Hallo, hi, привет, hola, and salut, and welcome to day seven of the virtual self-development conference. If this is the first article you read in this series, I recommend to go back to the introduction and to day 1 where I kick off the conference and establish some ground rules.
Today is the last day of our virtual conference. And although it is the end of something, the real work has only just begun =). But it is not quite over yet, and there are some final words that I want to share with you. And some final exercises^^.
Having a better understanding of ourselves is already brilliant. But knowledge without action is not only useless, but can be dangerous. Knowing about ourselves and what we want and dream of and then doing nothing is disastrous. Because every day you don’t act on your dream, while knowing what it is, is a day you disregard your own value, which is the opposite of showing love to yourself. And I know what I am talking about…
But maybe it is formulated a bit too harsh. It is often not possible to do something for reaching your goals every single day. And putting yourself under such immense pressure might also be counterproductive. But still, it is important that you regularly do something. Be kind to yourself, while simultaneously being determined and persistent.
Which also brings me to something I recently read and which fits quite well with yesterday’s topic of planning and setting goals. I read that recovering alcoholics who were not drinking any alcohol but then having a weak day and drinking alcohol again, can often not stop after only one drink. They “give up” and tell themselves that they are a failure and they drink more and more. I also know from personal conversations that this is not only true for consuming alcohol but also with eating, writing your ex (“hust”) and other things.
When this happens, and even before, it might make sense to distinguish between being something/someone and behaving in a certain way. When we think about it in terms of behavior, it might be easier to just stop it, while when thinking that we are something (a failure, an alcoholic…) it is easy to just give up, because it is out of our control. One way can be the path to growth and change, and the other will hold us back. You can always decide.
However, when in the situation and you feel the urge to drink, write, eat or quit, it is easier said than done, to just pause and rethink our behavior. That is why it is crucial to develop a deep love for yourself. Something that helped me to develop a friendlier inner voice was to think about how I would talk to someone I love. I would be understanding, comforting, patient, and kind. And if I can be this to others, I can also be this to myself. Maybe it makes sense, to practice loving kindness meditation, or you can write down one sentence each day what you like/love about yourself. Maybe it is an interesting idea to read the book Five Love Languages to know how you and others can show you love. It won’t change overnight, but developing a kind and understanding behavior toward ourselves is the best support you can get.
Today’s topic is divided into two parts. One is confidence and the other motivation. Let us start with confidence.
When I talk about confidence, I mean confidence in yourself that you can reach your goals and the life you envision for yourself. Self-confidence, from my point of view, will be something that you will build (if you don’t have it already =)) by taking action and getting closer and closer to your goals.
So, how can we build confidence?
With the help of your strengths and setting SMART goals. When you are aware of your strengths, then it will be easier to observe yourself during specific situation and you can spot which strength you applied. It might be a good idea to start a success diary, in which you write all your achievements, be they small or big. This will give you a confidence boost and can be something to take a look at during times when you doubt yourself. Setting SMART goals will support this process of building up your confidence. When you create achievable goals you will have many successful moments.
Moreover, every 1-3 months (depending on the goal) sit down and look back. Where were you 1-3 months ago? Where are you know? What has changed? Looking back in regular intervals will help us see the change we are going through more clearly. At the beginning it might be a bit more difficult, but when you continue with it, I promise you it will grow your confidence, because you see the way you already put behind you and it gives you confidence that you can achieve so much more.
So recall your strengths, and remember those moments when you used them, and also remember your successes and start walking =).
The second part is about motivation. How can we create and sustain our motivation over an extended period of time? You might have guessed it, by setting SMART goals. Few things are as good for our motivation than having repeated successes. The other big thing you can do, which is also today’s exercise, is a vision board.
Materials needed: blank paper, cork board, or notebook. Scissors, magazines, different colors (pens, paint markers…), glue, and whatever you can think of to create your vision board
To have a clear picture of how we want our lives to look like in all areas of life (love, work, family, friends, hobbies…) is very powerful and it can create a virtuous cycle (the opposite of a vicious cycle). Seeing this image every day maintains our longing for it and keeps it present. This way we will see opportunities and ways that will lead to those images more easily.
Again, don’t consider it as a fixed thing. You might change and then it is okay to also adjust your vision. But as long as you are having strong and positive emotions when looking at/thinking about this vision, you are on the right track, and that is all you can do.
So how to do it?
I encourage you to use a big blank paper (din A3) or if possible a cork board (similar size or bigger) and then fill it with images, words, quotes, and everything that illustrate your vision. Think about all your different areas of life. How do you want this area to look like? It will probably help at this point in time to go back to your “River of Life” and get some inspiration from there. Make it as specific as possible. Check in from time to time how you feel about the image/vision you are creating for yourself. Is that really what you want or what somebody else wants for you. There is no right or wrong as long as you stay true to yourself and your vision. When you are done, put it somewhere were you will see it every single day.
But also let me issue a word of warning. I said it before, but in order for it to have the desired effect of creating a virtuous cycle, you need to have a plan and follow-up on that plan (take action). If you don’t do it you and you have your vision visible, it will remind you every day that you are not working toward it. This will not only not be a good feeling but can be rather dangerous.
Besides that, there are other things that can increase your motivation. For me those are certain movies (e.g. Remember the Titans, or the documentary about Dirk Nowitzki), some quotes or things I read, sometimes it can be a song (e.g. Macklemore – Can’t Hold Us), and sometimes reading what other people are doing. Yes, jealousy, when channeled wisely can be a great source of motivation. Maybe you can start a list of things that can give you a motivation boost to draw from during times of doubt.
And the last tip I have to sustain motivation is to form a coaching partnership. Sometimes it helps to be hold accountable by someone else. This way you not only do it for yourself but also someone else. I can speak from my experience that it helped me to at least get started =).
Well that’s it… almost. =)
I invite you to take the materials and exercises and hold a mini conference with your friends or other people yourself. Moreover, if you have questions regarding a certain part feel invited to write me. Also, if you want to adapt it and you are not sure how, I am always happy to brainstorm with you =).
What I would add to a regular, physical conference are elements such as:
- start and end each day with meditation
- add other mindful exercise aligned with theme of the day
- more movement, as our body can also help us to process and figure things out
- more interaction
- times of complete silence
- being in nature
- more fun and love
I hope this was a valuable experience for you. Please let me know how it was for you. Also, if you didn’t like it. Or only liked or disliked certain parts. I am aware that I don’t have all the answers to life and that I have a lot to learn. I can only learn by learning from and interacting with others and through my own experiences. A comment would do me a great favor =).
Have a wonderful day and take care, Stephan