(image from Purple Sherbet Photography)
As you know a lot of my clients are schools; I go to the school and speak to multiple groups of students with the aim to inspire in them what I found in myself - self belief in my ability to achieve the goals that I set for myself.
This fundamental aspect of success has always felt like a given to me - if you believe in yourself, you believe that you will achieve your goals, and you are prepared to sacrifice and put in the hard work to achieve the goal - quite simple really. I have felt that everyone can and will get this fundamental aspect, that with a little nudge, a little push from someone like myself, then everyone will have the success that they want.
The other day I was up speaking all day at a school in Newcastle, UK, and in the lunch break I was going to be bused to the junior part of the school to talk briefly to some of the sporty juniors (yrs 4,5, and 6). A lovely gentleman came and picked me up in the schools minivan and drove me over to the juniors. On the way there we barely spoke, other than the obligatory 'Hello's' and "how do you do's.' At this point I was trying to preserve my voice and throat for the three more hours of talking I would have to do that afternoon, so any extra speaking I was trying to avoid. I spoke to the juniors for the allotted time, and then the kind gentleman picked me up again to take me back to the main school. This time we spoke ...
He asked me what I was doing at the schools and I explained to him that I had been a Paralympic Swimmer and now I was an inspiration speaker and goal coach and I was there to inspire the students to set goals and achieve them. He thought that was great ... but then he asked me if I truly believed that all people could achieve their dreams. I said yes, of course!! Why shouldn't they! If I can, than surely every other person in this world can achieve their dreams, and live the life that they want. He then politely disagreed with me. I felt taken aback ... why did he not agree with me? How could he not see that with the right attitude and drive, we can all succeed. He explained his position - ' You, Elizabeth, you have a drive that a lot of people don't have, it is something in you, in your mind that has helped you go all the way. I don't have this drive, you see, as a teenager I was really good at football and I probably could have gone on and played professionally, in fact I said to myself that I wanted to ... but in the end I couldn't, I didn't do the work that I needed to do to get there. It's not in me, this drive, I just gave up, and I have regrets now because of it, but at that time I just gave up.'
(I am paraphrasing here)
I felt kind of stunned ... I don't know why, I knew plenty of people who had stopped chasing their dreams because it was a) too hard physically
b) too hard mentally
c) too hard emotionally
But to have a conversation with someone who just put it out there, the regret, the emotion, their truth regarding their story, it stunned me.
Here's the thing, I could see where he was coming from, for someone like me (like us?) it seems easy to adjust our attitudes and get busy with it! Of course we all have our off days, days where we throw our hands in the air and go "WHATEVER UNIVERSE!!!"
BUT give it a day or two and we are right back in the mix of things, busy making our dreams come true ...
For other's, the "WHATEVER UNIVERSE" days become weeks, months, and years. There is no attitude change because the "WHATEVER" attitude becomes the primary one, life just becomes about surviving rather than thriving.
Now I'm not blaming people for not shifting their attitude, but I still believe it is possible to change it. Change is inevitable, so why not take some control over the change and make it a change for the better - in your mind!
BUT how do you make these changes to a more optimistic outlook?
1. Become more self aware - negative attitudes and talk can become a habit and we all have negative attitudes to things, even us eternal optimists! So you have to become more self aware, catch yourself when that negative thought pops into your head, catch yourself and then turn it around, say the positive opposite to yourself, even if you don't believe it. The more you do this the more you will start to notice a shift in your attitude.
2. Remind yourself that it's never to late to achieve your dreams ... with the understanding that your goals and dreams will change as you change. So you didn't follow your dream to become a footballer when you were a teenager, but maybe as a forty year old you want to be able to afford to have a holiday in Spain every year, it's definitely not too late to achieve that goal!
3. Acknowledge that the goal plan might, in reality, differ from what you have in mind. It's okay if your goal journey changes from the original plan, in fact it's more than okay, because that's where you get unexpected surprises, learn your lessons, and discover new opportunities.
4. Celebrate the success of others, and use this to inspire you to achieve your goals! When you see other's who have achieved great things you have a choice, be jealous and upset that they have achieved, or be happy for them and let them teach you something about success. Success often breeds success, so embrace the achievements of those around you.
5. Be grateful for what you have already. Often you have achieved more than you think you have, it's just the way that you are looking at things that means you don't see it. So look at the house you've bought for yourself, the volunteering that you do, the job that you have, and the family that loves you. You have already achieved so much! When you see the world from this perspective it can give you the motivation to go further, to set new goals and achieve them.