Updated: Jul 31, 2020
“When you stop growing, you start dying”
This is how a postmodern author; William Seward Burroughs II, described the harsh reality of life. You may not know of him as a significant figure. However, his work has been a large influence on where we are as a culture today. When starting your personal development journey, you may be asking a lot of questions. You might be absorbing vast amounts of information and not only trying to filter hogwash from it all but also trying to retain what is applicable to you. You might ask where do I start? Who and what should I trust for the best information? Let us take a short breather and realize one thing. You did it! You have taken the first step and realized there are things to improve on in your life. The best thing you could do is commit to becoming the best version of yourself possible. This is a pivotal moment in your life! However, knowing you want to change will not make you the person you want to be by magic. It is going to take some effort. In fact, it is going to take a large amount of effort on your part. You will grow more as a person in the process than you expect. That is guaranteed if you commit and stick to it. Start growing so that you can stop dying.
So where do you start? Should it be your diet or your finances? Maybe it is with your career or your relationships and people skills. Those are all areas we can always improve on. However, there is one keystone action you need to make before you start to change or improve upon in any aspect of your life. Something you may soon find as a trend in all the personal development books, and even the business books. It starts with your mentality. Anything you may aspire to change or improve upon will be arduous without first, fostering your mindset to be prepared and resilient to your own mental restrictions. What do I mean by that? In short, you must be ready to overcome your biggest hurdle and that is you. Your thoughts, the emotions, the habits, and even your outlook on life. Ever heard the saying, “You are your own worst enemy”? Your negative thoughts, lack of confidence, and insecurities are holding you back. Your thoughts are the guidelines for your life. It seems strange to think that way but whatever you think the most about will become the influence in your decisions and ultimately your life. There is a great book by Napoleon Hill called “Think and Grow Rich”. In summary, the book talks about how whatever thoughts you put out into the world that is the energy the world sends back into your life. Negative thoughts will bring about negative outcomes because that is what you are focused on. It has been scientifically proven that your thoughts are actual energy and that a large portion of your metabolic consumption is used by your brain. Positive thoughts will bring positive outcomes because that is what you choose to radiate. Have you ever noticed that when you feel good, and your thoughts are positive, for the most part, your day goes well? Things seem to work out and you have very little to no stress or problems throughout the day. It may come as a surprise to you, but you are not short of challenges in those times. It is the fact that you have a positive outlook that allows you to tackle those challenges head-on, clear-headed, and in a manner that seems strikingly natural and stress-free.
If you plan on starting a personal development journey, I would like to motivate you to start with your mindset before moving on to anything else. There is no need to sugar coat it and say you will see results immediately. However, learn to trust in the process, be patient, because like an ice cube starting to melt, the changes in temperature do not seem to make a difference until the inflection point. Each degree gain allows the ice to become closer to the phase transformation. If you like, you can think of the butterfly example where a caterpillar stays in its’ cocoon for days with nothing seemingly happening until the day they breakthrough. Those breakthrough moments are unleashed from small incremental gains until they compound into massive change. The most powerful outcomes are always delayed! This is a very important concept in the book Atomic Habits by James Clear, an inspiring and even life-changing book if you are moved to action through its’ material. Incorporating the strategies listed below will aid you in your journey for those life-changing habits.
If you have ever read, Think and Grow Rich, you will recall that your thoughts are energy that is being sent out into the world. You have full control of your thinking with time, patients, the habit-forming process of catching negative thoughts and emotions then turning them positive. Fake it till you make is rooted through thought. This is because if you tell yourself something enough times you will soon accept it, start to believe it, and embody it. That is why verbal affirmations are so effective over time. Your mind starts to create neural links to the thoughts that you put out and the way you are. If you choose to be positive and happy even in the worst of circumstance, you will engrain it into your personality over time. Like meditation this will require you to be mindfully aware of what you are thinking, the mindset you are in, and then focus on being positive and switching to helpful and uplifting thought and mindset. Each time your mind drifts into a negative state use the “point and call method” the Japanese rail system uses. With purpose, recognize the self-harming or negative thought, accept that you are thinking it, and then make it irreconcilable into something uplifting and positive. Originally this will be difficult, and you will miss a vast majority of the damaging thoughts. However, if you are persistent and adamant about changing your thought process you will make those incremental gains until a breakthrough moment occurs. You will change those negative thoughts, purposefully allowing not one to get by you. As with anything else worth learning, build upon that skill slowly until it is easy to be aware of your negativity. There will be a point in which this will become such an ingrained habit that your perception will shift. Much like when a person has been learning a new language and their thoughts start to flow in that learned language. It will become automatic and you will think positively, without effort.
A growth mindset is a key to being successful in any venture that you may take. Firstly, there are two separate mindsets to be aware of. There is a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. To get a full account of the two and very detailed instructions as to what to do it would be very beneficial to check out the book “Mindset” by Carol S. Dweck. She outlines very specifically the difference between the two, as well as providing many real-world examples of both in action. However, the basic concept is that to really get over the negative restrictive mindset you may have to shift some ingrained mental habits. For example, have you ever thought to yourself “I can’t do that”, “I can’t afford this”, “This is too hard too learn”? We all have. Be honest with yourself. The change that needs to be made here is changing the word “can’t” and replacing it with the “I have not _____ yet”. In addition, change your thought and views to “How can I”. This is the principle of a growth mindset. The reality is that there are always ways to overcome a struggle or an obstacle. We live in an age where the blind can see, the lame can walk and hold things, the deaf can hear, and the struggling learners can learn just about anything. We have the resources, all that needs to be done is the active seeking of them and the willingness, grit, persistence, and motivation to achieve our desires. However, the growth mindset goes beyond the ability to think about challenges in a different view. It also includes having an open mind. A fixed mindset relies on experience, assimilated thought, due to upbringing and environmental aspects. However, some things may be justifiable such as looking both ways before crossing the road. The ability to critically think about the situation and think outside of the box, or even give new concepts and ideas time for evaluation for viability is crucial to massive change and success. Not everything will work but if you can see failure as a way to improve from it and use it as a building block or steps to scaling to the top of whatever you strive to accomplish, you will reach your goal.
State of mind and How to physically, and mental condition to change it in negative mentality circumstance:
There is a great probability you have heard of the name Tony Robbins. In his many motivational seminars and books, Tony talks about how physical body posture or the way you carry yourself can greatly change your mindset. To accomplish this, you should sit up or stand up straight, take up space, open your palms, lift your chin, and assume a confident pose. It may sound silly, but it truly works. When you are sad, or depressed have you ever noticed yourself looking up as you go about, or even taking up the seat or space that you are occupying? I did not think so. The posture is likely crossed and huddled, looking downward and slouching. To get more specific instructions read up on some of Tony’s books, visit his YouTube and look up power stance, or how to change your mindset by changing your body language.
Persistence and taking failure as a challenge to become better:
Not a single person has ever become a star, a success, or achieved all their goals without failure and over-night. Look, if you think this is going to be a breeze your in for a surprise. Everyone who has ever succeeded in any way has had to put in the work. They have failed constantly, learned from that failure, and made them steppingstones to rising above and getting to the top. There is a huge misconception in society that if we fail, we are failures. This is inaccurate. If that were the case than Thomas Edison was one of the biggest failures, there ever was. Is that how you remember him? No, you remember him as the guy who invented the lightbulb and the telegraph. Guess what? The best way to learn and get ahead is through failure because it means you are taking action and evolving your work by learning through each failure. That all being said, please go fail! Fail, over and over until the day you succeed. You may not even fail, but at least you are taking action to improve yourself and adding value to the world.
Changing your environment and the people you surround yourself with:
The saying goes, “you are the 6th person in a group of 5 people you surround yourself with the most. If you want to be intelligent surround yourself with intelligent people. If you want to be funny surround yourself with comedic and satire adept people. The list goes on including being wealthy. Humans naturally take on the characteristics and qualities of the people we surround ourselves with. This is due to an evolutionary aspect of survival. In caveman times if a man could not be a part of the tribe, he would be an outcast and left to die. The most natural form of flattery and attraction is mimicking or taking on the body language and traits of the person you are with. Everyone inertly craves to be appreciated and noticed. We unconsciously mimic and do things that the people we admire or want to be admired by. An example of this is traveling to a different country or culture and suddenly we find ourselves speaking in a similar accent as others.
Being self-absorbed or having a fixed mindset that you are just innately talented will wreck your work ethic and confidence when things go awry:
This is a reality check. If you think you are the smartest, most intelligent, attractive, etc. You may want to realize, there will always be someone better than you. There is something to learn from everyone. Life will undoubtedly show you this if it has not already. Even if you are 80 and you have had a full life and never experienced pain, anxiety, or depression, keep in mind one thing. We will all be in the same place and status at the end. In short, do not think because you have had a perfect life, that there is no room for improvement. You can always learn something new or help someone else. Always obsess over adding value to the world, others around you, and yourself. Personally, it is what you do with your given time on this earth and the people you touch that measures the kind of person you are. Many do not even have the resources or the environment to get to a level of adding value to the world and others. Some people just do not know what to do and or what information learn. Having the ability to always see opportunities for growth in yourself, for others, and even your surroundings will greatly improve the outlook in life and your success.
Criticism is an opportunity to reflect and improve yourself in a non-demeaning or attacking manner. It is true that all criticism allows the opportunity for change, the type of change that is guiding you towards what you need to be aware of. This is when you must be brutally honest with yourself in evaluating. Consider who the criticism is coming from, implicate a positive, uplifting viewpoint of the criticism by changing it to a “how can I do this better’ mindset. It is damaging to take something negative personally and to heart at face value. Negative criticism may be difficult to digest and accept, but it is what you need to hear to become better. Challenge yourself to become the best version of yourself by accepting all criticism and producing positive changes in your life and mentality. David Goggin is a living embodiment of self-criticism and always reflecting on who he is and how he can improve on his mindset. Check him out on YouTube, audiobook, or hardcover, “Can’t Hurt Me”.
Remember if you think you cannot or if you think you can you are correct. Go out and add value to your life, others, and the world.