The Magic Formula For Creating Meaningful and Compelling Goals

how to set goals, goal setting, better goals, best goal

“What do I want?”

This is the most important and compelling question you can ask yourself, because without a clear answer to this question you are like a crewless boat in the middle of the ocean with no direction. You can put in a lot of effort into what you are doing, and you could be the best at what you do; but even then, without knowing what you want or where you are going, you could end up anywhere and likely it may be somewhere you don’t like.

Imagine going to a travel agent and saying, “I’d like a plane ticket please.” The agent then replies, “Absolutely! Where would you like to go?” And you respond by saying “I don’t know, just somewhere, anywhere!” The travel agent, being a helpful service person, wants nothing more than to be able to serve you; however, without clarity as to where you want to go, he is confused and doesn’t know how to serve you to your satisfaction, because where you end up may not be to your liking. Nevertheless, many people do just that, and then they turn around and blame the travel agent or give the agency a bad review because it performed poorly according to them.

Now imagine going to a restaurant and telling the waiter, “I’d like to have some dinner, please.” The waiter replies, “My pleasure! Here’s a menu for you. What would you like?” And you reply, “Oh, I don’t know, anything will do.” Again, the waiter, being a helpful service person, wants to serve you; but without clarity as to what you want he is unable to assist, so he looks at you with a confused look on his face in an effort to solicit a more specific response from you. You sigh impatiently and proceed to say, “Oh all right; look, I don’t want this… And I don’t want this… And I don’t want that….” and on and on you go, pointing at each item on the menu you don’t want and stating that you don’t want it. Now this happens to be a restaurant that prides on its wide variety of foods, so it takes you a very long time to go through the entire menu pointing out what you don’t want instead of what you do want, and by then the waiter is so confused that he still doesn’t know what it is that you do want!

It all sounds very silly doesn’t it?  Yet, many people go through life being unclear about what it is that they do want; in other words, without any goals; and like the example of the travel agent, they are lost or confused about where they are going.  Or they spend their days going on and on about what it is that they don’t want out of the menu of life (imagine how thick that menu is) instead of learning to focus and getting clear about what it is that they do want, and like the example of the restaurant, they spend months and often years without getting what they want because they were so focused on what they didn’t want instead.  And then they spend their lives complaining about this or that, or blaming this person or that person, or this circumstance or that circumstance, for not having a better lot in life, instead of taking responsibility. Can you imagine how long your personal waiter (your subconscious mind) has to wait and how much unnecessary junk it would have to sift through in order to get to what you actually do want?

As Earl Nightingale puts it in his book “The Strangest Secret”:

Think of a ship with the complete voyage mapped out and planned. The captain and crew know exactly where the ship is going and how long it will take — it has a definite goal. And 9,999 times out of 10,000, it will get there. Now let’s take another ship — just like the first — only let’s not put a crew on it, or a captain at the helm. Let’s give it no aiming point, no goal, and no destination. We just start the engines and let it go. I think you’ll agree that if it gets out of the harbor at all, it will either sink or wind up on some deserted beach — a derelict. It can’t go anyplace because it has no destination and no guidance. It’s the same with a human being.

So the first thing that we need to do in order to ensure we’re headed in the right direction is get clear about what it is that we want; in other words, we need a goal or outcome that is specific, measurable, achievable, and appropriate.  It must be something which we, and only we, desire, rather than something that society desires for us; in other words, it must be something for which we are 100% responsible from beginning to end. And it must be an outcome that is stated in the positive and something that we move towards rather than away from.  This is what is commonly known as “SMART Goals” or “Well Formed Outcomes.”

But having a goal, even if it meets the above criteria, is not enough. We must be able to keep the goal front and center, and we must be able to communicate the goal to our subconscious mind effectively, so that our subconscious can then do what it does best: serve us, and help us to achieve our goals following the past of least resistance.

Over the next few weeks I will be sharing specific strategies to help you get clear about what you want following the “SMART Goals” model, as well as sharing strategies to embed these goals in your subconscious so that your probability of success is multiplied, so be sure to subscribe or follow me so you don’t miss any of it. It’s going to be a fun ride!

To your success!

JC

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How To Eradicate Failure From Your Life Using These 3 Basic But Powerful Principles

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Whenever I find myself down emotionally because of something that is happening (or not happening) in my life, I like to put into practice the tips and techniques that I’ve learned in my journey to turn the situation around.  This is not always easy, because sometimes the emotions that arise as a result of my current focus just feel too overwhelming.

One of my favorite things to do is to search for a new perspective, one that allows me to see the good and the positive in the situation.  Over the years I’ve come to realize that no matter how bad a situation seemed at the moment, there was always, always something good, a blessing in disguise if you will, that would improve my life experience in some shape or form.

At first I would come to this realization in hindsight, after the storm had passed, because I was just too overwhelmed by what we know as negative emotions to truly understand what was happening. When I did not have any tools to use or techniques to apply, I allowed myself to be dragged into the negative vibe and soon after I would find myself feeling down in the dumps.

But over the years I’ve learned to apply this “New Perspective” technique and this has helped me to build an energy shield that blocks the negativity from dragging me into it, and allows me to use what is currently happening as fuel to keep moving forward. I especially like to use it when I find myself doubting my ability to succeed at what I’m doing.  When fear and self-doubt creep in, rather than dwelling on these thoughts and feelings and thus allowing them to attack and destroy my confidence and drive, I immediately turn to this technique and apply it.

This technique is based on 3 basic principles: 1. You started off as a winner, 2. You are already getting results, and 3. There is no such thing as failure.  I will now elaborate on each of these principles:

You Started Off as a Winner
Think about it.  The reason you are here is because at the time of your conception when the sperm and the egg came together, one sperm won the race! That’s one in one hundred million! And because of that one, here you are.  And do you know how many things can go wrong during pregnancy? Tons! But the fact that you are alive reading this is proof that you’ve been a winner since the beginning. And that was before you even had use of your senses and your intellect, so imagine how much more of a winner you can be now! So the next time you feel fear and doubt creep in remember this: you started off as a winner and a success, and you can definitely continue to be successful.

You Are Already Getting Results
This is an obvious one, but is generally missed by many (myself included).  I invite you to come to the realization that in every one of your endeavors, in everything you’ve attempted throughout your life, you did get some results; sometimes they just weren’t the results you wanted, but you got results nonetheless.  Now, what happens to many of us is that when we didn’t get the results we wanted on the first pass, we take that to mean that we’ve failed and therefore we bring our efforts to a halt. If it’s a goal, we drop it like a bad habit; if it’s a dream, we give up on it.  We allow the unwanted results to dictate the fate of our endeavors because we believe that we have failed, which only hurts our self-confidence and the belief in our ability to accomplish whatever we set our minds to, which in turn will only increase the fear and self-doubt the next time we set off to attempt something.

There Is No Such Thing as Failure
I’ve said this in a previous post but I want to reiterate it because it’s a very important principle.  There is no such thing as failure; there is only feedback indicating that the approach we tried did not work.  Notice the difference in the feeling that results from thinking “I have failed” Vs. what I call the Edison Mentality which is thinking “Ok, that approach did not work; I wonder if this one will?”  Even without being in the middle of a challenging situation you can see that the “I have failed” mentality not only creates a feeling of depression and/or hopelessness, but it also automatically brings your efforts to a halt; “I have failed, therefore there is nothing else for me to do.” When we have this mentality creativity flies out the window, and our mind closes its doors to new options, new approaches, new possibilities.

However, the Edison Mentality opens the doors to all kinds of possibilities which causes us to develop a child-like curiosity and determination.  When we have this mentality our creative juices flow freely and we feel practically dared to make it work. We learned from what did not work, and use that knowledge in our next approaches until at last, we experience the results we wanted.

Remember Edison’s words the next time you feel like you’ve failed or are failing at something.  When asked about how he felt after failing to invent the lightbulb ten thousand times, he replied: “I have not failed ten thousand times.  I simply discovered ten thousand ways not to make a light bulb.”  His so-called failures were no such thing; they were simply data and feedback, which he continued to use until he got the result he wanted.  Where would we be today if Edison had said after his first few attempts, “I have failed”?

I have shared with you the 3 principles behind my “New Perspective” approach. I have used and continue to use this approach in my daily life with wonderful results, and I invite you to do the same. Remember, you are already a winner, and you are already getting some results; if the results you’re getting are not what you want, remember that there is no such thing as failure. Use your current results as feedback and, like Edison, move on to the next approach.  You will find that if you apply this technique, there is just no way for you not to succeed!

If you’ve enjoyed this read please feel free to share it!  Do you have any questions or comments? Please share in the comment box below. I’d love to hear from you!

To your success!

JC

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How to Use The Power of Focus To Improve Your Life

focus, how to focus, focus on the positive

Focus is a powerful thing. When used correctly, it has the potential to help us get our life back in balance and have more objective perspectives of what is going on in our lives, which in turn allows us to take a step back and make better and more informed decisions.  When used incorrectly, however, focus has the potential to cause us to feel utterly out of balance and become subjective, which in turn causes us to make rushed, uneducated decisions or poor choices that we may later regret, not to mention causing us added stress and anxiety about what may be going on.

Let me give you an example:

Take a moment to quickly evaluate your life as a whole and rate your current situation using a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 means you are at your ideal, exactly where you want to be, and 1 means there is MUCH room for improvement.  Now fold a piece of paper in half, and on one half of it make a list of the good or positive things in your life as it is right now and on the other half make a list of what you consider bad or negative things that you would like to change or improve on.

Let’s say rated your current situation a 4.  On one side of the paper you would list what’s good about your life right now; these are the things that helped you to rate your situation at this number. You could add things like:

I have a home
I have a job
I am healthy
I have a family that loves me
I do make some money
I can pay most of my bills on time
etc…

On the other side of the paper you would list the bad or negative things currently going on in your life.  These are the things which, when changed or improved, would help you to rate your life a 9 or a 10. You could add things such as:

My relationship with (…) sucks
I have no savings in the bank
I am fat
My car is old and broken
I don’t have money to vacation
etc…

So, in this example, the positive side is a 4 (because that’s what you rated your current situation) and the negative side is a 6 (the difference in the 1-10 scale).  Now take a look at your paper with your lists side by side and read them again. How does it make you feel?  Do you still believe you rated your life accurately? If you did this exercise honestly, you’ll probably realize that your initial rating was lower than it should have been.  I’m also willing to bet that as you were doing the exercise you had an easier time coming up with things to write on the “negative” side of the paper than on the “positive” side.  This is because on a day-to-day basis we’re generally mostly thinking about what is lacking in our lives rather than on the blessings that we already have.  Our focus is mostly on what is missing, what is wrong, what is broken, what needs to be improved.

Imagine that your life is graphed on a line like this one. We’ll place an x on it to indicate your rating:

Balance1

Now we’ll turn this into a scale or a balance by adding a support under it like this:

Which way is the scale currently going to tilt? It’s pretty obvious, right? It will tilt towards the “bad” side like this:

But now we’ll add something to our diagram; we’ll add focus which, for the purpose of this illustration weighs a full 10.  If we add it to the “bad” side of the scale, we’re stuck. In spite of the good things that are going on in our lives, we’ll continue to feel like nothing is working, like everything is bad, like this is a hopeless situation, because our focus is on what’s wrong, missing, or broken in our lives.  When this happens, we may enter a state of despair, depression, hopelessness, anxiety, sorrow, etc., and we miss out on appreciating and enjoying the blessings that we do have.

But what would happen if we shifted that focus and placed it on the “good” side of the scale? What will happen is that even with the rating remaining at 4 we will have managed to tilt the scale in favor of what’s good in our lives, and here’s where we can truly shift our perspective.

Here’s where we can truly see and accept that, while there is plenty of room for improvement, our life is already good. Here’s where appreciation and gratitude can truly take place, because our focus is now on our blessings, on what is working and what is positive in our lives. We’re not denying that there is room for improvement; we’re simply focusing our attention on what is already working because that is what’s going to help us get even better so that our diagram looks like this:

What we focus on expands

What we focus on expands, and what we resist persists. Focusing our attention on what is “bad” in our lives and resisting it or fighting it will only cause it to increase and persist.  It’s like trying to get out of a hole by digging the hole deeper.  This is not an efficient way of going about improving our situation. A more efficient and effective way would be to focus on what is already working and then figuring out how we can do more of it or expand it to other areas of our lives.

I picked a very low rating as an example to demonstrate that even with such a low rating we can shift our focus and gain a better perspective.  No matter how bad we think our life situation is, there is definitely much good going on already and there are definitely many things that are working. So I invite you to add the weight and power of focus to all the good that is already going on in your life and see how much better you’ll instantly feel as a result of it. You will not regret it.

To your success!

JC.

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The Negative Side Of Positive Affirmations

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Positive affirmations can definitely be beneficial; they can assist us in feeling better, especially when we’re feeling down and in the dumps.  However, they also have the potential to pose a great danger to anyone working to manifest their desires; my goal in this article is to explain what this danger is and how we can avoid it so that it doesn’t get in the way of our manifestations.

This great danger is that positive affirmations, if not used carefully, will tend to disconnect us from our real emotions and launch us into a game of pretend that will ultimately be counterproductive to our manifestation efforts.  If you’ve read Greg’s book “Grow a Greater You,” you know that our emotions are a key element in playing the manifestation game successfully.  But as Greg states, the emotions in and of themselves are not enough; we must be completely connected to them. We must feel them and own them without masking them with other positive emotions, or pretending that they are not there.

Simply using positive affirmations when we’re feeling a negative emotion is like driving a car when the fuel gauge is pointing to “empty” and slapping a happy face sticker over the gauge to avoid seeing it.  While the happy face sticker will in fact prevent us from seeing the fuel gauge registering “empty” and will probably distract us little because we’re not looking at it, it’s not likely that we’ll make it to our destination because our car will eventually run out of gas.  We’ve only masked the situation; we haven’t really changed it.

According to Greg, it is during the times that we experience negative emotions that we have the greatest power and greatest opportunity to grow a greater version of us; this is where we can experience real growth, rather than pretending that we’ve grown.  And we do it by acknowledging and owning our emotions while at the same time telling the best feeling believable story that we can tell at the time.

The problem with just using positive affirmations is that every time we use them we become a little more disconnected from our emotions, and therefore we lose some of our power to grow, and we miss out on taking advantage of the growth opportunity that these situations present to us.

Generally, positive affirmations do help us to feel good in the moment, and that’s probably the reason why we keep using them.  However, positive thinking gurus commonly suggest an unrealistic way of using positive affirmations. Let’s take weight loss as an example.  Let’s say that we’re doing everything we can to lose the extra 20, 30, 50 lbs. We’re eating healthier and we’re moving more.  However, as it is often the case when we’re trying to lose weight, we may tend to dislike what we see when we look in the mirror, or get upset because we can’t fit into our clothes, or become disappointed if we find ourselves out of breath when going up a flight of stairs.

At this point, the positive thinking gurus recommend using affirmations such as “I have my ideal weight!” as a way to move away from the negative emotions and the negative thinking patterns.  They recommend saying this affirmation (or others like it) over and over dozens of times, in front of the mirror if possible, visualizing ourselves at our ideal weight and incorporating our emotions by feeling the feelings of being at our ideal weight.

The problem for some people – and I’ve experienced this myself – is that, while we may be able to make ourselves feel better in the moment, our subconscious has not accepted that statement as being true.  As I understand it, our subconscious says to us something like this:

“OK, I can see that you feel badly about your weight and you’re attempting to use this affirmation to change your situation. However, this affirmation goes completely against the belief you asked me to store in here for you as your truth, so I can’t let this one through.  There are tons of evidence to support your truth (your existing belief) that you do not have your ideal weight, and this evidence contradicts your current statement (affirmation).  However, your feeling better is our common goal, therefore I’ll allow you to feel better now while you repeat that affirmation to yourself; but know that I’m protecting your existing belief and I’ll soon bring it up again and point out the supporting evidence to you so that you don’t feel like you’re going crazy.”

Do you see what’s happened?  We have simply masked the situation with a story that was “too good to be true” so that we could make ourselves feel better in the moment. In other words, we’ve slapped a happy face sticker over the fuel gauge in our attempt to not look at the warning that our car is running on “E” but we haven’t really dealt with the real issue.

So what should we do instead?

The first thing we need to do is understand that emotions, no matter how negative they are or feel, are not bad.  Emotions are nothing more than a feedback mechanism to alert us of how aligned or misaligned our current beliefs are with our desires.  In other words, if my desire is to have my ideal body weight but my underlying beliefs regarding my weight are “I can’t have it; it’s very difficult if not impossible; I’ll never look good; everything I eat makes me fat; I don’t deserve to be thin or to look good; other people can but I can’t; if I so much as look at food I get fat”… or any variation of these beliefs, I will experience negative emotions in relation to my weight.  But as I said, this is not a bad thing. These emotions are my feedback mechanism telling me that it is time to upgrade my underlying beliefs!  Without this mechanism in place, how on earth would we know that there is an issue with our beliefs and that they need to be upgraded? We just wouldn’t know! Isn’t this a wonderful mechanism?  Isn’t this something to be grateful for? Sure it is!

It seems obvious then that our primary goal should not be to just make ourselves feel better in the moment, but to tackle the underlying limiting beliefs and upgrade them. And while many positive thinking gurus tell us that that is exactly what affirmations are supposed to do, the truth is that rarely do these limiting beliefs get upgraded by the use of positive affirmations alone; additionally, we have to remember that we run the risk of masking our beliefs and disconnecting from our true emotions, which in the long run will prove counterproductive to our growth efforts.

Another thing to remember is that the successful upgrading of our beliefs – as explained by Greg – takes place gradually.  So we have to be wise on the approach that we use to make sure that we don’t end up against a wall as in the example I gave above.

So how do we do it?

In a previous post I talked about my experience with positive affirmations and explained that the reason they don’t seem to work sometimes is because the jump we’re trying to make from where we are emotionally to where we want to be is just too great (read the full post here). Without knowing it, I had stumbled upon one of the key elements of Greg’s approach to upgrading our beliefs, and that is our gradual movement up the emotional scale; and the way we do that is by making statements owning our current emotions, and appending to these statements the best feeling believable story that we can muster up at the time.  I’ll repeat this because this is important:  we have to make statements where we own our current emotions and also add to these statements the best feeling believable story we can muster up at the moment.  Notice I did not say “add a good story,” because the best feeling believable story may not necessarily sound good.

As I mentioned in the post I referenced earlier, a better feeling believable story may cause us to move from depression to anger in the emotional scale. I’m sure we can all agree that anger is not necessarily a good emotion, but we can also agree that it is definitely a better emotion than depression.  So the statements that we make owning our current emotional state must include statements that help us to move up the emotional state gradually.  Sometimes this process may take a day or two, and sometimes it may take longer.  But however long it takes, we must be aware of our improved current emotional state and revise our statements to tell the best feeling believable story from our new vintage point. As we do this we’re going to the root of the issue (our beliefs) and making the necessary changes there.  Will we still feel good in the moment? Maybe, maybe not; but we will definitely feel better because 1. We’re owning our current emotions rather than denying them; and 2. We’re upgrading our emotions gradually so that slowly but surely we will be moving up the emotional scale.

I was of the mentality that as soon as I became aware of negative emotions I was supposed to do everything in my power to change them, since negative emotions would interfere with manifesting my desires.  Feeling any negative emotion sucks; it’s painful, and we don’t want to experience that pain.  I would therefore do what I had learned was the best thing to do in these cases: reach for my positive affirmations and repeat them over and over again in order to not feel that pain, but not realizing that all I was really doing was denying my true feelings and doing myself more harm than good.  Why? Because as a result of all the masking and denying, I’ve now had more difficulty connecting with my true emotions, which as I have already stated are the primary mechanism that alerts us when our beliefs need to be upgraded.  In other words, I’ve had to work extra hard to be able to identify my limiting beliefs.

I hope this revelation is as helpful to you as it has been for me.  If you have any input on this subject, or any questions or comments you would like to share, please do so in the comment box below, or email me directly at jc@effect180.com.

To your success!

JC

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CAUTION! Do Not Join Sarah Arrow’s 30 Day Blogging Challenge!

Sarah arrow blogging challenge

On April 9, 2015 I made a bold move that would change my life.  The people closest to me know that I’ve always been a person prone to procrastination; although, to be honest, I prefer to call it “taking my time because I don’t want to make a rushed decision.” Wish there was a word for that.  OK, I can hear you say, “There is! It’s called procrastination!” Moving on.

Over the past year I’ve grown enough to be able to admit to myself that many times I used that “need to think it through” excuse to not feel obligated to take action.  I was buying myself some time (stalling) so that I could analyze the situation from any and all angles, to ensure that I would not fail.  Heck, never mind failing, I did not even want to make a mistake.

The perfectionist voice in me kept asking “what if” questions that would take me down Disaster Road. I’ve always tried to adhere to that wise saying “Expect the best, prepare for the worst.”  The problem with that saying (for me, at least) was that as soon as I started “preparing for the worst”, I would begin expecting it!  And at that point, no matter how hard I tried, it was very difficult to keep myself from going down (and staying on) that road.

Until rather recently, I lacked the tools necessary to help me snap out of that disaster mentality and become more proactive in my own success.  Slowly but surely, though, I learned many techniques that helped me change and grow out of a lot of my limiting beliefs and negative thought patterns.  Some may argue that I took the long route.  I would argue that I took the route that was the best fit for me.  There are many people out there who have this wonderful “sink or swim” mentality.  “You know what you gotta do” – they say – “so just jump in with both feet and do it!” In my case, though, I needed to feel the water with my toes first, although admittedly at first I would spend a very long time contemplating the water and thinking “Wouldn’t it be nice if I could get in?” Followed by a prolonged period of research about water temperature, water quality, water salinity, etc. and another prolonged period of meditation where I would ask my higher self whether getting in the water was a good decision. I’m not even kidding. That was me, procrastinating.

Now, I don’t think there is a single right or wrong way to approach goals.  I think that as long as you are doing something to get to your destination you are in good shape.  The way I look at it now is, “There are more than one ways to get to any destination.” And while some may argue that you can get there faster by flying (just do it), my answer to that is “that may be true, but you’ll miss the experience of the scenic views you see when you drive.” Notice I said “when you drive” and not “when you think about driving, read about driving, contemplate driving” etc. That’s not moving towards your destination.

That being said, only you can determine how fast or how slow you’re willing to go, and there are many factors that will influence that. But you gotta be doing something.  There is one thing that’s guaranteed not to get you to your destination, and that’s inactivity. If you never set off on the journey, you’ll never get there no matter how much wishful thinking, research, meditation, and journaling you do.

And so when I finally learned that lesson I made a decision to begin my journey from the person I was to the person I wanted to be; from already good to even better.  And I am happy to report that the journey has been an amazing one.  Depending on the area of my life that I was working on, sometimes I took a plane, and sometimes I walked. Sometimes I got there faster, and sometimes slower. But of one thing I am certain: as long as I was doing something, it all happened the way it was meant to happen so that I could assimilate as much of the experience as possible.

As I mentioned at the beginning of my post, one of the things I struggled with was procrastination.  I would analyze a situation so much that it often led me to inactivity; “paralysis by analysis.”  I finally accepted something that my wife had been trying to tell me for years: this paralysis, this inactivity, was preventing me from reaching my destination in this area of my life.  If you haven’t figured this out already, she’s one of those with the “sink or swim” mentality.  You can imagine the lively discussions we have sometimes.  She often reminded me of the Andy Griffith episode where Andy is contemplating making a big decision and saying that he needed to think about it some more. Aunt Bee’s reply was, “Come along Opie; let’s leave your father to his slooooooow thinkin’.”

But anyways, I finally accepted that I needed to get off my couch and actually do something rather than just talk about it.  And slowly but surely I started doing less thinkin’ before my doin’.  After reading the book “How To Stop Worrying and Start Living” by Dale Carnegie, I followed his advice.  He recommends that in order to eliminate worry and get out of this paralyzing “what if” mentality (which doesn’t serve us), we need to come to terms with the worst case scenario and then make a decision right there and then as to how we’re going to handle it.

So I started asking myself this question: “If I move forward with this goal, What’s the worst that can happen?” and once I answered it, I would follow it with, “So what?” By being honest with myself, I determined that if the worst did happen, it wouldn’t be the end of the world, and there were ways I could recover from it. This practice alone helped me to get past my procrastination and start taking action. I also decided to follow Edison’s example. I read a story in which it’s reported that he was asked how he felt about failing 10,000 times in his efforts to invent the lightbulb. His response was, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I just found 10,000 ways not to make a lightbulb.”

I learned that mistakes are not failures. They are data that tells us that modifications are needed, and that data gives us the opportunity to make whatever we’re working on that much more effective. But the key is that we have to be moving. We have to be working on something.

Case in point: I had decided that I wanted to share the lessons that I had learned along the way, and which helped me grow into a better me, with the world.  I wanted to bring hope to anyone struggling with situations similar to mine, and share with them the techniques I had used to help me deal with those situations successfully.  Only I didn’t know how to go about it.  In doing a little research I realized that a blog would be an excellent way to make this happen.  But there was another problem, or rather two problems.  One, I was not sure that what I had to share would truly be of value to others, and two, I was terrified of writing!

I started looking for books related to the subject of blogging and came across the book “Zero To Blogger In 30 Days!” by Sarah Arrow.  The reviews were very positive so I decided to give it a try.  But here’s something else I did.  I read the very inspiring “About Sarah Arrow” section followed by the “How to use this guide” section in which Sarah mentions that the book is organized in two sections: the first section helps you to set up your own self-hosted WordPress blog, and the second section covers the challenge, blogging for 30 consecutive days. She also offers readers the ability to sign up for the Facebook support group for encouragement and accountability.

Without giving it another thought, and without allowing time or room for procrastination or doubt to creep in, I joined the 30 Day Blogging Challenge offered by Sarah Arrow.  I went to the Facebook page and requested to be a member, then signed up for the challenge emails. Just like that. Within 10 minutes of making a decision to share my life experience with the world I had not only gotten a book to help me do it, but I had signed myself up for a 30 day challenge to write a blog post for 30 consecutive days. What? I had not even read the book yet!

The old me would have read the book, highlighted it, read it again, gone online to do additional research, read 3 more books, journaled about it, meditated on it, before considering joining the group. Some might argue that in doing all of this I was still moving forward. But the truth is that I know myself, and I know that for me, that was just another way to procrastinate, a way to look busy while in the back of my mind still stalling under the pretense of not wanting to fail.

I determined that if there was anything else that I needed to learn, I would learn it along the way. If I made mistakes, I would use the data to correct them. If I got stuck, I would ask for help. Besides, that’s what the support group was for. So in short, the worst that could happen wasn’t anything I wouldn’t be able to recover from.

So I joined the challenge and the rest, as they say, is history. Today I complete my challenge with this post, and I want to thank Sarah Arrow and everyone else in the Facebook support group for their comments and words of encouragement.  I also want to thank my wife who believed in me from the beginning, and who put up with my nervousness, panic, and excitement, and read every single post! I could not have done it without her unending support and encouragement.

Did I do it in 30 consecutive days? No, it took me 35 days actually. I started off with a bang but somewhere down the road I got sick and that set me back a few days.  The old me would have been completely bummed about it, and I would probably have given up on the challenge because it wasn’t perfect. I had failed.  But had I?  The purpose of the challenge as stated in the book intro was to “build your writing muscle and give you the discipline to carry on blogging and get great results.”  And that I had definitely accomplished.

The new me recognizes that we set goals to accomplish something, and we have an ideal about how we’re going to accomplish it. But guess what? Life happens. Stuff (for lack of a better word) happens.  And it’s what we do when stuff happens that will determine whether we’ll succeed in reaching our goal or not.

So while I did not do it in 30 consecutive days, I did write 30 posts and that did build not only my writing muscle but also my confidence in my ability to do what I wanted to do.  Do I count this as a failure? Heck no! Would you?

Thank you for joining me in my journey!  If you have any input, questions or comments, please feel free to share them in the comment box below. I’d love to hear from you!

Oh, and about my “caution” statement in the headline? I’ll finish that statement now:

Caution! Do Not Join Sarah Arrow’s “30 Day Blogging Challenge”… unless you are ready to increase your self-confidence, build your writing muscle, and start on your way to a blogging success in 30 days or less!

Made you look, didn’t I?

To your success!

JC

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Is Your Mind in a Constant State Of Emergency?

negative thinking, worry, fear, disaster, pain

In a previous post I mentioned that in my journey of self-discovery and self-improvement I came across the book Thoughts and Feelings by Matthew McKay, Martha Davis, and Patrick Fanning.  I learned a lot from this book, especially in the area of automatic thoughts and negative thinking patterns.  One of the negative thinking patterns that truly resonated with me was what the authors called “Catastrophizing,” which basically means turning any seemingly negative situation, no matter how small, into a major catastrophe in our minds.  For instance, not getting the job after an interview may mean that we will never find a job. When failing to make a sale, the salesman may conclude that he’s a failure.

People who catastrophize tend to use phrases that start with “What if…” and what follows these words is usually something negative and of an apocalyptic magnitude.  Here are some examples of everyday scenarios and some of the thoughts that may surface for a person who tends to catastrophize:

[While going for a night out] What if my house gets burglarized while I’m out?
[While driving on the freeway] What if I one of my tires blow up while I’m driving?
[When about to give a presentation] What if the entire audience hates me?
[When going into a tall building] What if there’s an earthquake while I’m in the building?
[When experiencing a headache] What if I have a brain tumor?
[Regarding our kids] What if my son starts using drugs?
[When watching a movie at the theater] What if there is a fire?
[When taking a flight] What if the plane malfunctions and crashes?
[When hearing of a couple who got divorced] What if it happens to me?
And the list goes on and on.

Now I’m sure many of us have experienced some form of automatic negative thoughts along these lines at some point or another, especially when something negative happened recently that may be related to the situation in which we are.  For instance, if we’re watching a movie at the theater and we suddenly recall that we heard in the news about a recent fire at a movie theater and recall hearing that there were many victims, the thought that it could happen to us may suddenly take a hold of us and cause a wave of panic to sweep over us.

This is normal and can usually go away with a bit of rationalizing; a person who does not tend to catastrophize will usually ask him or herself, “What are the odds that it could happen to me?” and this is usually enough to stop the negative thinking pattern and be able to enjoy the movie.

However, for a person who tends catastrophize it’s not as simple.  One catastrophic thought leads to another, the images in their minds become more and more vivid, and pretty soon they find themselves almost feeling as if the situation is already happening to them.  At this point it becomes practically impossible for them to enjoy the movie, and they may end up choosing to leave the theater because the uncomfortable feelings are just too strong to ignore.  As you can imagine, the level of stress and mental anguish that a person experiences as a result of these negative thinking patterns are very high.

So how can we deal with this?

Catastrophizing is a mental habit, and as such, the more we do it the stronger the habit becomes.  So the first thing we need to do is become aware of when we’re doing it.  This awareness will also be a tool in helping us stop the negative thinking pattern.

We also need to develop a plan action in advance.  If we know that we tend to catastrophize, we need to select a few techniques that we can use once we become aware of the negative thinking pattern.  Once technique I found extremely useful was asking myself the same question I was already asking (“What if …”) but in a positive way instead.  For instance, if my catastrophizing thought was, “What if my marriage fails?” I would switch it to, “What if my wife and I find a way to reconcile? What if everything turns out ok? What if everything is better tomorrow?” or something along those lines.  I would make it a point to replace every catastrophizing thought with 3-5 better feeling thoughts, and this usually did the trick.  Not only would I save myself unnecessary mental and physical stress, but I would also free my mind to consider better possibilities and see opportunities to improve my situation.

I used multiple positive “what if” questions in order to re-train or re-condition my mind to take this route instead of the one it was used to taking.  Remember, catastrophizing is a mental habit and like any other habit, the best way to get rid of it (in fact, some argue it’s the only way to get rid of it) is to replace it with another habit that serves us better. And just like anything else, the more we do it the stronger the new habit will become and the weaker the old habit will be.

The key here is to use better feeling thoughts that are believable to us, as opposed to positive but unrealistic thoughts that we don’t believe.  If I said to myself “Everything will be wonderful tomorrow!” not only would I be deluding myself but my mind would not accept it, and I would experience a different kind of stress caused by the conflict between my current reality and what I’m trying to make myself believe.

The magic of “What if” is that we open ourselves up to the possibility of something positive happening; we’re not forcing it and we’re not pretending it, we’re simply acknowledging the possibility of it.  Shifting our attention from the catastrophic thought to the possibility of something positive happening has the ability to help us feel more peaceful and at ease almost instantly.

Another good technique to use in conjunction with the “What if” technique is the rubber band method I shared with you in a previous post.  Wearing a rubber band around our wrist and snapping it lightly when we catch ourselves in the middle of a negative thought pattern can help snap us out of it, and then we can switch to using the “what if” technique described above to ease ourselves into better feeling thoughts.

Negative thinking patterns can be replaced with positive ones, but it takes patience, dedication and persistence.  If you find that you experience this negative pattern of catastrophizing, give this a try and let me know how it works for you.  Or if you have any other techniques that have worked for you, please feel free to share them in the comments box below.  I’d love to hear from you!

To your success!

JC

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Achieve Your Goals Each And Every Time With This Simple Tip

I’m about to share with you a tip I recently learned which has the potential to change how you approach goals from now on.  If you’ve struggled with reaching your goals in the past, you’ll want to read this because it’s very likely that you’ve been going about it wrong.  What I’m about to share with you will not only explain why you’ve had difficulty in reaching your goals, it will also tell you what you can do about it.

Let’s start with this: Why do we set goals in the first place?  Generally, people set goals because they see their current situation as bad or wrong or as something that needs to be fixed.  They label their starting point, whatever it is, as bad, and they set goals so that they can turn their bad situation into a good situation.

But if we really think about it from an objective point of view, we’ll realize that our situation, whatever it is, is already good.  The only way a situation can be labeled as bad is if there is nothing good about it.  Imagine that you place your situation on a scale. A bad situation would register anything below zero.  So take any situation, no matter how bad you think it is, and place it on this imaginary scale.  Would it ever register below zero?  I doubt it.  If we’ve accomplished something, anything, whatever it is and no matter how small we think it is, it is already above zero and by definition, it is already good.

Now consider the emotional effect of saying “My situation is bad and I want to make it good,” versus saying “My situation is already good, and I just want to make it better.”  Which one has a better emotional effect?  Which one feels worse when you say it?  Which one has a more optimistic feel?  Which one produces better energy?  So let us begin here and agree that whatever our starting point, whatever our situation, it is already a good one, and we just want to move towards making it even better.  This shift in attitude towards viewing our situation as already good can make us feel more motivated and make us want to be more proactive in achieving our goals whereas before we might have felt ashamed, guilty, frustrated, angry, etc. and therefore unmotivated and inactive because we saw our situation as bad.

Now that that’s settled let us discuss what may prevent us from reaching our goals.  Let us say that I have a goal and set an actionable plan to double my income this year, and I make this a SMART goal, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.  It meets all the qualifications of a SMART goal, right?  But let’s think about this for a moment.  Doubling my income in and of itself is just that, an increased income, but in the grand scheme of things, it means absolutely nothing.  If I just imagine twice the amount of cash available to me sitting right there on my table, it has no effect on me.  The thought of more money alone does not even excite me.  More income in and of itself means nothing to most people.

Now if I imagine what I can do with that income, that would be a different story, wouldn’t it?  Now I can begin to feel a little more excited about the increased income because I now envision being able to afford better things, helping others in need, going on vacations, taking better care of my family, etc. This excites me.  There is a strong emotional connection to the goal, and so it seems more attractive to me and I feel more motivated to achieve it.

And herein lies the reason we may not have been achieving our goals in the past.  If our goals are not creating a strong emotional response in us, it is very possible, in fact probable, that we will give up on them midway. A goal that does not create a strong emotional response in us when we think about it is not even worth starting.  Our efforts will be half-efforts, and there will be no sense of urgency to complete it.  Is it possible to achieve a goal without having a strong emotional attachment to it?  Sure it is. But its achievement will probably not bring us much satisfaction, and we may realize that having accomplished that goal did not improve our situation at all, which was the very reason we set that goal to begin with.

Now I’m not saying that a worthy goal should not be pursued simply because it does not produce that strong emotional response in us; what I’m saying is that if we really want to pursue it, we must first ensure that it creates a strong emotional response in us.  That means that we may need to dig deeper or reframe our goal in such a way that it produces that response we’re looking for.  If we really want to set any goal and see it through to fruition in a way that will feel rewarding to us, we must do whatever it takes to create that strong emotional response when we think about it.

One final thought: we must make sure that we acknowledge any progress made in our working towards the achievement of any goal.  This is very important.  Sometimes we become disheartened or disappointed in ourselves because we did not reach the results we set off to achieve.  For instance, if we set a goal to lose 50 lbs. and we end up losing 20 by our deadline, does that mean it did not work? Does it mean we should give up? Does it mean that we’ve failed? Of course not! We made progress, and any progress towards the achievement of any goal is worth acknowledging and celebrating!  As Earl Nightingale states in his book “The Strangest Secret”:

Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.”

Therefore let us celebrate our success! Any progress we’ve made towards a goal that we set for ourselves automatically places us in the category of those who are successful.  So let us acknowledge our success, rewards ourselves for it, and keep pushing forward!

To your success!

JC

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Are You Acting Like Your Best Friend Or Your Worst Enemy?

What do you do when you become aware of an aspect of your life that doesn’t please you?  Do you become your greatest enemy or your best friend?  It’s easy to tell.  If you find that you’re saying things to yourself like “I’m so stupid,” “there, I’ve done it again,” “how could I be so dumb,” or anything along those lines, you are not your best friend.  Would you say any of those things to your best friend?  What if this is not the first time they did it, would you say that to them?  What if they weren’t careful enough or acted in an irresponsible manner, would you say that to them?

Chances are that you would not say stuff like that even to a stranger, much less to someone you know and love.  Most people wouldn’t talk to us that way either, yet when it comes to ourselves we turn into our worst enemies when we should be the ones offering kindness, support, love, understanding and encouragement to ourselves in any situation.

It is very possible, in fact probable that the unkind words we say to ourselves are not our own, or at the very least, we did not pick them out of thin air.  Most, if not all, of that negative self-talk we’ve been repeating to ourselves we picked up along the way in the form of direct or indirect comments or expressions that made us feel that way.  We heard those words or the essence of those words so often that at one point we adopted them as our own without even realizing it, and we’ve been repeating them to ourselves ever since.

And has that helped at all?  Has the negative self-talk and self-criticism helped us to improve our situation or behavior at all?  Did it then?  Did it make us more productive, more efficient, more aware, more determined to try again, more confident? I’m willing to bet that it did not and has not.  In fact, if anything, it exacerbated the problem.  The negative self-talk turned situations into bigger deals than they were, making us feel even more embarrassed, ashamed, depressed, sad, guilty, afraid, etc. which only kept us focused on what went wrong and prevented us from seeing the good and making real progress.

So why, then, is negative self-talk our go-to tool for fixing ourselves? Why do we even think that we need to be fixed?  Whether we realize it or not, that is the essence of our negative self-talk, isn’t it?  We can easily wrap the entire scope of negative self-talk into this statement: “I’m bad, I’m broken, and I need to be fixed.” But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The truth is that we’re neither bad nor broken; we are human, and as humans, we make mistakes. We mess up, sometimes due to negligence or carelessness and sometimes due to lack of knowledge or experience.  But this does not make us bad or broken, no matter how many times it happens. Each of those experiences has something to teach us, and our job is to get the message, learn the lesson and keep moving forward. Our self-talk should encourage us to do just that, instead of paralyzing us and keeping us from trying again.

We must treat ourselves the way we would treat a growing baby who is just learning to walk. We would never call him foul names or verbally put him down no matter how many times he fell down.  We also should not go the other extreme and turn to feel sorry for him, gasping or making sad faces, to the point where he feels sorry for himself and doesn’t want to try again. We would use a chirpy tone and kind words like, “It’s OK baby, you can try again! Come on, get up, you can do it! I know you can!”  If he hurt himself in the process, we would not say, “See that’s what you get for trying that! Serves you right.”  We would nurture him and still tell him to try again.

Can you imagine what would happen if we used negative feedback every time the baby fell down?  He would learn, soon enough, not to try to walk again because whenever he does, not only does he fail to accomplish his goal and possibly get hurt, but he gets yelled at, called bad names, or made to feel like a horrible creature.  Would you want to attempt walking again?  And yet, Isn’t that what’s happening to us as adults? Aren’t we keeping ourselves from walking (substitute the word “walking” for any endeavor you’ve given up on) because we don’t want to experience the negative feelings that result from the way we scold ourselves?

So today I want to invite you to be kind to yourself.  Whenever you accomplish something good or whenever you make a mistake or fall on your face (literally or metaphorically), treat yourself the way you would treat your best friend.  Use encouragement, love, kindness, understanding, support, and all forms of positive reinforcement.  I guarantee you that you’ll see great improvement, not only in the way you feel, but in the way you approach life. From now, commit to be your own best friend.  You’ll thank yourself later.

Do you have any input on this subject?  Drop me a line in the comment box below or email me directly at jc@effect180.com.  I’d love to hear from you!

To your success!

JC

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Revealed! The Real Reason You’re Not Reaching Your Goals And What You Can Do About It

In a previous post I mentioned that I recently came across the works of Greg Kuhn, author of the “Why Quantum Physicists” series while looking for the missing piece of the manifestation puzzle.  As I continue to read his material I am getting a broader understanding of why using “the old approach” of causality (cause and effect) does not work for most people, which helps to explain why many people fail to manifest their goals, be they to lose weight, make more money, improve their relationships, get healthier, etc.

Have you ever bought into an advertisement for weight loss program or product that promised to help you lose all that excess fat in a relatively short period of time?  What about an advertisement or offer for a money-making program that promised to make you rich?  A pill or drug that promised to make you healthier?  We’re constantly being bombarded with ads that promise us a better life in one aspect or another, and we’re constantly buying into them.

Every single product that we buy, we buy it because we want to believe what the ads say. We want to believe that this pill will help us burn fat, that this exercise program will help us shed pounds, that this investment will help us make more money, that this cream will reverse aging and keep our skin looking young, that this hair product will give us shinier hair.  We hear the promise that it will deliver the results we want, and we hear testimonies of people for whom it has worked.  So we buy into it, and hope that it will deliver the same results for us.

We start the program/ regime / treatment usually hopeful and many times skeptical.  “I’ll give it a try,” – we say – “maybe this is the one.” Only to discover that in spite of all the hype about it and all the people for whom it seemed to work, it did not work for us. Then we conclude that either the makers of the product were lying or probably paid people to say that it works, or something must be wrong with us and that’s the reason it didn’t work for us.

But according to Greg, the problem is not in the product itself or in the makers of the product.  The problem is in our perception, and it is the context that we assign to the product or program that makes all the difference in the world.  The issue is that we have failed to believe that the product or program will actually work for us.  We wanted to believe it, but we failed to believe it, and as a result it did not work.

I was very skeptical of Greg’s explanation at first, but the more I thought about it the more sense it made.  I started looking back at all the things I had tried in the past, all the products and programs which I bought into, and analyzed my mental state at the time when I purchased them.  Some of these products or programs worked for me, and some of them didn’t, so my goal was to identify the difference in my mental state between the two groups.

To my surprise I discovered that the products I purchased with the intent of “giving it a try” did not work for me at all, while those that I was convinced would work for me did!  At the same time, I searched my memory archives for people who had not been successful using a product that had worked for me, and sure enough I recall them saying that they were going to “give it a go and see what happens.”  Subsequently, the product failed to deliver the desired results for them, even though it had worked for me.

What does this all mean?  The way I see it, it means that it really isn’t about the products or programs or ideas or plans or methods we use to reach our goals or accomplish anything. Rather, it is about our beliefs surrounding those things that will determine whether they will work for us or not.  In other words, all of these products, programs, plans, methods, have a placebo effect on us, and they will work for us only if we truly believe they will work.

This was a game changer for me.  This meant that I was going about it all wrong and that there was some internal work I needed to do prior to deciding whether I was going to buy into the next thing, whatever it was.  In a future post I will share with you what this work is, and how I’m going about it. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, do you have any comments or input you would like to share?  Please drop me a line in the comments box below or email me directly at jc@effect180.com.  I’d love to hear from you!

To your success!

JC

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If You Are Aiming For Perfect, You Are Doing It Wrong

I’ve lost count of how many things I’ve put off because I knew, I just knew, that they would not be done right.  My attitude was, “If I can’t do it right, then I won’t do it at all.” Or “I’ll wait until I can get it perfect, then I’ll do it.”  There is value in those words, don’t get me wrong.  Those words imply dedication and determination which are the fuel that propels us to achieve the seemingly impossible. But there is also an implied expectation; the expectation that it must be perfect in every sense before it can be acceptable, even to me. Especially to me.

Perfectionism is a form of control. The wounded, critical part of us believes that if we are perfect (whatever that means to each of us) then people will like us, love us, admire us, approve of us, pay attention to us, or validate us.  We dislike rejection or indifference, so we attempt to control how people feel about us by being perfect.

This need to control how people feel about us comes from making others responsible for defining our worth. It is based on the false premise that if someone likes us, then we are worthy, and then we can be happy. But it doesn’t end there. We tend to do this even to ourselves.  We try to control our own view of ourselves by being perfect, because – we think – “Only when I’m perfect will I feel worthy of accepting myself.” We hold ourselves to impossible standards, often higher than the standards we use for other people, and when we fail to meet those standards, we belittle ourselves, telling ourselves how unworthy we are.

But let us say that we managed to be perfect for that moment; how much mental and emotional work went into that? Tons of it, isn’t it? We used up so much of our precious energy in our quest for reaching perfection, that when we finally got there we ended up exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally, and the good feelings (if any) are but short lived.  Often, our self-criticism propels us to achieve some amazing things, but at the end of it all we can’t even appreciate them because we’re completely drained.

And that’s not all.  In addition to causing low self-esteem and exhaustion, the quest for perfection in order to gain approval often leads to procrastination. The fear of failure and disapproval – whether from others or from ourselves – if we are not perfect can be so great that it stops us from taking the action that we need to take. Self-criticism or self-judgement as a way to pushing ourselves to do things “perfectly” often backfires, leading to paralysis-by-analysis instead of creativity and productivity. Often we don’t even try things because we know that if they are not done perfectly we won’t value them anyway.

How do we change?

We must begin by acknowledging our own self-worth.  We must stop handing over the authority to define us to every person we come in contact with.  We must begin by accepting that there is nothing that we need to do, be or have in order to be worthy; we are worthy just as we are.  When we decide to define our own worth instead of handing that responsibility to others, we will stop worrying about what others think and feel about us.

We must also shift from defining our worth based on external qualities such as performance, to defining it based on our internal, intrinsic soul qualities. Why?  Because as long as our worth is based on performance, we will worry about results and we will feel insecure losing our self-worth. But when our worth is based on our intrinsic qualities of caring, compassion, goodness, empathy, and joyfulness, then it is separated from our performance and never at risk of being stomped by it.

This will free us to create and produce with freedom and joy, knowing that we can make all the mistakes in the world and still be worthy. Then we will know that we are already “perfect” in our essence, and that there is nothing to prove.  Perfection never comes into the picture when our performance is a joyful expression of your intrinsic worth, rather than a form of controlling what others think and feel about us.

When our worth is no longer based on our performance, life becomes so much easier and joyful and less tiring. Instead of feeling immobilized by our addiction to perfection, we are free to express ourselves and let our gifts and talents shine.  Expressing ourselves creatively becomes a fun endeavor, and even though fear may still creep up from time to time, it will no longer paralyze us.

Do you have any questions or comments that you would like to share?  Please drop me a line in the comment box below, or email me directly at jc@effect180.com.  I’d love to hear from you!

To your success!

JC

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