by Dan Dowling Contributor Entrepreneur Magazine
I was horsing around with my dog the other day — I promise this is an article on entrepreneurship — when something extraordinary happened.
We’d been playing tug-of-war with her red doggie blanket when, after 10 minutes of tugging, I finally managed to wrench the festering rag from her clenched, bulldog jowls. I flashed the blanket about like a torero, bowed, then I flipped it behind me and hid it on the small of my back.
Sugar searched frantically for a minute while I sniggered and snarked. Finally, my inner villain satisfied, I dropped her prize in plain view at my feet. Here’s where it gets weird.
“Here’s your blanket, Shoog!” She looked at me vaguely, and again went searching for the missing blanket that was no longer technically missing.
“Sugar, come!” She bounded on the couch and traipsed behind me, actually walking over her blanket at that point, and continued ransacking the living room. That’s when it hit me:
This dog fully believes the blanket has disappeared and that she’ll never see it again. So even though she technically sees the red blanket, the visual (and even tactile) information does her no good. The blanket does not exist.
Bewildered, I picked up the dog rag and gave it a casual flick — “Looking for this?” Sugar’s ears popped up, her pupils dilated, then she dashed at me, mouth a’foaming, for the prize that she had literally stepped on 20 seconds earlier. Because it existed again.
If you are convinced that something is unattainable, you will be unable to reach it no matter how hard you work. This thing could be waved about you, you could stumble over it, you could wake up next to it without ever realizing it is there because you will still be blind to it. Just like poor Sugar.
So, to all you entrepreneurs out there hustling and grinding every day, it’s time to up your mental game.
Tony Robbins says that taking more action without belief isn’t going to change anything. You need to actually believe the time you spend working is moving you toward your inevitable success, otherwise you’ll find yourself an entrepreneurial Sisyphus, perpetually pushing your boulder up the hill with no results. Because that’s your belief, your negative results will continue reinforcing the negative belief until you change the (freakin’) belief.
You have complete control over this self-fulfilling prophecy. So dedicate yourself to a visualization routine. And it’s gotta be daily.
Lie down, sit down, go outside, stay indoors — whatever’s most comfortable for you that you can repeat daily. Then, instead of jumping right into your visuals, you’ll want to prime yourself for five minutes with gratitude. This helps you hack your way into a positive mindset so that your visuals are as powerful as they can be.
Just walk yourself through the experiences that made a difference in your life: the people who never gave up on you, the miracles that got you through. Feel the joy and amazement and appreciation each of these memories brings. Once you’ve worked your way into some authentic smiles and you feel your mind lift, finish your 15-minute break with 10 minutes of visualization.
Get a crystal-clear picture in your mind of your “red blanket.” See yourself doing what you really want to do in your career, in your personal life, for your fitness, for the people you want to help. See yourself holding that prize, and feel yourself reveling in the accomplishment and satisfaction of it. See all the people you’re helping in the process — see the difference you’re making to your customers, to your friends, to your family. Feel joy in advance for these things already happening.
When you practice this daily — feeling gratitude and certainty for the things you want the most — you will stop worrying about the outcome of your work because you will be carrying the results with you in your mind and in your heart. Instead of finding excuses not to do work, you’ll always have reasons to do whatever it takes. Instead of your daily work feeling like an endless grind like Sisyphus with his boulder, you’ll approach your tasks with an easygoing attitude and a light heart.
But it has to be daily. Do whatever it takes to be consistent.
Start drawing a big X over each calendar day that you visualize, and make it a goal to X-out a whole calendar month. At the end of that month, I promise that you will have more accomplishments, more positivity and more momentum toward whatever is your red blanket.
It’s time for you to work on your mental game, too. Robbins says that mental aids like visualization are the key to getting started: “Most people have a belief in their potential no matter what anyone else tells them, and that affects how much action they take, which of course affects their results, and that result ironically reinforces their belief.”
When you change your belief — when you generate certainty and positivity through visualization methods — you motivate yourself to do what’s required of you because now you know your work isn’t for nothing. Every day that you work toward your goal, you’re taking a step closer to the goal that you know is possible.
The alternative is to keep telling yourself that your dreams are impossible, and to keep believing that nothing you do will make a difference. Your choice.