Dispel the negative thoughts that are preventing you from achieving the success you want with these eight smart strategies.
6 min read
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To reach your goals, you have to take risks, develop constructive routines and make time to listen, learn and reflect. The prospect of making any of the above adjustments to your life is empowering — until your mind starts to wander toward negative thoughts.
But a cascade of negative thoughts can produce negative outcomes: Inaction. Retreat. Bad habits. By thinking negatively about what you’ll accomplish, you formulate a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Next time you’re thinking some variation of those negative thoughts, try any of these 8 strategies to propel yourself out of your funk and proceed with the mission you’ve set out to achieve.
1. What you tell yourself: “I don’t know when or how I’m going to do this.”
What you should think or do instead: Set a schedule.
Set aside time each day or week to work toward your goal. Then stick to your plan. Create a calendar slot for it, and treat it as nonoptional, like a job. Eventually, you’ll form a new, positive habit.
2. What you tell yourself: “I’m not in the mood.”
What you should think or do instead: “Procrastinate with purpose.”
Make “Put it off” time work for you. Find other ways to be productive that not only knock items off your to-do list, but also recharge your personal and professional batteries. Fill your time with productive tasks that will indirectly lead you toward your goal.
3. What you tell yourself: “I’ll never achieve my goal.”
What you should think or do instead: Tell yourself the opposite.
So you’ve had a setback in your quest to achieve your goal. Your thoughts become more and more negative, maybe until you convince yourself of something terribly untrue, such as “You’re worthless,” or “You’ll never achieve your goal.”
Your failure to execute on your goals up to this point is not a reflection of your character. The fact that you’ve formed a goal in the first place indicates that you have an idea of how to better yourself or add something positive to the world. Now you have to do it, and the biggest obstacle in your way might be yourself and that nagging voice telling you there’s something wrong with you or that you can’t.
4. What you tell yourself: “I’m a total mess.”
What you should think or do instead: Organize the little details of your life to prime yourself for your big goal.
It’s easy to get bogged down by the small things, such as how you look, how clogged your inbox is, or how many errands you’ve been putting off. Disorganization in minor aspects of your personal life could deter you from thinking you’re ready to take on something big.
Prepare as much as you can. That way, you can focus on bigger hurdles.
5. What you tell yourself: “That other person already achieved my goal and made it look so easy. I’ll never be as good as them.”
What you should think or do instead: Approach the person and ask for advice.
It can be toxic to think about other people’s success. You may put them on a pedestal and think they’re superhuman or free of doubt. Ultimately, you may become wildly jealous of them to the point that you devalue yourself and your potential.
You shouldn’t feel shy about reaching out to someone you feel inferior to. The other person probably has similar thoughts, and you have plenty to teach them, too.
6. What you tell yourself: “It doesn’t seem like I’m making any progress toward my goal.”
What you should think or do instead: Find someone to hold you accountable.
When you take on a new challenge, it can be discouraging when your life doesn’t magically change overnight. You’re working so hard, yet you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere. You begin to wonder if all your effort is worth it.
To ensure you don’t give up on your goal, establish a support system—one person or a group who’ll hold you accountable. It could be a family member, Facebook friends, or a life coach. You’ll feel less alone in your journey, you’ll have someone to report to who’ll make sure you follow through, and, best of all, you’ll have someone who’ll notice and remind you of how far you’ve come.
7. What you tell yourself: “I’m so overwhelmed.”
What you should think or do instead: Journal.
Goal-setting requires focus. You have to stay organized about what you need to do to achieve your goal, but you can’t shut the world out nor can you always resist the temptation to get ahead of yourself. When there are a lot of thoughts swirling around in your head (including negative ones), it can help to write some of them down.
Write just one or two things most days, whether it’s something you want to work toward or something that’s been on your mind. There’s no structure or plan for what you can write down — just record your thoughts.
Writing things down also gives you the chance to reflect. You can go back later bimonthly and read your notes to resurface thoughts, do follow ups and remember things that were done well.
8. What you tell yourself: “I’m scared to face the changes that achieving my goal will bring.”
What you should think or do instead: It’s not a matter of life or death.
Think of the most intimidating thing you’ve had to face or the most dangerous situation you’ve had to get out of. Now recognize that you made it.
Now think of your goal, and think of which aspect of reaching it is so scary to you. Compare that with what you’ve already overcome in your life. Finally, know that it’s natural to fear new things. Humans are creatures of habit. But they also tend to beat themselves up. You’ll continue to do that if you don’t take the plunge toward what you’re trying to achieve.