Are you as successful as you’d like to be? If the answer is no, you may need to change your thought patterns about yourself and your work. That advice comes from Aaron Ross, keynote speaker and co-author of From Impossible to Inevitable: How Hyper-Growth Companies Create Predictable Revenue.
Some of the ways we think about ourselves and our work do more to hold us back than help us, he explains. So whenever you catch yourself thinking anything like this, stop and make an adjustment:
1. “Everyone else is doing great. What’s wrong with me?”
“If you’re on social media at all, and follow many news sources, you’re bombarded with stories of other people’s successes,” he says. You’re constantly reading about how people are starting or growing companies, finishing triathlons, getting married, having happy families, and so forth.
“This generates a ‘reality distortion field,’ in which everyone else experiences 95 percent success and 5 percent struggle,” he says. If you feel like you’re working 95 percent of your day to solve problems, it’s natural to think that everyone else is getting whatever they want, and you must be doing something wrong.
But while it may be natural, it’s also wrong. “The funny thing is, everyone you’re watching feels the same way,” Ross says. So the next time you start feeling like everyone else is doing better than you are, remember that you’re only experiencing reality distortion. The truth is that everyone is struggling. It’s not just you.
2. “My competition is doing this so I should too.”
“Don’t let ‘keeping up with the Joneses,’ whether friends or competitors, distract you from doing the important things you, your team, and customers need,” Ross warns. “Don’t raise money, hire a ton of people, write a book, or spend money on a conference just because someone else did.”
Instead, he advises, ask yourself what you most want to do, and what’s worked best for you in the past. “Triple down on those things, even if they’re the exact opposite of what everyone else is succeeding with.”
3. “I’ve accomplished nothing.”
It’s all too easy to think this, and it isn’t true, Ross says. Combat this depressing thought by making a list of things in both your work life and personal life that you’ve accomplished in the past day, month, or year, he advises. “Big ones. Small ones. Tiny ones. Anything you can think of,” he says. “This is a way to focus on yourself rather than others.” Or — even better — instead of listing your accomplishments yourself, go talk to your friends or customers and ask them the most impressive or important thing they’ve seen you do. Ask them what they see as your strengths. The answers may please and surprise you.
4. “I’ll never reach my goals.”
Maybe you won’t and maybe you will, but your chances are better if you don’t let yourself think like this. Ross suggests changing this thought pattern by making a list of the things you want to do that are most important to you. “If you wrote a ‘To Do Before I Die’ list, what would be on it?” he asks. “Let’s turn the frustration or feeling of failure into motivation. You might as well use it, since it’s not going away.”
If you feel like you’re struggling, use that to drive yourself to greater effort. “Use your struggle as a fire under your butt to change things, rather than resisting it,” he says.
5. “I better not tell anyone my plans in case they don’t work out.”
Many of us think this way (including me) but Ross says it’s dead wrong. In fact, he believes you should tell the world what you plan to do because it creates what he calls a “forcing function.”
“If you’ve been putting off getting into shape what works better, signing up for a gym membership or telling your friends that you’ve entered a half-marathon?” he asks. “Been meaning to start writing? Announce to your friends a date by which you’ll have that blog post, table of contents, or draft done. The best way to launch a product is to announce a launch date!”
You can use the forcing function to stop thinking about something you want to do and finally do it, Ross says. That will help you change your thought patterns most of all.