What you tell yourself has true power. Really. It’s like a magic spell, and not a good one. In this video you’ll hear some of the “spells” I and many other business owners have put on ourselves to prevent us from creating the businesses—and lives—we’re meant to have.
Of course, it’s not just business owners who have these kinds of negative spells running in our minds. As far as I can tell, everyone has at least some. They get called different things like:
• Negative Self-talk
• Limiting Beliefs
• Cognitive Distortions
• Inner Critic
The thing is, these spells aren’t just harmless words, they actually hold you back from reaching your big goals.
In the video I tell you about one of my personal favorite negative spells (that slows down a lot of business owners) and what I did to change it.
I’ve countered my own spells, and you can, too. Watch to find out how.
Then really listen to what you tell yourself. You might be surprised. And when you’re ready to lift those negative spells you’ve put on yourself so you can create the life you are meant to live, email me. We’ll set up a call to talk about what’s going on with you and see if I can help.
This one is pretty weird, I have to admit. But it’s come up for me and a number of clients, so I put together this video to tell you a bit about how a strange kind of “inheritance” caused me to procrastinate and what I did about it.
You might have a similar cause of procrastination if:
You’ve taken care of everything you can think of and something is still holding you back,
You feel like there’s an odd energy that gets in the way of your taking action,
There’s a story of someone in your family who was prevented from reaching their big goal or goals.
If any of that sounds like you (or you’re just curious), watch the video to find out more about what this is and how to take care of it.
Don’t let someone else’s story stop you! When you’re ready to stop procrastinating and create the life you are meant to live, email me. We’ll set up a call to talk about what’s going on with you and see if I can help.
In the last few months I’ve stumbled across the most counterintuitive cause of procrastination you can imagine. More than half my clients have this problem. It slows them down. It gets in the way of accomplishing their goals. And it has led them to think they’re stupid. Or lazy. Or both.
The cause? Growing up gifted.
Now I truly believe everyone on the planet has gifts to share with the world. I’m not talking about that here. I’m using “gifted” in the technical sense of being really bright or having a high IQ.
You would think that someone who is gifted in that way has it easy. They get a high-paying job that funds a lavish lifestyle without even trying. They just create a brilliant business that changes the world. They easily turn their dreams into reality.
You would be wrong. Those who study the gifted have found that an extremely common outcome for gifted children is that they become underachievers as adults.
If you’re curious about why that would happen watch the video to find out one reason, and what I’ve been doing with my clients to change that outcome.
And please, please, watch the video if:
• You were formally identified as gifted as a child.
• Someone like a teacher mentioned how smart you were in a subject (which may well mean you were gifted even if you weren’t great in other subjects).
• You have a parent or sibling who was very smart (which means you very likely were too, even if something else prevented you from being identified as gifted yourself).
• You have a child you know or suspect is really bright (yep, another indication that you are probably gifted, too).
The video also recommends two resources you can check out that can help you make sense of what you went through and what you can do to achieve more in your life: sengifted.org (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted—SENG) and nwgca.org (the Northwest Gifted Child Association).
The experiences of growing up gifted often lead to conscious or subconscious beliefs that cause someone to procrastinate as an adult. And no one has to keep those beliefs. They can be changed. Watch the video to find out more.
When you’re ready to stop procrastinating and create the life you are meant to live, email me. We’ll set up a call to talk about what’s going on with you and see if I can help.
Not knowing what you want is the most effective form of procrastination there is. It stops you before you even get started.
It can be baffling, too. Everyone else seems to know what they want. What their goals are. What direction they want to take in life.
And you just can’t decide what you want (sometimes even when it comes to the little things, like what movie to watch). When you try, you get stopped right out of the gate with “fuzzy thinking.” You just don’t know!
This may show up as difficulty making decisions in one area of your life, like what career to choose. Or it could be a global issue for you making every choice a challenge, from where to go for dinner to who to marry.
If you struggle with making decisions, whether specifically or globally, know that there is a reason it’s so hard, and that reason is usually buried deep down in your subconscious.
Watch the video to see what causes the “fuzzy thinking” and how to get rid of it so you can finally go after what you truly want.
When you’re ready to stop the fuzzy thinking and figure out what you really want so you can finally create the life you are meant to live, email me. We’ll set up a call to talk about what’s going on with you and see if I can help.
Most of us reach for the same tool to get ourselves to stop procrastinating.
We think that the way to get moving is to yell at ourselves. Call ourselves “lazy,” “stupid,” or other names when we don’t get enough done. Call up our inner Drill Sergeant in an effort to force ourselves to get moving.
Actually, that approach makes the procrastination worse. So what do you do?
A sweet, gentle widow I’m working with had a particularly loud, cruel Drill Sergeant.
Watch the video to find out how she learned to dismiss her Drill Sergeant and discovered how to get herself moving.
I met a woman who dreamed of creating beautiful jewelry but didn’t because she was “lazy.” Or so she said.
The truth was she was following a “rule” given to her years ago by someone else—someone who was no longer even in her life.
If you are not living the life you’re meant to yet, it’s not because you are lazy or stupid or lack motivation or don’t deserve it or any of the other negative, nasty things you’ve been telling yourself.
The reason you procrastinate, avoid taking certain actions or even sabotage your own efforts instead of going after your dreams is that, like the woman I met, you have an internal mental block that you may not even know is there.
Watch the video to find out how I know that’s true.
In my last two tips I’ve described the benefits you get from using optimistic explanations when you have setbacks in your business (“What Optimism Will Get You”) and what the elements of such an optimistic explanation are (“The Elements of Optimism That Can Unblock You”). I have culled this information for business owners from Martin Seligman’s classic book Learned Optimism, which is filled with ways to use optimism in multiple areas of your life. I recommend going to the source if you really want to dig in and make significant change to your whole life.
Of course, some people are naturally optimistic. If that is you, you have my permission to skip the rest of this post. This post is for the rest of us. It shows us how to develop an optimistic explanatory style to use when things go wrong in our business so that we can avoid feeling helpless and instead keep our energy and motivation going.
First, a quick recap. A pessimist explains bad things that happen in her business as permanent (“I’ll never sell this”), universal (“no one wants what I have to offer”), and internal (“It’s all my fault; I’m horrible at marketing”). An optimist explains his setbacks as temporary (“My sales figures have gone down with the dip in the local economy, but they’ll go up again when the economy picks up”), specific (“The last person I talked to didn’t need my services, but the next one might”), and external (“She wouldn’t listen to my offer all the way through; now must be a bad time for her”). For more examples of what this looks like, check out my last article.
Seligman has an involved technique using the ABCDE model from cognitive therapy to recognize and change your pessimistic explanations to optimistic ones, but I’m going to boil it down to its essence here, which is the “D.” “D” stands for “dispute.” When you catch yourself overwhelmed or feeling like giving up when you have a setback, call to mind what you told yourself about it. You probably have thoughts like: “I’m such a loser;” or “Why would anyone hire me?” or “Nothing is ever going to work out.” Those thoughts feel pretty powerful—and true—don’t they? And they sap your energy for going forward, making you feel like giving up.
Now imagine that those words were being yelled at you by your worst enemy. They don’t feel so true or powerful now, do they? In fact, you probably would tell your enemy exactly where he got it wrong. It’s time for a big realization. You are your worst enemy. So dispute what you are saying the same way you would dispute it if it came from your enemy.
Of course, this is easier said than done. You’ve probably got years, maybe a lifetime, of practice coming up with such negative explanations. So Seligman provides four ways to dispute with yourself:
look for the evidence;
consider alternative ways of looking at what happened;
think about the real implications of what happened; and
decide how useful your explanation is.
What Is The Evidence?
So you have been telling yourself a lot of lies and half-truths with these negative explanations for what happened. They only feel true because they are coming from inside of you. But just because they feel true doesn’t make them true. I’ve heard of one ABCDE approach that describes “E” as “play detective and look for the Evidence.” Look for the evidence that what you told yourself is true or false, or likely to be true or false. Look for ways that it is overstated. Look for what the statement missed. Be Sherlock Holmes. Often you will find you jumped to the worst possible conclusion based on very thin evidence indeed. This can often come up naturally when you think about disputing what an enemy said.
What Are the Alternatives?
So you’ve told yourself that you are a total loser and nothing ever goes right for you because something went off the rails at work. I know, I know, it feels true. Stop listening to your feelings now and listen to your head. What are other ways to look at what happened? If you are having trouble getting started, go back to the list. You are looking for explanations of the negative event that make it temporary, specific and limited to what happened, and/or due to causes outside of you.
If this still has you stumped, ask a friend you trust to give her alternatives. Don’t argue with her, just write down her list. Some of her possible explanations will be acceptable as is. You can also use her ideas as a springboard to get your own creative thoughts flowing.
Once you have a few alternatives on your list, you can go back to look at the evidence. Which one fits the evidence you have best? Or if there is no evidence, recognize that you can’t choose between the alternatives. (“She just hung up on me. I don’t know if she’s mad about the report, just got an urgent message about her kid, or AT&T decided to take away my cell phone service again. It could be any of them.”)
What Are the Implications of Your Explanation?
Let’s say that your explanation is correct. Yes, this client has fired you and is never coming back because you screwed something up. Does that really mean no one will ever hire you again? That you have nothing to offer? That all your clients will pull their business and you will have to go into bankruptcy? That you will end up living under a bridge? Take a deep breath and stop catastrophizing. Go back to the evidence. Consider what is likely to happen. Then look at what you can do to improve the situation going forward.
How Useful Is Your Explanation?
Let’s say you got yourself dead to rights. You screwed up big time and it’s bad. Will thinking about that screw up now do you any good? Of course, if you make a mistake you want to learn from it. (“My presentation was really poor. I probably did my reputation some damage with that one. I need to get some help on developing my presentation skills and put in some practice before the next one.”) But what about just brooding about how bad it went; going over and over how you blew it? Is that really useful? Probably more likely it is getting in the way of things you need to do, so you need to stop thinking about it.
There are three great ways to get out of dwelling on a negative event:
Do something physically distracting, then force yourself to think about something else that can hold your attention. So, if you keep flashing on that awful presentation, splash cold water on your face or snap a rubber band on your wrist whenever the thought comes to mind. Then think about, say, what additional product your favorite client might need from you. For this to work, you will want to have your interesting alternative thing to think about worked out in advance.
Schedule a time to think about what is bothering you. Then, whenever you catch yourself dwelling on the event, you tell yourself “Stop! I’ll work on that at 8 tonight.” You need to actually schedule the time, it needs to be at least fifteen minutes, and you really need to sit down and think about it during that time for this to work, though.
Write down your troubling thoughts as soon as they come up. You can then come back to work on ways to fix the mess deliberately rather than having the thoughts come up and pull your focus at inconvenient times.
Of course, you could combine two or all three of these approaches to get the maximum benefit. Schedule a time to think about the negative event. Then, whenever a negative thought about it comes up, write it down, snap that rubber band, say “I’ll think about this at 8 tonight” and think about something else. Or just pick one approach. Whichever you choose, do something to get on with what is important to you and get out of the negative spiral of dwelling on a negative event.
So go ahead and dispute the negative things you tell yourself when things go wrong. Pretend that a drunk on the street just said what you told yourself. Tell him all the ways he’s wrong. Tell him what the evidence is. Tell him the big picture and the real implications for what happened. Or decide what he’s saying is not useful now and take steps to turn your attention on to other matters. Whatever you do, don’t roll over and take it. You wouldn’t take it from a drunk or your worst enemy. So don’t take it from yourself. Dispute it and get your energy and motivation back. It may just be the way to get your business on track.
Last week I started a series on the practical application of Martin Seligman’s Learned Optimism to improve your results in your work. Last week in my post What Optimisim Will Get You I explained why using an optimistic approach can get you past some of your blocks and when to use it. This week I’ll explain the three elements of the optimistic explanatory style that get you motivated and energized.
Optimism as Seligman describes it is not some sort of dewy-eyed, happy-go-lucky approach to life that someone is born with. Likewise, being pessimistic does not mean going around being grouchy all the time. Instead they are ways of explaining events in your life. And since you can learn how to use an optimistic explanatory style, you can get the benefits of being an optimist even if you’ve never thought of yourself as one before. (By the way, if you think of yourself as a “realist,” you most likely use a pessimistic explanatory style more often than not.)
We will focus here on ways to get unblocked by changing how you explain to yourself why bad things happen in your job or business. Explain setbacks the wrong way and you’ll feel helpless, like it isn’t worth trying anymore, and your career or business will suffer accordingly. Explain them in the right way and you’ll bounce back quickly from the same setbacks, sometimes with more excitement and energy than ever, leading to all sorts of good results at work. So identifying when your explanations are blocking you and changing them to more motivating language are important skills to develop.
Everyone feels at least momentarily helpless in the face of a failure. The pessimist decides he is helpless and gives up. The optimist looks at the same failure and thinks of ways to limit it so he can go on to succeed. To react to a setback with optimism, you need to look at the three Ps of how you explain what happened, or your explanatory style: Permanence, Pervasiveness and Personalization.
Permanence: Temporary (Optimistic) v. Permanent (Pessimistic)
First, Permanence. An optimist thinks of a bad thing as a temporary setback, arising out of temporary conditions that will or can be changed. A pessimist believes it is something permanent that’s going to last for a long time because it was caused by traits that will not change in himself, or the economy, or in potential buyers, or in “people.” To use the optimistic approach, look for ways that a situation is temporary or the conditions for it can be changed.
Instead of thinking “No one is going to buy from my company in such a bad economy; I’m doomed,” you might think “Yes, the economy is bad right now, but it always cycles out of downturns eventually. I just need a plan for how to get through this lean patch.” Or “What can I provide that people need now because the economy is bad.”
Instead of “That was terrible. I’ll never get the hang of sales,” think “I blew that sales pitch, but I can go back over my notes and practice for the next one, and maybe get some pointers from my friend on how to handle that kind of objection.”
Instead of “My boss ignored my idea at the meeting because she doesn’t want to try anything new. I won’t bug her about it anymore,” try something like “My boss has seemed pretty out of it lately. Maybe she has too much on her plate to consider my idea right now. I can check back with her in a few weeks to see if anything has changed.”
So if you catch yourself thinking people, or situations, or even you, are “always” or “never” a certain way, and will never change, find ways to limit your conclusions. Remember: situations and people change all the time, so “always” and “never” thoughts are usually wrong on their face. Dig deeper for ways change may happen.
Pervasiveness: Specific (Optimistic) v. Universal (Pessimistic)
Next, Pervasiveness. A pessimist thinks a setback in one area means everything is going to go bad in all areas. She sees it as a universal failure. An optimist sees the setback as limited to the one event. He sees the failure as specific. Here’s how those two explanatory styles might look:
“All bosses will throw you under the bus to save their own career (so I’ll just keep my head down” v. “This boss will throw me under the bus to save his career (and I better get my resume updated)!”
“My services are worthless” v. “My services are worthless to this guy, but maybe that guy over there needs what I do right now.”
“The job market is in the tank. No one is getting hired right now. I’m never going to get an interview” v. “The overall numbers don’t look good, but my region is picking up faster than other parts of the country” or “my industry is actually growing” or “I’m not getting hired by statistics; I just need one offer from one company with one opening. There is always turnover from people retiring, moving away, or even dying. Something will open up if I just keep sending out resumes and networking.
Personalization: Externalization (Optimistic) v. Internalization (Pessimistic)
Finally, Personalization. A pessimist internalizes the cause for a failure, saying “I’m the cause of this problem” and calls themselves names (“I’m such an idiot.” “I can’t sell lemonade to people in the desert.” “I’m a total failure in this job.”) An optimist externalizes the cause, blaming outside people or forces. (“My co-workers didn’t do their homework.”)
Two things to be aware of on this last explanatory pitfall. First, it is the least important, so if you have limited time to make changes in your own explanatory style, focus on the other two. Second, and more importantly, you will not improve if you do not take responsibility for your mistakes. If you caused a problem, or were a significant reason for a failure, own that. But don’t call yourself names. Instead look at how you can change, learn or grow from what happened. That’s the optimistic and effective approach that will lead to better results in your career or business.
For the next week, pay attention to how you use the 3 Ps when something goes wrong. Do you see it as a permanent problem that is pervasive throughout all areas that is caused by your personal failings? If you find you lean toward any of those pessimistic explanations, you will want to get started on changing your explanations so you can be more effective and energized when you want.
Coming up next, I’ll detail some of Seligman’s specific techniques for changing a pessimistic explanatory style to an optimistic one.