You’re a smart and successful person. You know that what you think about yourself, your work and your accomplishments impacts how you feel, the choices you make and your actions. But, sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is you’re thinking and it can be even harder to transform those thoughts - especially, without the help of a trusted advisor, expert or coach to help you build capability and performance.
In this article, I am going to walk you through the same 3-step process for transforming your thoughts that I use with C-Suite leaders that helps them prevent or overcome burnout, implement a sustainable path to consistent peak performance and create top-notch work environments so that everyone thrives, including the bottom line. We are going to transform your thoughts for optimal success and sustainable peak performance. Let’s get started.
Step One: Identify the thoughts.
You have to start by knowing exactly what it is your thinking; but that can be easier said than done. The thoughts you have most often, known as automatic thoughts, happen so quickly that you tend not to notice them. You first have to slow down enough to notice your thoughts. This often happens by noticing the feeling first. For example, after a board meeting you notice you’re feeling kind of irritable. You pause for a moment and ask yourself “why?” Then you notice that you feel like your solution was too easily dismissed. The thought is, “the board did not value my input tonight.” Can you see how that would make you feel? Let’s take it a step further. What if the thought is, “the board never values my input.” How would that make you feel? You can see how sublte changes in thinking can make a big difference. Take some time right now to jot down some of your recurring thoughts about work, your career, and your work identity. Think back to the past few weeks on how you felt at work and look for the thoughts behind them. It’s important to see them in black and white in order to help us in step two.
Step Two: Evaluate the thoughts.
Now that you have your list, look it over and ask these questions: How are these thoughts serving you? What are the outcomes? What feelings, choices and actions do they lead you to? Is this thought helping or hurting me? You will likely have both positive and negative results. These beliefs have served you well at some point in your life because they have helped you create the success that you have experienced thus far. That’s why they exist in the first place. They have been rewarded. However, what you needed to get you here, is not the same as what you will need for this next level of success and legacy. In many cases, you have outgrown these thoughts and what you need now is different. You need thoughts that will support optimal levels of success and sustainable top performance. Thoughts like, “if I fail, I am a failure” or “in order to be successful, I have to work 70+ hours/week,” have to go if you want a brain wired for optimal success. Right now, take your list and evaluate which thoughts are positive, which thoughts are negative and which ones need to be discarded or transformed.
Step Three: Transform the thoughts that no longer serve you
Here’s where the real rewiring occurs. Here is where the work is.
- Rewrite each thought into a more helpful version. What would you like to believe instead? What do you wish you believed?
- Take a look at this new thought. Can you believe it now or is it too far out? It might be what you want to believe, but it may be so far outside your comfort zone that you will actually reject it. If so, rewrite it in a more acceptable way for where you are today and work towards the “ideal” thought. We call these ladder thoughts. They are like rungs on a ladder that will eventually get you to where you want to be, but they are the next right step.
- Now that you have created the better thoughts, practice them. Say them as affirmations throughout the day, especially when you find the old thoughts popping up. Reframe the old thoughts, by stopping yourself and saying the new thought. You will likely have to do this a lot in the beginning until the new thoughts begin to take hold.
- Create an anchor. This is an object that you associate with your new way of thinking. I recommend something you wear that is visible so that you can see it throughout the day as a reminder of your commitment to this new thought habit. Often a piece of jewelry works well; a necklace, a bracelet, a ring. It could be your watch or your tie. But something you will have present everyday with you. It could even be a rock in your pocket. You choose. You assign it meaning and you use it every day.
Now that you have these 3 steps, try this out and see how you do. Some people are able to do this on their own and some people need help with this. It is very easy to just slip into your old way of thinking. It takes conscious effort and attention to break the seductive pattern of your own thoughts. Frankly it take vigilance because your brain likes homeostasis and so much of our thinking happens at a subconscious level. Try it out and see how you do. Keep a journal of your progress. If you find you need help, message me and let’s talk about next steps. I’m rooting for you because I know the world needs your leadership and you deserve to enjoy the process along the way.
If this article was informative, join author, Dr. Donna Marino live on Tuesday, June 9th at noon CST for a CMP Complimentary Webinar. Register Below ⬇️⬇️.