I remember approaching the final year of my university degree thinking about what I was going to do next.
I was working a casual job at the university, the dot com bubble had just burst, and I was about to graduate with average grades from a business management degree with absolutely no intention of getting a full time job.
I had played around with the internet for several years by then, mostly spending time in newsgroups and forums, reading up about tennis and card games, and getting excited by some of the crazy money that was flying around for internet companies during the peak of the bubble.
Coming from Brisbane, which back then was certainly not a hot bed for internet companies, I wasn’t exactly surrounded by people like me.
I didn’t know any other entrepreneurs besides a handful of people who had businesses in the real world. You know, shops and restaurants and cafes.
I briefly flirted with the idea of starting up an internet cafe like a friend had done, but quickly gave up on the idea when I heard how many hours he was working (some days he stayed at work for 24 hours straight!).
What Happened Next
As fate would have it, I ended up heading to Tasmania after I graduated on a six week roller-coaster ride, fruit-picking, backpacking journey.
It was an intense experience at times, but by the end of it I was ready to get back into business.
As you will know if you have heard my story before, it was at this stage in my life that I took on my proofreading business as a full time project.
I previously had made a little money online with my card game website, but after credit card fraud shut down my e-commerce store, I was ready for something new.
The purpose of this article is not to recount that story, as I have done so many times before on this blog.
What I want to talk about today is what goes on behind the scenes, in particular, how I was thinking back then.
Belief In A Result
One of the most difficult ideas I have ever tried to grasp is the concept of having belief when there is no physical demonstration to back up your belief.
I’m not talking about god or religion here.
What I am referring to is something as simple as believing if you do certain things a result will occur.
Belief comes into it when the outcome is something you have never done before but want to, and it’s not something you consider “easy”.
You don’t need belief to know that if you cook a meal and eat it you can solve your hunger problem. You have been performing this action for years, you have proof that it works, and you do it every day without issue.
Where I find the concept of belief becomes important is when you are talking major changes in your life. For example -
- You need belief that you can start a business that will succeed so you do not need a job.
- You need belief that if you keep putting yourself out there you will meet someone and fall in love.
- You need belief if you keep exercising for long enough you will significantly transform the shape of your body.
- You need belief that if you keep writing eventually you will publish a best selling book.
- You need belief that if you keep practicing your sport, eventually you will start winning tournaments.
These are all major milestones in life, which contain many variables that are out of your control.
It is because of the complexity, the element of chance, and the satisfaction and happiness that comes from achievement, that makes these goals some of the most important in our lives.
It has to be hard for us to appreciate it.
Belief In What Has Never Happened Before
I remember when I first heard about the law of attraction, or more simply put, the idea that “like attracts like”.
The concept teaches that you need to resonate with what you want to attract into your life. If you think about and feel loss or unworthiness or failure all the time then that is what you are going to get.
That makes enough sense to me. Even on a practical level it’s pretty logical that thinking positive about what you are doing is much more likely to be helpful.
However I found the concept more tricky when you hit upon major goals that up to this point you have never achieved, especially if you have tried and failed before.
Imagine you have attempted to lose weight many times, using diets and exercise plans, but it has never worked.
When you start a new regime to lose weight, you are supposed to think and feel like it is working. You need to align all your thoughts and feelings to be congruent with the outcome.
That’s not an easy thing to do when you have never achieved the outcome before and all you have tasted is failure.
Your natural default state, whether positive or negative, will impact how you view what you are working towards. For all but the most stupidly optimistic people, consistent failure is going to wear you down.
It’s a very unique skill to be able to clean the slate each time you attempt to do something you have tried to do before and look at past failures as merely lessons towards success.
Emotions are emotions. If you keep getting rejected, your website never gets traffic, the number on the weight scale never goes down, or someone else always beats you, it is difficult to really believe things will be different this time round.
The older you get and the more often you experience the same results, the harder it is to align your belief that things will improve.
You Can’t Fool Yourself To Believe
Wikipedia starts its definition of Belief like this…
Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a conjecture or premise to be true. – Wikipedia
Dictionary.com includes this in its definition…
Confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof.
Belief, by definition, means you believe in something that hasn’t happened or you can’t prove using our physical criteria for existence.
You know when you believe something and when you don’t. Conviction is a clear feeling, no matter how misguided it might be.
As a person who has experienced a lot of self doubt over the years, problems with self esteem, lack of confidence – all the usual growing up things, I decided to spend some time deliberately looking at my beliefs.
I wanted to figure out how to create real conviction and genuine belief that I could achieve my goals.
I needed to have a congruent process when I was working towards big changes to my life. I had to think right, feel right and believe it was possible.
I’ve never found concepts like positive affirmations effective if you are just repeating them like a robot, hoping something will change because of the words alone. When I work on my own inner dialogue I want to believe what I am saying.
Manufacturing True Belief
Creating real belief is not a simple process (well religious leaders might disagree when it comes to spiritual belief, but let’s not go down that rabbit hole right now…).
I’ve used concepts like Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Positivity Training, Reframing and The Success Ladder to help me generate real belief.
Teaching yourself the age old art of patience also helps significantly, yet is probably the hardest part.
There is one other technique I have found particularly effective because it forces your rational brain to take over your emotional one.
This technique is called “Inevitability Thinking“.
Inevitability thinking is simple enough in concept. It relies on two things -
- Following a proven system
- Setting up the conditions to guarantee you can execute the system
Why I find it such an amazing technique is that it forces you to focus not on the intangibles or the emotions and baggage you have built up around what you are working towards, and instead focus on the process.
The key with this technique — and where belief comes into it — is that you place your belief in a system that exists independently of all your previous results.
All of this of course comes down to mindset. How you solve problems, where you place blame, whether you see conditions as permanent or transient, and can you follow and execute a system no matter what roadblocks you come across, are all critical.
One of the great benefits of working on all these areas of mindset and executing techniques like inevitability thinking, is that you will start to believe in what you are doing.
That true belief will then manifest real results. Results are the single best way to solidify belief. It becomes a self-reinforcing process, if you can start the flywheel turning.
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