How often do you put yourself down? Consciously, I catch myself doing it more than I’d like. I find others doing it more than me which makes me feel like I’m not even noticing all the times I am negative about myself. A little bit of honest criticism never hurt anyone, but as humans, we are exceptionally good at telling self-defeating stories. It’s almost out of our control. Don’t worry though. There is hope! A while back I discovered that by adding a little bit of positive self-talk into my daily routine I could give myself a boost and combat my negative comments. The negativity is still there, but the positivity that I inject at the beginning of my day significantly offsets its power.
This Isn’t a Fluff Piece
Some of you might be reading this thinking I don’t want to read an article about how to do visualization because those things are goofy. If you’re thinking about the kind of positive self-talk I used to be used to you’re right they are goofy. However, there are stories we can tell ourselves that we believe and on which we take action. And taking action on our goals is the most important thing of all.
I am not writing you a feel good article with some inspiring quotes. If I gave you that, then you would be in the same place next year as you are now. I don’t want that for you.
Instead, I want to help you understand the reality of positive self-talk, what it is and more importantly what it isn’t. I also want you to learn how to use it. Most of all I want you to take action and implement the steps I give you. Taking action will be easy with the step by step guide I have at the end of this article.
I know that if you take those steps, you will be in an entirely different and better place next year. But that’s the key: you have to take action! Otherwise, you’re just reading for entertainment, not self-improvement.
What is Positive Self-Talk?
Positive self-talk is one of my favorite concepts. I think people commonly misunderstand it and therefore they ignore it. However, I can tell you that since implementing positivity I’ve been able to accomplish more, and I’ve felt significantly better.
Telling yourself positive stories usually comes in the form of Visualizations, Affirmations, and Inspiring Quotes. That’s a problem because there are a lot of stigmas around those three things. I’m sure you have ideas of what those are. When I first started, I had dozens of wrong perceptions about positivity. Hopefully, I can break down those stigmas and help you understand how to implement them in your life correctly.
I’ve included time estimates in all these because I don’t want you to use these to procrastinate getting on to your goals. In the past, I’ve tried these and spent hours telling myself elaborate positive stories. This time would fatigue me, and I never got around to taking action on my goals. Don’t use this as a roadblock to your goal. If you only have an hour to work towards your goal then use all of it to work. Don’t waste the limited time telling yourself positive stories. Positive self-talk isn’t the top priority, and that’s fine because taking action to get to your goal is.
Now onto the truths, myths, and implementation of Visualizations, Affirmations, and Inspirational Quotes.
Typically this is viewed as “Ooh La La I’m going to sit here and imagine my future self! Somehow by doing that, I will magically reach success without any work.” Blech! I threw up a little in my mouth writing that. There’s so much more to visualizations than that, and if you just sit in your office chair dreaming about your success, then you will never reach it.
How Visualizations Work
Estimated Time: <5 mins/morning
First, think of something you want to accomplish. This accomplishment can be anything you want in the next month, year, five years, etc. It might be financial independence or owning a successful business. It can be something you don’t know how to do like writing a book. Or it could be something you know you should do but typically don’t like paying off debt. Once you know what you want then ask yourself these three questions:
- 1) What does the accomplishment look and feel like in the end?
- 2) What steps will you take towards that goal today?
- 3) How does taking those steps feel?
The key to visualizations it to focus on not only the end but also what action you will take today. Through this process you turn excitement of success into the daily action, you need to succeed. An important thing to note is that I asked the question using the words “look” and “feel.” The exercise is a visualization so try to imagine it realistically, beyond just words. Often I imagine where I am when I achieve success, what it feels like along with the benefits of that particular success.
My Example: Being a Professional Novelist
1) What does the accomplishment look and feel like in the end? I imagine myself at 30 something years old financially independent and writing in the early morning. The sun’s out, and maybe I have a hot cup of tea or coffee. I spend the afternoon reading and checking email to see what some of my awesome fans have to say. I imagine letters from readers who have read my books and enjoyed them. These messages feel fantastic because I started writing to make others feel good in the first place.
2) What steps will you take towards that goal today? I imagine myself at my brown desk in the corner of my apartment writing on my computer. I’m working on my rough draft of my first book. I imagine the keys under my fingers and see words on the page.
3) How does taking those steps feel? At first, I know I will feel like I don’t have anything to write. I might even feel like my novel is crap, but I’ll tell myself that it’s okay because this is the first draft. In the end, I visualize myself feeling accomplished because I sat down for the predetermined one or two hours of writing. I may even stand up thrusting my hands in the air thinking “some of those sentences were surprisingly pretty good.”
Visualization Action Steps
Copy down the three questions I listed above. Below them write down the one or two things you want to visualize, it’s important you don’t try to do too many at once. Put these somewhere you will see them in the morning.
In the mornings spend one to two minutes thinking about the things you want to achieve and how that feels. Make sure to focus on the feeling and images associated with the questions. Don’t spend too much time on this. The point is for this to help you take action not hinder you from it.
You probably think what a lot of people are right now. “I am good enough. I am smart enough. And doggone it, people like me!” I don’t know where I heard it from but to this day this still comes to mind when I think about affirmations. I don’t even know what it is referencing, but I know it’s a reference!
The truth is there’s more to affirmations than this. You can pat yourself on the back, but if you don’t believe it, you won’t gain any benefit from saying it. Affirmations have the ability to help you overcome the obstacles that pop up in front of you even when you don’t think you can.
How Affirmations Work
Estimated Time: 5 mins/morning (with a 10 mins setup)
I like to write these ahead of time so that I am not reinventing the wheel every morning. I base the short affirmation on the following questions:
- What do I want?
- Why do I want it?
- What obstacles will I face?
- How will I overcome these barriers?
- When will I commit to achieving this?
Add obstacles to the list as you run into them. On top of that if you learn certain solutions work add them, learning from your mistakes or past successes is crucial. Most importantly stating hindrances between here and your goal helps you be more willing to leap over the challenging chasm when you reach it.
Additionally, make sure to write it in the affirmative. Be confident in what you want and write it so that it makes you feel powerful. If you don’t feel powerful when you write it, then reading it won’t enable you either.
Make sure that the writing is short and will take you less than five minutes to read. If it’s longer than that, then you won’t consistently read it. You may want multiple things but don’t write an affirmation for everyone at the start. Remember slow adoption is key. Try a little bit now and implement more if you want over time. Don’t fail because you bit off more than you can chew.
My Example: Side Hustle Affirmation
Below is my current affirmation for my side hustle. I fluidly answered all the questions above. It’s a work in progress, but this is my current morning statement:
I want to have a successful freelance writing business, because if I have a successful freelance writing business, then I will be able to control the work I do and when I do it, instead of working for a corporate boss. Some obstacles I will face are getting clients, and not valuing my work high enough. I will overcome these barriers by knowing that I am doing work of value and should charge accordingly and customers won’t find me if I don’t put myself out there. Therefore, I have to research them and pitch them effectively. I will commit to achieving this immediately after I’ve finished my creative work for the day.
Think of something that you want to achieve badly. Set aside 10 – 15 minutes today or tomorrow. Use that time to think deeply and answer the questions above. Put those answers into a statement that makes you feel powerful.
Place the paragraph near something you will see in the morning, perhaps your visualization. Read it in the morning. Add obstacles you think you might face and solutions you will use as time goes on.
I used to see inspiration quotes as useless, and they fell flat on my ear. Sure someone else said that and maybe their sound bite had some wisdom in it but in the end, it’s just something some person said. Some people see it as if I just read what this influential person said then I would be successful too. I find that kind of mentality uneducated and ineffective.
How Inspirational Quotes Work
Estimated Time: <3 minutes
So how did I go from being pessimistic of quotes to someone who shares them with others? Well, one day I was feeling bad about myself. Unfortunately, this isn’t a rare occurrence which is why I got into positive self-talk in the first place. It was the middle of the day, and I needed to get more work done, but unfortunately, I wanted to quit. I started to flip through some quotes in a planner that I use. After I read two or three of them, I surprisingly started feeling better.
I think the magic of most quotes is that they’re well written and quickly speak to us on a subconscious level. That’s why they’ve survived or were picked out in the first place. My one thousand plus word blog posts don’t give you that pick me up quickly that you can get from quotes.
I happen to read helpful quotes one a day, but that was by accident, as a joke to myself. Surprisingly it worked, and I’ve started to do it intentionally. The little book of quotes I have is called the Productivity Planner. It’s a great resource for anyone who is self-employed or manages their workload. At the top of each page is a quote, some of them are good others aren’t. If I’m feeling unmotivated or need a quick shot of positivity, I’ll flip through and try to find some good ones. Most of the time it helps!
My Example: 10 Taking Action Quotes
Here are ten quotes that I have found to be helpful with regards to taking action and reaching goals:
- 1. “The scariest moment is always just before you start” – Stephen King
- 2. “Success is the progressive realization of worthwhile, predetermined goals.” – Paul J Meyer
- 3. “I am very cautious of people whose actions don’t match their words.” Alex Elle
- 4. “Strive for progress, not perfection.” – Unknown
- 5. “You can have results or excuses. Not both” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
- 6. “The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed.” – Chinese Proverb
- 7. “A year from now you may wish you had started today” – Karen Lamb
- 8. “Action is the foundational key to all success.” – Picasso
- 9. “Doing things is not the same as getting things done.” – Jared Silver
- 10. “Effective performance is preceded by painstaking preparation.” – Brian Tracy
Behind the Scenes:
Number 9 and 10 were the two quotes that gave me the kick in the butt I needed to keep going that day. I felt like I had wasted my time preparing for the next week and these quotes were what pushed me to find more energy to keep working and not resent myself for spending time planning. In the end, the week was abnormally productive, most likely due to the planning.
Find a website or twitter account that has quotes you like. Write down a handful of quotes that speak to you and keep them somewhere you can easily access when you’re feeling down. Additionally, you can follow me on twitter because I occasionally queet twotes!
Arm yourself with this list of quotes when you feel like you can’t push yourself to do any more work. Read them to yourself, maybe spend a little time finding new ones, use them as a push to the next level of motivation. Then when you reach the bottom of your list take action, because taking action is the only path to achieving your goals.
Do not use this positive self-talk as an excuse to avoid work towards your goals. Positive stories are another tool to add to your tool box for when you feel down. None of these should take more than 5 minutes after they are set up.
Finally, please don’t do them all at once. As a matter of fact, come back to this article and re-read it. Implement the actions steps over time instead of doing it all-or-nothing style. For your convenience, I’ve compiled a list of all the questions and action steps in order to implement positive self-talk in your own life. I want to send you this convenient PDF, to get it enter your email below