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7 Irritating Thoughts That Throw You Off Track

7 Irritating Thoughts That Throw You Off Track
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We’ve all been there. One minute you’re sailing towards achieving one of your major life goals and then before you know it a sneaky, irritating thought has crept in to throw you off track. The thing is, the mind is a wily instrument, and if we don’t take the time to train our minds, then our minds will end up training us!

In fact, how much time do you even spend paying attention to those thoughts inside your head? Because if you’re not careful, your negative thoughts will throw a spanner in the works when it comes to achieving your goals.

Think about it. Thoughts essentially drive our behavior—before we do something, anything, we have to have a thought first. And when we’re thinking positive thoughts, life is generally pretty good. Those irritating, negative thoughts, however, are the ones that will do us the most harm. Don’t underestimate the power of a series of irritating, negative thoughts one after another, because they can literally throw you off track and turn your life upside-down!

Here’s a list of 7 irritating thoughts to avoid and 7 more helpful, positive thoughts to choose instead.

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1. “I should…”

The word ‘should’ is highly negative and is not conducive to achieving goals in life. When you think the word “should,” you’re essentially criticizing yourself, so its best to avoid this in everyday thoughts.

Replace with: “I have decided to…”

Instead of worrying about what others think you “should” be doing, consciously make your own decisions in life. Take control of what you really want to be doing with positive and empowered thoughts such as “I have decided to.”

2. “I’ll try.”

When we say I’ll try what we really mean is “I’m not prepared to commit to this.” Have you ever tried to get up and walk? Try it now. Try and get up and walk. Did you do it? I’m guessing not. Because it’s not possible to “try” and do something. As Yoda from Star Wars once said: “Do or do not. There is no try.”

Replace with: “I will.”

Consider for a moment how much more powerful the words “I will” are, compared to “I’ll try.” When you say “I will,” you’re demonstrating your desire to commit to something wholeheartedly and your goals suddenly feel “possible.” Don’t worry too much about whether you actually reach the goals or not—this is about you taking action so you can move forward.

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3. “I can’t…”

I love to tell people that “there’s no such word as ‘can’t.'” “Can’t” is such a debilitating word that sees you failing before you have even begun. If you’re a perfectionist, this might be your worst enemy because perfectionists often don’t even attempt to try new things for fear of failure. Remember this saying: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” So take a chance and delete “can’t” from your thought processes.

Replace with: “What if?”

This is a great alternative to thoughts that begin with the words “I can’t.” Instead of limiting us, the phrase “What if?” opens up a world of possibilities. It encourages solution-oriented thinking, which helps us to solve complex problems. Next time you feel like you’re in a hopeless situation, try saying to yourself “what if” and see what solutions pop up. You might be surprised!

4. “I wish I wasn’t / didn’t have to…”

This is nothing more irritating than a nagging, complaining voice twittering away inside your head. Plus, it’s pointless. If you don’t like something, then take action and try to change your situation. Otherwise, may as well get on with life with a smile on your face!

Replace with: “I choose not to..”

You always have a choice in life. Instead of wishing your life away, take control and make an active decision to either do something or not do it. In the end, you always choose.

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5. “I need…”

How often to you declare that you ‘need’ something and how often do you really, really need it? This word need creates dependency where it’s often not required. Next time you hear yourself think this, have a re-think to determine if you genuinely need what you’re talking about. If you don’t, then let go and minimize any negativity.

Replace with: “I have everything I need.”

By thinking about what you need a lot of the time, you are focusing on what’s missing in your life. This is essentially negative thinking in action! Put a stop to this by reminding yourself that you have everything that you need to get by.

6. “I’m not as good as…”

When we compare ourselves to others we are essentially de-valuing ourselves. These thoughts can leave us feeling like we’re just not good enough. The reality is this: every person on the planet is different and has their own skills & talents, so instead of comparing yourself to other people’s talents, look for your own skills and focus on these.

Replace with: “I’m good at…”

Train yourself to focus on those things that you are good at instead of making comparisons all the time!

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7. “I’ll never get everything done!”

When we have a lot on our to-do lists, it can be easy for overwhelm to kick in. Negative phrases such as this one only add fuel to the fire and build the anxiety associated with lots of tasks. By allowing these sorts of thoughts into your head, you’re essentially taking your focus off the present and are worrying about the future. This can actually paralyze you and stop you from making any progress.

Replace with: “Everything is under control.”

Instead of worrying about whether you’ll get everything done, simply repeat a calming phrase like “Everything is under control” and then slowly and methodically tick each task off one-by-one. All you need to do is take action and stop worrying!
Do yourself a favor and kick these irritating, negative thoughts to the curb and adopt these more useful, positive phrases!

More by this author

Zoe B

A strategist, coach and blogger who shows people how to stop what isn't working for them in life and to start to plan the life they really want.

How to Increase Brain Power: 10 Simple Ways to Train Your Brain 6 Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills Effectively How to Stop Procrastination By Overcoming Boredom 12 Inspiring Quotes from Richard Branson that Enrich your Life 7 Irritating Thoughts That Throw You Off Track

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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