Well, apparently this year the groundhog was right. Six more weeks of winter… We’re on week five and getting a foot of snow in Vermont right now. Last week it was 50 degrees. But as much as I’d like to complain about the weather, the weather is going to do what it’s going to do and Spring officially arrives on March 20 and daylight saving time begins this Sunday. An extra hour of sunlight for this Northerner is a big deal.
But the question is not what you’re going to do with an extra hour of sun, the question is: are you and your business prepared for the Spring market?
It’s easy to allow the holidays to derail your momentum. Businesses are closed, people are on vacation, families are recovering from the financial stress of the holidays and buying power can be limited. But there’s this crazy thing that happens when we turn the corner into March and feel Spring coming… shit gets busy! All these people who were hibernating over the winter decide they want to buy a home, they want to sell, they want to attend more trainings, they want to build a house… Sales calls increase. Taxes are due. Your insurance company is calling for renewals. You’re flooded with resumes because people are back at jobs they hate. Marketing requests fill your inbox. Whatever your role is at an organization, I bet you are feeling the flurry of activity and the pressure of being inundated with work while being pulled in multiple directions. Does any of this sound familiar?
Look, we are either entering into a very BUSY season. Or a very PRODUCTIVE season. The choice is yours. The dilution of focus is real. It happens to all of us. But do you want to be busy or do you want to be productive? I vote for productivity! We must create space by saying no to as many things as possible in order to say yes to just one or two of the most important things. In order to achieve success (whatever that looks like and means to you) then you have got to make it a priority to take control of your internal dialogue, your thoughts, your emotions… your life.
Our ability to focus and achieve success is directly determined by the quality of questions that we ask ourselves. And our output is a reflection of what our internal dialogue is today and everyday. Our internal dialogue is simply a series of the questions we ask ourselves, the thoughts we plant in our mind, and the answers we are giving ourselves. What is your internal dialogue? What conversations are you having with yourself today? Are you on repeat?
This internal dialogue (i.e. thinking) translates into the actions you take. If you want to change your results. Change your internal dialogue first.
Here are 5 ways you can change your thinking/internal dialogue to achieve success:
- BRING AWARENESS TO YOUR INTERNAL DIALOGUE. What conversations are you having with yourself each day? What beliefs are you basing your life decisions on? What are your truths? Are your conversations on repeat? Are you stuck in a mindset of mediocrity? Do a gut check. Where is your internal dialogue at? Your internal dialogue (good or bad) is driving your actions every minute of every day. If you are not even aware of the patterns or mindset loops you’re in then there is no opportunity for change. Once you are aware that your internal dialogue needs to change – ask better questions.
- ASK BETTER QUESTIONS. The first step to changing your thinking and your internal dialogue is to ask different and better questions. It takes the same amount of energy to ask, “What’s for dinner tonight?” as it does “What steps do I need to take to open my first restaurant?” And yet, the answers are drastically different and will either get a quick response, or start you down the path of dreaming, researching, developing proformas, learning a new skill, hiring, etc. Which question do you think leads to massive growth? Which question allows you to take control of your life? Take control of your internal dialogue. Right now. And take control of your life.
- LEARN HOW TO TURN OFF. We all spend way too much time being “on”. But what does that even mean? We spend most, if not all, of our day caught up in our thoughts and internal dialogue. We make assumptions, judge others based on our perspective, and generally live a pretty self-centered life. With all of this brain-space being filled up with our internal dialogue, we end up becoming our thoughts, which in turn hinders our creativity, productivity, and ability to truly connect with others. But what if we just stopped and turned off our mind – just for a few minutes a few times throughout the day? We just go go go and our mind races with to-do lists and judgements and projects and rehashing conversations from weeks ago. What if you paused between tasks? Just taking a few seconds or minutes to “release” your thoughts before moving on to something else? Take ten seconds and breathe. Focus only on your breath. As you breathe hear the word RELEASE and let your body relax. Do this 3-10 times throughout the day as you move from project to meeting and back again, and as you’re transitioning from the office, home. Hell, if you only do it once during the day, you’re ahead of 99% of people! So why turn off when our culture is always on? Because the more you are able to turn off, the more you are able to turn back on with much higher intensity than you had before. Recovery equals results, right? Your computer needs to be rebooted from time to time. So do you. If you can implement a daily practice of “rebooting” or releasing/turning off throughout the day, you will be unstoppable. Turn off in order to turn on.
- WITNESS YOUR THOUGHTS. When you’re “off”, don’t get frustrated when thoughts start racing through your mind. The goal is to realize that you are not your thoughts. Your thoughts are just that, thoughts. Nothing more. Nothing less. Do not attach judgement or emotions to them. Just let them exist and work on finding the space where you can just witness your thoughts in the third person. For example, when you’re getting pissed at the waiter for taking too long to bring the check, just stop and reframe to something like, “Oh, Adam is getting really upset right now because the waiter is taking too long. Adam should understand there are other customers here too.” This will help you get a handle on your internal dialogue, get a different perspective, gain clarity, and ultimately move on. Keep working on witnessing your thoughts and you will start to retrain your internal dialogue, which in turn changes your actions and results.
- BREAK DOWN TASKS. When someone is performing a specific task at a higher level than you, it’s easy to chalk it up to something magical, to innate ability, or just dumb luck. But that’s just a story you’re telling yourself (there’s that internal dialogue!). It’s not luck or magic. What you’re seeing is someone who has broken down a specific task into much smaller components in their mind so that each segment of the task is refined and refined again. They are manageable and achievable at a high level. The casual observer may think this person is frickin’ amazing and they are. But not by some magical power. But because they took the time to plan, prepare, practice, and make progress on their one thing. Let me give you an example. Remember when you first started driving and it took you ten minutes to adjust your mirrors, radio settings, buckle, and put the car into reverse? Now, you’re doing all of those things at the same time while drinking coffee and putting on your makeup. Now, when a 15 year old sees you doing that, they think you’re pretty damn awesome. But what they didn’t see is the practice over time that went into creating a confident driver. But this is the pathway to learning. Breaking down each step of a process until that step becomes ingrained and doesn’t require any conscious thought. Then you continue to refine and refine each segment of each step. That’s the power of going from good, to great, to elite. That is the power of retraining your internal dialogue for maximum success.
Elite athletes, world-class businessmen and businesswomen, and high performers everywhere understand these concepts. If you take action on the above steps you will gain more clarity and learn how to achieve success. It all starts with your internal dialogue. Change your thoughts. Change your life.
What stories are you telling yourself? What questions do you ask yourself daily? Does your internal dialogue need an update?