How to get what you want.

Last week we spoke of the importance of habits and then focused on the habit of “being responsible”. This week we’re also looking at a mental habit and it flows from the same vein as the first. 

I picked up this habit from Brian Tracy and want to give him full credit. I read what I’m about to share, put the book down, shook my head, rubbed my eyes, and felt like I’d found the secret to happiness.

So... without further ado, here is a paraphrased version of Mr. Tracey’s concept. 

Happy and successful people think of two things exclusively, while unhappy and unsuccessful people think of another two things exclusively. In order to be happy and successful, you must train your mind to think of the two things in the happy column and... that’s it. 

First, unhappy and unsuccessful people think only: “What don’t I like?” and “whose fault is it?”. 

To me that was a powerful revelation. I immediately saw a myriad of experiences from my life which weren’t working as I would have liked fit the “unhappy and unsuccessful” format perfectly. 

One that is both shameful and funny was how much I blamed my mother for my poor basketball skills. I’m tall and all my life people have asked me if I played basketball. In fact it happened on the subway again yesterday. I  didn’t grow up playing organized ball but played with my friends and always wished I’d be on a team. I was raised by a single mother who was also a student and sports weren’t a priority and so, my potential languished and in my head it was all her fault. 

Even later when I was able to go to practices on my own and take some responsibility for my own experiences, the blame stuck around and so whenever I felt as though I wasn’t as good a player as I should be, I would immediately blame my mother in my mind. It wasn’t conscious but it was powerful as it completely stopped me from being able to improve. My mind worked to make me “right” and so I had to stay at a low level. 

Once I caught this blame loop, I was able to unhook, apologize to my mom and I made a HUGE jump in skill on the court. I’m certainly not a world class basketball player but I’m good enough to have fun and have played in gyms and parks with a smile on my face all over the world. 

Disliking that I didn’t have the basketball skills that I felt I should have and blaming my mother for not putting me in a situation to have developed them at a young age was a road map to failure and upset. While I didn’t like seeing that I had so often frequented that neighbourhood, I also felt relieved that I was now aware of the road signs and would be equipped to steer clear in the future. 

It’s important not to go into a blame loop of your own upon reading the above “bad” habit. Some people I know have responded by saying “I do that and I don’t like it! It’s (fill in whoever’s name... it doesn’t really matter) fault because (fill in whatever reason... it doesn’t really matter)!”,  or they might blame themselves for not having caught and changed this habit sooner. My advice is to skip that blame cycle entirely and move onto the next part: moving toward happiness and success.

According to Brian Tracy, the two questions that all happy and successful people asks themselves are: “What do I want?” and “how do I get it?”. 

A Life Athlete is actively practicing this by aiming their actions to drive them towards their goals. All people will fall into the “what don’t I like and whose fault is it” trap from time to time but it’s your job to make sure that the majority of your thoughts revolve around some form of “what do I want” and “how do I get it?”.  When you find yourself participating in the thoughts of the unsuccessful, stop and think the thoughts of the Life Athlete, “What do I want in this area?” and “How do I get myself there?”.

This week:
-Look at 1-3 situations in your life where you’re happy and successful and see if your thinking in that area matches “What do I want? and how do I get it?”

-Look at 1-3 situations in your life where you’re not happy or successful and see if your thinking in that area matches “What don’t I like and whose fault is it?” 

-Be aware through the week of instances where your mind clicks into one mode or the other. 

-Challenge yourself to operate from “what do I want and how do I get it”

-Journal your responses.