I love setting goals, creating vision boards and keeping things that I want to achieve in front of me at all times, leaning into the future. Visualizing the life I want, how I want to feel and who I am are all part of living life by design.
We have the choice to live life by design or by default. – Joy Haugen
Living life by design rather than default requires a certain amount of self-reflection or introspection. Introspection is simply an examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings and involves recognizing our accomplishments as well as our mistakes, reflecting on the lessons we learned, skills or knowledge we acquired, analyzing what we can do differently to move forward, and figuring out what we’re passionate about and what gives us joy. One way to accomplish this is by asking ourselves questions, then using those answers to evaluate where we want to go in the future, and this applies to all facets of our lives – whether it’s our health, our jobs, our relationships, etc.
Truthfully, we should be reflecting on a daily, weekly and monthly basis – not just at the end of the year. Doing so on a regular basis allows us to make changes immediately when we get slightly off course, rather than being surprised at the end of the year when we didn’t make all the goals we set out for ourselves at the beginning of the year.
Words are Powerful
But there is another part of setting goals (or making resolutions) that is probably more critical than the introspection – the way we talk to ourselves. We already know that the words we say to other people have so much power. With them, we can help, hurt, heal, encourage and strengthen others and words can create impressions, images and expectations. I’m sure you have heard it before “that the words you say to yourself (even if they are just in your head,) have even more power than those you say to others?” Are you listening to what you say about yourself? Do you need to work on changing what you say?
It’s believed that about 90% of our thoughts are repetitive, so if we are consistently thinking negative thoughts then those thoughts are translated into words that we hear. Since thoughts determine actions, there is a powerful connection between the words we use and the results we get. For example, if we have a thought of I am fat that could lead to overeating, causing us to self-sabotage. But if our thought is I am going to find a way to lose weight to improve my life that will lead to healthier eating.
Thinking mindful thoughts and saying them out loud will have a huge impact on how successful we are at keeping our new year’s resolutions or meeting those goals we’ve set for ourselves. Just thinking and saying positive things will not make all our goals, dreams and wishes come true, but it is the place to start. Thinking positive thoughts will motivate us to take positive action in changing habits, circumstances or our environment and give us momentum towards reaching those goals.
What We Think About Is a Choice
It’s so much easier to focus on the negative things in our own life (and in others), and it takes a conscious effort to shift our thought patterns. The easiest way to start this process is to focus on what we’re grateful for instead of the problems or circumstances we face. Constantly thinking about our mistakes, health concerns, things that happened in the past or things we can’t change is a waste of energy. While we should acknowledge our feelings about these things, don’t dwell on them.
We get to choose what to think about ourselves. Our goal must be to dig deep and find those nasty, icky, yucky, negative words we may hold over ourselves – words that no longer serve us – let them go and then transform them. Quiet the self-doubting voices in your head and start choosing to think positive empowering thoughts.
Let’s take a little advice from Winnie the Pooh. He gave Christopher Robin the mantra: “you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” This is a great phrase to get started with if you don’t have any idea of how to actually get started changing your thought patterns.
When we speak with others, we should always speak the truth. This doesn’t mean that we should say anything and everything that we are feeling or thinking, however. Remember that once words are spoken they cannot be recalled, so something said in the heat of anger will live on even when the moment has passed. The same is true of the way we speak to ourselves. This will take lots of practice and you will stumble, but when we do we need to give ourselves some grace and get back on track with what we’re working towards. Beating ourselves up because we made a mistake isn’t going to benefit us in the long run, so be just as mindful of the way we talk to ourselves as we would be when talking to someone else.
As you work towards your goals, remember that your words and your mindset are powerful. What you think and say will affect the actions you take, so let’s commit and strive to keep them positive, encouraging and uplifting and remember the more you do it, the easier it will get.
Should one of your goals for this year be to start retraining your brain and subconscious, and re-programming your mind to accept better, more positive beliefs? This is something I continually work on and I hope that you will too. You have a choice!