Advertising

Last Updated on December 4, 2020

How to Seize Your Opportunities and Take on Challenges

Advertising
How to Seize Your Opportunities and Take on Challenges

I once heard Richard Branson say, “Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.”

As soon as I heard that, I remember thinking “wow, that’s so true.” And that wisdom doesn’t just apply to business opportunities. It applies to all opportunities.

Regardless of whether you’re looking to getting ahead in your career, business, academics, or personal life, you will always be presented with fresh opportunities.

But here’s the thing: no matter what you’re after, it’s likely you’ll be presented with a number of challenges along the way.

Here are some ways to prepare yourself to seize the opportunity of a lifetime from the moment you recognize it.

1. Develop a Clear Vision of What You Want

Imagine if you could have anything your heart desires. Imagine if you could seize the opportunity of a lifetime the moment it presents itself.

Literally, take a moment right now and imagine it.

Because if you do, then you’ll be putting your brain’s Reticular Activating System into function – and that can be the difference between achieving your dreams, or living a life of quiet desperation.

In his book, Getting Things Done, author David Allen talks about how this works:

Advertising

“When you focus on something–the vacation you’re going to take, the meeting you’re about to go into, the project you want to launch–that focus instantly creates ideas and thought patterns you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Even your physiology will respond to an image in your head as if it were reality.”

Did you catch that last line?

Even your physiology will respond to an image in your head as if it were reality.

Let’s talk a little more about that, shall we?

Back in May 1957, Scientific American published an article describing the discovery of the “reticular formation” at the base of the brain. This is basically the gateway to your conscious awareness.

In other words, it acts as a “switch” of sorts, to turn on your perceptions of ideas and data. It is the thing that keeps you asleep even when music is playing but wakes you up if a special little baby cries in another room.

Your brain has a search function, just like your computer does.

But your brain’s search function is even better. It’s programmed by what you focus on, what you identify with, and what you believe in. It notices things and opportunities that are your current beliefs and focus.

For example, if you’re an architect, you’re more likely to notice the square footage and design of buildings. If you work in shoe sales, you’ll probably notice the details and the degree of craftsmanship of a person’s shoes when you meet them.

Advertising

Take a moment to close your eyes for ten seconds and focus on nothing but color red, and then just glance around your environment. If there’s any red at all, even if it’s a little bit, you’ll notice it!

That’s your reticular activating system at work. And you’ll need to keep it sharp if you want to seize any potential opportunities as they arise.

The lesson here is this: develop a clear mental picture of what you want. Keep that vision in mind and imagine it regularly. This will prime your mind to stay on the look-out for opportunities that can help you bring that vision to reality.

2. Set Goals

Once you’ve developed a mental picture of what you want or what an ideal opportunity may look like, it’s time to commit that vision to paper.

In other words, it’s time to set some written goals: How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life

And once you set those goals, you’ll want to make sure you review them regularly to remind your brain what you’re looking for.

Your brain operates in terms of goals and results. Once you give it a clear goal to achieve, it automatically begins to look for ways to help you achieve it.

Once you have a goal, your brain looks for different opportunities to help you bring it to life. It looks for actions you can take or ideas that might help you achieve a given goal.

So, grab some paper, and write down exactly what you want and why you want it.

Advertising

3. Take Consistent Action

Some people will tell you that positive thinking is the key to seizing opportunities and getting whatever you want in life.

I’m here to tell you that this is absolutely NOT true.

If you get lost in the woods without a map to help guide you back to where you need to be, it doesn’t matter how positive you think you are, because unless you get yourself a map, you’re STILL going to be lost.

And if you only focus on “thinking positive,” you’ll just be happy about being lost.

To get back home, you need a map. You need guidance. You’ve got to update your approach. And you absolutely need to take action.[1]

If you want to achieve your goals, get your dream job, attract the perfect partner, or seize the opportunity of a lifetime. It doesn’t matter how positive you think you are if your way of thinking is faulty.

To fix your way of thinking, you need to envision a detailed desired outcome of what you want. Once you’ve done that, you’ve got to take deliberate action towards that desired outcome.

Unless you map out a detailed picture of what you want AND you combine that with action, you’ll veer off-path and bypass great opportunities.

So, here’s what you need to do:

Advertising

Step 1: Think About an Area of Your Life You’d Like to Change for the Better

Imagine what it would feel and look like if you were able to change this area of your life. Think about the best possible outcome/scenario that could occur if everything were to go exactly the way you want it to go (it never goes perfect, but don’t worry about that right now).

Step 2: Take This Vision You’ve Created in Your Mind From Step 1, and write it Down as a Goal.

Be as detailed and specific as possible.

Step 3: Break That Goal Down Into Several Small Steps That Need to Be Taken for You to Achieve it

If you’re not sure about what steps you need to take to achieve your goal, then your first step is to start reading, researching, and gathering knowledge about what you need to do. You might need to talk to someone who’s already done what you want to do or find an inspiring podcast that can help fast-track your way to success.

The main idea is this: you need to decide on some sort of action you can right now to make progress on your goal.

Some examples: Want to start a business? Start researching how to get a business license. Want a new car? Go to the car dealership and test drive that car you want.

Do something, anything, to get the ball rolling.

Step 4: Remain Consistent and Keep Taking Action

Once you’ve taken one small step towards your goal, you’ll need to set up another one. And another one. And another one.

Along the way, you’ll notice different ideas and opportunities that you can leverage towards achieving your goal.

Bottom Line

Follow these steps and eventually your goals won’t be in your imagination anymore, they’ll be your reality.

Advertising

Now go out there and start seizing opportunities like a boss.

More About Seizing Opportunities

Featured photo credit: Juan Jose via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Dean Bokhari: Action Leads to Motivation

More by this author

Dean Bokhari

Author, Entrepreneur, Podcast & TV Host

How to Develop Self-Empowerment to Live the Life You Want 50 Self-Affirmations to Help You Stay Motivated Every Day Why You’re Not Interested in Anything And Have No Motivation How to Actually Make Your Goals Happen 7 Things That Cause a Lack of Motivation (And How to Fix Them)

Trending in Success Mindset

1 How to Silence the Impostor Syndrome 2 What is Tenacity and How to Use It To Be Successful 3 7 Ways to Eliminate Your Excuses 4 How To Organize Your Day For Success 5 How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Published on October 14, 2021

How to Silence the Impostor Syndrome

Advertising
How to Silence the Impostor Syndrome

Do you ever worry about being exposed as a “fraud?” You’re not alone. It’s actually quite common for people to feel like imposters. In fact, approximately 70 percent of people admit to having experienced impostor syndrome[1] at some point in their lives — a Twitter poll found that 87 percent of people have experienced this.[2] Even successful and famous people like Tom Hanks, Howard Schultz, and Natalie Portman suffer from imposter syndrome.

But, what exactly is imposter syndrome. And, more importantly, how can you silence it?

Originally coined in 1978 by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance, Ph.D., ABPP, and Suzanne Imes, Ph.D., the term “impostor syndrome” describes symptoms that include being unable to internalize accomplishments and being afraid of being exposed as a fraud.

The individual may also be plagued by chronic self-doubt and believe that they’re unqualified for success despite evidence to the contrary. Inadequacies, fears of failure, and disbelief that success is a matter of luck or timing are also common.

If you don’t address this phenomenon, feeling like an impostor can prevent you from achieving ambitious goals. Moreover, those experiencing these feelings tend to over-prepare or procrastinate — which obviously hinders productivity and reaching goals. And, as if that weren’t bad enough, imposter syndrome prevents you from pursuing new challenges and opportunities.

Do you feel like you’re suffering from impostor syndrome? If so, don’t beat yourself up. After all, there are effective ways to overcome these feelings in a healthy and proactive way.

1. Don’t Hide It.

“Firstly, acknowledge it,” advises Claudine Robson,[3] the Intentional Coach. “You give strength to imposter syndrome by letting it continue to peck away at your confidence unchecked.” It can only be banished if you acknowledge it as soon as possible and break the silence.

Advertising

“Then you need to separate your feelings from facts,” Robson adds. “One thing imposter syndrome does very effectively is to mix up your perceptions of reality.”

If you can, take a step back and look at the situation objectively. “Recognize when you should — and when you should not — feel fraudulent,” she says. Appreciate and acknowledge the task, intellect, and insight that have led to your success.

You might even be able to take action by recognizing that the reason you feel fraudulent is that you’re new to a task. “That gives you a path forward; learning is growth, don’t deny yourself that.”

2. Implement the STOP Technique

In her book Cognitive Enlightenment, Melinda Fouts, Ph.D., outlines a technique to overcome imposter syndrome using what she calls the STOP technique.

“STOP is an acronym for ‘silence the oppressive player,” Fouts explains in Forbes.[4] “You need to eradicate this tape that is playing 24/7, whether you are conscious of it or not. It plays loudest when we are tired, hungry, or feeling defeated.”

Steps to implementing the STOP technique and rewiring your brain are as follows:

To replace the tape of not good enough, you need a “launch sentence.” “I’m more than good enough” would is an example of a solid launch statement.

Advertising

Put your launch sentence in prominent locations, such as your car’s dashboard or computer. How come? The reason is that as the tape plays, you won’t be able to remember your launch statement.

Continue to say “stop” until you recall your launch sentence, says Fouts.

Put your launch sentence into your own words and pontificate.

While going about your daily tasks, like while driving or exercising, practice your launch sentence so you can recall it when you need it in the future.

“I am told this sounds simple and it does,” she adds. However, this technique is challenging when your negative tape is playing. You will not want to replace the tape every day while your brain is rewiring itself. “It is these moments you can’t give up.”

3. Distinguish Humility and Fear

When it comes to hard work and accomplishments, there’s humility, and then there’s fear. In other words, having a high level of competence can lead one to discount its value occasionally. However, as Carl Richards wrote in an article for the New York Times,[5] “After spending a lot of time fine-tuning our ability, isn’t it sort of the point for our skill to look and feel natural?”

The problem is that we feel unworthy from time to time. But, as Seth Godin explained in a blog post,[6] “When you feel unworthy, any kind response, positive feedback or reward feels like a trick, a scam, the luck of the draw.”

Advertising

Feeling worthy without feeling entitled is possible. And, finding the right balance between them is critical for overcoming impostor syndrome. “Humility and worthiness have nothing at all to do with defending our territory,” Godin continues. “We don’t have to feel like a fraud to also be gracious, open, or humble.”

4. Keep a “Brag Sheet”

When you were sending out college applications, did you build yourself a “brag sheet?” If not, here’s a clean description from Shawna Newman,[7] “A brag sheet is very similar to a student resume – it highlights your accomplishments, key experiences, leadership skills, and employment throughout your secondary education.” In short, “it’s a quick reference guide with all the details and achievements for someone trying to get to know you better.”

While it may be awkward at first, you can apply the same concept when coping with imposter syndrome. Just compose a list of your accomplishments, activities, skills. That’s it. Just remember Godin’s advice and also be humble and gracious.

As an added perk, besides being an effective way to talk myself up, I’ve also found that this has helped me stop comparing myself to others. Instead of harping about other people’s milestones, I’m honing in on what I’ve done.

5. Celebrate Wins, Period

Speaking of accomplishments, they shouldn’t be categorized as small or big. After all, you feel as if you don’t belong when you have imposter syndrome. So, the more you celebrate your wins, the more confident you’ll become.

Furthermore, accept compliments without qualifying them and practice listening to praise every day. Finally, become kinder to yourself by saying at least one kind thing to yourself daily. And, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.

6. Assemble a Legion of Superheroes

“You know how corporations have a board of directors to — in theory — make them stronger, maintain checks and balances, leverage resources, and help advance the organization’s vision?” asks inspirational speaker, speaking coach, and creative consultant Tania Katan.[8] “Why not assemble your own board of directors to leverage resources to help make your career stronger, keep you in check and balanced, and advance your vision?”

Advertising

“My friend Alison Wade, president of conferences, training, and consulting at Techwell, calls her personal board of directors her “front-row” — those are the people she invites to sit spitting distance from the stage, cheer her on, challenge her, and review her performance,” Katan writes.

As for Katan, she calls hers a “legion of superheroes.” The reason? “I dig the idea of joining forces to do good in the corporate galaxy.”

It’s important to have a diverse group of individuals who will defend you. Ideally, they should be varied in all dimensions, such as cultural background, way of thinking, and skills.

Katan recommends that you meet together frequently, whether if that’s once a week or every quarter. “Share your experiences, fears, creative ideas, aspirations,” she adds. “Celebrate each other’s accomplishments.” You also need to both support and challenge each other. “Discover what you are capable of doing when you combine your powers.”

7. Visualize Success

Follow the example of a professional athlete by imagining yourself crushing that presentation or project. You’ll enjoy the relief from performance-related stress. And, more importantly, it can help you avoid focusing on the worst-case scenario.

Final Words of Advice

While there’s no single formula to cure imposter syndrome, the tips listed above are a start. After all, your success depends on your ability to fight the negative effects of it. For example, feeling unworthy over time can lead to crippling anxiety and depression if left untreated.

If you’ve tried the above, then make sure that you speak to someone about what you’re experiencing, whether it’s a mentor, peer group, or licensed professional. And, above all else, there’s a place at the table for everyone — no matter what your inner voice is telling you.

Advertising

How to Silence the Impostor Syndrome was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

Featured photo credit: Laurenz Kleinheider via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next