel that feed your creativity, or stifle it.

If there was a lesson that every blogger, entrepreneur and athlete knows well, it’s the importance of consistence and persistence. I wrote about this in some depth in my very first free report – How To Start An Internet Business – and it’s safe to take this on board as fact.

To be successful you’re going to have to work hard, over a long period of time and there will be stages, many of them, where you just don’t feel like it. If you want to change, learning how to work through periods of lack of motivation, depression, feelings of loss, confusion, or any state brought upon by negative thought patterns, requires that you learn two things -

1. Your thoughts are choices of perception that you are in control of entirely (the previous section discussed this)
2. You can choose to just do it (credit to Nike) regardless of how you feel

As you probably know from experience, sometimes even when you are aware of your inner voice, and even despite telling yourself all kinds of positive and good things, you still feel like crap. The reason for this is you don’t believe in what you are saying to yourself, which is often very hard when you’re still on the journey to change, because your physical reality hasn’t become what you want it to…yet.

A true master of self awareness chooses their emotional state because they are in complete control of their internal configuration and have need for nothing in the external world (like totally zen). For most of us, the outside world has, and will have for our entire lives, a huge influence over us because we want something from it. As long as you have a sense of attachment to anything, and this is especially true for attachments to people, you’re going to suffer (go Buddhism!).

This happens to me too, and although I can say it’s not as pervasive as it once was, I still feel lousy sometimes when I’m not getting what I think I want, when I want it. This is especially the case when you are working to change something that requires you have an experience you have never had before, or where you have attempted to have the experience, yet failed, perhaps multiple times, reinforcing the belief that you will never attain your goal.

Chances are if you are reading this blog, one of the things you are attempting to do now is make money online, and you’re not there yet, so you’re forced to do things to make money that you don’t like (e.g. a job), and you feel bad about it. This is a classic situation where you need to push through and keep going, even in the face of emotional adversity, and as I outlined in the article, often simply making the decision to act even when you don’t feel like it, will pull you out of the negative mood.

The important point here is that you need to realize your process to come to a change is going to involve feeling all kinds of emotions, many of which will not help you change in the direction you want to. The greater the change you desire, the longer the journey, and the more you are going to experience along the way. It’s your job to pilot the ship forward no matter what the conditions, with the belief that your destination is always moving closer, even when you feel like you are going backwards, and you are never certain of when you will arrive.
Coming Up: Taking It To The Next Level

I’ve introduced you to three principle concepts required to realize positive change in your life -

1. Confidence through training helps you create a foundation for growth
2. Self awareness – You choose your perception of reality
3. Working regardless of inner or outer conditions is the path to what you want

You can no doubt see how all three of these concepts are very interrelated and impact each other. As you continue through this series you’re going to see that all these concepts are governed by universal laws, and in the end there is only one variable that really matters when it comes to making change. That variable is you.

Coming up next we’re going to look even deeper at how you are the greatest agent for change there is today. Although your focus right now might be to change aspects of your own life, by the end of this article series you’re going to see how important it is that you go through this process, because if you can truly grasp this, you will see that you’re also the key to changing absolutely everything that you perceive as wrong on this planet.

But let’s not get too deep just yet. First we need to understand what’s governing the process of change, how your own behavior dictates results, what drives your behaviors and how simple it really is to change behavior if you just tie it all into the right mindset.

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