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4 Reasons Positive Thinking Doesn’t Work (And What to Do Instead)

4 Reasons Positive Thinking Doesn’t Work (And What to Do Instead)

Don’t you just love how whenever you’re struggling with a goal or problem, the first thing anyone tells you is, “It’s okay, just think positive!”

While the advice is well-meaning, I’m sure most of the time you met it with a grateful, “Thanks for the encouragement. Yeah, I’ll do that.”

Secretly, you thought to yourself:

“That’s a bunch of B.S. I can’t just Vulcan mind-meld myself into conquering this problem!”

You know what?  You’re absolutely right.

Willing yourself to results and applying the so-called “Law of Attraction” by simply focusing on the outcome you want was popularized a few years back by programs such as The Secret. But the fact is, positive thinking alone does nothing in the way of getting you results. This is true whether your goal has to do with attaining a certain level of wealth or completing a marathon.

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Below are four reasons positive thinking alone fails to deliver results. To achieve your big goals you need to focus most of your energy on positive action instead.

You Need Feedback

For progress of any kind, you need a continuous feedback loop. Every improvement you experience stimulates and rewards your brain, making you feel good about the accomplishment. When you feel good about something you’ve done, you get more motivated to keep doing it.

When you experience a setback, sitting there thinking about how great the situation could become does little to make that possibility a reality.

It’s the positive action that gets you back on track as you reinforce in your mind that your action is producing results and getting you that much closer to your goal.

You Need Measurable Progress

The ability to track your progress is essential if you are to successfully achieve any goal. There is an explicit set of actions needed to get to your goal. When you complete any of those actions, it becomes a record of your progress towards that goal.

While thinking every day about how great it will be when you cross the finish line is helpful to keep you going, it is not the same as actually doing what it takes to get there.

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Imagine if a coach were to ask you, “How did you do today? Can I review what you worked on?” And you replied, “I didn’t log any activity today…but I really spent a lot of time thinking positively about it!”

It’s silly to imagine this conversation taking place, but it really illustrates the importance of positive action over positive thinking.

You Need Accountability

The idea of being able to attract positivity and success into your life by simply thinking about it more often than others leaves out an important ingredient for reaching your goals:

Accountability. Without this key ingredient, all the positive thinking in the world won’t help you.

You could think about earning a gold medal…but they’re not just going to hand it to you. You’ve got to be the one to work for it.

You could focus on amassing a million dollars…but people don’t just hand out money to you for thinking positive. You’ve got to build something of value before you’ll get paid.

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You Need To Be Realistic

Even the most successful people in the world experience negativity in their lives. Less than desirable events can and will happen to us no matter how much energy we spend trying to think positive. It’s naïve to believe that we can positively think away our problems.

Don’t get me wrong. Thinking positive goes a long way in changing your perspective on how to achieve goals in your life. But you’ve got to accept that there will be negative things that happen to you, and then act quickly to overcome them.

It’s like the saying goes,

“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!”

It doesn’t say think about lemonade, or wish you never got the lemons. It says to make lemonade.  That’s positive action for you!

Producing any positive outcome in your life demands a progressive series of actions. Without action, there is little chance that you will “attract” any success in your life, other than a short-lived moment of bliss.

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Thinking positive doesn’t make debts go away. You’ve got to take action to address them. A positive self-image goes a long way in getting healthy.  But you’ve still got to put in the energy to exercise and eat properly to become truly healthy.

So the next time you hear someone tell you, “It’s okay. Just think positive,” say to them:

“You know what? You’re right. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go and make some lemonade!”

(Photo credit: Alex Proimos)

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4 Reasons Positive Thinking Doesn’t Work (And What to Do Instead)

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Last Updated on October 6, 2020

6 Signs It’s Time to Change Your Life

6 Signs It’s Time to Change Your Life

Is it time to make some changes in your life? It just might be. Life is too short to not live it to the fullest.

Here are some signs it’s time to change your life.

1. Every week, you cannot wait for Friday.

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    Fridays are fun, but one thing I’ve discovered in my quest to find and do work I absolutely love is that almost every day can be really fun. If you’re saving all your living for the weekends, it’s time to truly think about your lifestyle and consider making some changes. Don’t get me wrong; it’s great to have plans you look forward to on the weekends, but what if you could have that excited Friday feeling most, if not all, days of the week? It takes a lot of self-discovery and work, but it’s truly possible to live a life you love—even on Mondays.

    2. You live for your vacations.

    Vacations are great, but what’s even better is building a life you don’t need to take a vacation from. As Seth Godin said, “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” Vacations are fun and exciting, but even better is building a life where you have the potential to do what lights you up many weeks of the year, not just your two allotted vacation weeks.

    3. When you stop and think about it, you’re really not focusing your life on your priorities.

    Write down your 3 top priorities. Then write down the 3 things you focus most of your life on. Are you spending your time living your top priorities? Consistently spending time doing what matters most to you is one of the keys to feeling fulfilled in your life. If you’re not focusing your life on what’s important to you, it’s time to make some changes.

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    4. You have no idea what lights you up, and you don’t have the space in your life to discover it.

    If you haven’t found your passion in your current life, you’re not going to find it if you continue to do your same routine, over and over, year after year. In order to discover what lights you up, start by creating the space in your life to seek it. Give yourself time to figure out who you are, what your strengths are, and what picques your interest. Experiment with learning new things, spending time with inspiring people, and doing more of what excites you and less of the things that suck your energy.

    5. You’re frequently jealous.

    If you find yourself frequently feeling jealous of someone, there are 3 changes to consider making:

    1. Make a point to focus on your path instead of his or her journey. Sometimes this involves taking a break from social media.
    2. Get inspired from the person you’re jealous of, and work toward a similar goal in your life.
    3. Decide what the other person has is not something you are willing to put in the effort to achieve, so you’ll cheer him or her on but choose to not be jealous.

    When you are feeling jealous, consider why you want what the other person has, and what your motives are. Living a life on your terms, focused on your priorities, passions, and strengths, will provide you with much more fulfillment than trying to be somebody else.

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    6. You can’t remember the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone.

    According to Neale Donald Walsch, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Your life can become even more amazing if you stretch beyond your comfort zone. If you’re not sure where to start, try the tips in this article about small ways to step out of your comfort zone.

    Life is too short to spend your years not living to your full potential. If you decide you’re ready to change your life, I encourage you to start taking small action steps toward the life you want to live. Keep moving forward.

    Check out this video if you’re ready to make a change in life:

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    Featured photo credit: Lauren McKinnon/https://flickr.com via flickr.com

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