Whether you’re struggling with work, finding it difficult to get up and start that business you have always wanted to run, battling with procrastination, or beating yourself up because you just can’t seem to maintain focus while pursuing your goals; what if I told you I know exactly why you have been in that seemingly difficult situation? What if I told you just one thing you need to get right, that when you do, everything else just seems to fall in place?
In this article, I’ll expose you to the importance of something that you must have heard, time and time again, but you downplay its relevance because it now just sounds cliché to you.
What’s that thing keeping you from achieving all the things you have always wanted to do? It’s not more knowledge or some special type of bravery. Just one thing – your mind.
“Oh, here we go again!” If that thought just crossed your mind, kill it faster than the speed of light. I’ll tell you why you should believe this (or start to believe this all over again).
The mind is the powerhouse that directly influences our emotions (motivation) and actions (habits). It’s the driving factor that determines success or failure in literally all aspects of our lives, and here’s a cycle that best explains its importance.
The Cycle That Makes You
It all starts in the thought stage. Thoughts trigger some emotions or come with certain feelings. And most of the time, we act based on our feelings at that moment. So, whatever addictions or inactions that you seem to be having a problem with, it is specifically there as a result of your state of mind. It’s there because you have successfully given it your full attention that it has begun to influence how you behave.
And a very important fact to note is that the cycle acts just like a snowball. Seemingly insignificant at first, but gets bigger and bigger after so much reinforcement. Therefore, there’s a big truth to the saying, “You are what you think about.” That is a big reason why to control your life, you have to control your mind. And to get your life right, you have got to first set your mind right.
Why do a lot of people keep setting new year resolutions and dropping out of the challenge after a week or two? What happens is that they try to influence their successes by solely focusing on the action part of the cycle while putting little or no consideration on the first two (thoughts and emotions). People try to fix the effect while leaving the cause unchanged, but when you control the cause, you have a direct influence over the effect.
Let’s associate this with business. Assume you’re having a hard time with your employees. Of course, if you don’t fire them, you tend to focus on changing their actions – “making them better employees.” But that will most certainly never happen if you haven’t already worked on how they think about your business, and what emotions are triggered whenever they think about your business or work with you.
The best way to pull that off is to influence their thinking by communicating a bigger vision, purpose, and telling your story over and over again till they start to believe it based on your unquenching burning passion towards it.
Have a goal so daring that makes them very willing to be a part of something that has never been seen before – something that really makes a difference.
Assuming Control of Your Mind
Now you’re convinced that the mind is important. But, is there a way of consciously adopting a mindset towards any venture that makes it extremely easier to always find motivation and maintain focus? I’m very excited to answer ‘yes’ to that question.
I’ll be showing you two steps to begin to take from today that can totally tilt your mind towards any direction you want it to go.
1. Practising Mindfulness
Here, for a few days, don’t alter anything. Don’t try to force yourself to think or act positively, just observe. If you do that, you tend to become aware of what’s going on, and how your thoughts have shaped who you are. It is not easy practising mindfulness as it really takes time to master or get used to. But it’s also really important because you build yourself to start to understand or get familiar with the cause of whatever problems you’re facing. The next step in assuming control of your mind would help you shape your mind to what you really want it to be.
Observe your thoughts – Humans have an average of 60,000 thoughts in a day. Am I saying that you should pay undivided attention to every one of those 60,000? That would be impossible and an absolute waste of time, really. I am not talking about controlling what you think. You can’t control it all, but being aware what goes on in it serves as a glimpse to what you’ve been predominantly thinking about (or meditating on), or how healthy all that you have been feeding your mind is.
Observe your emotions – Always ask yourself the question, “What am I feeling now?” And then ask yourself, “What thoughts led to this feeling?” What you’re practicing is emotional awareness. And this is an important step when it comes to actually do something about it.
Observe your actions – Most times, we may not realize a negative thought pattern coming in play until we begin to see it in our behaviour. So, just like observing your emotions, always ask yourself two questions when you catch yourself doing what you had no intentions whatsoever. “What emotion(s) is/are driving me at the moment? And, what thought(s) triggered that/those emotion(s)?”
2. Directly Influencing Your Thoughts
This is just like feeding your mind. You only feed it right if you really know what it needs, otherwise, you could cause chaos. That is why you don’t want to skip the first step above (practising mindfulness). When you begin to observe what goes on in your mind, how you feel, and your behaviour, you then know what to do about it.
I’ll be talking about two awesome ways to call the shots here;
What do you tell yourself all of the time?
“I’m not good enough!”? Or, “I’m the greatest!”?
“I won’t make this sale.”? Or, “I’m yet to make my best sale, and it may as well be this one.”?
See, nobody will believe in you more than you will in yourself. Napoleon Hill, In Think and Grow Rich, called this ‘Auto-suggestion.’ And he explained how it has been a proven way to build faith, sharpen your focus and draw to yourself what it is that you are really burning for.
Tell yourself one thing, over and over again until you get drowned by the sound of your own voice, and that becomes who you are.
Here’s also why I believe that affirmations are truly powerful. It’s a little exercise that made a whole lot of difference for me.
Close your eyes for 10 seconds while you think about your best food. After that, I want you to say your name out loud.
You see, most certainly, you won’t be able to say your name at the same time those thoughts are in your head. When you call out your name, for that split second, you take your mind off that food (even if it was your best food), because one has to take 100% of your attention. And it’s now all up to you to decide which of them does – your thoughts or your words.
Just like the cycle above, you see that your actions, which also comprises of what you say actually directly influences how you think. So, whether you notice something negative in the thought, emotion, or action stage, you want to be verbal about getting your mind right. When you wake up every morning, remind yourself all those awesome qualities you’d want to have, remind yourself who you want to be; say and believe it like you already have and already are what you want, and you will find yourself acting the part in no time.
Acting the part isn’t necessarily lying to yourself, it’s saying, in essence, that you are expectant, and other people would be able to sense it. People would sense it so strong that they’d be willing to invest in you because of the trust they seem to have in you. That’s how powerful the mind is, it shapes your habits and can also attract other people who’d want to help you achieve your dreams.
Anytime you find yourself slipping, overwhelmed, and in doubt, talk to your mind. You’re in charge here – take full control.
3. Being Intentional about what goes into your mind
This is also really important because you become what you predominantly give your attention to. Are you giving up all your time being mindlessness because, well, anything goes? Are you giving all your attention to chatting with your phone or watching any movie because you’re bored, or browsing the social media having zero control to whatever you see and read?
If that has been your lifestyle, you haven’t really been feeding your mind the right nutrients it needs to be healthy enough to give you the results you need. Who do you want to be? What do you want to do? Immerse yourself and suffocate that part of yourself that wants to just have fun and do zero work. And you can be intentional about what goes into your mind by controlling two things;
1. What goes into your eye gate.
What books are you reading? What kind of videos do you watch? Or do you leave it all up to chance what goes into this gate? Believe me, “Chance” isn’t really a good teacher.
2. What goes into your ear gate.
What kind of friends do you have around you? People who criticize everything but produce nothing? People who can tell you one million ways something will not work, but cannot make anything work?
One big step is to change that circle. It may be lonely, but believe me, you’ll curse yourself having not left sooner when you realize how much impact they’ve had on you.
What audiobooks are you giving your time to? What are you letting into your ear gate? Yes, practising affirmations is a great way to get your mind right. But, surround yourself with so much positivity that you spend less time having to align your focus.
If your mind is in chaos, you see the result in your business, career, and life. It can reveal itself in so many ways, overwhelm, confusion, lack of order, laziness, indiscipline etc.
What you need to do is practice being more mindful, attacking any unhealthy thoughts as they come. Do not accept anything short of what you really want, or who you want to be.
And you also want to be intentional what you pay attention to the most because it shapes who you are, too.