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Own your future and exploit your past

Over the last few weeks I spent a good amount of time contemplating on my objectives for 2020 whilst also taking the time to review what I have achieved. I found that too often people hurry to leave the past behind and focus on the future and in doing so they overlook their achievements. For me is important to take the time and relieve my moments of glory and if you give it a try you will find that is a great source of “energy”. You might have heard that remembering events is strong enough to trigger in our neurology reactions similar to the “original” event and that memories are reconstructed every time we recall them. There are studies and scientific explanations for this but if you have doubts just think: Did you ever feel your heartbeat increasing or your body becoming tense as you were thinking or talking about a moment when you were angry? Did you find yourself smiling or even shedding tears of joy as you were remembering a merry or emotionally charged event? If you can’t think of such an experience right away you might want to take a moment to test it now.

For this reason, I found that periodically thinking about my “bliss” moments is a powerful and easily available way of building positive momentum in my live. Some of the things I like to remember are professional results, times when I learnt new things quickly, solutions that I found to various problems, being brave enough to take some risks or the joy that I felt on various occasions with my family. Invariably, this is a quick way to make me feel resourceful, daring and confident.

I also use this “trick” when working towards my objectives. Even if something seems daring at first, I look to find what resources I would need to get there and subsequently question whether I’ve done anything similar in the past. When I decided to change my career plans for instance, I was aware that I need to learn a lot more about this new field I was occupied with (Neuro Linguistic Programming); as soon as I recognised a feeling of overwhelming I took a pause to think when else was I in a similar situation. Soon enough I was smiling because I remembered how years ago I managed to finalise a challenging certification programme as an financial analyst whilst completing my Masters and having a full time job. I remembered about the dedication with which I was studying for hours every night and within seconds I was feeling motivated, proud and confident that I can learn whatever I put my mind to.

Sometimes the resources we are looking to build might seem completely "new" and this can be solved by looking for experiences which share some similarities. To get here, first make the "problem" less specific; carry an exercise to identify situations which could in theory bring similar challenges, feelings or similar outcomes. Let's say you are looking into an opportunity and you have identified sales skills as one of the main requirements and this is not something you have experience with. Nonetheless, you've been in situations that allowed you to test your abilities: job interviews, presentations, negotiations, teamwork, debates, communicating with clients etc. In one way or another we all have to sell our ideas on a daily basis.

To help yourself, you can “generalise” by questioning what is the broader meaning of the resource you are looking for. One might for instance think of sales skills as an example of effective communication, ability to listen and understand others, charisma, emotional intelligence etc. There is no wrong answer or right answer as long as you find in these a way of retrieving past experiences that feed the belief that this is not completely new.

By contrast, you can break the problem down in tinny and easy to handle "components" so that it's then easier to find how each of these relate with some of your past experiences. One can for instance think of sales as a combination of sub-processes such as: speak politely, listen carefully, connect to people, be independent in your work etc If we try hard enough we are sure to find useful past experiences..they might seem small when seen in isolation and yet empowering when we take the time to recall them.

This is not to stay that such an exercise in itself will give you all the skills you need. It should however defocus your mindset away from the problem, empower you to review your expectations in a more positive way and give you the confidence to take action to build on the pre-existing skills.

In a nutshell beliefs, internal states, expectations and actions are closely intertwined and this is a way of taking control of our internal state to then do what we have to do to get what we want to.

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