Three months ago, I was at a point where I felt rather scared and alone. I signed a five-month lease in a new city and decided I had until the end of that time to grow a new business and secure enough profit to live independently. In my first month, nothing happened. I was too overwhelmed, too panicked, because I was coming off a prior venture that failed miserably.
Somewhere during that time, I came across an article written by Lisa Evans on Entrepreneur.com. She discussed positive self-talk, outlining steps that included writing down your self-talk and challenging your self-talk. Deciding I liked Lisa, I thought her strategies were worth a try, just for one week. I’d like to share my little experiment with you in the hopes that you, too, can design a one-week trial for yourself. Here’s what happened:
“You are always in the process of becoming what you are most thinking because your thoughts shape your actions.” This powerful line came from an article written by Dr. Athena Staik for PsychCentral. The thoughts which shape our actions require proper portioning of three key ingredients: optimism, pessimism, and realism. Just for this week, I threw everything out the window except optimism, straight – no chaser.
Every time an “I can’t do this” thought came to mind, I changed it to something like, “You bet your you-know-what I’m going to do this.” I reviewed my text messages from that week, too. They were consistent with themes of, “I’m going to do this. I just have to. There’s no other option.” I’m sure I started to type something like, “This is really hard,” from time to time. In the end, I tried on optimism for size and its waistline didn’t pinch me.
CNN published a beautiful article that reflected on a Netherlands-based study which concluded that participants who completed written assignments contemplating their “best self” experienced an increase in optimism. That same article cited a different study including a group of students who completed a weekly report detailing what they were grateful for. Those who completed their reports professed higher levels of satisfaction with their lives and remained optimistic about their upcoming week.
Do some of the pages in your journal pour over mistakes of the past? Please, blow the whistle on that play. While there’s purpose in a review of our mistakes, once we realize what our misstep was, we must make a conscious decision to move forward. An excess number of replays only carries the promise of looming depression. During this week, I directed my pen into messages of hope. I jotted down that I was on my way; I commented on little glimmers I thought I saw on the horizon. Sure enough, guess what happened over the subsequent three weeks?
I picked up my two new clients
Dr. Jordan Gaines Lewis wrote an article for Psychology Today which reported that optimism may not only make us happier, but give us the drive to achieve high-stake goals. Once we try on an “I can do this” mentality, we begin polishing tools that will lead us to greater blessings. Optimism is the catalyst. Dr. Art Parkman is another game-changer over at Psychology Today. He reports that the more you believe you can succeed, the harder you will work.
One week on the optimism train isn’t a cure-all for life’s occasional hiccups. However, a focus on the direction of our thoughts can be the Miracle-Gro to the garden beds of our lives. Pull out those weeds of doubt when they spring to life. Where they once tried to sprout, replant some healthy stems of hope and optimism. Over time, our grass will be plenty green, satisfying a more fruitful life.