I've written before that actions matter more than dreams — and I meant it. But there is a power to your thought life that we sometimes overlook.
What if there was a way to think your way into success, a way of turning ideas into reality?
Maybe it takes more than creativity. Maybe your mindset matters more than you think but only when backed up by intentional action.
And if that's true, maybe there's a process to follow…
It begins in the mind
What we think about when we are free to think about what we will — that is what we are or will soon become.
I cannot simply will myself to become a best-selling author or a world-class entrepreneur. I have to work at it, too. Everyone knows that.
But there is a step before any visible success that most people overlook. It goes beyond dreams and ideas and is what ultimately leads to meaningful action.
You must visualize what you want before you can get it. [Tweet that]
I know this runs the risk of sounding esoteric, but hear me out. So much of what matters in life involves faith:
- We trust friends with our deepest secrets.
- We put our kids to bed, believing they'll wake up safe and sound in the morning.
- We hope a tragedy will turn out for good — somehow.
This is where all great endeavors begin: in the mind. With faith-filled thoughts that lead to action. The thinking initiates the dream, but faith causes you to take that first, uncertain step.
Then you must commit
It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.
This is the place where most people fail, myself included.
We get a great idea, think about it awhile, and then move on. Or we take the first step, maybe even a few, and then get distracted. And we move on or forget what we wanted in the first place.
The point at which we make a difference is not during a brainstorming session; it's when we step out of the board room. When we decide to act and then start moving. Not recklessly, but intentionally.
All great things become great when we act, and not a moment before. The only way ideas take off is with a decision, a choice that costs you something.
Faith without works is dead, and dreams without action are just fantasies. [Tweet that]
You were meant for more than that. You were made to do great things, and that means at some point, you must not only decide to act but commit to a plan of action.
And it gathers momentum
If I find something I like, I'll chase it and see what comes out the other side. Once a song gets momentum and gets away from you, that's a good sign.
Once we decide, we have to move. To sign up for class, board the plane, or quit that job. This is the scariest part, but if the first two steps are satisfied, the third comes almost naturally.
But if the laws of physics teach us anything, they should tell us that once something is set in motion, it wants to remain in motion. Which means that one step leads to another. And another.
The hard part, though, is inertia. Objects at rest want to stay at rest. So we have to exert a lot of force and energy on those objections, those projects that could be great if only they had a chance to succeed.
So the first step is, in fact, just the beginning — as it should be. But what's the difference between a bunch of empty starts and stuff that actually takes off?
Momentum. It's the reason successful people keep succeeding and failures keep failing.
How do you overcome inertia and set into motion the law of momentum? Focus intensely on one project and don't let up or move on until it takes on a life of its own. Do this enough, and you'll create a whole portfolio of success.
Let's put it all together…
If you're like me, you need things broken down occasionally. So here is a series of three steps you can practice over the next week:
- Cultivate a habit of positive thinking. Pay attention to your thought life and look for ways you might be sabotaging yourself before you begin. Cut out of your vocabulary (both internal and external) any negative language that doesn't encourage an attitude of faith. Healthy skepticism is find; perpetual self-doubt is not.
- Commit more. Let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no. Follow through on what you say you're going to do, and stop making empty promises. Teach yourself how to be a person of integrity, even if it hurts (and it might).
- Work harder than you're used to. Do what you do, and do it well — without cutting corners or selling yourself short. This is how discipline is built: like a muscle, stretching more and more each time you exercise it.
Try these three habits for a week, then a month. And once you've done it that long, look back at what you've accomplished. If you're pleased with the results, why not keep going?
Where does success start for you? Is there a process you follow? Share in the comments.