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How to stay on the right path toward success?

the path of success

Photo credit: Barenaturals, Wyoming 2016

In a previous post, I touched on the nature of limiting beliefs and how these roadblocks often prevent us from achieving our dreams. In addition, there were a few simple but effective strategies to identify and overcome your limiting thoughts.

Now, that the road is clear and you’re once again free to chase your dreams and achieve some serious goals, you need a new strategy. And, just because you managed to get a hold on your limiting beliefs it doesn’t mean success is guaranteed. You need to develop a certain type of mindset that will allow you to maintain a positive attitude towards success.

How thoughts affect our mood (and increase our chances of success)  

Every coach, psychologist and mental health professional knows that the relationship between thoughts, emotions and behaviour holds the key to understanding why some people succeed against all odds, while others give up on their dream as soon as they stumble into the first obstacle. Although emotions seem to be the first thing that we notice during a difficult situation, it’s the underlying thoughts that deserve your attention. Not only that these thoughts are what generates your emotional reactions, but they also dictate your attitude toward success and failure.

The fact that negative thought leads to negative emotions is something we can all agree on. However, is it really possible to improve our mood just by changing your thoughts? According to a study carried out by Ruby, Smallwood, Engen, & Singer (2013), thinking about ourselves as well as thinking about the future can improve our mood. As the authors themselves put it, “future- and self-related thoughts preceded improvements of mood, even when current thought content was negative.”

To put it in simple words, the more you think about yourself and your future, the better you feel. For someone who’s looking to start a new business or engage in an exciting project, focusing on the future (instead of the past or present) is of utmost importance. But what’s really important is the content of your thoughts and that’s exactly what we’re going to discuss further in this article.

Ultimately, success is an attitude that relies on your ability to envision a brighter future and keep “bad” emotions in check by replacing your negative thoughts with positive ones.

Celebrate the small victories (and reinforce your positive thoughts)

If you read the last post about limiting beliefs, then you’re probably familiar with the strategy of breaking big goals into smaller, more achievable tasks. The reason behind this trick is not just to make it easier for you to tackle a seemingly-impossible dream, but also to give you the opportunity to celebrate the small victories that you’ll achieve one step at a time.

By being grateful for each and every small victory that you score on your path towards success, you indirectly reinforce the positive beliefs and thoughts that will keep you motivated when things get rough. Beliefs like “Things are taking a turn for the better” or “This dream seems more achievable than I thought” should always be cherished and valued.

Every step you take in the direction of your dream should be rewarded based on how close it takes you to your final goal. Big steps with extraordinary rewards; small steps with modest rewards.

Make a habit out of celebrating the small victories and nurturing positive thoughts and soon enough, your attitude will slowly shift from “it’s too complicated” to “I can do it”.

Use positive affirmations to boost your optimism

Some of us tend to sabotage our success by worrying too much about failure. Those irrational “but’s” and “what if’s” are the indicators of excessive worrying and what comes after is the actual limiting belief that makes you doubt your skills and chances of success.

A study conducted by Eagleson, Hayes, Mathews, Perman, & Hirsch (2016) revealed that using positive ideation to replace your worry-filled thoughts can significantly reduce anxiety and worry. While the study was conducted on participants struggling with generalised anxiety disorder, there’s no reason why the same strategy shouldn’t work just as well (or even better) for the rest of us.

But how can we “infuse” our thoughts with a healthy dose of positivity? One easy and effective way is by using positive affirmations. What you need to do is to come up with one positive thought (or positive affirmation) for every limiting belief that you hold. Let’s imagine your limiting belief goes something like this: “I want to … but there are too many obstacles to deal with.” One possible affirmation to counter this thought would be: “There’s a solution for every obstacle.” As you can see, finding the right positive affirmations is all about identifying the exact opposites of your limiting or worry-filled thoughts.

In the end, you should have a comprehensive list of positive affirmations that you can read whenever doubt and worry creep into your future plans. Not sure where to start with the affirmations? there are loads of apps to help, one I am trying out right now is called Thinkup and after recording your written affirmations (or pick from helpful suggested ones)  you can automate your dose of positivity anytime you need.

Envisioning success

Creating vision is all about (1) having a solid game plan and (2) seeing beyond your goal. Assuming you already have a game plan, the next step would be to look towards your dream and beyond.

Try to sketch a detailed imagine of your success. How does it feel like? What will you do afterwards? How does the achievement of your dream impact other people’s lives? In fact, why not pick up a pen and literally draw your success? Or maybe you can write about it.

Let this image sink into your subconscious mind and in time, your mind (along with all its resources) will begin to contemplate the idea of turning your vision into reality.

To chase a dream, first you have to be a dreamer and a great way to start is by turning your greatest goals into vivid mental images.

To sum up, the ideal mindset that will turn your dreams into reality relies on cultivating positive thoughts and creating a clear vision that will make your dream look more “real” and achievable. 

Happy New Year!

 

References

Eagleson, C., Hayes, S., Mathews, A., Perman, G., & Hirsch, C. (2016). The power of positive thinking: Pathological worry is reduced by thought replacement in Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 13–18.

Ruby, F., Smallwood, J., Engen, H., & Singer, T. (2013). How Self-Generated Thought Shapes Mood—The Relation between Mind-Wandering and Mood Depends on the Socio-Temporal Content of Thoughts. Plos One.

Darcey
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Darcey