Working towards a new goal, any new goal can seem like a daunting prospect. After all, worthwhile goals by definition involve challenge – they take copious amounts of time, determination and energy to achieve, as well as the courage to stretch yourself past your comfort zone. If a goal doesn’t stretch you – mentally, emotionally or intellectually – then obviously, it’s not moving you further forward in life; which is the whole purpose of a goal. Without those things a goal is simply covering old ground.
Nowhere is that challenge more apparent than with goals focused on ‘inner change’: – that desire we all have, at one time or another, to alter some deeply ingrained habit or character trait that we believe is holding us back in life.
In fact, you could say that those types of goals can be so broad and all-encompassing that they can seem totally beyond reach. If for example, you crave to be confident…or to take control of your life…or you desperately want to be free of negative emotions…or you want to develop a positive outlook…or you want to be happy, where exactly do you start? Which part of that million piece jigsaw do you focus on first; and how for that matter, do you possibly work towards a goal that involves changing the very essence of who you are.
Daunting possibly isn’t the right word for such changes, overwhelming would be more apt.
But those goals are in fact achievable; and what’s more, they don’t need to leave you feeling overwhelmed at all. Yes, changing your perspectives on life, as well as the way you think and the way you act, is certainly a challenge that takes a lot of commitment, but ultimately, even the most heady notions of being ‘confident’ or ‘happy’ or ‘calm and in control’ are manageable – if, that is, you approach them intelligently.
But the sad fact is that desperation often gets in the way. People search for quick fixes to revolutionise their outlook on life and in so doing, often break themselves further.
They scramble around for advice and ideas just as a crowd in a street would scramble around for a wad of cash thrown up like confetti into the air. They clutch at straws, they flit from one philosophy to the next, they incessantly search for the one guru who has all the answers; and when the advice doesn’t work, and they find themselves feeling just as anxious, just as insecure, just as unproductive, they give up; more frustrated and despondent than ever before.
There is nothing more soul destroying after all, than the arising chasm between reality and expectation when you try and fail to achieve something; when you’re left thinking, ‘if only’.
But this Helpfulhabits.net article isn’t meant to be a poetic sob story, it’s a call to action – it’s here to show you how to avoid being one of the countless droves who spend their lives chasing their tails in pursuit of an elusive dream. Instead, it’ll briefly introduce you to the key points you need to keep firmly in mind in order to effectively start making that inner change…today.
However big the change is that you want to make in your life, start small. Just one new core belief or change in perspective can have a massive impact on every area of your life. It’s not about changing everything; it’s about changing the one small thing that will make a BIG difference. And from the big difference you’ll experience through that one small change, you can gradually move on to make further small changes that will in turn, compound that initial improvement many times over.
The catalyst of change that moved me out of a life of crippling anxiety was simply the development of the conviction that, ‘It is futile to worry about things that are beyond my control’. That one new core belief positively impacted all aspects of my life; it shook me out of a state where I feared everything – rejection, loss, death, failure – to the place where I am now, where I have a healthy indifference for anything and everything beyond my control.
Size (of the change) really doesn’t matter…it’s what you do with it which counts.
Find the Glove That Fits
Advice is just that…advice; some will fit, and some won’t. Through intuition, you’ll know instinctively what principles and practices are right for you. The important thing is to embrace those Eureka moments; they’re the keys that open the doors to BIG change.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that because certain strategies have worked for other people, they should automatically work for you. After all, if they have become more confident, more successful, happier, anxiety free, motivated or whatever, by modelling a specific approach, then surely the same should happen for you?
NOTHING is further from the truth – just as your limitations are unique to you, so are the solutions to those limitations. I spent many years feeling, and being made to feel, like a failure because CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) didn’t help to ‘cure’ me of my obsessive compulsive personality. And of course, the feeling that I’d failed just exacerbated the problem and led to further mental damage.
The simple truth is that that approach just wasn’t right for me – I had to find my own way out of my nightmare. Funnily enough, the strategy that did work for me (which incidentally, I discovered through introspection and personal experience rather than ‘expert’ advice) is now accepted as a ‘treatment’ for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. That ‘treatment’ is simply an acceptance of the way you’re feeling – not surrender, but a refusal to get involved in a mental ‘fight’ you just can’t win.
Maybe I should have won the Nobel Prize for that one; or maybe it should have gone to Buddhist philosophy that has been teaching the exact same route to a happier existence for the past 2500 years. But the point is, don’t feel that something should work just because some ‘guru’ or ‘expert’ tells you that it should.
That’s sheer arrogance on their part; only you can determine what works for you.
Keep It Small, Keep It Simple
The changes you make don’t have to be complex or elaborate to make a big change. I often tell people that I could write on a Post-it note the changes that have been most impactful in my life.
The truth is, it is quality, not quantity of change that counts – one small change in perspective that motivates you into action, inspires you to excel or crushes a limiting belief or obliterates a fear, can change every aspect of your life for the better – no matter how insignificant that change may superficially appear.
Turn It Into a Conviction
A new perspective, philosophy or strategy can only have that potentially massive impact, if you turn it into a conviction – a core personal truth – that then shapes every aspect of how you think and act.
Personal truths aren’t something you decide to adopt in an instant; they’re something that you nurture through constant application and through evidence gained from personal experience. The more direct evidence you have to support the validity of your philosophy (for example, ‘there’s no point worrying about things beyond my control’), the more convinced you’ll become of its ‘truth’ and in turn, the more powerful its effects on your life will be. It really is a case of living the principle.
The Vital Key
Most importantly of all, always remember that one little change to how you view the world can have a MASSIVE impact on your life. Don’t search endlessly for the solution; don’t feel overwhelmed by the amount of advice spread out on the table in front of you, just put into practice right now that one strategy or philosophy that you intuitively know will make all the difference to you.