Think of the last time you exercised and said to yourself, “I can do it” or “I can do three more reps” or “I can go another 10 minutes” with grit and determination. Did your words make you push harder? Did you give your very best effort to achieve your desired outcome?
Now think of an occasion when you said things like “I am tired today” or “I don’t think I can do anymore” or “I can’t go any longer.” What happened? Did this little voice in the back of your mind sound defeated? Were you able to push yourself, or did you give up?
The common denominator in both circumstances is your inner voice. Yet the results are dramatically different depending on the nature of your “conversation.” Your statements can either give you the energy to push harder, or they can suck the life out of you and cause you to quit.
The Power of Self-talk post describes how the conversations we have with ourselves influence every part of our lives. If our internal dialog is positive and focuses on our talents, skills, and abilities, we are encouraged, optimistic, and more likely to achieve our goals.
On the other hand, if our thoughts focus on our faults, mistakes, weaknesses, insecurities, or fears, it will be virtually impossible to feel confident and advance our lives forward.
All of this illustrates that what we say to ourselves impacts our emotions, attitude, and outlook. Since this internal dialog is so important, how can we use it to help us achieve our personal best?
The answer is simple. Be intentional about saying things to yourself that will help you achieve your desired outcome.
Throughout my career, I have consistently focused on using what I call guiding statements– statements designed to help direct my thinking.
Here are some examples of the types of guiding statements I say to myself:
- If I am working on an important project that must be completed today, I will say “I will get this done today” over and over again throughout the day.
- If I am listening to someone and feel I have something important to contribute, I will say “Listen and don’t interrupt.”
- If I am getting frustrated or defensive, I will repeat in my mind “Speak in love.”
- If I am thinking about something that is depressing me, I will say, “I am not going to think about XX (failure, mistake, or blunder) any longer. I have learned all I can learn and I am moving on.” Then I use my self-control to change my thinking.
If I want to think positive or optimistic thoughts, I will use positive affirmations such as, “I can do it,” “I will be successful at this,” “I will give a killer presentation,” “I will earn that promotion,” “I will walk across the stage and get that award,” or “I am getting better every day.” There are literally thousands of positive statements, individually designed, that can help you focus your thoughts in a positive direction.
The extensive research on this subject proves without a shadow of a doubt that the things we say to ourselves influence our beliefs, attitudes, and actions and ultimately the level of success, happiness, and fulfillment we enjoy.
Positive thoughts, spoken out loud to ourselves become positive statements, and if taken one step further, become guides for our thinking on a daily basis.
Yesterday, I played tennis with my brother. In the third set, I was so delirious from physical exhaustion that I struggled to keep track of the score. I even lost track of who was serving. I knew if I wanted to win, I would need to step up my game, concentrate, and give 100% of myself. So after every point, I kept saying to myself “Focus, focus, focus, focus, focus,” until I was completely focused on what I wanted to do.
Repetition of a simple positive statement and the resulting focus allowed me to give that extra effort. My positive statement became my reality and the tipping point for the big win!
How to Use Guiding Statements
Repetition is the key to effective guiding statements. The more you repeat these statements in your mind with vigor and passion, the more you will believe in them.
It’s also possible to use these types of statements to effectively reprogram your thinking. Repetition over a long period of time can replace negative self-defeating thoughts, reservations, and fears with positive, encouraging, and inspirational thoughts. You can become the next Rocky. Really.
If you want to reprogram some negative thinking, write out your positive affirmations and read them throughout the day. Recently I saw John Maxwell at a leadership event carrying a laminated card with his personal goals and positive statements. This card accompanies him everywhere he goes as a constant reminder of his desired outcomes.
I realize this is a tough subject to cover in a short blog post, but don’t underestimate the value of this lesson. Using this strategy over the years has allowed me to control my thinking by programming the thoughts that go through my head.
My ability to control my thinking has given me total confidence that I can do anything I put my mind to. If that negative voice in the back of my mind opens its mouth, I shut it down and change my thoughts with my guiding statements.
Using positive affirmations and guiding statements opens your mind to see solutions and opportunities that would normally be overlooked. As a natural consequence, you’ll feel better about yourself and most importantly you will be able to guide your thoughts to help you achieve your goals.
Let me challenge you to start using these types of statements today. Don’t just utter the words. Say it like you mean it! These statements are mini goals that pack a powerful punch.
You have the ability to control your thinking and by controlling it, you take control of your future.
Confidence, Entrepreneurship, Failure, Goals, Sales, Self-Talk