Updated: Sep 24, 2021
“I can’t do it!”
“I can’t run, play, or sing.”
“I can’t dance, cook, or fish.”
“I just can’t!”
This little voice inside is killing us all. But it’s time to react and stop this daily carnage.
For centuries, we humans have been brainwashed by our parents, relatives, teachers, and siblings, pouring their beliefs on us as the TRUTH. As a result, the way we work is not our way. We didn’t choose to listen to them, but our subconsciousness was imbued with their beliefs. What we can do though is say “that’s enough.”
We can choose to substitute those alien beliefs and supplant them with empowering ones instead. We can tell ourselves: “I want to live a successful life, and yes, I may be less talented than someone else. Still, I have the guts to work my ass off and train, learn, fail, train harder, learn harder, and fail quicker, until I am better than anyone else and I succeed!”
Success is a process. It never happens overnight. The little voice has an advantage over us because she knows this. There is no quick dopamine hit available here; only sweat and tenacity. The little voice makes us doubt our spark and question our thinking, and if we examine an idea too much, it dissipates. Then we feel tired and frustrated until the next spark alights. The little voice starts over, and if we don’t have the success mindset needed to combat her, we will stop trying altogether.
There are other reasons why the little voice has an edge over us. First, humans are hard-wired for instant gratification and not to sustain an endured effort. Second, our existing belief systems work in conjunction with a littlebit of the voice. “Money is evil!” said the priest in the church. “Rich people steal!” said that old aunt. “He’s lucky. That’s why he’s so successful.” Imagine how strong those beliefs are when paired with the little voice saying “You’re not good enough” or “Your effort is useless!”
The problem is that if we all listen to the little voice, everybody would freeze, as self-doubt would prevail. We will get stuck. This is the cycle of mediocrity. If, or rather when, we experience this though, it’s not our fault. It’s just the way that we, as humans, are built. Our brains have the mission to protect us. As such, their job is to avoid whatever is different from the recognized and accepted daily patterns of our lives. Yet, this is the cause of our daily agony. We end up dying on earth.
Fortunately, there is a way to overcome this cycle of mediocrity. All it takes is 7 steps.
7 steps to success, or the success cycle:
1. Recognize the little voice
2. Challenge it
3. Define your goals
4. Get empowered
7. Enjoy the journey
Step 1. Recognize the little voice
We all have experienced our inner voice preventing us from doing something. That voice goes straight to our guts from our mind. The little voice appears and starts injecting an array of doubts into our thinking process. Whether you want to go to work in your car or by public transportation, whether you shave today or not, quit your job or stay, search for another one or don’t, buy that house or keep on renting. The little voice is always at work. The more disruptive the decision, the more invasive the little voice is.
When this happens, you first have to consider it—not judge it—but question whether what it’s saying is factual reasoning or a bunch of assumptions. If the latter is true, welcome your limiting little voice and be ready to combat it.
Step 2. Challenge it
Now you are aware of your little voice, you are probably noticinghow it mixes in with all sorts of beliefs you have stacked in your subconscious. The good news is you have one weapon to fight it: questions.
Yes, start questioning whatever it throws at you. Questions like: “who said that?”, “who did it?”, “why are you saying that?”, “were they really informed?”, “is it relevant?”, “do they have something more than me?” If so, “how can I get it as well?” and “what are the facts supporting it?”
The more you question the little voice, the weaker it will become. Until it disappears. The more you ponder on something, the more doubtful you become about the validity of it. This is the process that the little voice uses to make you desist from taking action. Use its method against it.
Step 3. Define your goals
Without goals, there are only dreams. Goals, once reached, are the achievements that make you feel strong, in control, and appreciated. They need to be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Time-Bound).
The more specific they are, the easier it is for you to focus on them and access the resources available to achieve them. Every time you reach a goal, your self-esteem spikes thanks to dopamine.
You know you have reached a goal when you hit a target. You hit a target when your goal is measurable. So, you’d say “I want to lose 2 pounds or make $1 million.” You wouldn’t say “I want to be slimmer or want to be rich.” The latter are wishes. You need to be concrete. Youwant that body, and you want that million dollars. This is why you need to make your goals measurable.
Once the motivation that gets you started fades, you will find yourself battling with the little voice that tells you to stay comfortably seated on your couch. Nevertheless, you want to meet that goal, and you want to put in the effort to reach it, as long as it’s actionable. You must possess all the levers to actually achieve it. If your goal is about losing weight, you must exercise and select your food—the healthier, the better.
If you start from scratch and want to make $1 million, your first goal must be relevant. For instance, you might start by making $1K first, then $10K, then keep going until you reach the desired $1 million. Notwithstanding your big picture goal, all the smaller goals you set along the way must be relevant to the end game. Setting relevant goals helps you focus and learn during the journey. Every plan allows you to develop a new set of skills that will result in invaluable friends when you finally get your $1 million.
Be careful though. You have to set a deadline for your goals. Otherwise, you will lose the time-pressure benefits. Time-bound goals leverage the positives of working under time pressure. Our brains work better when they know they have to perform. Remember that project you had to deliver within 24 hours? That blog article that you submitted close to the deadline? It’s always like that. We need time pressure to perform at our best. When we know a clock is ticking, we are inclined to put in more effort and finish the task.
Step 4. Get empowered.
Disempowering beliefs are causing the stagnation of human evolution. We can reverse this by choosing to start believing that we are good, and when we fail, we fail for a reason. Failure is our best friend. We learn way more when we fail than when everything goes well. Every day, we fail at something. There is no point in calling ourselves names because of that. Humans learn by trial and error. It is our nature. So stop demonizing failures.
Once you appreciate that you can fail, and that failure will make you grow, you will be ready to take on your next challenge. You have to think of success at every step of the process. If you are competing for a promotion, assume that you want it because you deserve it. Also, don’t be afraid to surround yourself with positive thinking and inspiring examples.
Step 5. Learn
Learn from the giants! Knowledge is what defeats assumptions. Limiting beliefs are based on assumptions, not on facts. Knowledge is factual. Therefore, learn from those you admire, study new skills, read new books, and expand your world. By learning, you evolve as a person, acquire new knowledge, and model yourself against those who have already reached the goals you aspire to achieve. Learn now, learn tonight, learn tomorrow; use your phone, tablet, or computer. Don’t set limits on the power of knowledge.
Step 6: Commit
Resolve to change. Resolve to get rid of your negative and disempowering beliefs. Commit yourself. Do what is in your power to become a better human, follow your plan, be disciplined, and don’t let anyone interfere with your mission. Take it seriously. The Older You will be grateful to the Today You for having the guts to make such a decision.
Step 7: Enjoy the journey.
It’s not what goals we set that define us but those that we meet. Meeting ambitious goals is not easy. It requires motivation, discipline to stay on track, and commitment to show up day in and day out. Therefore, choose to enjoy the journey. It will be bumpy sometimes. Enjoy it. Whatever we do, it’s easier when we do it with a smile. Our physiology will adapt to that smile. Our brains will associate the activity with that smile. The whole journey will be the sum of many smiles that will push us toward our final goal.
There is no point in meeting life events with anger. He who lives in anger dies in rage. On the contrary, make your mantra joy, be present in the now, and don’t beat yourself for your shortcomings. Instead, smile and compliment yourself for what you’ve done so far. Mind the gain, not the gap!
Bonus step: Repeat!
You are now different, more conscious about your worth, braver, and willing to try and fail. Try more and fail fast. It’s the cycle of greatness. It’s welcoming every day with bliss.
With this approach, success is inevitable.
This article is part of the series “From Agony to Bliss.” Don’t miss the next article in the series. We will see how to make the new supporting beliefs last.
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