I’m listening to 52 Mondays by Vic Johnson. I need his formulaic method of setting, breaking down, and taking action on goals. I have a few goals for myself this year, and I’m behind. Rather than kicking myself for not achieving, I believe today is a new day, and I’m “born again” – mentally, physically, spiritually. With that in mind, I’ll dust myself off and get to work – today.
I’m using Vic’s principles to get myself on track. That’s caused me to evaluate again some things I’ve learned through study and experience. To help me first and maybe you, I share them here:
Be careful about what you take into your mind.
What you consume for your mind is similar to what you eat and how your body reacts. If you take in negativity, anger, despair, hopelessness – in reading, music, events – you’ll slowly become that. It’s like wanting to lose weight and continuing to eat cheeseburgers and ice cream (me!). Your mind is a fertile ground for growth.
Remember when you didn’t know how to walk? Oh, you don’t? Neither do I, but our brains put the actions together from watching others and going through the steps ourselves. Remember when you didn’t know algebra? You learned the steps from teachers and books. Remember when you didn’t know what caring for other people looked like? That was modeled to you at a young age and you consumed it – building a life story and way of thinking that you likely still repeat today.
So, why is it okay now to consume things that aren’t positive and beneficial? I’m not picking on anyone or thing in particular – not politics, or music, or videos, or books. I’m simply asking that you – and I – consider that what we take into our minds forms our thoughts. Do you find yourself despairing, like no one in the world cares for one another? It’s not true. It’s probably what you’ve consumed. Do you find yourself convinced you’ll never “become something?” It’s also not true. The world is littered with people who had nothing, were told they were nothing and became “something.” The capacity was in them the whole time — but they had to do something with it.
You’re also more likely to hang around people who have similar consumption patterns. Do you want to be physically fit? Hang around physically fit people and those who want to be physically fit. Do you want to own a business? Start hanging around people who own businesses. Do you want stable, consistent relationships? Start hanging around people who have stable, consistent relationships. You become your inputs mentally, socially, physically, and spiritually.
There isn’t and never has been another way. Not one successful person – mentally, socially, physically, or spiritually ever said – start treating yourself poorly, give up on your goals, and gather more friends who can’t get their lives together.
I know… that came across strongly. But, it’s true. Your mind and heart are a river – you need to be taking positive things in at a greater or the same rate that you’re giving them away, and you need to be cleaning the water while it passes through you.
Consider what you believe.
What you think about is important and will make the bulk of how you feel. You’ll act on those feelings. So, action is a matter of thinking. If you believe yourself to be incapable, unable, not good enough, unlovable, you probably will act from that mindset. Breaking that cycle is not easy and not always a matter of saying “I am enough. I am capable.”
Many people struggle with thoughts that are inwardly destructive. And, those thoughts create feelings. Those feelings – of inadequacy, of shame – hold us back. Suddenly we’re lazy instead of just self-caring. Suddenly we’re eating our feelings instead of just having a “cheat day.” Suddenly we’re not going back to school because we believe we’ll “never understand.”
The mountains unclimbed by people who deemed them too difficult are far greater in number than the mountains that have been summitted by adventurers who believed they could – and did. Yes, goals given up on far outweigh those accomplished.
And, likely, if you haven’t accomplished your own goals you’re also becoming a drain on people around you. You’re likely to be the complainer, the person who thinks they’re changing the world because they’re alerting everyone to bad it is. You’re likely to be the one who tells your friends how much someone else did you wrong because you just didn’t take the action to remove yourself from that destructive relationship in the first place.
People who accomplish something have made the sacrifice of not also taking that time to moan about the things left unaccomplished. Think about that again. If you want to accomplish something, that takes time and energy. By taking that time and energy to move in a forward direction, that time and energy were also not used standing still or going backward.
We affect each other, too. The road of life is littered with people who have been broken down by someone else. A father who said his kid was fat. A mother who said her child was dumb. An uncle who taught his niece that men can’t be trusted. Extreme examples? I doubt it. I have a few from my life that I carried too long.
What you’re taking into your mind and believing about yourself is important. Not only for you but because, as you act out of that belief, you’re passing it along to others.
Be a curious problem solver.
You don’t like your job? No amount of complaining about it will change it. You don’t like your spouse? All complaints will slowly chip away at whatever relationship you do have. You don’t like your kids? They’re becoming like you.
Instead, be curious again – like you have something to learn. Why? Because – news flash! You don’t yet know it all. Exercise the curiosity to learn and know more. What is it about this position that bothers me so much? Why is he responding to me like he’s upset? Why are my kids lashing out at their friends?
Then, engage your mind to help solve the problem.
Using the information you gained by being curious, start to envision the future by asking great questions… What does it look like when I’m fully loving? What will I do when I have a job that I feel uses my skills? What will my life be like when I break the cycle of…?
This sort of process is used to great effect in addiction counseling. Understanding that most people who are addicted to something don’t want to be addicted, it’s important to help the person connect with their feelings and what their life will look like without addiction.
Take action to move forward
Granted, this doesn’t work when a person wants their addiction. The person who says they like their addiction because it’s part of who they are is much further away from changing that behavior. And, some people – maybe you – just need to be honest – you like your bad habits even though you know they aren’t good for you and people around you don’t like them either.
I worked with a client once who flatly stated – “I know my color scheme probably turns people away. I’ve heard it. But, I like purple, and if it costs me some business, then that’s the way it is.” Some people read that and think “good on her – she’s being herself.” Before you applaud, think of the employee whom she’s affected by making it more difficult for that person to collect a commission because the store looks like a circus. You are not an island, and your life and habits don’t go unnoticed without effect.
At the very minimum, assuming you’re not dialing in and taking action on whom you want to be, you’re perpetuating the notion that there are parts of your life that you can’t change. Doing so actually makes it more difficult to move other parts of your life forward. You train yourself into thinking that when something is difficult that it’s not overcome-able.
Putting it together
You’re not rich but you want money? Repeating “I’m rich” probably won’t work. Instead, it may be easier and more effective to ask questions: What if I stopped spending so much? What if I did start that business? What if I did find that job I’d like to pursue?
You’re not feeling capable? Ask: What if I was able? What could I do to become capable? Who around me IS capable and could have coffee with me?
Having relationship issues? Ask: What would it look like if I was fully invested? What can we do to reconnect? What aren’t we doing that we used to do? What new things can we try?
Asking questions will engage your subconscious problem-solving mind.
Once you have the answer, then take the action. Read 52 Mondays for great ways to break down long-term goals into winnable fractional goals.
And, if you don’t take the action today, consider that it simply may not be a goal you care about (and accept the consequences), or make peace with the past. This moment is a new moment, and tomorrow is a new day. Start now. And start again and again if you must. Better to take one step at a time separated by time than go nowhere forever.
Apart from the other important things I intend to do, I’m writing a book. In 52 Mondays, Vic states that if a person writes 1000 words a week, that’s 52,000 words – a book.
Only 52? Seems doable. Well, let’s get started!