I don’t like to think of myself as an optimistic person, most days. In fact, I tend to err on the side of pessimism and cynicism all the while claiming my perspective is realistic. However, there are some tried and true techniques that allow me to prevent feeling burnt out in life. Here are 6 questions to ask yourself that will leave you feeling inspired and give you a drive to succeed.
How can you stop imagining the future will be rubbish?
This question is all about perception and framing. Usually, people who think the future will be rubbish feel out of control of their life. They live in a world where “life happens to me,” rather than “I make life happen.” For example, I hear people tell me all the time that they were dealt a rotten hand. They say life is unfair and that they are unlucky. They are miserable, but insist that being miserable is not a choice. I disagree wholeheartedly. You always have a choice.
When ‘life happens to you’ you’re always a victim. When ‘you make life happen’ you are behind the wheel, steering life in the direction you want it to go.Click to Tweet
It gives you the power of control over your life. Now, this doesn’t mean that you will never encounter unexpected situations or that bad things won’t ever happen. However, it does mean the ball is in your court and you get to choose how you will respond to life’s lemons.
Do you fancy visualizing good stuff?
This brings me to my next point. People tend to focus on the negatives in life and spend very little time focusing on the positives. I’ll give you an example. Look around your room right now and pick out all of the things in the room that are the color green. You have 20 seconds. Go ahead, I’ll wait…
Now, if you were to close your eyes right now and I asked you to tell me all of the things in the room that were the color yellow, how many do you think you’d get right? One or two? A handful? None? I’ll bet you’d be able to tell me a whole bunch of things that were green, though, right? That’s because you were looking for green.
This is the same thing that happens to our perspective. When we focus on how crummy life is, then of course you’re not going to see the good parts of it. Conversely, if you look for the good, and you have to train yourself to do this, you will start a habit of finding the good in those difficult situations in life.
Here’s a good exercise to begin your training: Get a paper and a pen. Write down 1 thing in your life that is good right now or that you’re thankful for. Now go put this by your bed. Tomorrow when you wake up in the morning, read that statement (out loud) and add one more thing underneath it. Then do it again the next day. Rinse and repeat. Do this everyday for 2 weeks. Then assess how you feel about life. Most people find that over time, their perspective begins to change. It’s subtle, so pay attention! We aren’t often taught to think about how we think about things (say that 3x fast).
When were you last in a sticky situation? How did you get out of it and what can you learn from that?
I don’t tend to think of tough choices as sticky situations and I feel that has a lot to do with how I conceptualize my problems. One of my best strategies for solving a difficult situation is to analyze the cost and benefit of each of my options. I tend to try and generate as many possible solutions as I can, including all the good, bad, and the ugly. Then, I look at all the pros and cons of each decision. By examining the cost and effect of each choice, I am better prepared to deal with the consequences. I’ve made an informed decision. This is a powerful decision making strategy that I cover more in depth here. This takes the sticky out of the equation before I make my decision.
Additionally, when I am weighing the pros and cons of each decision, I look at how each decision falls in line with my values and morals. A decision that goes against my values and morals will NOT be a good decision in the end, no matter how many other positive consequences it may seem to have. Choosing to go against your values leads you down a very dark path as it creates cognitive dissonance within the self. Think of this dissonance as a poison. It is vile, it will slowly consume you, and in the end, you will lose (and your mental health will suffer for it). Make choices that align with your beliefs!
What information do you need to gain in order to move forwards positively?
This is great question that I feel everyone should be asking themselves on the daily. We must see movement forward or face stagnation. If we feel like we are spinning our wheels, but going nowhere, people become inherently depressed. Thus, to move forward, we require a destination, or dream, if you will. Only then will you be able to ask yourself what information you need to get there. Break the trap that I see others’ fall into time and again; Don’t wait until you’re in the car driving before you decide where the hell you’re going because that is incredibly stressful. Most people become overwhelmed with this strategy and do not accomplish anywhere near what they have the potential to accomplish. Poor planning = poor results. Be effective in your goal setting and use that as your compass. Read more about goal setting here.
Who are the potential heroes that can help you right now?
My heroes are always going to be my family members as I hold them closest. They are the only ones to truly know who I am. These people are the ones who are there through the thick and thin times, even when it’s an inconvenience for them. However, you may find your closes friends are way closer to being potential heroes than your family. That’s okay. Heroes are who you let into you life at a very personal level. They are the ones who you trust not to break you (because if they are truly your hero, they will know your vulnerabilities). Blood doesnt always have to signify family. Family are the people who we decide are our heroes.
Additionally, sometimes it just helps to have an expert give guidance (and by expert, I mean anyone with expertise in that issue, not just professionals). When faced with uncertainty, it’s always best to consult. This does two things. One, it allows you to verbalize and conceptualize the problem as it forces you to communicate the issue to someone else. The act of verbalizing alone is helpful in that it more fully consolidates your thought processes about the problem and allows you to better process how you feel about it. Two, it allows for better perspective as you are essentially asking someone with a completely different viewpoint on reality to analyze the situation and provide you feedback. This means you may be given information that you were blind to on your own.
What are you hoping for?
Usually, my hopes align with my goals for the future. Since I do not waste time on hope for things that aren’t realistically achievable, this makes my success rate higher.
Let me let you in on a little secret: once you have truly decided what path you want to take in life, you will take that path. Nobody will be able to sway you, as they no longer hold any sort of authority over you.
For example, I was told by a professor early on in my education that my desired major was not only unrealistic, but that I would never be able to hack it in the industry due to the specialized niche it was in. Turns out, he was wrong all along. (I sure wish I could sucker punch that dude). Not only did I accomplish my hope and dream, but I was able to do so despite the odds being against me. Why, you ask? Because I was determined to make it happen. Once you have made your mind up about it, nobody will ever be able to stop you, unless you buy into their nonsense. You will be on fire!
Do not let people tell you that you cannot do something. They aren’t worth being around and will only inhibit your self growth and ability to succeed. They do not offer solutions to problems, they close doors to opportunities. If you know anyone like this, steer clear of them.
So that’s it! Thank you Kate On Thin Ice for your contributions to today’s topic with your #bestbootforward link up and wonderful choice of questions. Please leave a comment below with your thoughts on today’s topic and let me know what inspires you.