Picture yourself on a path in the middle of the forest. You come to a fork in the path and, while it is not clear where it is leading, you choose to take the path on the left because you believe it leads toward your ultimate destination. You suggest this to your hiking companions and they respond with all the reasons why taking this new path is not a good idea.
“We’ve never been this way before.”
“We don’t really know where it goes.”
“It’s a very steep incline and we might not make it.”
“It’s getting dark; we won’t be able to see with all of those trees.”
This imagined hike may mimic your life path. How many times do you blindly accept your own negative self-talk or listen to the nay-sayers around you and therefore not move in a new, more positive, purpose-driven direction?
What would happen if, instead of trying to ignore the negativity you looked it straight in the face and challenged it? You might gain some interesting insights.
“Okay, so what would I do if I wanted to fail?”
“If I wanted to fail, I would turn around and go in the opposite direction from my goal.”
“If I wanted to fail, I would do the same old thing over and over.”
“If I wanted to fail, I might just stand still and not make any change.”
Then, ask yourself if you are doing any of these things already and what you could do instead.
“Actually, yes, I’m just standing still.”
“Well I don’t want to fail. How will I make sure I don’t?”
“First of all, I sure as heck won’t stand still on this decision and I won’t change my mind and turn around!”
“I’ll get a clearer map and grab a flashlight to make sure I can see in the dark.”
TaDa! New energy and new determination results from this inner dialogue. This way of looking at negative voices (your own or others) can turn the negativity into an ally by using it to spark action or commitment that will move you toward positive, impactful results. You have looked at your goal from a 180 point of view – what you desire and what you would do if you wanted to fail – and leveraged both to put together a motivating and successful plan.
While skillfully ignoring your own negative bias can be effective, facing it head on can bring new insights and result in clearer direction and motivation toward your goals.