“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” – Lao Tzu.
Who do you want to be?
Most of us have an idealized version of us – the us that is a bestselling novelist, an executive with a corner office, the top salesperson of our company, a successful entrepreneur, or perhaps, a version of us that in great shape and lives an active lifestyle.
Oftentimes, this Idealized Self is a far cry from the Actual Self.
The main reason for this disparity between our imaginations and reality, is that we don’t do the things we need to do to be that ideal person. We imagine all the great things that come with success, but don’t take into account the work necessary to get there. And let’s face it, change is hard!
Habits are hard to break. We allow our past failures to limit our future successes. We let that inner voice keep us from being the ideal version of us that we know we can be.
Perhaps the best way to get where we want to be, is to act like we’re already there.
In short, fake it till you make it.
Therapists have suggested the concept for years as a way to build confidence, defeat negative self-talk, and to instill new habits. By forcing yourself into action, or forcing yourself to do something you wouldn’t otherwise do, eventually, you will come to enjoy the activity … or at least, hate it less.
Scientists at Wake Forest asked 50 students to act like extroverts for 15 minutes in a group discussion, even if they didn’t want to. The results? The more extroverted the students acted, the happier they were.
I’m not suggesting that if you want to be a surgeon, you should throw on a mask and operating gown and start performing procedures on friends. Nor am I suggesting that you lie to get that job you want.
However, if you can shoot down some of the negative inner dialogue and take action, success will follow.
Follow some of these strategies below, and you won’t be faking it long before you’ve made it.
1 Imagine the qualities that Awesome You already has. You know, the You who is already doing what you want to do, who is living the life you want to live. What is that version of you doing that you’re not? I’m not talking about the perks that come with a great life, like spending loads of money going to places and living it up. I’m talking about the WORK it took for the Awesome You to get where he is. Does he get up early to write for an hour? Does he exercise twice a day to keep that magnificent shape he already has? Does he read and comment at certain sites to keep a high profile and stay on top of news and trends? Is he outgoing? Does he network? Start DOING those things and success will follow!
2 Break those bad habits! Would Awesome You pig out late at night? Or party on a night before an important meeting? No, of course not. Because he does the RIGHT things. Come on, we all know what we should and shouldn’t do. But it’s easy to fall into bad habits when you’re not really thinking about yourself. However, if you’re paying attention to the role you’re playing (Awesome You), then your more conscious of what you’re doing and more likely to do the right things.
3 Dress the part. People judge you based on your appearance. While we’d all love to be appreciated for our inner selves, it’s that outer part that others see first. And how you look will affect whether or not people WANT to get to know you. How does Awesome You dress? If you’re unsure, consider some people who are already doing what you want to do. How do they dress? I’m not talking about the rock stars of the world who dress like they want, fashion be damned. There’s time to craft your rebel look AFTER you’ve found some success. Find a style which allows you to blend in and show that you belong to whatever group you’re trying to be part of.
4 Make believe. When I was a kid, I used to love pretending I was other people. I was Spider-Man, Underdog, and for a while, I was convinced I was an alien. What can I say, I had an active imagination! When we were kids, we could pretend to be anything we wanted and nobody laughed or pointed fingers, because they were all busy pretending to be other things, too. And so long as you weren’t BOTH pretending to be Captain America, no problem. Why not carry some of this into adulthood? Your imagination hasn’t died, has it? Use it to psych yourself up to change. If you look up to a certain person, pretend to be them. I’m not saying to adopt their personalities, but you can adopt certain qualities they have. For instance, if your hero, or your idealized self, practices guitar for two hours a day, you can do the same. If your hero or idealized self likes to go to the beach to write every morning, you can too! Imitate their qualities; role-play a bit. Have fun!
5 Surround yourself with people who have made it. Nothing holds us back like those who remind of us how we used to be. Especially those friends and family members who don’t like your change or want to constantly remind you of your failings as a way to cling to their own status. If your friends and family aren’t supportive of your efforts to change, find new people who won’t remind you of the Old You. Surround yourself with people already doing what you want to do. Find a mentor, if you’re able. Not only is this a positive reinforcement for becoming the Ideal You, but being around successful people will give you opportunities you’d not otherwise have, living in the past.
I used to be skeptical of the whole “faking it till you make it” thing. Nobody wants to be a phoney, right? But when I thought about it, the life I WAS living was the false one – I wasn’t being true to who, or what, I really want to be.
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David Wright is a ghostwriter who is chronicling his year in self improvement at Project 30 Days starting in January.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.
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