The mantra that positive thinking creates positive results is one we hear over and over in our lives. But what is often missing from this advice is the understanding that positive thinking alone does not guarantee success. In fact, your positive outlook can sometimes interfere with your ability to fulfill your dreams.
Because thinking positively is more of a mental effort than believing the negative to be true, when we work hard to think positively, we are, in a way, tricking our brains into thinking we’ve already done the heavy lifting when it comes to actually turning your goals into reality.
When you think positively, it has a positive effect on your physical well being, and you enjoy lower blood pressure, less stress, and other biological markers that tell your brain it’s okay, everything is all right. If you aren’t careful, this can lead to you putting forth less energy and having lowered motivation toward actually achieving your dreams. Your body and your brain think you’ve already made it to the finish line!
So, you have to actually work harder to keep a positive attitude while also putting in the work needed to attain those goals. Therefore, you need some reliable strategies for intermixing your positive mindset with a dose of reality.
So, what’s the best way to keep a positive attitude while still keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground, all while making continue progress toward your dreams? We’ve compiled some successful strategies to help you do just that.
Strategies for Turning Attitude Into Action
Once you’ve mastered the positive attitude, it’s time to turn that mindset into actionable steps. Wanting a dream and actively working toward it are very different, and there are some simple strategies you can use to make progress toward achieving everything you want in life.
Some of these are also good for keeping your mindset positive in the face of obstacles and setbacks. Here are a few of our favorites.
Use Your Positive Mindset to Create Focus
One way to leverage your positivity is to turn it into extreme focus toward action. When you use that optimistic mindset to focus on what it is you want to accomplish, it becomes a motivating factor by itself. When you wake up each day with the knowledge that you can accomplish your goal, you then need to ask yourself, “What am I doing today to get me one step closer to reaching that outcome?” Turning your outlook into consistent action is key.
When you have a positive mindset and leverage that into focus, action becomes self-propagating. You see success each day, which engenders more action, which leads to more success. You can create a cycle of action and success fueled by your focus and positive outlook.
The opposite is true of this, so be careful. When you focus on the negative, it tends to create fear and inhibit action. When your focus is driven by anxiety, you can become paralyzed to attempt anything new, and your progress dies out. So, use the power of positive thinking in your favor.
One technique that is particularly powerful when it comes to realizing your dreams and putting positive thought into action is visualization. Learning to vividly see what it is you are trying to accomplish can serve as motivation for your hard work. Creating a clear mental picture of how your life will feel and look when you achieve your dreams provides you with something concrete toward which you will want to work.
Visualizing your future helps you feel that what you are doing is possible and also just a few steps away from being achieved. It helps if you can actually experience parts of your final goal in real life, so have some experiences on which to base the visualization of your ultimate dream.
Walk through a potential dream home, take a virtual field trip of someplace you’d like to travel to someday, or make a list of the first three things you will buy when you achieve your financial goals. Make your visualization as real as possible by seeing yourself in this future. How will you feel? What problems will be resolved when you attain your goal, and what do you hope to learn along the way?
Some people find images very helpful for visualization. Cut out photographs that represent your ideal dreams come true and place them in places where you can see them regularly. Like positive thinking, visualization is not enough on its own, but it can serve to fuel your actions and provide motivation for the hard work of actually making your dreams come true.
Allow Others to Inspire You
Looking for inspiration, motivation, and even guidance from someone who has already achieved their dreams is another excellent strategy in your quest to attain your own goals. It’s much easier to turn your positive thinking into action when you see examples of people you admire who have also accomplished this feat.
There are many resources available online to listen to inspirational talks and interviews with famous and influential people who have worked hard to achieve their goals. These can serve as food for thought whenever you are contemplating your own dreams or wondering how to continue forward. Find people who have met goals similar to yours. Learn about their history and to what they attribute their success. Find out how they overcame obstacles.
Beyond looking to strangers, though, find role models in your real life, as well. Having a mentor who can provide you with guidance and advice when needed is highly beneficial. It does not necessarily have to be someone who has attained a similar goal to yours but perhaps someone who has overcome similar obstacles as you or who has a positive outlook or mindset you wish to emulate.
Keep an Eye on Your Negativity
Being mindful of your negative thoughts and actively working to keep them at bay can help you achieve your goals. The negative thoughts you have about your future can lead to stress, fear, and anxiety, which can derail your progress and halt your efforts in their tracks.
Negativity can come from regrets about your past, anxiety about the future, or a host of other fears and concerns that plague our psyches. Staying mindful of your negative thoughts is the first step toward controlling them. When you start to hear your inner voice begin to question, to wonder about the what-ifs and the should-haves, then you know it’s time to start paying close attention to your outlook.
While it is true that negative thoughts are to be expected, and we all have fleeting worries that come and go, it’s when we allow them to stick around and set up camp that we need to take action. These negative thoughts can quickly take over, kill your motivation, dampen your spirit, and keep you from achieving your dreams.
Developing a daily mindfulness practice will be critical for monitoring your thoughts and paying attention to when negativity starts to creep in. Daily meditation, as mentioned earlier, is an excellent strategy for this and can be highly effective for monitoring your mindset.
When you start to feel negative, ask yourself from where those thoughts are originating? Have you experienced a setback recently, is there a basis for your fears, or are you just sad? Then, you need to do something to get back on track.
Make progress, take some actionable steps, or set a new goal, but do something! Don’t just wallow in your negative thoughts.
Focus next on replacing the negative thoughts with positive ones. What are you looking forward to in the future? What is something you have already accomplished for which you are proud? What are your strengths and how can you build upon those? Reverse the negative thinking and move forward.
Doing something every day, no matter how little or insignificant, is essential for leveraging your positive thinking into action. Anything worth doing is going to come with its share of difficulties, but when you are persistent, you can accomplish anything toward which you set your mind.
Use your positive thinking to remind yourself why you are working hard. Allow that positivity to be your light when things get rough, and when things are hard, positive thinking helps you see how far you have come.
A positive outlook is a foundation upon which you build daily habits of mind. It serves as the bedrock for your mindfulness, gratitude, visualization, and focus activities you do every single day. These habits become second nature, and you soon realize you are doing them even without thinking about it. And persistence becomes built-in, as well.
One way positivity can help you persevere is to allow you to shrug off the naysayers and ignore those who believe you will fail. By being a role model, showing them how you believe in yourself and your dreams and pushing away the negative energy they bring to your life, you can refocus your efforts and prove them all wrong.
Your positive thinking is what will sustain you over the long haul and see you across the finish line. It will serve you well throughout your entire journey, so don’t let anyone, especially yourself, try to extinguish that fire inside you.