Don't Be Afraid to Reach for Your Goals
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A good example is one I learned while studying pickup. A common problem among men is that a lot of guys have preconceived ideas of what kinds of girls they can attract. They often tell themselves, on some level, that they do not deserve really beautiful, driven women. Thus, when they approach beautiful women (if they even manage to get that far), they sabotage themselves, saying something really dumb, or acting very insecure. These basically send the subconscious signal, "You are too good for me," since that is what the guy is thinking and feeling. Women, being infinitely more perceptive than men, pick up on this message very quickly and simply skip the guess-work, taking this attitude as truth.
Sadly, this attitude leads to a lot of relationship stress. If you only believe that you deserve women you don't really admire, then you will only date women you don't fully respect. Eventually, you will come to look down on her, which leads to a whole raft of resentments and problems. If, on the other hand, you believe you deserve the woman of your dreams, you will always think highly of her; you never have to live with the knowledge that you settled or worry that you could have done better if you'd only had the courage. The same goes for women looking for a man.
I Just Can't See Myself Making that Much Money
I ran into this problem when interviewing for a job early after graduating college. I had gotten through three or four interviews, and the job was one that would have paid a very good salary. As the interviews got higher and higher up, however, I started to have doubts that I was good enough. I didn't really see myself earning $50,000 a year, even though I wanted to. I just couldn't visualize that. And so, I fell apart in the later interviews, selling myself as an inexperienced undergrad. When they rejected me, it was on the grounds that I wasn't experienced enough. Lesson learned.
The truth is, only you can determine what you really deserve out of life. If you let others tell you what you deserve, you leave your fate and happiness in others' hands. And what is to say you don't deserve what you want? There have been people, far less qualified than you, who got everything they wanted, simply because they had the courage to reach for it. So decide what it is you're worth. It's a simple step, purely within your attitude, but it is difficult to claim what you want.
Surprisingly, it is very difficult to imagine ourselves living our dreams, especially if we are currently a long way from achieving them. The visualization is not one that you can develop and internalize overnight. There are two strategies for getting what you want. The first is the Law of Attraction, and the other is progressive development.
The Law of Attraction
“Self-disciplined begins with the mastery of your thoughts. If you don't control what you think, you can't control what you do. Simply, self-discipline enables you to think first and act afterward.” - Napoleon Hill
According to Wikipedia, the Law of Attraction is based on the concept that like attracts like. If you act like a writer, you will attract all the things associated with a writer. If you act like a bestselling novelist, you'll attract the things, lifestyle, and people associated with a bestselling novelist, including a bestselling novel.
The Law of Attraction is not new, but it was recently re-popularized in the bestselling book and film, The Secret. Books I've read in which it features prominently include Think and Grow Rich, and The Celestine Prophesy. I've also noticed a similar theory in Ayn Rand's philosophy; the leaders of men have the attitude that they are the leaders of men, the best among humanity, and thus they are able to achieve great things, because it is in their nature to achieve great things. Everyone else accepts the role of dependent leech, and so they don't accomplish much with their lives.
Cultivating the necessary mental attitude to utilize the Law of Attraction takes effort, since starting it off requires you to believe something that is obviously not true. If you want to be a rock icon, and all you are right now is a garage band musician, behaving like a rock star will be socially awkward and difficult. All of your reality will endeavor to force your self-image back into line.
The key is to maintain your new tack. Like a stream that refuses to bend around a rock, eventually your new self-image will wear reality down, shaping it to suit the path you want to take. Eventually, like the eroded rock, it will seem like that is the way things have always been.
From a psychological standpoint, the Law of Attraction is probably an illusion that explains the correlation between self-confidence and success. This article explains the concept of the self-fulfilling prophesy in negative expectations, but the concept can be applied to positive ones as well.
“A lot of what goes into making positive behavioral changes has to do with mental preparation. If you want to achieve that New Year's resolution or any other goal, you have to start out by setting some small, but realistic goals.” -Rene Britt
Progressive development is based on the idea that it is easier to make big changes in small steps. Becoming a self-sufficient globetrotter with totally hands-off income may seem like a huge goal, one that would take many, many years to achieve. But if you break it down into its component parts, it starts to become more manageable. The first step is calculating your expenses, which is pretty easy and risk-free. The second step is setting up an online income stream, which itself can be broken down into stupidly small and easy steps. As you follow the steps, you get closer to your goal, without really having to tackle anything huge.
The benefit of this method is that every goal is so minuscule that it takes very little imagination to picture yourself doing it. If you are failing a class, imagining yourself as an A student might be nearly impossible. However, you can probably imagine yourself asking a friend for help on an assignment, even if you never have. Once you get used to that, it becomes easier to imagine yourself doing other study habits that eventually lead to being an A student. As you grades rise slowly, you can conceive of yourself as a C student, then a B student, and then, while you're sliding into B+ range, you might seriously start toying with the idea that you are an A student who just needs to work a little harder.
This method of self-development is advocated by the goal-driven self-help community. In the book, The 4-Hour Workweek, author Timothy Ferris gives the reader a 'dreamlining' template to fill out that breaks his or her goals down in tiny, manageable chunks. Zen Habits refers to the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen, which encourages making changes so tiny you hardly notice them. In this way, they never become uncomfortable. Our actions never get too far ahead of our self-concept, so our self-concept never holds us back.
What are the things you'd like to accomplish in life? Can you seriously imagine yourself doing that, being the person you see in your dreams? If you've been holding back from pursuing some goal, ask yourself if it's because of external circumstances or a self-image problem.