There’s this fun experiment I’d often try with folks. I’d ask them to imagine themselves winning the lottery.
They’d tell me all the things they’d do with the money, all the places they’d travel to, all the stuff they’d buy.
It was then that I’d ask them to tell me how they’d feel. Would they act differently? Would they talk differently? What about they way they’d carry themselves? Their demeanor, the way they’d walk? Would that change as well.
Maybe that’s too strong a thought experiment, but what if you were to imagine having a cape around draped around your shoulders? Like a real-life Superman. Walk around the room, feeling the cape around your shoulders. Don’t you feel a bit like a superhero? Are your shoulders slouched? I suppose not. Do you keep your head high? Of course.
You don’t have a cape around your shoulders, and you haven’t won the lottery, but you can imagine yourself doing all those things.
Imagination is one hell of a tool when used right.
But we often use it only to project our mental biases onto the world, and to fuel our fears and insecurities about the future.
If you were to pretend that the thing you’re after was already yours, if you changed your behavior to match that, you could accomplish anything you’d want. Anything at all.
It sounds like a simplistic truth that doesn’t hold true to scrutiny, but I assure you it’s not.
The human mind is powerful enough to overcome insurmountable odds and win impossible battles because it is capable of visualizing a future that is compelling that it justifies any kind of suffering.
But the thing that ruins your chance of success is the fact that you don’t believe you can. You don’t believe you deserve the thing you’re after.
Yeah, you want it, but your desire comes from a place of scarcity: you are missing it, and your every thought is about you not having it, not about you being worthy of having it.
On the surface, it seems like some spiritual mumbo-jumbo, but I assure you that this type of mindset is quite real.
The Bitter-Sweet Truth About Success
If you simply adopt a certain attitude, you can do pretty much anything you want.
If you stop wishing for it, if you stop worrying if you’ll ever have it, if you turn your ifs into whens, this attitude will ensure that you can whatever you want.
To paraphrase the late Zig Ziglar, it’s your attitude that determines your altitude.
The results you get in your life are a product of what you think you deserve.
Take money for example. Most people will never earn much because they either think the money you make to be about luck, or about stealing from the poor, or about who you know. This is just justification for a mindset that revolves around scarcity, it’s your brain trying to rationalize the fact that deep down you don’t believe you deserve to have a lot of money.
That’s the most insidious aspect of this debilitating mindset: you cannot even admit it to yourself that you don’t believe you deserve what you want, because the moment you ask yourself, “Who am I to deserve this?” there’s a part of your mind that will answer, “Who are you not to deserve it?”
We often talk about self-fulfilling prophecies, about limiting beliefs. If you don’t believe you deserve your dream, you won’t feel like taking massive action.
It’s paradoxical, I know, because the people who are so entitled in their beliefs should be the ones who barely act, but it’s quite the opposite.
After all, if you knew you were destined to fail, would you still act? Why?
Fortune Favors the Bold
When I first started publishing content on Medium, even though I’d built a number of successful blogs, I had a moment of doubt.
Since I had no audience, I wondered if I was worthy of having an audience on a different platform.
After a few days of thinking about it, asking all sorts of questions about it, I reminded myself of the fact that I had previously built some of the most popular blogs around. This was my standard. This was my mindset, and there was no point in going down the rabbit hole of self-doubt.
If we are not careful, we can soon begin to ignore the objective reality of the past.
It didn’t matter if I had done what I was supposed to do, and successfully so, because once I began to wonder whether or not I deserved to build an audience on Medium, once the doubt crept in, I was no longer in control.
Once you begin to doubt your capacity for success, it feels like an insurmountable obstacle. The negative narrative that’s holding you back becomes an automatic process that is almost impossible to defeat.
The trick is to never spend too much time asking yourself whether or not you will be successful. Fantasize about the when, take it one day at a time, learn to enjoy the struggle, and celebrate small victories.
Whatever you do, do not go quietly into that dark night of the soul, whatever you do, don’t spend too much time wondering whether or not you’re able to reach a certain goal.
It’s better to experience failure in real life than it is to suffer from it in our imagination.
So that’s it.
There’s no magical secret to this. It’s just a subtle mindset shift that could change your life forever.
Maybe you need to reach rock-bottom in order to finally stop asking yourself “Who am I to reach my goals?” and start asking, “Who am I not to reach my goals?”
Self-improvement is the process of brainwashing yourself into believing you can do something until you build the habits and discipline to carry through without ever needing motivation, both internal and external.
As corny as it sounds, it’s true that if you think you can, you will. And if you think you can’t, you won’t.
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