Don’t Leave Your 2021 Goals to Your Future Self
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This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life
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Do you often talk to yourself? Chances are, you would answer “no” to this question. However, the truth is that you do talk to yourself, almost all the time. You are even doing it at this moment. However, the problem is not your tendency to do this, but your tendency to be negative in your self-talk, telling yourself that you are lazy, stupid, or not good enough. The book ‘’Unfu*k Yourself’’ is written for those who often experience this type of self-defeating monologue. Its main goal is to help us govern our self-talk and use it ‘’as a force for good in our lives.’’ So, get ready to learn how to talk to yourself!
Bishop says there are two kinds of talk we engage in every day: talk with others, and the talk we have with ourselves. In most cases, we are more aware of the first kind of talk. However, if you pay attention to your inner voice for a while, you will learn it is with you all the time, commenting on your thoughts, actions, or feelings.
The inner voice that comments on your circumstances often helps determine their outcome and shows how you deal with life in general. For example, if you are working on a difficult task, you might at some point say to yourself: “This is so hard. What if I don’t finish in time?” Usually, this type of self-talk leads to just what you are worried about - you being unable to finish the task within the deadline. In fact, you probably acted according to your belief that you lack time, which led you to putting less effort into your work.
The idea that there is a connection between our words and actions is not new: the great philosophers such as Wittgenstein, Heidegger, and Gadamer recognized the importance of language in our lives. Furthermore, in recent years, studies have confirmed that positive self-talk improves our mood, confidence, and productivity, while negative self-talk can cause problems.
With all this in mind, our goal should be to register the harmful language we use when talking to ourselves and reframe it into talk that helps us. That way, we can create a new reality - one with a more positive outlook. ‘’Remember,’’ Bishop tells us, ‘’no matter how difficult, challenging, or pressing life’s circumstances can be, how you fundamentally relate to and engage with those circumstances will have the biggest say in how they turn out.’’
According to Bishop, to change your inner language, you first must learn to be assertive. That means you should make a habit of staking a claim for this moment in time. You should use expressions that start with “I am,” “I embrace,” “I accept,” and “I assert,” rather than ‘’I am going to,” ‘’I will,’’ or ‘’I should.’’
Think about the problem in your life you are currently facing. Are you in a bad relationship? Do you hate your job? Then, why don’t you end the relationship you are in or find a new job? If you want to lose weight, for example, create a dieting plan and start exercising. Perhaps you feel you cannot change because you do not have full control over the problems you have. However, Bishops says, ‘’Even the things you seemingly had no say in, like the death of a loved one or losing your business, you have a MASSIVE say in the ways you live your life in the aftermath of those events.’’
Bishop assures you that whatever situation you are in, even if it has been going on for years and you still cannot find a way out of it, there is always something you can do about it. The key is to be willing to take action and put up with the problems. Say it out loud, ‘’I am willing to make a change!’’ Yes, but it is not that simple, you might think. Unfortunately, you cannot afford to make excuses on your life journey. ‘’They’re excess baggage on a trip that requires you to travel light,’’ writes the author. Most of the excuses you have for not doing something hide the real cause: your unwillingness to change.
To make a positive change, you first must realize that only you are responsible for your life. Therefore, you must stop blaming others for your failures. You can only turn them into successes once you discover your potential, and once you have the willingness to change, let go or accept your circumstances.
The first assertion Bishop teaches his readers is, therefore, this one, ‘’I am willing.’’ Remember, whenever you blame others or yourself for being unmotivated, lazy, or weak, you are actually unwilling.
Your unwillingness is fine, as long as you are aware of it. Admitting you lack the willingness to change, rather than blaming others, is also a step forward - it means that you have realized what you want in life. For example, you might say you are unwilling to be rich since you are not ready to make sacrifices, such as working 70 hours per week and not spending enough time with family.
Bishop claims that we are always winning in life, even when it seems like we are losing. ‘’You are a champion,’’ he says. ‘’You’ve knocked out goal after goal, cruising to an undefeated record. Everything you set your mind to comes true.’’ This kind of statement, of course, requires elaboration. But first, here is a scenario you are probably familiar with.
For many years, you have been seeking the person with whom you want to share your life. Unfortunately, luck has never been on your side. Every relationship you have had has ended, and you start to lose hope, believing no one will ever love you.
So, how is this winning when you feel like a failure? You are a winner, actually, except that you are not aware that your goals are wrong. Observe the problem from a different angle: what if you set your mind to the idea that no one will ever love you? Therefore, in every relationship, you subconsciously repeat the same behavioral patterns so that you can confirm your belief that you are not meant to be loved. In that case, Bishop is right for calling you a champion.
According to him, our brains are always wired to win, but we often do not realize what our real intentions are. For this reason, the next assertion you need to memorize is this one, ‘’I am wired to win.’’ Whenever you are not satisfied with some aspect of your life, try to figure out what your subconscious goals are. Set your mind differently - on winning what you consciously desire. ''We are wired to win – we just have to point ourselves in the right direction so we can win at something we consciously choose,’’ Bishop writes.
Define your goal, and then break it down into steps you need to take to achieve it. Figure out how you will measure your progress. Finally, be aware of the thought processes that might misguide your actions.
You have learned so far that you can make a significant change in your life by changing your thoughts. The same applies to the opposite direction: your actions can change your thoughts as well.
Negative self-talk often prevents us from acting. Out of fear or worry, our inner voice often tells us we should not do anything because we are wired to fail. Sometimes it is possible to reframe the negative talk and turn it into a positive one. However, shifting to positivity is challenging since we sometimes deal with hundreds of pessimistic thoughts in a day. In that case, your goal should be turning off the internal chatter.
Have you ever noticed that once you get engaged in an activity, your internal voice gets quieter? It is because we do not have time to think about anything else when we are acting. Professional athletes even have a word to describe this state, which they call the “zone.’’ So, do the same as they do - get in the zone and act independently from your thoughts.
Even successful people like Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Nikola Tesla, or Steve Jobs occasionally struggled with doubt, fear, or uncertainty. What makes them great is the determination they had to act, despite their internal condition. Imagine if they had refused to act, we would never be witness to their greatness or wisdom.
Whenever you detect any discouraging thoughts, move on to action immediately. You will eventually make a habit of ignoring disempowering self-talk and act on the things that are in your best interest. Consequently, your confidence will increase, and you will start to define yourself by your actions, not by your thoughts.
Write down this assertion: “I am not my thoughts; I am what I do.” If you sometimes find it hard to believe in or act upon this sentence, remind yourself of the people you know. Chances are you mostly remember their actions, not their thoughts. Therefore, Bishop encourages people to ‘’get up on your feet and get going.’’
Imagine making your lifelong dream come true. It might be to start your own business, for example. You first come up with a lucrative idea and then move on to making your business plan a reality. You find a company that creates a logo, get a place to rent, obtain a business license, and hire employees. Everything goes according to the plan. However, at some point, you find out that the deal to secure the unique product you were planning to sell fell through, and now you need to come up with another plan. You say to yourself: ‘’Dammit this was going too smoothly; I just knew something like this would happen!!” Even though you consciously know that these situations are common in the corporate world, you start feeling depressed as you see yourself giving up on everything and begging your boss to give you your old job back.
What you need to do to prevent this kind of negative thinking is to not rely on expectations. Whenever we wish to achieve something, we picture how the whole situation will develop. However, we are usually unaware that expectations can ruin potential plans before they even get off the ground. In the example above, the entrepreneur did not expect to lose the deal. Therefore, when that happened, he was immersed in negative thoughts, ready to give up on his dream.
Bishop claims that: ‘’Your powerlessness is directly correlated to the gap between your hidden expectations and your reality. The greater the gap, the worse you’ll actually feel.’’ Think about the area in your life you are not satisfied with. Let’s say it is your marriage. The root of your dissatisfaction likely is a mismatch between the expectations you had about what marriage should look like and the reality of your marriage.
Try to live according to this assertion, “I expect nothing and accept everything.” Discard the expectations and live in a moment, without worrying about the future. Embrace situations as they come. This mindset does not exclude planning, but makes your plan (and image) of how it should go irrelevant in determining the course of your actions.
The biggest barrier to success lies within our minds. ‘’Unfu*k Yourself’’ is an easy and amusing read that will teach you how to break down those barriers so that you can become the best version of yourself. As the reviewer from the Lexington Herald-Leader wrote, ‘’[Bishop] shares tools and advice you need to demolish the baggage weighing you down.”
Remember: you are responsible for the life you have. Therefore, be willing to change for the better, concentrate on your actions, and always expect the unexpected.
Gary John Bishop was born in Glasgow, Scotland. He is an author, public speaker, and an expert on personal development. The titles of his bestselling books are ‘’Unfu*k Yourself,’’ ‘’Stop Doing That Sh*t,’... (Read more)
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