Can you change your life in an instant? You watch an inspirational movie, read the best self-help book, come across a quote that reaches you deeply. Can these moments lead to lasting change? They lead to intense inspiration and motivation. However, the burst of inspiration is fleeting and the moment slips away.
You imagined shedding your old ways and lifting off into a new stratosphere of success while you were in the cloud of inspiration. You saw your best self emerge. The gravity from the beliefs, patterns of thought, and habits you built over years pulls you back to your base state. According to a University of Scranton study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, only 8% of New Year’s resolutions are successful. You didn’t need a research study to arrive at that conclusion.
You’ve experienced it with your own resolutions to make drastic changes. You realized it when your friend’s resolution to work out every day lasted 2 weeks. The jury is in: enduring change doesn’t happen overnight. The movie montage of the protagonist flipping tires and running sprints in an abandoned warehouse after experiencing a life-changing epiphany isn’t realistic.
While motivation doesn’t persist, you can commit to change your life in an instant. You tell yourself you’re sick of your old ways; it’s time to take action. If you embrace the moment and commit to change, the spark from that decision produces lasting change. You can use the moment to build momentum and commit to consistent, determined action until you arrive at your dream destination. Use the fuel from motivation to propel you to develop systems that facilitate the daily work that leads to your goal.
You can ride the wave of inspiration by creating the habits, plans, and systems necessary for success. You can’t ride the wave all the way to your end goal though. As your motivation dips, your inner critic begins a continuous stream of limiting thoughts. Your inner voice says you’re not good enough. Your plan will never work. You should give up on your dreams.
On top of the inner critic getting louder, you make mistakes, stumble, and fail because you’re learning a new skill or process. You don’t know the next step to take to overcome the latest setback. This seems like an ideal time to shove the dream back in the closet and quit. That’s what most people do. They turn to the safe path they’re familiar with when the going gets tough. The path that everyone else takes. There is a way to navigate around these setbacks that cause most people to quit.
The road map guides you past the roadblocks towards your dream. The road map breaks down the larger goal into smaller mini-goals. Achieving mini-goals each week provides small wins that create momentumtowards the larger goal.
In The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg writes that “Small wins fuel transformative changes by leveraging tiny advantages into patterns that convince people that bigger achievements are within reach.” You can develop your plan in a way that tilts the odds in your favor. Breaking down the goal into small pieces allows you to focus on the next step rather than being overwhelmed by the mountain ahead.
You’re in control of the road map. You can sequence your mini-goals so that each challenge is an appropriate level of difficulty. When you play a video game, level 1 is easy. It builds confidence and skills that will be needed in tougher levels. You don’t start the video game in level 7. If you did, you would lose 3 times in the first minute and turn the game off. Start your goals in level 1 to accumulate small wins.
Commit to Your Dream
It’s hard to change routines and behaviors. Trying to do too much at the beginning is the quickest route to giving up. Being overly ambitious early in the process results in frequent failures that lead to feelings of inadequacy. These feelings drive you to conclude that you’re not good enough to reach the goal. You head in a different direction towards a new goal.
Repeating this process over and over in your life creates limiting beliefs and massive friction towards taking action. Why set new goals if you’re just going to fail after a few weeks? Play the long game instead with your goals. When you’re committed to a goal, failures in the journey turn into opportunities to learn and improve. Instead of quitting, you ask what can I learn from this failure? What will I do differently next time?
Commit to your dream regardless of the amount of time it takes to achieve it or the obstacles that arise along the way. If your commitment level is low, you’ll be pushed around by circumstances. On the other hand, if you MUST realize your dreams, you’ll find a way past the obstacles.
“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” – Napoleon Hill
Habits for Success
Once you determine the course of action, block out specific time on your calendar to do the work. It’s ideal for the blocks of time to be the same each week. Working on the goal at the same time each day helps you stick with the habit for the long run. Consider working on life-changing goals first thing in the morning. InWillpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, Baumeister and Tierney write that “You have a finite amount of willpower that becomes depleted as you use it.”
You have a full tank of willpower in the morning. The world hasn’t kicked into high gear yet with e-mails, phone calls, and texts screaming for your attention. Creating a winnable plan and setting aside time to do the daily work paves the way towards success. To strengthen your game plan, build in weekly monitoring to assess your progress and identify your biggest pain points. From there, you can strategically make adjustments for the next week.
If you miss the mark on the min-goal of the week, you can scale back the actions for the next week. Adding accountability provides another layer of protection to your game plan. Asking a friend to check in with you once a week provides more motivation to follow-through on your action steps. The last step in the plan is a large dose of perseverance.
When you don’t feel like working on your goal, work on it. When fear, insecurity, and uncertainty strike, work on it. When you’re exhausted and overwhelmed, work on it. No matter how you feel, work on the plan. Trust the process. Methodically overcome each obstacle that arises. Execute the plan. Take the next step. The process leads to massive gains. It’s that simple. It’s also that hard. It’s difficult to ignore external expectations and distractions. At any moment, you could do a thousand other things than what you need to do.
When we look at successful people, we see the rewards they reap in public. We see the spoils from their years of hard word. We don’t see the thousands of hours of work that they logged in private. We don’t see that they worked towards their uncertain dreams every day, no matter how they felt. Putting your head down and executing the plan you laid out is hard. However, it leads to disproportionate results and success over time.
“The will to persevere is often the difference between failure and success.” – David Sarnoff
Success isn’t a nebulous or mystical process. There’s a formula for success. It’s a repeatable process.
Develop a road map, implement habits that support your goal, conduct weekly check-ins to monitor your progress, and add accountability. Then, adjust, learn, and persist until you arrive at your destination.
What habits or strategies do you implement to take consistent action on your dreams? What’s the biggest challenge you face in pursuing your dreams? Share your experience in the comments below!
This article was originally posted on chopra.com.
1. Listen to Your Body’s Wisdom
Our body expresses itself through signals of comfort and discomfort. When choosing a certain behavior, ask your body, “How do you feel about this?” If your body sends a signal of physical or emotional distress, watch out. If your body sends a signal of comfort and eagerness, proceed.
2. Live in the Present
The present is the only moment you have. Keep your attention on what is here and now; look for the fullness in every moment. Accept what comes to you totally and completely so that you can appreciate it, learn from it, and then let it go. The present is as it should be. It reflects infinite laws of Nature that have brought you this exact thought, this exact physical response. This moment is as it is because the universe is as it is. Don’t struggle against the infinite scheme of things; instead, be at one with it.
3. Take Time to Be Silent …
… to meditate, to quiet the internal dialogue. In moments of silence, realize that you are re-contacting your source of pure awareness. Pay attention to your inner life so that you can be guided by intuition rather than externally imposed interpretations of what is or isn’t good for you.
4. Relinquish Your Need for External Approval
You alone are the judge of your worth, and your goal is to discover infinite worth in yourself, no matter what anyone else thinks. There is great freedom in this realization. When you find yourself reacting with anger or opposition to any person or circumstance, realize that you are only struggling with yourself. Putting up resistance is the response of defenses created by old hurts.
5. When You Find Yourself Reacting With Anger …
… or opposition to any person or circumstance, realize that you are only struggling with yourself. Putting up resistance is the response of defenses created by old hurts. When you relinquish this anger, you will be healing yourself and cooperating with the flow of the universe.
6. Know That the World “Out There” Reflects Your Reality “in Here”
The people you react to most strongly, whether with love or hate, are projections of your inner world. What you most hate is what you most deny in yourself. What you most love is what you most wish for in yourself. Use the mirror of relationships to guide your evolution. The goal is total self-knowledge. When you achieve that, what you most want will automatically be there, and what you most dislike will disappear.
7. Shed the Burden of Judgment
You will feel much lighter. Judgment imposes right and wrong on situations that just are. Everything can be understood and forgiven, but when you judge, you cut off understanding and shut down the process of learning to love. In judging others, you reflect your lack of self-acceptance. Remember that every person you forgive adds to your self-love.
8. Don’t Contaminate Your Body With Toxins
Either through food, drink, or toxic emotions. Your body is more than a life-support system. It is the vehicle that will carry you on the journey of your evolution. The health of every cell directly contributes to your state of well being, because every cell is a point of awareness within the field of awareness that is you.
9. Replace Fear-Motivated Behavior With Love-Motivated Behavior
Fear is the product of memory, which dwells in the past. Remembering what hurt us before, we direct our energies toward making certain that an old hurt will not repeat itself. But trying to impose the past on the present will never wipe out the threat of being hurt. That happens only when you find the security of your own being, which is love. Motivated by the truth inside you, you can face any threat because your inner strength is invulnerable to fear.
10. Understand That the Physical World Is Just a Mirror of a Deeper Intelligence.
Intelligence is the invisible organizer of all matter and energy, and since a portion of this intelligence resides in you, you share in the organizing power of the cosmos. Because you are inseparably linked to everything, you cannot afford to foul the planet’s air and water. But at a deeper level, you cannot afford to live with a toxic mind, because every thought makes an impression on the whole field of intelligence. Living in balance and purity is the highest good for you and the Earth.
Sharing is caring. Can you share this and help us reach more hearts and minds. – Thousand thoughts
By Deepak Chopra, MD
“Enlightenment” is a word that has gotten so entangled with vague confusion that many people have given up on it. I don’t mean the classic seeker who hungers for God, Nirvana, or higher states of consciousness. There isn’t an accepted definition of enlightenment that allows for a general discussion where everyone knows what the topic is. Behind this apparent fuzziness, however, the concept of enlightenment has evolved tremendously over the past few decades, and in that time the possibility of being enlightened has come closer and closer to everyday experience.
Forty years ago enlightenment was inevitably associated with “Eastern mysticism,” a phrase that appears in the subtitle of Fritjof Capra’s famous book, The Tao of Physics. Meditation was associated with religions like Buddhism and Hinduism. Enlightenment was a spiritual attainment for Indian gurus or monks sitting in Himalayan caves. The fact that meditation is now a common practice in the West, with many research studies proving its benefits in terms of mind and body, shows how much the landscape has changed.
The next major change, which could bring a seismic shift in our worldview, would bring enlightenment into daily life the way that meditation is comfortably established in daily life. I’ll devote the next few posts to exploring how enlightenment affects everyone, not just a select few living under exotic circumstances. We can begin with the most obvious question you can ask yourself. Are you enlightened already?” This may seem at first like an almost absurd question. If there are ancient traditions for reaching enlightenment, a project that can take a lifetime’s effort and discipline, it must be impossible that a normal person going about his everyday life could already be enlightened.
But there’s a reason why the question isn’t absurd. Enlightenment is a state of consciousness–everyone seems to agree upon that, at least. Each of us already experiences three distinct states of consciousness every day: waking, sleeping, and dreaming. These states come naturally. We didn’t seek them out or do anything special to be in them. So why would so-called higher states of consciousness be set apart as privileged or difficult or far distant from daily experience? In fact, all the ingredients of enlightenment are already in place. These consist of:
Knowing that you exist.
Experiencing the world through your mind.
Experiencing that thoughts come and go in the mind.
Maintaining a self even as thoughts come and go.
At first glance none of these ingredients seems exotic, because they aren’t. Yet a list of ingredients isn’t the same as a recipe. You could line up eggs, milk, flour, and cocoa powder on your kitchen counter and still be far away from knowing how to bake a chocolate soufflé. So the entire tradition of enlightenment consists of finding the recipe for it–and this need for a process, practice, teaching, or discipline created many problems. It became unfortunate but true that every spiritual and religious tradition argued that its recipe was the right one–sometimes the only right one–and no one could settle the matter.
Unlike chocolate soufflé, which you can test by eating, the recipe for enlightenment was handed down second-hand as a kind of map or description understood by the enlightened few. Even though every person naturally experiences all the ingredients of enlightenment, taking the leap into the actual state of enlightenment proved to be very tricky. The world’s wisdom traditions have never wavered about the reality of higher consciousness, and yet daily life has remained unaffected by it.
If we take the list of ingredients, each exists on a spectrum or sliding scale. At one end are people who have no interest or knowledge about higher states; they use their minds in everyday “normal” ways. At the other end are people who approach the mind in an enlightened way. Let’s look at the difference, leaving aside all other questions, such as how to define enlightenment. We’ll label the two extremes on the spectrum in neutral terms: the starting point and the goal.
Here’s how the ingredients of enlightenment look now:
Starting point: Being conscious is a given, and you pay no attention to it, the way a fish wouldn’t pay attention to water.
Goal: Being conscious is the ground state of reality, the very womb of creation. All things exist in consciousness alone. There is no reality outside consciousness.
Knowing that you exist.
Starting point: Existence is taken for granted. To be is simply to be.
Goal: Existence is the same as consciousness. Being contains every possible outcome or every possible event. As consciousness changes from one state to another, so does a person’s existence.
Experiencing the world through your mind.
Starting point: If asked about it, you will agree that experience depends upon mind and brain. This fact seems obvious, but nothing important or earthshaking is implied.
Goal: Experiencing the world through the mind, far from being passive and unremarkable, is the key to reality. The only things we know about reality are shaped, conditioned, and dependent upon consciousness. Therefore, the key to the entire cosmos is found “in here,” where consciousness serves as the maker of reality.
Starting point: Being self-aware comes and goes. Sometimes a person sees clearly just what he’s doing, while at other times an experience takes the mind away from self-awareness. We become absorbed in the world “out there.”
Experiencing that thoughts come and go in the mind.
Starting point: It’s obvious that thoughts come and go. This fact, like so many others about the mind, is taken as a given.
Goal: A person realizes that thoughts may come and go, but the place they come from and to which they return is permanent and unchanging. Therefore, the so-called “higher self” identifies with the unchanging part of the mind, not the stream of thoughts, feelings, sensations, and images that flow through it.
Maintaining a self even as thoughts come and go.
Starting point: There is no issue about having a self — it’s a given, even though the origins of this self are murky and hidden.
Goal: The self has switched its allegiance to pure self-awareness, away from the ego-based “I.” The limited, insecure, shifting ego loses its dominance as the driver of daily experiences.
I’ve given only a brief sketch of these differences; we must keep in mind that they range across a spectrum. The essential point is that all the ingredients for being enlightened here and now are present in everyone’s life. There is no magic recipe that is known only to the few who are wise, holy, or blessed beyond the ordinary. Enlightenment is paradoxical, because in one sense you are already enlightened–the word “goal” is a bit misleading, because you don’t actually travel or go anywhere to find out what you have always been. On the other hand, there are many distractions that keep all of us from knowing who we really are.
Is it too much to ask for? A comfortable home, freedom to jet away on relaxing vacations, success at pursuing your dream. I wanted it all, too.
After getting two fancy degrees in wildlife biology, I grew tired of field life. I was waking up at 4:00 every morning to haul 60 lbs. of mammal traps into the pine woods of Mississippi. On a good day, I’d collect data on my catch before it hit a hundred degrees outside.
When I found out that people made a living doing work they designed on their own, I was all in. I told myself it would have to be all or nothing, my wildlife job or my dream work. So, I quit my job, bought a url, and opened up shop.
I went through my savings in less than a year. I had zero income and felt like all I was doing was chasing my own tail and getting nowhere. The harder I had to work at my dream, the more I told myself that I couldn’t do it. Little did I know that it wasn’t my dream that was getting in my way. It was all the lies I was telling myself about how to actualize it.
Here are 5 dangerous messages that sabotage your success and how you can stop calling yourself a failure:
1. My dream won’t succeed until I quit my job
Thinking you have to choose between your job or your dream can lead to rash decisions. You can still enjoy your dream work, build the life you want, and make money on the side, even while you work your day job.Stop telling yourself that you can’t pursue your dream unless you leave your career. Working a job can afford you the time you need to grow your success slowly.
2. I’ll never be as good as everyone else
Comparing yourself to others only leads to someone else’s version of success. Only you know the life you want to build. Stop telling yourself that you’ll reach success exactly the way other people did. You are the only one who holds the keys to your own successful path.
“The most difficult times are the ones we give ourselves.” – Pema Chodron
3. I can’t start until I’m an expert
One of the biggest stumbling blocks to success is resistance to getting started. Don’t wait for all the lights to turn green. You know more about your direction than most other people do. Stop telling yourself that you’re not good enough to start. Use what you know and start your path of advancing toward your dream.
4. I’m a failure if I don’t succeed within a year
Defining your success by a restricted time line is one of the quickest ways to nose-dive. Whether your success is measured by going full-time with your dream, becoming profitable from what you envision, or pursing work you love, success happens in its own time. Stop telling yourself that you failed if you don’t reach your goals in a certain time period. Invest your time in strategizing what will get you ahead, not dreaming about time lines. Celebrate successful milestones along the way.
5. I don’t have the time to chase my dream
Telling yourself you don’t have time only shelves your dream before you even get started. We all have 24 hours in a day. Learn to manage your priorities, not your time. Stop telling yourself you need extra time to fulfill your dream. Take the time you have and do something different with it.
“You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” – Charles Burton
Today, I work a job I love and build my dream in a smart, focused way. Struggling on my own taught me to practice my craft, respond to challenges effectively, and target my efforts where they count the most.
Following your dream is hard enough without telling yourself you’ll never make it. Don’t be your own worst spokesperson. Fashion your success according to what works for your own situation. Formulate empowering assumptions about yourself. Success isn’t established by the final outcome.The only one who can determine your success or failure is you! What self-defeating message are you currently telling yourself and what are you going to do about it? Please leave your answers and comments below! Source.