I’m designating 2019 as the year to make progress. That’s a big statement. What do I mean by it? I’ll tell you and I have a concept that I think will help.
In some ways it’s a very simple and easy concept, it’s actually one that I was previously extremely sceptical about. Now I’m a new convert and 2019 seems like the year to really test it out.
The good news is that it’s scientifically proven to work. There have been numerous studies to backup how it can help in different ways.
So what is it? It’s called an affirmation. The dictionary definition is “the action or process of affirming something.” The reality is it’s a simple few words or sentence. I prefer Scott Armstrong’s definition:
Affirmations: “Short, powerful statements” to give you “conscious control of your thoughts”
He also goes on to say that we have up to 300 thoughts per minute and 80% are negative. With this in mind a way to help the brain stay on a more positive message seems like a good idea. More than a good idea, a critical tool that will help you every day.
If you think affirmations still sound a little fuzzy then it’s time to get concrete. Here’s a few that I’ve seen around the office, on stickers, on laptops or as slogans on little trinkets:
- Analyse, Adapt, Overcome
- We are all astronauts
- Don’t Panic
- Every little thing is gonna be alright
To be honest I hate the word affirmation. It makes me think of the worst of “self help”. It reminds me of this scene in Little Miss Sunshine A hopeless situation where there’s a misguided hope that a silver bullet will magically solve everything.
Affirmations should not be used to side track real issues. Alone they are nothing. But they can be the spark that inspires change and kicks you into action. Even if you don’t fully believe your affirmation at first it can start to change things. Interrupting all those negative thoughts can be an essential starting point to getting things done. A tipping point bringing you to the point where you do sincerely believe it.
And on that note let’s get away from the word affirmation. It sounds a bit wu-wu, like an empty magic spell. I think the word motto is better. Something to capture your beliefs and ideals and provide a bit of inspiration.
I do believe there are massive benefits. A study in Psychology Today summarises these benefits “self-affirmation reduces defensive responses to threatening information and events, leading to positive outcomes” For the sceptics, I’d argue “what’s the downside?” A tiny investment in time to generate a habit that has the potential to make a really positive impact.
My current favourite motto is “Take Action, Learn, Enjoy The Ride.” Constantly referring to this motivates me to move forward when I’m procrastinating. It expresses my focus on learning new things. Most importantly it reminds me to take life a little bit less seriously, so when things are stressful I can take a step back.
For those of you who want to really commit you can go one step further and take it to the next level. For that a clear winner is a friend of mine Michi, who has “Make Progress” tattooed on his forearm.
A brilliant motto, concise, to the point and something that I wish for you all in 2019.
A motto or affirmation should act as constant reminder. This is why repetition is important. A habit to help you repeat your motto is useful. Repeating your motto at known times will help it come to mind when you need it. A way to prime you for positive thought patterns. Write your motto down every morning or have it printed out on your desk or monitor.
What’s your motto for 2019?