Change what you think about, change your life

Change what you think about, change your life

What do you think about most?

In the words of The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius: “A man’s life is what his thoughts make of it”.

In these times of the Covid pandemic, the New Zealand cost of living crisis and war in Europe, it’s hard not to get sucked into the doom and gloom – for your eye to catch a headline (in the media or on LinkedIn or Facebook) that verbalises your outrage and articulates your worry.

But consider this.

Twentieth century personal development icon Paul J Meyer tells the story of an insurance company where he worked (funny how most American sales and personal development gurus started in insurance). Sales were down, opportunities were tanking, and everybody was depressed about it. The CEO got the whole company collectively to stop reading the newspapers for a month (for information on what a newspaper is, Google it or go to Wikipedia).

Within the month sales doubled and opportunities tripled. People just needed to shift their focus off all the bad stuff going on around them and approach life affecting what they had the power to affect.

This is not to say we should turn off all media and social media, but reducing our exposure to what’s important and where we can have an impact is better than having our thoughts dominated by disaster.

The same is true of our thinking. If your thoughts are dominated by ‘how swamped with work we are’, we will live life overwhelmed. If we live in fear of losing a client or clients, chances are we will lose that client.

You don’t have to be a psychologist to know, usually from experience, that we tend to ‘go’ in the direction we’re looking. If you have ever ridden a bicycle and seen an obstacle (like a rock in the path), you know to look away from that obstacle rather than at it. Look at it, and you’ll probably hit it.

One reason we may have so many head on collisions could be because people stare fixedly at the oncoming car as the accident unfolds. Could it be that looking away from the oncoming car might help you steer slightly away from the centre?

  1. Change your focus

Instead of thinking about how bad sales are, start thinking about how you can get more sales. The moment doom and gloom settle on you, shift your thinking to opportunities in the pipeline or brainstorm ideas for increasing leads.

In other words, look away. Look towards your desired objective. Not what you fear.

  1. Overtake the gloom

If your thoughts are dominated by an impending disaster or problem, ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen? What would I do in the worst-case scenario? What would life be like afterwards? Now how can I do to make sure it doesn’t happen?

In other words, face your fears – they may not be as bad as you imagine – and overtake them.

  1. Change what you can change

Soldiers on the frontline in Ukraine will tell you that there’s no point dwelling on the fact that they may die in the next few weeks. That they may be defeated. That they don’t want to tackle a particular objective because it is too dangerous. Soldiers understand that these things are out of their hands. They get through by focusing on the job at hand, one step and one day at a time.

In other words, do your best and the rest will take care of itself.

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