100 Ways to Motivate Yourself : Change Your Life Forever by Steve Chandler, chapter name 49-54: Remind your mind, Get down and get small, Advertise to yourself, Think outside the box, Keep thinking, keep thinking , Put on a good debate

49-54: Remind your mind, Get down and get small, Advertise to yourself, Think outside the box, Keep thinking, keep thinking , Put on a good debate

49. Remind your mind

Perhaps you have noted an idea in this book, or another recent book that you've read, that you want to hold on to. It might be an idea that you knew, the moment you saw it, would always be useful to you. You might even have underlined it for future reference.

But what if the book goes on the shelf, or gets loaned to a friend, and is forevermore out of sight and out of mind? This is a very common experience, and there is a remedy: Start treating self-motivational ideas as if they were songs.

You can find ways to rewind these ideas so they'll play again and again until you can't get them out of your head. That's how belief systems are restructured to suit our goals. Place the thought you want to remember into the jingle track in your brain so that it can't get out.

You can create a new self by learning the beliefs you want to live by—one thought at a time. Learn these thoughts as you would the lyrics for a song you had to perform on stage. A friend of mine used to learn his parts in musicals by placing index cards with song lyrics all over his office, home, and bathroom mirror. He sometimes had them on the dashboard of his car. Why? He was making a conscious visual effort to reach the backside of his own mind.

The trick is to keep this motivation going. To deliberately feed your spirit with the optimistic ideas you want to live by. Any time a thought, sentence, or paragraph inspires you or opens up your thinking, you need to capture it, like a butterfly in a net, and later release it into your own field of consciousness.

For me, discovering an exciting idea in a book or magazine is like a true peak experience. It makes the world bright and incomprehensible. I get that tingle in my spine. I get that "Oh, yes!" feeling. Why am I this lucky? And the more I deliberately fill my mind with the words and phrases that originally stirred the peak experience, the easier it is to remember that life is good.

"This," writes Colin Wilson in New Pathways in Psychology, "is why people who have a peak experience can go on repeating them: because it is simply a matter of reminding yourself of something you have already seen and which you know to be real. In this sense, it is like any other 'recognition' that suddenly dawns on you—for example, the recognition of the greatness of some composer or artist whom you had formerly found difficult or incomprehensible, or the recognition of how to solve a certain problem. Once such a recognition 'dawns' it is easy to reestablish contact with it, because it is there like some possession, waiting for you to return to it."

During my talks on self-motivation, one of the questions I'm asked most often is "How do I keep this going?" People say, "I love what I've learned today, but I've often gone to seminars that got me motivated and then a few days later I was back to my old pessimistic self, doing exactly what I used to do."

If I were in the mood to be blunt, I would answer the question this way: Why, if you love what you've learned about self-motivation, would you ask me how to keep it going in your life? The person in this room best equipped to answer your question is you. So I'll ask you, "How will you keep this going in your life?" I bet you could give me 10 ways you could do it. And I bet that if this were a foreign language you had to learn you would set aside a certain amount of time each day to review it, to read it out loud, and to make certain you learned it. I bet you'd buy tapes or CDs for your car and even arrange small study groups. So the real question is this: Is mastering the art of motivation as important as learning another language?

Even a single phrase, placed prominently in a home or office, can have a huge impact on your life. In Arnold Schwarzenegger's childhood home in a poor town in Austria, his father framed and hung the simple words, "Joy Through Strength." It's not hard to see what effect that idea had on Arnold's life.

Once while I was attending a Werner Erhard seminar, I had some free time during a break so I wrote myself a letter. I put down all the ideas I wanted to remember from the seminar and I sealed them in an envelope. I took it home and a month later I mailed it to myself. When I opened it at work and read it, it was like a fresh experience all over again. I was so impressed by how effective this was for me that I employed the idea in one of my own seminars. I had everyone in the audience write out the important insights they'd received and what they intended to do differently in their lives from this moment on. When the people were finished, I asked them to seal the letters into the envelopes I'd provided and address the envelopes to themselves. I told them I would hold them for a month and then mail them all. The reports I got back were remarkable. Some people said seeing those thoughts written to themselves in their own handwriting brought the whole seminar back to them. They felt a rush of excitement and a new commitment to take action.

Are you willing to remind yourself to treat yourself to your own best thoughts? Are you willing to set visual traps and ambushes, so you'll always see words and thoughts you know you want to remember?

50. Get down and get small

The fewer goals you set each day, the more you feel "pushed around" by people and events that are beyond your control.

You suffer from a sense of powerlessness. Rather than creating the reality you want, you are only reacting to the world around you. You have much more control over the activities of your day than you realize. By increasing your conscious use of small objectives, you will see the larger objectives coming into reality.

Most people participating in the free enterprise system have become thoroughly convinced of the power of setting large and specific long-range goals for themselves. Career goals, yearly goals, and monthly performance goals are always on the mind of a person with ambition. But often those people overlook altogether the power of small goals—goals set during the day that give energy to the day and a sense of achieving a lot of small "wins" along the way.

In his psychological masterpiece, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi refers to large goals as "outcome" goals and small goals as "process" goals. The beauty of "process" goals is that they are always within your immediate power to achieve. For example, you might set a process goal of making four important telephone calls before lunch. On a sheet of paper you make four boxes, and as you make each call you fill in a box, and when the four are made, you file the paper in your goal folder and go enjoy lunch. Because you've earned it.

You can set process goals, for example, before a conversation with a person. I want to find these three things out, I want to ask these four questions, I want to make these two requests, and I want to pay my client one compliment before I leave.

Process goals give you total focus. When you are constantly setting process goals, you are in more control of your day, and you feel a sense of skillful self-motivation.

At the end of the day, or the beginning of the next day, you can check your progress toward your "outcome" goals. You can adjust your process goals to take you closer to the outcomes you want, and always keep the two in harmony.

Let's say it's now the end of a long, hard day. You have a half hour before you have to go home. If you're not in the habit of setting process goals, you might say, "I guess I ought to do some paperwork or make a call or two before I go home." You look at the pile of paper on your desk, or you mindlessly thumb through phone numbers, and all of a sudden someone comes by your desk to chat. Because you have nothing specific to do you engage in conversation and, before you know it, the half hour is gone and you have to go home. Even though you didn't leave anything specific unfinished, you still have that vague feeling of having wasted time.

Now what happens if you use that half hour to set and achieve a process goal? "Before I go home tonight I'm going to send out two good letters of introduction with all my marketing material included." Now you have a process goal and only a half hour in which to do it.

When the person comes by your desk to chat, you tell him you'll have to talk to him later because you've got some things "that have to get out" by five.

People who get into the swing of setting small goals all day long report a much higher level of consciousness and energy. It's as if they are athletes constantly coaching themselves through an ongoing game. They are happier people because their day is being created by the power inside their own minds, and not by the power of the world around them.

51. Advertise to yourself

I often start the day by drawing four circles on a blank piece of paper.

The circles represent my day (today), my month, my year, and my life. Inside each circle I write down what I want. It can be a dollar figure, it can be anything, and the goals can change from day to day—it doesn't matter. There is no way to get this process "wrong."

But by writing the goals down, I am like an airline pilot who is consulting his or her map prior to takeoff. I am orienting my mind to what I am up to in life. I am reminding myself of what I really want. We wouldn't think, before an airline flight, of poking our heads into the cabin and saying to the pilot, "Just take me anywhere!" Yet that's how we live our days when we don't check the map.

Sometimes in my seminars on motivation, people observe that they "don't have time" for goal setting. But the four-circle system I described takes only four minutes!

Once during a workshop on goal setting, I asked if anyone in the audience had any interesting experiences with visualization. We had been discussing sports psychologist Rob Gilbert's observation that "losers visualize the penalties of failure, and winners visualize the rewards of success."

A young couple shared a story about how they had wanted for years to buy their own home but never got the money together to do it. Then one day, after reading about the practice of "treasure-mapping" (posting pictures of what you want in life somewhere in your office or home), they decided to put a picture on their refrigerator of a new house, the kind they dreamed of owning.

"In less than nine months, we'd made the down payment and moved in," said the amazed husband. His wife added, "Alongside the photo of the house we eventually put a little thermometer that we filled in as our savings toward a down payment grew."

I have heard many similar stories about how treasure mapping has worked for people. I have also read books and attended seminars that explain why. Most of them discuss what happens to the subconscious mind when you send it a picture of something you want. Because the subconscious mind only communicates with vividly imagined or real pictures, it will not seek to bring into your life anything you can't picture.

Without advertising our goals to ourselves, we can lose sight of them altogether. It is possible to go an entire week, or two or three, without

thinking about our main goals in life. We get caught up in reacting and responding to people and circumstances and we simply forget to think about our own purpose.

I have an example of how this practice worked in my life: Three years ago I was interested in giving more seminars on the subject of fund-raising. I had co-authored a book called RelationSHIFT: Revolutionary Fund-Raising with University of Arizona development director Michael Bassoff. We had done some successful seminars on the subject, and I wanted to do more. So, on the wall of my bedroom I put up a white poster board, and on that board I put up a lot of pictures and index cards with my goals on them. I wanted to have all those goals in front of me when I woke up each morning, even though I only spent a minute or two looking at the board each day.

One of the index cards I had pinned to my goal board simply contained the bold-markered letters, "ASU." It was almost lost among the hodgepodge of photos and goals I'd covered the board with, and I'm certain I only barely noticed it each morning as I got up. I put it up there because I thought it would be great if I could give seminars to Arizona State University, especially now that I was living in the Phoenix area. I really thought nothing more of it.

One day at the offices of the corporate training company where I worked, I was asked to shake the hand of a new employee, Jerry. I asked Jerry to come in and sit down. We talked in my office for a few minutes about his joining the company. I asked him about his family and he casually mentioned that his parents were living in town, and that his mother worked at ASU.

Normally, that would have meant nothing. ASU is a very well-known and oft-mentioned presence in the Phoenix area. But something went off in my mind when he said that, and I know in hindsight that "something" was my daily view of my goal board.

My ears perked up when he said "ASU" and I asked him, "What does your mother do at ASU?" "She's the chief administrative assistant to the development director at the ASU Foundation," he said. "They're in charge of all the fund-raising at the University."

I really brightened at that point, and I told Jerry about my past work in fund-raising at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and how I'd always wanted to do similar work at ASU. He said he'd be delighted to introduce me to his mother and to the development director himself. Within a month, ASU fund-raisers were attending my seminar in

"RelationSHIFT" and I had realized one of the goals on my board. I honestly believe that if I had not had a goal board up in my bedroom, Jerry's mention of ASU would have gone right past me.

And this illustrates something important. We need to advertise our own goals to ourselves. Otherwise, our psychic energy is spread too thin across the spectrum of things that aren't that important to us.

52. Think outside the box

Once I attended a new business proposal presentation by Bob Koether, in which he had his prospective customers all play a little nine-dot game that illustrated to them that the solutions to puzzles are often simple to see if we think in unconventional ways.

As people laughed and tore up their puzzles in frustration when Koether showed them the solution, he stood up to make his final point.

"We restrict our thinking for no good reason," said Koether. "We do things simply because that's the way we always did them. I want you to know that our commitment in serving your company is to always look outside the box for the most innovative solutions possible to our problems. We'll never do something just because that's the way we have always done it"

To many business leaders pitching a lucrative account, this kind of puzzle-solving exercise would simply be considered a clever presentation. But to Bob Koether, it was a symbolic expression of his whole life in business.

Once, on a Xerox-sponsored trip in Cancun, Mexico, Bob and Mike spent the day out in treacherous waters on a fishing boat. After coming ashore, they retired to Carlos O'Brien's restaurant for tequila and beer and a period of reflection on their lives in sales thus far.

"We knew that as well as we had done, we would never own boats like the one we were just in if we remained at Xerox," said Bob. "We talked about possibilities in the bar, and it wasn't long before we noticed some black T-shirts on the wall with the word infinity on them. Then, for more than two hours, Mike and I discussed just what the word infinity meant. Out of that discussion, a dream was born, a dream that took shape in the form of Infinity Communications."

Bob Koether and his brother believed that there was one vital area in which Xerox was underperforming—and that was customer service. What if, they asked, a company's commitment to the customer was infinite? Not boxed-in, but unlimited in its possibilities for creative service?

With that concept as motivation, the two brothers formed "Infincom" (short for Infinity Communications) in the state of Arizona, and within 10 years they grew from six employees and no customers into a $50 million business with more than

500 employees. And for the past three years straight, the Arizona Business Gazette has ranked Infincom the number-one office equipment company in Arizona—ahead of Xerox.

All of us tend to look at our challenges from inside a box. We take what we've done in the past and put it in front of our eyes and then try to envision what we call "the future." But that restricts our future. With that restricted view, the best the future can be is a "new and better past."

Great motivational energy occurs when we get out of the box and assume that the possibilities for creative ideas are infinite. To realize the best possible future for yourself, don't look at it through a box containing your own past.

53. Keep thinking, keep thinking

Motivation comes from thought.

Every act we take is preceded by a thought that inspires that act. And when we quit thinking, we lose the motivation to act. We eventually slip into pessimism, and the pessimism leads to even less thinking. And so it goes. A downward spiral of negativity and passivity, feeding on itself like cancer.

I like to use this example in my seminars to illustrate the power of continuing to think: Let's say a pessimist has made up his mind to clean his garage on a Saturday morning. He wakes up and walks out to the garage and opens the door and is shocked to see just how much of a mess it is. "Forget this!" the pessimist says with disgust. "No one could clean this garage in one day!"

And at that point the pessimist slams the garage door shut and goes back inside to do something else. Pessimists are "all-or-nothing" thinkers. They think in catastrophic absolutes. They are either going to do something perfectly or not at all.

Now let's look at how the optimist would face the same problem. He wakes up on the same morning and goes to the same garage and sees the same mess and even utters the same first words to himself, "Forget this!

No one could clean this garage in one day!"

But this is where the key difference between an optimist and a pessimist shows itself. Instead of going back into the house, the optimist keeps thinking.

"Okay, so I can't clean the whole garage," he says. "What could I do that would make a difference?"

He looks for awhile, and thinks things over. Finally it occurs to him that he could break the garage down into four sections and do just one section today.

"For sure I'll do one today," he says, "and even if I only do one section each Saturday, I'll have the whole garage in great shape before the month is over."

A month later, you see a pessimist with a filthy garage and an optimist with a clean garage.

There was a woman in one of my seminars in Las Vegas who told me that this one concept—the optimist's habit of looking for partial solutions—had made an interesting difference in her life.

"I used to come home from work and look at my kitchen and just throw up my hands and curse at it and do nothing at all," she told me. "I'd think the exact same thing as the pessimist in your garage story. Then I decided to just pick a small part of the kitchen and do that, and that area only. It might be a certain counter, or just the sink. By doing just one small part each night I never resent the work, it's never overwhelming, and my kitchen always looks decent."

Pessimists like to set their problems aside. They think so negatively about "doing the whole thing perfectly" that they end up doing nothing at all!

The optimist always does a little something. She or he always takes an action and always feels like progress is being made.

Because pessimists have a habit of thinking "it's hopeless" or "nothing can be done," they quit thinking too soon. An optimist may have the same initial negative feelings about a project, but he or she keeps thinking until smaller possibilities open up. This is why Alan Loy McGinnis, in his inspiring book The Power of Optimism, refers to optimists as "tough-minded."

The pessimist, as far as the use of the human mind goes, is a quitter. Recent studies show, says McGinnis, that optimists "excel in school, have better health, make more money, establish long and happy marriages, stay connected to their children and perhaps even live longer."

To witness one of the most profound illustrations of the practical effectiveness of optimism in American history, you'll want to rent the movie, Apollo 13. Although the job of bringing those astronauts back from the far side of the moon looked daunting and overwhelming, the job was accomplished one small task at a time. The people at Mission Control in Houston who saved the astronauts' lives did so because even in the face of "impossible" technological breakdowns, they kept on thinking. They never gave up. They looked for partial solutions, and they declared that they would string these partial solutions together one at a time until they brought the men home safely. While the astronauts' lives were still in doubt, there was one glaring pessimist in Houston ground control who made the comment that he feared that Apollo 13 might become the "worst space disaster" in American history. The ground commander in Houston turned to him and said with optimism and anger, "On the contrary, sir, I see Apollo 13 as being our finest hour." And he turned out to be right, which illustrates the life-or-death effectiveness of optimistic thinking.

Whenever you feel pessimistic or overwhelmed, remember to keep thinking. The more you think about a situation, the more you will see small opportunities for action—and the more small actions you take, the more optimistic energy you will receive. An optimist keeps thinking and self-motivates. A pessimist quits thinking—and then just quits.

In the Broadway musical South Pacific, the heroine sings apologetically about being a "cock-eyed optimist." She admits she's "immature and incurably green." This was an early version of a blonde joke. She confesses, as the giddy song soars melodically, that she's "stuck like a dope on a thing called hope and I can't get it out of my heart...not this heart."

That's how our society has viewed optimists—they are dopes. Society thinks optimistic thinking is something that comes from the heart, not the head.

Pessimists, on the other hand, are "realistic." In fact, pessimists will never tell you they are pessimists. In their own minds, they are realists. And when they run into habitual optimists they sneer at them for always "blue-skying" everything, and not facing grim reality.

Pessimists continually use their imaginations to visualize worst-case scenarios, and then concluding that those scenarios are lost causes, they take no action. That's why pessimism always leads to passivity.

But even lying on his couch, bloated with junk food and foggy from too much television, the pessimist knows somewhere in his heart that his "what's the use?" attitude is not effective. He is living a life that is reflected in what Nietzsche once said: "Everything in the world displeased me; but what displeased me most was my displeasure with everything."

Optimists have chosen to make a different use of the human imagination. They agree with Colin Wilson's point of view that "imagination should be used, not to escape from reality, but to create it."

54. Put on a good debate

Negative thinking is something we all do. The difference between the person who is primarily optimistic and the person who is primarily pessimistic is that the optimist learns to become a good debater. Once you become thoroughly aware of the effectiveness of optimism in your life, you can learn to debate your pessimistic thoughts.

The most thorough and useful study I've ever seen on how to do this is contained in Dr. Martin Seligman's classical work, Learned Optimism. The studies done by Seligman demonstrate two very profound revelations: 1) optimism is more effective than pessimism; and 2) optimism can be learned.

Seligman based his findings on years of statistical research. He studied professional and amateur athletes, insurance salespeople, and even politicians running for office. His scientific studies proved that optimists dramatically outperform pessimists. So what Norman Vincent Peale had been saying for years in his books on the power of positive thinking was finally proven to be scientifically true.

Peale had based his books on testimonials and supportive biblical passages. The problem with that was that the people he needed to reach the most—skeptics and pessimists—were precisely the kinds of people who would not be anxious to take anything on faith. But once you've digested the remarkable writings of Seligman, you can go back and read Peale with a new sense of excitement. If you don't accept his religious references, it doesn't matter—the personal testimonials are stimulating enough to give his writing great power. Although his most famous book is The Power of Positive Thinking, I have derived much more motivation from Stay Alive All Your Life and The Amazing Results of Positive Thinking.

If you are now skeptical about your power to debate your own pessimistic thoughts, keep in mind that most of us are already great debaters. If somebody comes in and takes one side of an argument, we can usually take the other side and make a case, no matter which side the first person took. Debate teams have to learn to do this. Team members never know until the last second which side of the argument they will be debating, so they learn to be prepared to passionately argue either side.

If you catch yourself brooding, worrying, and thinking pessimistically about an issue, the first step is to recognize your thoughts as being pessimistic. Not wrong or untrue—just pessimistic. And if you are going to get the most out of your bio-computer (the brain), you must acknowledge that pessimistic thoughts are less effective.

Once you've accepted the pessimistic nature of your thinking, you are ready to take the next step. (This first step is crucial though. As Nathaniel Branden teaches, "You can't leave a place you've never been.") The second step is to build a case for the optimistic view.

Start to argue against your first line of reasoning. Pretend you're an attorney whose job is to prove the pessimist in you wrong. Start off on building your case for what's possible. You'll surprise yourself. Optimism is by nature expansive—it opens door after door to what's possible. Pessimism is just the opposite—it is constrictive. It shuts the door on possibility. If you really want to open up your life and motivate yourself to succeed, become an optimistic thinker.