No time to read? Listen to this post below:
“I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way, we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.” – Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
We all want to know how to get what we want out of life. The more personal change required to get what we want, the more strenuous it can be to stay committed to the tasks that need to be done to get there. It doesn’t matter what the goal or desire is, it can be difficult to look toward any vision and commit to completing consistent tasks to achieve what we dream of.
When we look in the mirror during the pursuit of our goals we see both our greatest friend and worst enemy staring back at us. We’ll lose to our enemy every time if we don’t commit to understanding our mind and taking control of it.
I don’t claim to be an expert and I never will until my wildest dreams have been accomplished, but when I look back to where I was 6 months ago: defeated, directionless, jobless, bank account nearing the negatives, I’m astounded at where I am right now.
I’m currently working in my dream job while building my passion project on the side. I’ve far surpassed the goals I set a year ago, and have already achieved the goals I set a few months ago (when I had NO IDEA how I would achieve any of it).
Getting what we really desire is never a walk in the park. Stagnant and painful periods during the pursuit of getting what we want will constantly occur, but it’s solely up to us to learn how to push past them.
I’m still far from my ultimate goals, but these four points were what got me from no man’s land to exactly where I want to be, doing what I want to do.
4 steps to help you get what you want out of life…
1. Question your thoughts
We tend to avoid the unavoidable truth that a dark side and a light side exist within all of us. Each side should be honored because both sides play an integral part in our ability to get what we want.
When we push down our dark side and pretend it isn’t bothering us, it tends to make its presence dramatically known, and it winds up hijacking our ability to get what we want. When we shed light (or awareness) on our dark side it helps us overcome the thoughts that no longer serve us.
It’s important to pay close attention to both sides, accept their existence, and then choose the thoughts you don’t want present in your psyche so you can learn how to create more thoughts you do want present.
Like Mencius, one of my favorite ancient Chinese philosopher’s said:
“Men must be decided on what they will not do, and then they are able to act with vigor in what they ought to do.” – Mencius
Our dark side will creep up on us in the sneakiest ways if we don’t commit to understanding it. My fourth post ever was about staying aware of our dark side’s cunning ability to manipulate us. In it, you can see someone learning to face their dark side, and the painful process of what happens when you fight your dark side, rather than accept it and let it go.
It is so powerful when you learn to shed light/awareness on your dark side and then practice letting go of the thoughts that bring you to that place.
Our dark side loves using insecurity and rationality (aka excuses) to remind us that we aren’t enough, or that we need to cower/settle in order to survive. Sometimes our dark side is the biggest driving force of our motivation, but sometimes it’s the reason why we hold ourselves back from getting what we want.
The key to not letting the darkness control you is as simple shedding awareness on the dark side of your mind. You are not those thoughts, you are the person who is listening to those thoughts.
When we’re stuck in a painful stage and the darkness is too powerful to overcome, then the next step forward is to simply start paying attention to your thoughts. What led you to the dark place? What is the thought pattern that triggered you to feel this pain in the first place?
Our dark side can be such a cunning manipulator that it sometimes convinces you why it’s better to NOT go after what you want. It will rationalize why you’re “so smart” for not going after what want, and the joke is- you’ll actually feel good about it!
Have your thoughts ever convinced you to NOT achieve or create a new goal? I want you to take a moment to consider if any of the below ‘if’ statements resonate with you:
- If I had more money
- If I had more time
- If I focus on making money now then I can do more of what I want later
- If I cared less about what other people thought of me
- If I had some direction
- If the time was right
- If I hadn’t messed up in the past
- If I could be more disciplined
- If I could catch a break
- If I started when I was younger
- If other people would listen to me
- If nothing happens to stop me
- If I was more understood
- If others were more trustworthy
- If I were better looking
- If I grew up in a different surrounding
- If I were more focused
- If I had taken advantage of past opportunities
- If I were more dedicated
- If I hadn’t given up…
These are examples of your dark side controlling your ability to commit to your tasks and get what you want. A powerful tool to help you overcome the thoughts that stop you from getting what you want is the ability to notice the above “if statements” creeping into your mind.
After you notice these statements creeping in, it’s important not to resist them. Resisting these thoughts will just attract more of them. Notice that these thoughts are there, laugh at yourself for the fact that you are just noticing them now. Let the thoughts be there.
Then, let them pass through you. You are not those thoughts. You are the observer of the thoughts, and you’re 10X more powerful than you think you are.
If a thought currently exists in your mind that no longer serves your growth, then it’s time to let it go.
When you notice your mind spiraling out of control due to painful thoughts, letting go of the pain is as simple as accepting the pain at the moment for what it is, then choosing to let the thoughts pass through you.
These ‘if’ thoughts are what limit you from getting what you want, and putting awareness/light on your ‘if’ thoughts stops them in their tracks and weakens your dark side’s control over you.
“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.” Steven Pressfield – The War of Art
Understand your mind and how it works
Your mind is a result of the collective external experiences that have happened in your life, but your mind is not the real you. You are the observer of your mind, and you’re 1 million times more powerful than the thoughts that are controlling you.
We have difficulty wrapping our heads around the pure simplicity of how the mind works. This tends to trip us up in our spiritual/growth journey.
Simply put, we are not our minds, but our minds will have control over us until we distinguish a clear difference between who we are and what our mind is.
The mind is biologically designed to keep us safe. Meaning it functions through moment to moment by searching for a threat or looking for “what’s wrong”. Many of us have made the mistake of letting the mind run free with its natural tendencies, causing the mind to have control of us for far too long. When the mind controls us, we are filled with a life of anxiety, judgment, insecurity, control issues, resistance to reality, obsession with materialism, narcissism, and finally severe pain.
Don’t beat your mind up too much though! It is not the mind’s fault that it causes distraught when it is left to run wild- it’s just doing its best to survive. It’s OUR job to train the mind to operate how WE want it to.
You wouldn’t get mad at your 12-year-old for not being able to understand Spanish if they were never taught it, right? That would be ridiculous…
The same goes for your mind. If you were never trained in how to healthfully manage your thoughts and emotions, then how can you expect yourself to manage them effectively?
When you notice a thought is causing you pain, and you are unable to let the thought pass through you, then it’s time to question your thoughts further. Question why you choose to hold on to that thought. You’ll be surprised at where questioning your thoughts leads you.
Why painful thoughts can be so difficult to let go of:
Usually, the thoughts that are causing the most pain are derived from a lack, or fear of losing, of one of our basic human needs. Our basic human needs include certainty, variety, significance, love/connection, growth, contribution. (This is Tony Robbins’ rendition of the basic human needs)
At as soon as our early childhood, our minds begin to develop thought patterns as defense mechanisms to handle painful events that impacted one of the previously mentioned human needs.
When you notice a thought or belief that is causing you pain in your adult life, then it’s a sign you should start paying closer attention to the experiences and the emotions that led you to create the mindset that is causing you pain. When an experience triggers severe emotions or pain, it is likely due to feeling threatened of or losing one of the basic human needs.
We naturally build our thought patterns to shield ourselves from repeatedly feeling the pain that was triggered by a certain event.
When life scenarios look similar to the event that triggered our pain in the past, we then bring our past thought patterns to the surface as our defense mechanisms. These defense mechanisms are very often what’s holding us back from being who we want to be and getting what we want from life.
The key to destroying the thought pattern, is again, as simple as shedding awareness on the thoughts, beliefs, and emotions, and letting them go. Let the experience pass through you regardless of how painful it feels.
Your mind will run out of control if you don’t teach it how you want it to exist. It’s meant to keep you safe from harm and is biologically designed to look for what’s wrong in your life. If you don’t teach your mind how to exist in our modern environment, you will live an anxious life filled with thought patterns that will paralyze your ability to create the life you dream of.
2. Get control over your emotions
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates
Emotions have the ability to cloud your thoughts and essentially control your whole life. But they’re also a guiding light to our intuition. It’s important to have control over our emotions by taking a moment to let the emotion pass through us before we react. We mustn’t push down our emotions or hide them, we must harness them and use them to improve our lives.
It’s astonishing to me that humans have the unique ability to watch the same presentation as someone, hear the same sentences, and then walk away with COMPLETELY different feelings due to our unique perspective we attach to the presenter’s words, actions, demeanors, voice, etc. Anything can trigger our emotions if we don’t pay close attention to our thoughts.
For example, person 1 notices that the presenter is wearing a shirt that his ex wore all the time. He then spends the next 15 minutes of the presentation thinking about how horrible his ex was. The presenter calls on person 1. He feels an immediate resentment for the presenter. He doesn’t know the answer to the question, causing him to feel shame on top of the anger he’s built toward the person. He then spends the next hour rationalizing all the reasons why he thinks the presenter is unqualified to give the presentation, and how ridiculous the question was.
Person 2 is excited to hear the presenter talk. He feels happy to be there and gives himself to the moment fully. His mind is clear, his attention is focused, and he leaves the presentation satisfied and fulfilled.
Person 1’s perspective of the presentation left him distraught for the rest of the day and unable to focus. Person 2 left the presentation inspired and able to complete his tasks in twice the time.
Perspective is everything.
Our perspectives control how we experience day to day events, like these two different results from the same presentation. Perspectives are created from the emotions we attach to a situation. If a perspective is causing you pain, then it might be time to analyze your emotional triggers and then rewrite the narrative that’s no longer serving you.
For example, are the stories you tell yourself about a situation true, or are they derived from an emotional trigger? Questioning our emotions are a powerful way to improve our control over our reaction to them.
In the same manner that shedding awareness on your thoughts frees you from them- shedding awareness on your emotions will free you as well. Let it all pass through you. Seriously. You biologically need to take a moment to let the emotion pass so your brain can see a situation clearly.
“The reason for this is because the neural signals in our brains pass through the limbic system (emotional center) before the signals reach our pre-frontal cortex (logic center). Without awareness of our emotional triggers, we will continuously react emotionally to situations instead of considering all options and acting on the best decision possible.” – Quoted from Using EQ to change your life.
Emotional reactions will always exist, they’re inevitable. How emotions control your actions is solely up to you.
Intentionally questioning your emotions is needed to release the control your emotions have over you. Have you ever had the feeling of wishing you reacted to a situation differently?
Here are some questions to help you better understand your emotions:
- What am I feeling, and when did I first notice it?
- What thought process caused me to feel this way? Was it true? Did I create the story based on a past experience?
- What does this feeling remind me of?
- Is this situation real or am I making assumptions and feeling this emotion based off of those assumptions?
- Is this situation current, or am I worrying about something in the past that this is reminding me of? If I am worried about the past, what was it?
- Did I create this feeling from thoughts I associated with this event, or is this event truly making me feel this way? If it is making me feel this way, then why?
- If you can’t pinpoint a single event that caused an intense emotion, then what are the little things that have built up to lead you to feel this massive emotion?
It’s difficult to see significant progress toward your life-goals without understanding your emotional triggers. In how to use EQ (emotional intelligence) to change your life, I walk through how to improve your emotional intelligence in more detail.
There are plenty of people who reach astounding goals without understanding their emotional side. You can definitely create a bulldog persona that is hyper-focused on a certain goal and doesn’t allow anything to get in the way of it. But if life-experience has taught us anything, it’s that life will always force us to painfully face the parts of ourselves we avoid working on.
Self-mastery is a part of our responsibility as humans.
We are so lucky to have the ability to rewire our brains about emotions that hold us back. It’s such a gift to be able to watch our thoughts and then shift them to produce a better outcome. The ability to train our thoughts and create our reality is an incredible blessing, and it’s a power that’s within all of us.
Teaching yourself to change narratives that are holding you back, causing you pain, or leading you to self-sabotage is the best tool you can ever give yourself.
So, is your perspective serving you, or is it holding you back and causing you pain?
We are naturally emotional beings and learning to understand our emotions is difficult at times. Making the next few promises to myself has given me the ability to calmly work on understanding and improving my emotional intelligence.
Instead of getting frustrated and overwhelmed when trying to make a change, I take one step at a time… My promise to myself is that I will enjoy the journey, be patient with my progress, and I will trust the universe to work out the timing that’s right for me to reach my goals or improve a part of myself. The following quote helped me create this promise.
“Siddhartha does nothing, he waits, he thinks, he fasts but he goes through the affairs of the world like a stone through the water, without doing anything, without bestirring himself he is drawn and lets himself fall to his goal.” –Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse
3. Practice gratitude for what you already have
“You want to know the issue with this world? Everyone wants a magical solution to their problems, and everyone refuses to believe in magic.” – Alice in Wonderland
Gratitude holds true as the most powerful practice I’ve ever felt. It feels like magic at times. I notice a significant difference in my thought patterns, my mood, my ability to move forward toward my goals, and my quality of life when I fall off of regularly practicing gratitude.
Gratitude is so magical, that when we feel gratitude for what we want as if we already have it, what we want winds up miraculously arriving in our lives.
When I notice myself fretting about the bad in too many situations, or focusing on issues to the point that I feel anxiety, I know that it’s time to practice gratitude more frequently.
In this podcast, Lewis Howes interviews Tererai Trent, who Oprah calls one of her favorite guests of all time. This podcast dramatically pulled me away from focusing on my silly issues at the moment and re-shifted my mind to see the good in my situations. It was a powerful story. I highly recommend listening to it when you have the time.
Tererai (the woman in the podcast) was an immigrant from Africa who moved her whole family to America so she could get an education and start a new life. She was at a point in her life when she was working two jobs, getting her college degree, and racing to the grocery store to get there at 4 o’clock every day just so she could take home vegetables the store was throwing out before they put them in the dumpster.
It was a taxing and difficult time for her, but what she said she focused on, was that she was able to give her children the fruits and vegetables she otherwise couldn’t afford, rather than focusing on how hard it was for her to get there every day. Instead of focusing on the fact that her whole family was living in a trailer with no air conditioner in the middle of a desert summer, she looked at the people who didn’t have a home and realized how lucky she was to have a roof over her head…
You need to listen to her story to understand its magnitude, but the point is, if you focus on what’s wrong, you’ll see more of what’s wrong. If you focus on appreciating what’s right, you’ll be open to seeing more of what’s right and attracting that ‘rightness’ to you.
Gratitude is a consistent word used by every single teacher who speaks about fulfillment, success, personal development, and living a ‘just’ and ‘good’ life. It’s a consistency because gratitude’s power is so massive that it will forever withstand time.
Abraham Maslow said that the story of the human race is the story of men and women selling themselves short. Do you realize how lucky you are to live in a time and place where countless people are making each other aware of the reality that we don’t have to be another human selling ourselves short?
Take a moment and think about how lucky you are right now. Really think about it…
At this moment, you are lucky enough to be on a smart device, reading this article in your spare time. You’re lucky enough to exist in this creative world. You don’t exist as a flower, a bug, or a leaf. You’re a human being with the incredible power to create, and the ability to self-reflect on who you are and who you aspire to be.
If you’ve been graced with the opportunity to receive any education at all, you’re lucky. If you’ve been graced with the fiery ambition to seek more knowledge and improve your life, you’re really lucky. If you live in a place where knowledge is accessible to those who seek it, you’re REALLY REALLY lucky… We live in a time and place where we’re able to seek more knowledge for free by TYPING SOMETHING INTO OUR DAMN SEARCH BAR. It’s really incredible.
I especially try to remind myself that, as a woman, I live in a time and a place where I can go to school, start a company, be a boss, be a leader, be an influencer, wear what I want, marry who I want, construct and write about my own beliefs. I don’t live in an area of Africa where women are traded for cows and forced to have 5 children by the time they’re 15 (which is Tererai Trent’s actual life story). I don’t live in a country that I’m denied my rights as a human seeking knowledge.
If you’re breathing, then remind yourself: I am lucky, and I am grateful.
Life can feel hard at times, and if you don’t learn to flow with it, appreciate it, and seek the beauty in it, it will harden you and rob you of feeling alive. No matter how tough things seem, or how bogged down we get by worries, fears, doubts, or losses, we can always bring ourselves back to center by being thankful for what we have. We must always remember to practice gratitude for the sheer luck the universe graced us with by giving us an opportunity to exist.
4. Are you ready to get what you want? Here are the last 6 important steps!
In this last section, I’ve decided to rework Napoleon Hill’s 6 steps to Think and Grow Rich as these are also the steps to help us attain any desire, and a good place to start after understanding the habits your mind created, rewriting your emotions & perspective, and taking on the practice of gratitude:
- Fix in your mind, the EXACT goal or outcome you wish to achieve. It is not sufficient to use a general phrase, like “I want a lot of money.” If your goal is monetary, you need to say the exact number you wish to achieve. Be definite and descriptive of the exact thing you want.
- Determine the exact tasks you will do in exchange for getting the thing you want. For example, if you want to lose 10 pounds, determine the exact effort you will output to achieve that goal. If you want financial gain, determine the exact service you will give in return for the money.
- Establish a definitive date to reach the goal.
- Write out a clear, detailed plan describing how you will carry out the tasks that will lead you to your goal, and begin at once, whether you are ready to or not.
- Write out a clear and concise statement about whatever it is you want, name the time limit, explain your tasks you will do to get there and describe the plan in which you attend to get it.
- Read your statement aloud twice a day. Once in the morning and once before bed. As you read, see and believe yourself already in possession of what it is you want.
Thank you for your lifetime of research about success, Napolean…
Getting what we want is achieved when we build a burning desire to achieve it. It’s the same with changing an old narrative and creating a new one. We must keep creating new narratives until we find one powerful enough to create a burning desire within ourselves to achieve it.
You’re not lazy, and you’re not incapable. You just haven’t created that burning desire yet.
Thank you so much for reading, and I sincerely hope you enjoyed. Be sure to subscribe to this page so you can receive articles right to your inbox, and please feel free to comment and join in on the conversation!
You might also like:
Using emotional intelligence (EQ) to change your life: here
What flow means in positive psychology: here
7 important lessons to keep you following your dreams: here