“Your mind is your greatest power – use it well.” – Aneta Cruz
You may be wondering why I’m writing about the mind when what I offer are marketing coaching and consultancy services…. You see I don’t just share my knowledge in marketing and business communications, guiding you on how to do this and how to implement that…
In fact, I place a lot of importance on the mindset and how each one of us can better use our minds in reaching our specific goals. It’s essential to be aware that our state of mind can often be the difference between failing or succeeding and, therefore, it’s important to me that I help my clients in better understanding their mind and befriending their thoughts. It really is true that what you think about is reflected in your attitude which is essentially the sum of your thoughts, feelings, and your actions. I bet you didn’t know that!
I really do hope that you don’t just close this page without taking a bit of time to reflect… Can I ask you to keep an open mind for the duration of this article at least? May I suggest that you sit back and think about this for a short while and then read on until the end. Do we have a deal? I hope so!
Let’s put this in context: as a small business owner you are often faced with extremely difficult challenges, obstacles that you couldn’t have foreseen, people letting you down, contracts not fulfilled, an expensive marketing campaign that didn’t bring a return on investment, a website that isn’t generating any business, not enough revenue to cover the operating costs at the end of the month, and the list goes on and on… At times like this, it can be hard to keep the momentum going when all seems to be going far too slow or even downhill. Negative thoughts, fear, panic, and despair are almost unbearable to the point that your body is tense, your head is pounding and all you want to do is stick your head under the pillow, forget about the world and give up!
“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford
Do you know that your mind is the most powerful tool that you possess? Anyone who studies the mind will tell you that it is much more sophisticated than the most advanced computer system that has been invented thus far – how about that! We all have the power within us and armed with the right knowledge, we can use it freely to achieve success or alternatively to bring about misery and failure, it’s up to us and us alone. Sadly, most of us don’t know how to use our mind and hence we let the thoughts we have rule our behaviour, actions and ultimately our attitude towards ourselves, others and the world. But what if you could discipline your mind to focus on what you want it to think and believe, using it as an ally in helping you achieve your goals? Whether they’re personal or business related.
Before I dive into the suggested actions that you can start taking now to train your mind and your thoughts, let me first stress that changing habits takes time, patience and a lot of practice. Automatic negative thinking, for example, is merely a habit of the mind, and with effort, it can be changed. Any new habit, for that matter, takes a minimum of 21 days to form. In fact, there’s new evidence that says it takes up to 60 days of consistent daily practice before any new habit becomes “engrained” in our subconscious mind and subsequently in our behaviour.
We all have challenges in life, times where we’re knocked down and when it can seem almost impossible to imagine that one day things will indeed get better. I’m no exception. It’s thanks to my own personal hardships that I began studying personal development and the workings of the mind. It has now been seven years since I started out on this personal journey and I can honestly say that my life (in all areas) has changed for the better. And I’m still learning something new every day!
So, for those of you starting out, you’ll find some suggestions that you can choose from. Don’t try adopting them all at once! One or two, to begin with, is enough, then as you grow and start feeling and appreciating the benefits, you can add more, if you so wish to.
- Take time for yourself every morning or evening. Find a place in your home where you’ll not be disturbed and where you can be silent for a few minutes. If you can meditate, even better. You will find thousands of fantastic guided meditations on YouTube. Understand that it’s when we sit in meditation or in silent contemplation our most inspired ideas come to us. In the beginning, your mind will be racing with thoughts coming from left, right and centre. Let them come, acknowledge them, and let them go. To help your mind focus, ask yourself one question and try your best to concentrate on that one question for 5 minutes. So, for example, if you want to get x number of paying clients in the next 12 months, ask yourself “how can I serve more people and earn more income?”. Beware, ideas may not come to you on the first day so be ready to ask this question for a few days in a row and wait – an idea or even a few will come to you. When they do, write them all down even if they sound unattainable to you right now – you never know they may serve you down the line.
- Journaling is also a great way to get ideas on paper or a way to keep track of your thoughts. If you can commit to journaling for 15 minutes per day, you’ll be surprised at what you’ll discover. You can either just sit and brain dump your thoughts as they come or alternatively write a question that you want to be answered at the top of the page and then jot down all thoughts (no matter how stupid they might seem) on the page. Keep the journal and refer to it frequently.
- Start a gratitude journal and take the time to think about and list 10 things that you are most grateful for today. I have practiced this for several years now and I can honestly say that what you’re grateful for expands and you get more of the same. If one morning you’ve gotten up “on the wrong side of the bed” and feel grumpy and negative, this practice will help lift your thoughts and feelings almost instantly.
- Buy yourself a “daily reflections” or an inspirational book filled with uplifting and positive thoughts. Read it every morning upon waking. There are lots of them in the Mind, Body & Spirit sections of every good bookstore.
- Practice writing and saying affirmations, either to yourself or out loud. There are plenty of articles on the web about the power of affirmations that begin with “I am” and many to choose from. Personally, I prefer to write my own affirmation, affirming in the present tense that I have what I want. An example could be, “I am happy and grateful now that I have x number of paying clients who appreciate the service I give them.”
- Visualise positive outcomes – whatever goal you may have visualise the outcome you want, not that what you fear. Regular visualisation will help you stay focused on your goal and positive outcome, and over time you will form a belief that what you want is absolutely possible.
- Anytime you catch yourself thinking negatively replace the thought with a positive one…sometimes it can be as simple as spinning it to the opposite of what your thinking. For example, your thought might be “I can’t find any new customers”, so spin it to something like “I have lots of new customers and I love being of service to them”.
- During your day try your best to stay in the here and now. When you find your mind wandering back into the past or way into the future bring it back to the present moment. If you are having trouble with this get into the habit of asking yourself “what am I thinking of right now?” and then correct course by focusing your attention on the task at hand.
- Learn to respond rather than react to what life throws at you – be it in the form of a comment your spouse says, a business contract you didn’t win, and so on. Ask yourself in any challenging situation what lesson you can learn from that experience. Many times, for me it’s a lesson in being more tolerant and patient with people and situations!
- Stop trying to control outcomes, situations, and people. Life is all about accepting so let go of the tight grip and allow things to happen naturally. Life will be much easier and more positive when you understand this principle.
- Learn to forgive and don’t hold on to any resentments. Forgiveness is all about yourself and not about others. Think about it for a moment: when we hold on to hurt, pain and anger who do we hurt the most? Ourselves, of course. As hard as it might seem, forgiveness is the best gift that you can give yourself. It doesn’t mean that you must remain best friends with the person who did you wrong, it simply means that you choose to let go of the anger and resentment and move on with your life regardless.
- Last, but certainly not least, refrain from gossiping, judging yourself and others. If you are in a group where others are gossiping about your colleague, for example, either change the subject or get up and walk away. Be warned – gossiping is one of the most negative activities you can take part. Also, remember that unless you are living in the other person’s shoes you have no idea what that person is going through and therefore have no right to judge or gossip. As for judging yourself, aren’t we all our own worst enemy? Listen out for your self-talk and if you catch yourself saying “I’m no good at that, I’m stupid, I can’t do that, or even I don’t deserve this” stop immediately and know that you are worthy of everything your heart desires, and with some effort you can do anything you want.
So that’s my list of simple, yet essential, practices to ensure your thoughts are pure, your life is happier and the journey smoother. As an end note, I’d ask you to keep in mind that a positive start guarantees a positive day! The thoughts you focus on and the daily habits you undertake will make all the difference in your life and others.
Here’s to your growth 😊