Why is it easier to know what we don’t want versus what we do want? I don’t want to be stressed, I don’t want to be overweight, I don’t like my job, I don’t want to eat fast food, I don’t want to be broke, I don’t want to suffer, I don’t want to smoke, I don’t want to be afraid of public speaking, I don’t want to be with this person, I don’t like my boss or I don’t want to feel this way. How much time do you spend thinking about the things you don’t want? Some of us think about the things we don’t want more than we think about the things we do want. It is very common to think like this for hours every day. Let’s say I don’t want to work at my job any longer and I think about it a few hours a day. How much time would I spend thinking about what I don’t want each year? It might look like this: 3 hours a day, 21 hours a week, 86 hours a month, 1032 hours a year. This would mean I think about how I don’t like my job nonstop 24 hours a day every day for 43 consecutive days. Wow. This is by any measure a serious amount of time thinking about something I don’t want. What would happen if I spent the same amount of time thinking about the job I do want? What if you were at dinner with friends or family and you were to order, would you order something you don’t want? I find it amazing that we create our own obstacles in life. It’s like running in front of a moving car or jumping off a cliff. Do I really need to put a stick in my eye?
We are all guilty at some point or another of thinking in a way that does not serve us. If we truly don’t want something, why do we spend so much time thinking about it?
When we think about something we don’t want our mind doesn’t know the difference between does or do and doesn’t or don’t. Here is an example: Don’t think about a yellow school bus. Let me guess you thought about a yellow school bus? How about this, don’t think about drinking a glass of water. Instead of getting into why our brain does what it does, allow me to share with you a simple exercise to help get whatever it is you want.
Here is a simple three step process to help you have whatever it is you want to have.
First: When you find yourself thinking about something you want, state it in the positive. For example: I don’t want to be late to my big meeting next week. Instead of feeding your mind with what you don’t want try feeding it with what you do want: I want to be early for my big meeting next week. If your focus is not to be late it is likely your mind would be focused on being late. This simple adjustment is a gift to you. It allows your mind to be clear about what you do want so it can give it to you. Do you like gifts?
Second: Once you state your want in the positive, ask yourself what you need in order to get what you want. Your mind loves details so give it details. Let’s use the previous example: I want to be early for my big meeting next week. Therefore I need to set my alarm for 7am so I have plenty of time to get ready. When the alarm goes off I will get out of bed and start my day. My meeting is at 8:30am and it takes 25 minutes to get to the meeting so I will leave my house at 7:50am giving me plenty of time to be on time for the big meeting. In this example we are providing details which can be instructions so our mind knows what to follow so that it can get you what you want.
Third: Picture the morning of your big meeting in your mind. Walk yourself through the alarm going off and getting out of bed to leaving your house at 7:50am to arriving fifteen minutes early. Our mind works in pictures so when you create the picture give it as many details as possible. Now your mind is clear. It knows what you want, has a list of what is needed and has a clear picture of what needs to be done.
Our minds are like magnets attracting whatever it is we are thinking about. Life in and to itself is also busy trying to serve us the same way a dog serves his master. I don’t know and I can only guess that life also prefers clarity. The clearer we are about what we want the easier it is for life to serve us. As complex as life and our minds can be, they can also be equally simple too.
A friend of mine had issues with drinking. He was thinking about how he didn’t want to drink anymore. Even though he knew drinking was ruining his life and the people around him, he still found himself drinking every so often making life for him, as he puts it, a living hell. Then one day he asked me what he could do to “not” drink anymore. I looked him in the eye and asked him what he “did” want in his life, not what he “didn’t” want. He was quiet for a few moments, looked up, touched his chin and smiled. It was this moment something changed for him. He embarked on a new journey keeping his old habit an old habit.
Can you remember experiencing a problem/issue at work or at home and it needed your immediate attention. This issue/problem needed a solution and the person you were discussing it with was kind enough to point out all the reasons the issue could “not” be solved? It happens to all of us and the good news is it can be changed. It starts with a slight shift in your thinking and all you have to do is flip the switch like a like switch on the wall. It’s that easy.
We all know someone who is sick or who has been diagnosed with an illness or disease. There is the sad reality of what is and there is also the reality of how you want to be. The difference is the difference which makes the difference. The decision of what you choose to focus on will become your reality. Let’s use an example: you are sick and diagnosed with xx and have to stay home from work until you are “better”. At that very moment you have a decision to make. Are you going to focus on you not wanting to be sick or are you going to focus on how you can be better? You may also consider listing all the things you “can” do and let go of the things you “can’t”. If you are already sick there is nothing you can do to remove what you are already. What you can do is guide your mind towards what you have control over.
The three step process listed above will help you with health issues, work related problems, relationships and/or anything else requiring you to think. It works for me and it will work for you.
The next time you want something, make sure you are clear about what you “do” want and be careful, you’ll probably get it.
Enjoy the ride!
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Robert Paulson is an international executive + leadership coach and can be reached at Info@RobertPaulson.coach