How many of you have seen the commercials and infomercials for exercise equipment and programs? Have you noticed that the people in these advertisements generally appear to be in great shape? They always seem to have a smile on their face. They also seem to be using the equipment or program with ease, right? If someone didn’t know any better, it would seem as though improving our physiques is a leisurely undertaking. However, most know this is not the case! Improving our bodies and conditioning is a demanding task which can cause you some discomfort and pain along the way. There will be sweat and strain. It is certainly not as glamorous as the ads make it out to be!
The same principles that apply to changing our physique apply to improving ourselves, whether it is our education, careers, starting a business, or simply getting your life together. Whatever you are trying to do, you will likely experience some pain & strain along the way. Pain may come from a lack of resources. The amount of sacrifice and effort needed can generate stress. Setbacks can cause emotional pain. This is simply all part of the process. Our bodies require us to strain and sweat in order to reach a higher level of conditioning and health. There is no way around it. Even though it is a great sacrifice, it is well worth it for the improvements to our health. Well, guess what? Just like our bodies, we must go through pains in order to reach our goals. It is not easy. Sometimes you will want to quit. That is normal. Ask anyone who has sought to do things on a higher level; many will tell you that they considered throwing in the towel along the way. However, they will all tell you this: THE KEY IS NOT TO QUIT! The grind is worth it in the end. It takes a lot for all of us, myself included, to stay encouraged and reach the next level. Success is a process and not an event!
Do you desire to better yourself or situation? It all starts with YOU. YOU must believe in yourself. YOU have to believe what you are doing is going to work. YOU have to believe opportunities will arise that are FOR YOU. Trying to better yourself or situation is never easy. It always requires leaving our comfort zone. It involves the risk of failure. What follows are 3 strategies we can use to ensure we have the proper mindset needed to stay on that sometimes rocky, but rewarding, path of self-improvement.
- Believe In YOU. First and foremost, you have to believe that what you are doing is going result in success in some form or fashion. You can’t rely on others to always spur you into action. It is great to have a support system, but it is meaningless if you don’t believe in yourself. Others can encourage, but you have to act. Everything starts and ends with you!
- Tune out the Noise. Many will not understand. Some will flatly say you can’t do it. Some will think you are crazy. Some will ask why would you want to make yourself so much trouble, why not just go with the status quo? Get used to it. You are going against the grain. It is pretty likely that the majority of people are not doing what you are trying to do, whether it’s starting a business, improving your health, growing spiritually, etc. It’s only natural that they may not throw their full support behind you. Expect it & accept it.
- Keep an Open Mind. Do your research. Continue to learn about the area you are seeking to improve upon. We are in an age where we have an ability to access limitless information at our fingertips. There are usually several ways to accomplish a particular goal and, through your own research and observation, you may find your own way of doing it that works well for your situation.
Empower yourself by realizing you can make your goals a reality!
Talk is cheap! It really is. Think about it. It costs you nothing. It takes extremely minimal effort to do. Talk is important for communication, but the communication must be followed by action. How many things can be accomplished by simply saying that you are going to accomplish them? None come to mind off right off the bat. What good is it to state you are committing to a healthier lifestyle if you do not exercise or eat healthier? What good does it do to state you need to quit _________ (smoking, drinking, spending money, etc.) if you choose not to change? We live in a world that respects action. Talk with no action undermines credibility. What follows is 3 strategies to make sure your “talk” is not cheap!
- Make yourself accountable: Utilize formal and informal support systems if you struggle with being accountable. When we know we have someone to answer to, it helps us to fight through those times where our motivations may be a little low. Your support systems can include family, friends, groups, and social media networks. Documenting your actions or progress toward a certain goal on your social media account is an excellent way of staying encouraged and accountable. Those who comment will likely be very supportive of you. Plus you may unknowingly inspire someone. Allow it to be a positive tool.
- Change your people, places, or things: Granted, in many cases, it is hard to make wholesale changes due to certain circumstances in our lives. However, we typically are able to change an aspect of our lives to some degree. For example, a person who is dieting may drink water or tea instead of soda. A person who is quitting smoking or drinking may avoid bars. The downside to this is that when we make changes to our people, places, and/or things, in many cases, those closest to us are the least supportive or understanding.
- Have a plan: You want to have a plan in place for change. Your plan is your foundation. It will likely need to be adjusted; that is ok. Plans provide a vision.
Doing these 3 things will ensure that you are more than just talk!
I was watching a video of motivational speaker Les Brown and he instructed the audience to say “Good things are supposed to happen to me.” He recommended that the audience say this to themselves daily. Brown then went on to say we tend to expect bad things to happen to us, so we need to affirm the positive. Affirmations are designed to change our subconscious thoughts by constantly referring to them in our conscious minds. Our subconscious impacts us in ways we are unaware of. We tend to have thought patterns and experiences in our past which, if we are not aware, can undermine our conscious efforts to do better in the present.
So what happens when we start to internalize the message that “good things are supposed to happen to me?” Does that mean everything we pursue will happen? Of course not! Does it mean that you won’t be disappointed? Absolutely not! This message is rooted in your faith in a higher power (God) and yourself. People who believe good things will happen for them will start to become more perceptive of opportunities. They will tend to attract those good people who genuinely can help them.
There is a flip side to this type of thinking. If you truly believe good things are supposed to happen for you, then you will believe that if something doesn’t happen, it just wasn’t a good thing. I’ll keep it real with you, sometimes this is a hard pill to swallow if you are in a desperate situation or have tried repeatedly at something. It’s ok to feel disappointment, but we can’t let it keep us down. In this day and age, we have many opportunities to overcome our circumstances and do well. It can happen when we exude a faithful, positive mindset, with efforts to match.
A well known verse in the Bible (Proverbs 27:17) states “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Whether you are a believer or not, one cannot deny the power, meaning, and truth behind this verse. An iron blade is best shaped and sharpened with another tool made of iron; most substances do not have the strength or durability to modify iron.
In applying this principle to our lives, it is important for us to surround ourselves with people who are likeminded. The iron in our lives can be those that have similar goals and can provide genuine encouragement and support with honesty. If we expect to reach our potential, we must surround ourselves with others who are striving to meet their potential. Those people will relate to what we are going through and are likely to provide needed advice and encouragement. We typically seek to be successful in a number of areas which are interrelated: relationships, financial security, spiritual growth, and work, to name a few. Striving for success in these areas is a complicated and difficult process with many potholes, stops, and detours along the way.
No one achieves great success without the support of others. We all need and depend on others to provide support in some form or fashion. Support can be providing encouragement, advice, time, or financial support. The bottom line is that it is extremely important to surround ourselves with people who have similar visions and ideals like us. There is mutual benefit when we do this. Embracing the meaning “iron sharpens iron” is key in reaching our goals!
We are all seeking to be successful at something, whether it be our work, health, relationships, or finances, to name a few. Accomplishing our goals requires a certain mindset. I have observed the following qualities in those who have achieved success:
- Vision: Having a vision means identifying your purpose and understanding your ability to achieve the goal. A vision sets the foundation for creating a plan to achieve your goal. Your vision can always be referred back during the challenging moments that undoubtedly arise in pursuit of your goals to keep yourself on track. Once you have a vision and plan in place, you will need…..
- Discipline: Discipline equals commitment. Being committed will allow you to stay true to your vision and plan. This commitment will encourage you to tune out negative self-talk and naysayers (haters). On the flip side of that, discipline also allows you to at least hear people out; you never know where your insights may come from. Something else to consider is that when you are trying to do great things, a lot of times you are going against the grain, so to speak. For example, let’s say you are looking to start a business. The majority of people are not business owners, so it may hard for you to find people to relate to what you are trying to accomplish. People may be critical or unsupportive, which can be discouraging. Accomplishing your goals is also a lengthy process. This is where your discipline comes into play.
- Effort: It is going to take work. There may be a lot of trial and error involved. There will be some sacrifices involved. You will definitely devote a lot of mental and physical energy to reach your goal. Efforts must be consistent. Take weight loss for example. The person who is seeking to lose weight is far more likely to be successful if they exercise 5 days a week for one hour compared to 1 day a week for 5 hours. Consistent efforts will bring progress and/or may reveal how your plans need to be adjusted.
- Positivity: You must have a positive attitude. Let’s face it, sometimes it is hard to be positive in the face of disappointments. There is always the potential for things to go wrong. However, a positive attitude will attract the energy and people you need to achieve your goals. You must believe that there will be positive results from all your efforts. You have to believe that what you are doing is going to work in the long run.
Thank you for reading. I wish you the best in your pursuits!