‘Paths are made for walking, not waiting,’ is really just a more ego-friendly way of saying that in order to get the things you want, you need to get up off your arse and actually move towards getting it – rather than waiting for it to come to you. Now, it has been said that good things come to those who wait, but I say that better things come to those who get of their arse and take active steps towards reaching their goals…
If we don’t go after what we want, we’ll never get it.
If we don’t take a step forward, we’ll always be standing in the same place.
You get the idea?
If we’re on a journey – of self-discovery, or along a career or fitness path, for example – then we need to be taking one small step every day in order to get there. Sounds ridiculously obvious and easy doesn’t it? That is, until you factor in that we are human, and therefore constantly dealing with self-doubt, worry, stress, and overthinking. Not to mention how easily we are distracted by everything else that’s going on in our lives, and end up procrastinating.
At the polar opposite end of the procrastinators who will study for that test, apply for that job, or head to the gym ‘tomorrow’, are those who yearn for instant gratification and want that degree NOW, and that 6-pack YESTERDAY. These are the people who end up taking on more than they can handle and end up burning themselves out before they’ve even really begun and simply giving up, leaving them no better off than the delayers.
So, how do you make sure you don’t end up at either end of the spectrum, waiting for the right path to magically present itself? A scarily huge percentage of people – 92% in fact – say that they never achieve the goals they set for themselves. So what’s different about the 8% that do?
You guessed it – their mindset. Whether you’re currently in the ‘I’ll Take The First Step Tomorrow’ camp, or part of Team ‘I Want It Now’, you’re only really going to get to where you want to be if you walk that path one step at a time. So that being said, here are some tips to either help get you moving, or get you to realise that slow and steady wins the race.
Accept That Your Brain Needs Some Readjustment
When things aren’t going our way we will lay the blame everywhere; I can’t start getting the body I want yet because someone’s always using the piece of equipment I want at the gym….I won’t get that promotion I want because the other guy that’s going for it is friends with someone in Head Office…. It’s raining…I didn’t wear the right pants… Whatever the reason that we haven’t progressed, we rarely look at ourselves and think that maybe the change needs to start there.
And that’s the first step towards walking down the path you want – a positive, productive mindset: Don’t let other people stop you from applying for a promotion that you know that you deserve – you definitely won’t get it if you don’t even try!….and using a different piece of equipment at the gym is more of a step towards the physique you want than not bothering at all and sulking about it.
Learn To Recognise ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts)
Even when we’re consciously trying to keep a positive mindset, negative thoughts like limiting beliefs and self-doubt can creep in without you even really being aware of them. These ‘counter-mindsets’ are more often than not created through past emotional experiences, and are responsible for the little voice that tells you that you ‘can’t’.
The way to get rid of them is simple.
Start listening to them. Not like that, I don’t mean you should start taking on board the voice that tells you you’re not good enough, not smart enough, not qualified enough…but you should hear and recognise that voice – stop it in its tracks and….
Switch It Up
Once you’ve heard that little voice trying to drag you down – tell it to fuck off by reversing the message. Is it pointing out all of your flaws when you look in the mirror? Force yourself to look at your reflection and tell yourself that you look good. Tell yourself you are smart, you are deserving, you are good enough. Write it down. Say it out loud.
Sure, you might feel like a bit of a dick the first few times you do it, but eventually you will start to believe these positive messages and you’ll be amazed at how much your confidence will be bolstered.
Another way to shut those ANTs up is to immediately take a positive step in the right direction as soon as they rear their ugly head. Planned on going for a run, but an ANT is screaming, ‘what’s the point, you won’t lose weight after one run,’ – march over to those trainers, stick ‘em on, and go! Toying with the idea of a new career but there’s an ANT telling you that you won’t get it or that you’re not clever or qualified enough? Show that voice what for by applying for the job you want, or enrolling on a course in order to get the qualifications you need.
Recognise That It’s Not All About Motivation And Willpower
They’re important of course, but you’re going to need more than just motivation and willpower to achieve your goals. Motivation can be hard to maintain – even if you write down the reasons why you’re working towards what you are….”but that’s where willpower kicks in, surely?” you’re probably thinking. Unfortunately willpower is like the petrol tank in your car – it starts off full, but depletes each time you use it, and so before long it’s empty and we can’t go any further. In fact, research shows us that 25% of people give up on their goals after the first week, and a huge 60% quit after the first month.
It’s important to recognise that rushing towards the finish line at the end of your chosen path can be just as foolish as putting off taking that first step in the first place. Once you’ve accepted this fact you’ll stop punishing yourself for every stumble or fall – you simply need to add some more fuel to the tank and try again.
Start Small, Finish Big
So, if you’re not willing to white-knuckle it towards your goals, how are you going to get there? Well this brings us back to the idea of small steps – and even though it sounds a little counter-productive, breaking your big goal down into small, bitesize, ridiculously small yet achievable goals, is the easiest way to change your mindset.
“How small?” you might ask yourself.
Want to lose weight? Start with one one sit-up a day. Done.
Want to reduce stress in your life? Meditate for one minute every day. Done.
These ‘mini-goals’ require next to no willpower or motivation to achieve, and yet are steps down the path towards your big goal. Have it in your head that these small goals are the minimum, and that you’ll do more if you feel that you can. This way if all you do is the bare minimum, you’ve still reached your goal….and if you do more you have over-achieved. You might not feel that these small goals make an impact – but these small steps, repeated daily, will give you cumulative results.
Don’t Be Afraid Of The F-Word
No, not that one, this one:
It happens, and you have to be mentally prepared for it if and when it does. A lot of people hit that wall and just give up, but those 8% who reach their goals know that failure is nothing to be afraid of, you simply listen to the feedback, make any necessary adjustments to your attitude, plan or mindset, and throw yourself back into it.
Failure is the prerequisite to growth!
Give yourself permission to fail – don’t think of it as a dirty word. If you take the pressure off yourself that you need a perfect end result, you’ll learn from any failures and keep moving forward.
Walking down that path is a choice, so don’t sit around waiting for things to happen; adjust your mindset, make a plan and stick to it.
Paths are made for walking, not waiting, so get up and get going.