Asking the wrong question

I’ve worked out one of the biggest mistakes I have been making for years…

I kept asking myself the wrong question.

wrong

I spent years preparing to make changes, carefully planning what I would do to in my life and being really clear about what I wanted.

But…

And it’s a big ‘but’….

I didn’t follow through.

The more I think about it, the easier it is for me to see why I was so reluctant to fully commit and make sure that I actually took real, sustained action.

You see, the thing is… I spent far too long focusing on what the challenges, difficulties and problems might be.

I now focus on the opportunities, chances and potential!

It is a fundamental shift in mindset, and it sounds too simple to work, but it does.

This is the question I focused on in the past:

What could go wrong?

I had a defensive and negative point of view.

I was focused on what I could lose and all the things that could possibly go badly.

Now, to some people (including me in the past) this is not about being a ‘glass half-full’ sort of person.  It’s more that they feel that if you anticipate what could go wrong, then you can take action to prevent it happening.

The problem with this idea is that as the great man, Tony Robbins says:

“Wherever focus goes, energy flows!”

In other words, if you decide to focus on the negative then you tend to look out for circumstances that validate that concern.  Basically, you actually create worries and negative experiences by the very act of focusing on them.

Now that is definitely what I spent my time doing.  How about you?

I can remember coming up with some plans that really excited me and then I would suddenly be hit by…

The ‘What if’ Truck

The ‘What if’ Truck speeds into your life every time you are on to something good.

You are speeding down the highway of life and everything seems great and then…

BANG!

The ‘What if’ Truck side-swipes your dreams.

You start to ask yourself:

 

What if I don’t succeed?

What if no one likes my idea?

What if people laugh at me?

What if I try really hard and still don’t get what I want?

 

And so it goes on!

This is an example of your own focus on the negatives limiting your possibilities.

I know, because I did exactly that.  In fact, I still have to keep an eye out for the ‘What if’ Truck as it’s always out there lurking in the back streets of my mind!

A better question…

What could go RIGHT?

This is what I try to ask myself now.

It instantly sets you up to look for hope, opportunity and chances.

When you think about it, why are we worried about making an effort and hoping to improve our lives?

Let’s analyse it a second…

Most people decide they don’t like how things are, so they begin taking action in order to make some positive changes.

So far, so good!

The trouble is it gets challenging.  Any worthwhile change requires effort and some determination to succeed.

That’s when the ‘What Ifs’ kick in..

We question whether the effort will be worth it?

In our minds, we basically say “I do want to make this change, but if I put in the effort and it doesn’t work or it seems REALLY hard, then I don’t think I want to do it”

Sound familiar?

The thing is, the effort is it’s own reward.

I can honestly say that even attempting to change is a great feeling!

Let me ask you this…if you don’t try to change how will you feel?

If you’re like me, then probably frustrated and annoyed with yourself.

So…and this is the biggest thing…

TRY IT.

Seriously, just give it a go.  That is all you need to do.

Results will come but simply having a go is enough for you to feel SO much better.

Because YOU are in control and running YOUR OWN life.

You no longer will let life toss you around.

I’d love to hear how you keep motivated too!  Please comment in the box below.

Cheers for now,

Tony

 

The Mediocrity Trap

Customer service evaluation form with tick on averageA friend asked me a difficult question the other day: “Why aren’t you satisfied with what you’ve got?”

Here’s my answer.

I would like more in my life, not because I am ungrateful and selfish, but because I want to be the very best version of myself that I can.

Then I will be able to help more people and make a difference.  That’s not selfish is it?

But it occurs to me that the reason my friend asked the question is because we have been brain-washed into thinking that if we strive too much then we must be selfish and ungrateful.

I’m sure it starts at school.  We are all encouraged to do well, up to a point.  It’s okay to be ‘quite bright’ as long as you don’t make everyone else feel bad by really succeeding.

That’s why we end up in…

The Mediocrity Trap

This is where you are doing ‘okay’ and really don’t have any reason to moan, but you are hardly living a truly passionate and purposeful life where you feel you are really making a difference.  You are doing…(dreadful word)…FINE.

To me, this is a state that we have to really guard against.

Surely life is about being excited and energised and challenged to be the very best we can, not an ‘okay-ish’, mediocre, reasonable existence.

So I make no apology for striving and wanting to change.  I know that I will make my own life better and everyone else’s life too.  I was meant to shine…

…we all were!  So let’s do it!

Tony Robbins says that if you are excited or scared, then you can change, but you need to worry about being okay.

The other thing to beware of is when you start seeing others as being grasping or careerist maniacs on a mission.  If you think they are trampling over you to get where they want, it may actually be that you are standing still and they are just going past you.  You aren’t in their way, they have just moved forward in their life and you have stayed exactly where you were.

And that’s not their fault is it?

This is why we have to guard against being average.  We are worth more than that.

I know, by definition, not everyone can be above average.  But you are already better than most people because you are unusual enough to care about creating a compelling and wonderful future and taking consistent action to make sure it happens.

Have you noticed that children rarely talk about things being quite good?  To them, everything is ‘Amazing!’ or ‘Rubbish!’  We need to start seeing things with greater clarity and emotional significance and stop wallowing in a grey puddle of mediocre sludge.

NLP To The Rescue!

Luckily, we have Neuro Linguistic Programming to help us.  All you need to do is keep a careful look out for average thoughts and average words.  Try to be aware of moments when you are settling for ‘okay’ and using language that limits you to a ‘satisfactory’ life.

For the next few days, listen to the words other people use and see how limited their expectations are.  Most people are now acting in a defensive mode where they see the world as a scary place and life as a struggle where they can lose what they have.

It’s much better to live like you see life as a game where you have nothing to lose but everything to gain as you aim for an extraordinary life!

You can be playful and committed to achieving goals.  They are not mutually exclusive.

The thing about seeing life is a game is that, just like in chess for example, if you are not doing well, you can reset the board and start again.  You can learn the rules and study strategies to get better.

That’s got to be a much better way to see life than a constant unending struggle where you are always in danger of being crushed.

Switch how you see the world, and life becomes lighter and more full of possibilities instantly!

Back to Gratitude

The reason that I know that I am not selfish and ungrateful is because I have actually started making gratitude a conscious willed choice that I make.

I spend time every day mentally listing all the things that I am grateful for – the skills, experiences, friends, family, hopes, challenges and resources I have that make me feel truly alive.

So I know that I am very thankful for all I have and will be more grateful than most people for the future successes I hope to enjoy.

I would love to hear how you try to avoid the Mediocrity Trap in your life.  What do you do to avoid being distracted by the average herd?  How do you keep true to your mission?  Please comment and let me know.

 

Hang in there – find your WHY!

a little scottish fold kitten is hanging on the ropeI’ve had some real challenges recently and things have not been as positive as I hoped.

I had the results back from some tests my doctor sent me for, and it turns out that I have an underlying condition.  I have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

To be frank, it was a bit of a shock.  I am still in my early 40s and this particular condition is more usually diagnosed in much older people.

My initial reaction was fear – I wanted to know what how this would affect me and whether it would shorten the length of my life.  I also wanted to know how I had got it.

My doctor was very reassuring.  He told me that as long as I continue to live a healthy life and (crucially!) avoid smoking completely, then there is every possibility of it not affecting my life or limiting the length of it! Phew!

He explained that it was most likely caused by a combination of smoking for 20 years and not controlling my asthma properly in the past (I used to forget to take my inhalers).  Hearing this caused me to experience a powerful and very unhelpful emotion…guilt.

Basically, the reality is that it is at least partially my fault that I have this chronic disease.  This made me feel real regret mixed with anger at my stupidity as well as shame for not stopping smoking much earlier.  And this cocktail of emotions is quite a powerful one!

So..what did I do?

I did two things, and they both really helped:

1). I went for a long walk on my own to think it all through.

2). I forgave myself.

I admitted to myself that I had done a very stupid thing (smoked 20 a day) for a long time, but I made an absolute vow to myself that I will NEVER smoke a single puff of a cigarette ever again.

I explained to myself that I learned from the mistake I made in the past and would now use this knowledge to create the best life possible for me now and for the future.

Now, if I’m honest, when I first found out I did think, “Right!  There’s no point me carrying on trying to be healthy if I have this disease.  Why don’t I have a beer and just enjoy myself?”

And it was a powerful suggestion – I was very tempted!

But… I went for my walk and started seeing things differently.

I realised that I have already improved the quality of my life and that I feel so much better living a healthy life and being much more positive.

Also, I realised that if I stop living positively then I will be back to being my old unfit, negative self, with the addition of a chronic condition,  Not a good plan at all!

So, I made the conscious, willed choice to accept responsibility for my past mistakes, learn from them, forgive myself and move forward with strong intention and determination to be better.

I think the thing that really kept me going was my WHY.

The more I study self-development, the more I realise that the thing that keeps everyone on the path to a better life is having a compelling reason to change, or a WHY.

What is a WHY?

Your WHY is simple… What Heals You?

I think it’s essential that when life throws crap at you…and it will!… that you have a compelling reason to keep going.  And that’s your WHY.

Once you know the thing that will make you feel whole again and like the real you, then you have found What Heals You!

For me, it is all about being healthy, happy and authentic.  Hence the blog tagline!

The healthy and happy are very clear for me – I want to be doing things that make me feel energetic and alive as well as things that I genuinely enjoy doing.

And the authentic part is me saying that I need to be honest, genuine and real.

Not just on here when talking to you, but also when talking to myself!

So that is my WHY and it’s keeping me on the path.

I’m not going to let an illness define or limit me.

It’s actually a positive thing, because it allows me to show myself just how far I have come and that I truly know where I am heading.

Good luck finding your own WHY!

Cheers for now,

Tony

What’s In Your Head?

Depositphotos_41614373_s

As you know, I am now nearly two months into my new life.

It sounds weird saying that, but that’s how I see it.

I have changed!

 

 

There are so many things that I am doing differently:

  • Eating a healthy vegan diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Stopped drinking and smoking
  • Meditating every day
  • Writing a book

That’s not bad for 8 weeks.  I’m pretty proud of myself and I still actually reach over my shoulder and give myself a solid pat on the back every day. (I really do!)

But, the most fundamental change is not the things I am DOING (although they are very important!)…

…it is how I am THINKING that has had the biggest impact.

How do I know that?

Quit simply, I have tried before to make changes in my life.  Usually on January 1st! LOL 😉 And every time, I managed around ten days before I would get disheartened and fall back on my old ways.

Sound familiar?  I’m sure many people have had that very experience – possibly many times.

The difference this time is that as well as doing the right things, I am also thinking the right thoughts.  That might sound like some form of self-indoctrination to you?

It is!

I was very suspicious of this at the start, but I had heard so many stories of people getting dramatic results from following these approaches, that I thought I’d have to have a closer look.  After all, just trying hard to do the right things obviously hadn’t been enough to change my life in the past.

So I decided to try something different…

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)

Now I am by not a real expert in this.  However, I do work in education and have a good background in research, psychology and human development, so I already understood some of the key principles behind NLP.

I started by reading “The Secrets of Being Happy” by Richard Bandler and Garner Thompson.  They are pioneers in NLP and I have to say that the book is a great read.

It has a good balance of the theory behind this approach and practical advice that you can follow to make changes in your life.

The main idea behind NLP is that our brains are plastic and we are able to reprogram them to have more useful thoughts.  This is something that I was sceptical about at first.  As a man in his 40s, I know how easy it is to get stuck in my ways and I assumed that my views and attitudes were firmly set.

It turns out I was wrong.

This is why I now know that change is not only possible, but now I understand how my mind works, it’s a conscious choice completely under my control.

That’s such an empowering thought!  The idea that we can simply will ourselves to think differently and then take consistent action to achieve that change is very encouraging.

The book really is excellent, and I am not going to give a detailed breakdown of everything in it.  But there are a number of activities that show you exactly how easy it is to alter your perspectives.

NLP in a Nut Shell

I had two big take-aways from reading this book and looking into NLP more broadly:

1). We can change our thoughts, attitudes, beliefs and responses to be more positive and helpful to us.

This does not mean that we ignore the truth of a harsh, uncaring world and go through life like a grinning idiot, pretending that everything is fine and dandy.

It’s actually about not being blinded by preconceptions, past experiences, fear of the future, ingrained faulty beliefs and cultural programming.

2). The language we use not only demonstrates our thoughts and beliefs, it actually helps CREATE them.

This has had them most profound impact on me.  I am now constantly monitoring the words I use when I speak to people.  Am I being positive?  Do my words show confidence and an expectation of success?

But it’s not only the words I speak to the world.  I am also carefully monitoring the words I use in my thoughts.  I’m sure we all have some sort of ongoing internal monologue that acts as a running commentary on the world.

What My Brain Used To Tell Me

“What is he doing?  I don’t trust him.  He must be trying to cheat me.  I always get cheated by other people because the world is uncaring and evil.  There’s no point me trying to do that, because I’m no good at this.  I will just fail and every one will laugh at me.  There’s no point in doing that.  There’s no point in doing anything.  It’s all just a pointless waste of time.  I’m bored.  I don’t know what I’m doing here etc…”

Sound familiar?  I’m guessing I’m not the only one who has moments like this.  Not every day, but variations on that theme played out in my head fairly regularly.

I’m not saying that I never have these thoughts now.  But the thing is, I now notice when I do have negative and unhelpful thoughts and I use strategies to question my assumptions which help me to realise how negative and inaccurate much of my thinking had become.

I try to build spirals of upward positivity now – I take action, get some good results, feel better and more confident, take more action and feel even more confident etc.

So What’s My Head Saying To Myself Now?

“I am making real progress and I feel proud about that.  Making a real effort to change is a challenge, but I am rising to it and showing real grit and determination.  Pro-actively changing my life is making me feel truly alive, engaged and I have motivation and genuine hope for the future.  I will succeed because I am doing the right things and thinking the right thoughts.  I like being me again and life is good!”

I’m sure you see the difference.  The interesting thing from my education perspective, is that both monologues adopt some linguistic tricks that help support their arguments.  You will see logical connectives like ‘because’.  Half the battle is noticing both WHAT you are saying as well as HOW you are saying it.

If we use language to persuade ourselves of our point of view, then surely it’s best to choose a good point of view?  I don’t see that as any kind of negative indoctrination at all.  It’s just about being aware of what we are thinking and saying and choosing to think and speak more helpfully.

 

I hope that helps to give you a taste of NLP and its benefits. Now check out the book!

Cheers for now,

Tony

It only takes a pebble…

I’ve definitely got it now and I don’t want to lose it….

Momentum!Avalanche

I have been trying to live a new life this year and it has not been easy.  The first couple of weeks were particularly tricky.  Any change will always be met by resistance – your old habits are very dogged and refuse to lie down quietly!

On the other hand, you usually get by in the early days of any change because you have that first flush of genuine enthusiasm keeping you strong.  The sheer novelty of your new life is intoxicating and helps to keep you going.

Complacency Alert!

I suppose the real danger period is when you start to get complacent!  I am six weeks in to this new way of living, and it has almost become easy.

I say ‘almost’ because I know from past experience that once I think something is easy and mundane, that I am likely to stop concentrating and fall back on the old me.

This time I am determined to keep going.  I must stick to my plans as they are bringing me closer to my goals every day.  I am feeling much better, I’ve lost over 20lbs in weight, I’m sleeping better and I’m concentrating and focusing on my work like a laser!

These successes certainly help me climb a positive spiral – success leads to more motivation which leads to more success, which leads to…and so on…

Talk Nicely To Myself

I now use more powerfully positive language with myself, and that really helps.  In the past I would have said ‘I should try to lose weight’. Now I declare ‘I must continue to follow my system and then I will get closer to the strong, slim body I need’.

I’m sure you spotted the difference.  The first sentence is so half-hearted and pathetically hopeful.  Whereas the second is clear, positive and focused on what I want to gain, not what I want to lose.

This improved thinking is also helping to keep me on the right path, and that, too, leads to greater and greater levels of motivation.

I’ve Said It Out Loud Now

The other thing that has really kept me moving forwards is accountability.  The fact that I know each week that I have to write a blog post on here and tell people what I have been up to really keeps me focused on what I must do.

There is no hiding place.  I can’t say to myself ‘Tony, you’ve done well, so you deserve a break now and some beer, cheese and a day slobbing-out on the sofa.’  It’s not that you are going to judge me, it’s just that I have told people I will do this, and I so I feel I have to follow it through.

Over 300 different people have visited my blog in the first month and 3000 people like my Facebook page, so that is real to me!  I have to stick to what I said because I have ‘said it out loud’.

Honestly, I think you can get the same feeling from telling close friends and family (assuming they are supportive and empathetic!)  But I am glad so many people are interested in my journey. :-)

Keep The Ball Rolling

Anyone who has pushed a large object knows that the first inch is the hardest.  You need to put everything in to just get it to budge at all.  But, once it starts going it is reasonably easy to keep the momentum going.  And that’s how I feel now!

Here are three of the things I have found so far that have really helped me stay motivated and determined to meet my goals.  I hope they help you too!

1. Read inspiring books

I have been reading Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard.  Hearing from someone else who has faced struggles and succeeded is an excellent way to keep you on your own path to success.

2. Keep your compelling vision at the front of your mind

No matter how hard things get, if you have a very clear and totally compelling vision of the life you want to live, then you will allow nothing to get in your way.

3. Relax and reflect

I still get an ‘itch’ to have a glass of wine or a cigarette, but I know that if I say ‘Only one wont hurt, surely?’ I will be back where I started in no time.  So I ‘switch off’ and go for a walk or listen to some calming classical music.  And it works!

Probably the single most motivating thing I have found is sheer bloody-mindedness.  I want to show anyone in my life who has ever doubted me that I damn well can do it!  This means that every time I succeed, I give myself a real pat on the back (over my shoulder! :-) ) and tell myself that I am that little bit closer to showing everyone!

I hope this helps you to keep motivated on your own journey.  Have a wonderful week and remember that even a single pebble can build to an avalanche.  Get out there and build your own momentum to change your life!

Cheers for now,

Tony

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