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Terri Benincasa
Boomer Expert ... Business and Personal Coaching

Terri is Founder & CEO of Benincasa & Associates, Inc. a unique Transitions Coaching company offering both Personal and Business services with a specialty in all things Boomer. She is known nationally as a Boomer Expert, and is a proud Boomer herself.

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Minor Adjustments for Major Change

You are what you think…and you reap what you “so”

So (#1) - you feel you're stuck in quicksand every time you try to make a needed change or accomplish something that would move you forward…..particularly when it seems the world and everyone in it are conspiring against you (you didn't get that really great job or promotion you wanted in spite of your best efforts, your weight-loss program had about the same success as the Hindenburg's maiden voyage given the ever-present annual series of holiday bashes, your new year resolution to “really get organized” got lost in your pile of things to do…etc.). It happens to all of us at some point– but some more often than others.

So (#2) - what's the fundamental difference between those who seem to be able to achieve the goals they set for themselves, and those whose “to do” list volume rivals The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, with little checked-off as “done”?

The way they think.

There is a basic psychological tenet, proven to be quite accurate over many years of use, that our thoughts dictate our feelings, which in turn underlie our actions (called “Rational-Emotive”) – and the Cliff Notes version, that our thoughts dictate our actions (known as “Cognitive-Behavioral”). This has proven to be a very important therapeutic approach to resolving such seemingly intractable conditions as obesity and chronic addictions. Bottom-line for all of us who are not struggling with such dire problems – if it works in the toughest cases, it can work for us as well. And for sure, it is the key that opens the door to goal achievement.

So (#3) - In essence, you've been conspiring against yourself and didn't realize it…

It's not that those who achieve their goals don't experience “failures” or set-backs, it's how they handle those situations when they arise that sets them apart. You know the old saying, “s___ happens…” – it's not whether it's going to happen , because that's a given (there's just so much that is within our control or sphere of influence, and there are so many variables in any situation that can go astray) – it's how we respond to it that makes all the difference between moving forward and sliding back.

So (#4) – how do you get yourself started on the path to constructive thinking that will support and guide you through goal achievement rather than moving you further away from it? Read on!

Here are the usual thought process pitfalls that keep many stuck - creating barriers to achievement rather than removing them – see if one or more of these sounds like you:

  • Catastrophic Thinking : This is when a set-back or perceived “failure” becomes, in your mind, your new way of life, as in, “I didn't get to the gym today – I'm NEVER going to do this gym thing right…” or,” I haven't yet found Mr. Right – I'm ALWAYS going to be alone…” When your thought response is this, you have just set yourself on the course for a “self-fulfilling prophecy” of failure, and believe me, that's powerful and absolutely will happen (and we do tend to believe in self-fulfilling prophecies in the negative, right?….) –
    How about instead simply changing that self-fulfilling prophecy to the positive, as in, “Just because I haven't found Mr. Right yet doesn't mean he isn't out there – I will find him, it's just a matter of time and keeping my social-scheduling options open!” (after all, he won't jump through the TV set to meet you as you sit in front of it rather than being out and about…), or “OK – I didn't get to the gym today – tomorrow is a new day, and I can and will do this! What do I need to do differently tomorrow or the next day to make this happen?” (like planning to go for a shorter period of time each day as a start, or switching to a gym that is on your way home from work to make it easier to access & less easy to ‘blow-off'…). Simply put, we know that thinking the worst of a set-back will absolutely kill your resolve and ability to achieve that goal – well the opposite is also true – refusing to give in to catastrophic thinking and replacing it with positive messages will support and affirm your resolve, which in turn moves you one step closer to goal achievement
  • Polarized Thinking : This is about perceiving situations or people in unrealistic & debilitating extremes of “either-or” rather than a more inclusive “and”. It sounds like this – “Either I go to the gym 4x a week for 1 hour each visit, or it's not worth going at all….” Or, “Either I get the exact job I want in my field or I just take the first thing to come along…” Or “Either he's going to call me for a date tonight, or won't want to see me again…”
    Instead, how about, “I can go to the gym 4x a week for 1 hour each time, and I can go less often or for less time if my schedule gets crazy – that's fine too, so long as I get there for some time each week!” And, “I can continue to seek the ideal job in my field, and I can apply for other jobs in my field that will keep me “hands-on” until the great one comes along!” And finally, “He may not call tonight, and he still may want to see me – maybe he can't call because something urgent came up….”
  • Shoulding' All Over Yourself : Yep – it sounds exactly as it's meant to. And just as the old axiom in more reputable schools of psychology states, “Should shouldn't be in the dictionary….” ‘Should' is neither here nor there – it's like saying you're going to ‘try' to do something – you're either going to do it or you're not (yes, a form of polarized thinking that is reality-based & therefore constructive) – either something would or could, won't or can't happen – the ‘should' thing is simply smoke and mirrors. And, it serves only one purpose – to make you or others feel worse, as in “I should have gone to the gym today…” – YUCK - now you feel rotten, with no plan or feeling of empowerment to make it different!
    When you stop thinking in terms of ‘should' and think instead in terms of did/didn't, will/won't, you create an accurate, reality-based summation of the situation, and from that you can set the foundation to finding a solution that will get you going again. ‘Should' leaves you powerless and out of control – did/didn't, wanted to/didn't want to gives you something solid from which to work/start.
  • Getting your Exercise by "Jumping to Conclusions" :   Of the negative kind...  Interestingly, and most often as a self-protective reflex, we tend to assume the worst of a situation or person before gathering all the facts (and we all know what happens when we ass-ume, thanks to our 8th grade teacher...).  How does that help?  It helps to make a bad, or even not so bad situation, worse.  For example - your boss doesn't return your phone message requesting a meeting to review your proposal for increased responsibility (and therefore more pay!); you go into high anxiety gear by filling in that gap with the clear determination that no return phone call means s/he didn't like the proposal and furthermore, may not consider you professionally fit for the ideas you put forth....; this in turn significantly affects your mood & feelings of self-confidence, which causes you to make errors in judgment you normally don't make, and the beat goes on - you get the picture.  In reality, your boss didn't return your call right away because a personal situation arose to which s/he had to attend - it had nothing at all to do with you or your competence.  Oooops!

    Instead, make a habit of doing two things when a void of information occurs: 1). ask questions rather than developing the answers on your own in a vacuum - in the boss case, you could call your boss' secretary inquiring as to whether your boss received your proposal (sounds like good follow-up, too!) and if s/he (the secretary) has some idea of when your boss may be available to go over it (sounds like a great take-charge attitude!) - at that point you would learn that your boss is handling a personal situation and now know why you hadn't heard back; and 2). If there is no way to get answers right away to fill the information vacuum, and knowing that one way or another all human beings are going to need to fill it with something , fill that vacuum with positive assumptions rather than negative - again the boss scenario - s/he doesn't have a secretary or some other discreet means of finding out what's up, so you determine that something most likely came up that has nothing to do with you that has caused the no-return call - not that s/he doesn't like you as a professional.  More often than not, the real reason for problematic things is far different than the negative conclusion you "jumped to."
The alternatives given in each category, are examples of “strength-based” thinking – and that is what differentiates those who achieve from those who stay stuck. Learning and mastering strength-based thinking takes some time – just like changing and replacing any old pattern and conditioning takes effort, resolve, and practice. But with the right support and guidance, from a Coach or other wellness professional, which would include the learning and implementation of other tools & techniques for reclaiming your personal power and reaching your full potential, you will get to a much higher level of fulfillment, and achievement, in a much shorter period of time!

So (#5) – start your strength-based thinking right now – shouldn't wait, because either you start now or all is lost…(sorry, couldn't help myself…) - and get this new year started on a truly positive foundation!

Some final thoughts for you to keep – to keep you going, to keep you on the right track – to keep you well:

“Goals are reached one step at a time…one step leads to the next…each step builds from the last…”

“The truly successful are far less often found to be fearless or lucky, than simply resolved.”

“There is no achievement without risk, but there is always risk, even absent achievement.”

 


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