As I was reading How to Be Brilliant, one idea captured there really struck me – that is, positive thinking is important, but to be successful in all areas of your life you need positive action. Positive action is an action that gets you closer to your goal. Not all actions are positive actions. For example, if your goal is to compete in the next America’s Top Model contest, then visiting a gym everyday for 5 days a week sounds like one of many positive actions you will need to take. However, obsessing about your skin problems and feeling bad about yourself while comparing yourself to other “Cover girls” would not be an example of a positive action.
To take this idea further, once you have identified what your goals are, reflect everyday if the actions you’ve done today are positive actions. If your goal is to write a book, a positive action would be to start writing and rewriting, or perhaps signing up for creative writing class. Also, some positive actions will bring you to your goal faster than others. For example, while taking a course on creative writing may bring you to your goal of writing a book, writing everyday for an hour instead may bring you to your goal faster.
The hardest part is always to reflect on what you’ve done today, last week, last month or last year and how your actions are examples of positive actions that reflect your values. You are accountable to yourself for your life, happiness and success. For example, you may pride yourself as a great dad, but if you missed your kid’s graduation ceremony or watched TV while your kid was struggling with his homework, or, didn’t take a day off to look after your kid when he got sick, then your actions are not really aligned with your values. It is always important to “refresh” your positive actions – while you could have done something good in the past that reinforced your beliefs, you always need to continue doing things to maintain your beliefs. Marriage is the easiest example – one cannot be a good husband or wife if he/she did something nice 10 years ago – because relationships are being re-evaluated and re-lived every day, so it is important to contribute to them daily (if that is your goal).
Sometimes we face barriers to our goals. It is important to identify and address them, and addressing these barriers will also be positive actions that we can take to move ourselves forward. There are no excuses to avoid working towards your own success! Even limitations with money, connections, education or time are not viable reasons to avoid acting positively. I personally met a 14-year old entrepreneur who made everyone proud that he met at a Leadership conference. Remember, while you are watching TV and looking for excuses for not doing things that you want to achieve, somewhere someone is working hard and doing things that you could do. Who says that you need to have strong social connections with publishers or a special quiet office to write in order to get published – Joanne Rowling wrote Harry Potter at a gas station and ideas about the book came to her while she was waiting for a train. She was on welfare, divorced and depressed, but instead of focusing on her barriers she just did the thing she believed in – and she succeeded. Some people blame their parents’ divorce for their lack of action. Leonardo DiCaprio’s mom raised him alone.
So when you wake up tomorrow, ask yourself – what are the three things I can do today (not someday as many dreamers say) to get closer to my goals? What positive actions would get me closer to my goals and will get me there faster? Then, at the end of the day, ask yourself – did I do the 3 things that I committed myself to do in the morning? Sometimes we will have to adjust these things as they may lead to another effect and it is fine. As long as we are doing something, as long as we are moving forward…