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You don’t have to be Apple to think different. And it doesn’t need to be January to create resolutions, to change things, or to develop habits that – in theory at least – make life better. It also makes sense to consider for a moment what that word ‘better’ means to you, by the way. The ‘think different’ ideas below are not universally useful. Not all suggestions will make every life better. In fact, what might make one life better may very well make no difference at all to another. Life is personal. Better is personal. And so are these suggestions. Take a look to see if any of them make sense for you. All seven are to do with how we think.
Tackling change and how to make life better when you’re upset, emotional or derailed is a waste of time. Decisions will be clouded. Perspectives will be wrong. The information you use, and how you process it, will be skewed. And it’s ironic that the times you’ll most want to make change to your life are actually when you are feeling upset, emotional or derailed. Wait a while before addressing any big decisions. Wait for the calm. Wait for the clarity. Then decide what to do.
Your worrying thoughts aren’t real. And just as you created them, you can decide what to do with them and how to react to them. Worrying thoughts are illusions. A great way to reenforce not only that worrying thoughts are illusions, but that they are also very unlikely to come to fruition, is to think about the worrying thoughts you’ve had in the past. Think of all the time you’ve invested in worrying about outcomes that never manifested and problems that only ever existed in your head. There’ll be lots.
This is much more powerful than you might imagine. Giving yourself permission and the space to be wrong is, first of all, reminding yourself that you can’t know everything and that you don’t actually know what you don’t know. Once you accept these things, your thinking can be much more adventurous and the irony is that when you stop worrying about being right all the time, you create room and opportunity for your best thoughts and ideas to be born.
Planning is valuable. But not all the time. If you try to plan your life you are really only working with known experiences and outcomes, so it’s unlikely you’ll expand yourself or your life to the maximum. Book a trip – today – to go somewhere you’ve never been. Alone, even. Get your first tattoo. Start to look for a job in a completely unrelated field so that you imagine your work life in a totally different way. Instigate or say yes to a relationship that’s just not like you. With someone that’s just so not your type.
This kind of thinking is interesting because it’s based on the idea that you really don’t know yourself and what is best for you. And that thinking you do know everything about yourself is keeping you from experiencing so many, many new and exciting things.
You’re complex. Who and what you are is layered and complicated. And yet you will, from time to time, develop new dreams and ideas that you want to explore. If and when they come off, that’s brilliant. And if and when a dream doesn’t come off, that’s OK too. It’s just that dream that didn’t come to life – not your entire future. Broken dreams feel awful. But you’ve recovered before, and you’ll recover again. And most of all – don’t stop dreaming. The next dream might be the one.
How many decisions, in relation to how you have built your life to date were made from a position of fear? To avoid pain or conflict or the possibility of failure. If it’s many or most of them, you might have accidentally built yourself a too small and unfulfilling life. An example is not putting yourself out there or bigging yourself up as much as you could, based on how well you know you are doing. Some people don’t tell their story out loud for fear of being put back down or belittled. Another example is choosing jobs that are clearly within your capability rather than those that will truly challenge and grow you. And when it comes to relationships, the way we make decisions can also be really, really strange, especially when we consider how impactful on our entire lives our relationships with a significant other can be. Some people choose relationships that they can see are very likely to fail, and they may even do things to actually make them fail, simply because they don’t think they deserve to be loved. And some people choose relationships that are stale and unchallenging because they fear being alone, so only say yes to relationships where they feel somehow superior to the other person, on the false assumption that this means they won’t then end up being deserted. In summary, don’t just think about what you’re thinking - think also about why you are thinking it.
Ambition is a good thing. It’s a way of thinking that drives you forward. But make sure you use the right fuel for the journey. Hate focuses you on things you don’t like, people that you don’t like, situations that are corrosive, parts of your life that drain you and indeed anything that makes you unhappy. The narrative here is dark and gloomy. And because that tone can sometimes bring a person and the people around them down, fuelling your journey with hate is unhealthy and just not useful.
Love on the other hand gets you out of bed an hour earlier, it disciplines you to eat and sleep better so you are better prepared for the change you want. Love gives you confidence and lifts your spirits. Because you are focusing on the person you know you want to become, and how you imagine that feels and sounds and tastes and smells.
Think about where, who and what you are running to, not where, who and what you are running from. Fuel you’re ambition with the things that you love, not the things that you hate.
So there you go. Seven ways to address your thinking. See if any of them can make a difference to you.