This step gets you focussing on the ‘how to’ part of getting to your aim.
Attention on solutions = finding solutions to your problems.
Attention on problems = finding more evidence of your problems
What you put your attention on expands, so if you want to meet your aims, then you must put your attention on how to find the solutions to your problems.
Remember the analogy of a business. What strategy does a business implement in order to achieve success and longevity? It has aims. It has strategy meetings and consultants and it has an action plan.
Without these three things, the business will not succeed in reaching its aims.
You don’t see successful businesses sitting around moaning and complaining about their lack of clients and sales. Also, you don’t see businesses who have never come across their ups and downs.
But what differentiates a successful, healthy business is ones that learn from their mistakes, gets back up, keeps their eyes on their goals and create bigger and better plans for getting what they want.
If you want to live a healthy, happy life, then the same rules must apply to your life too.
How am I going to achieve my aim?
The fourth step on the Mind TRACK to Happiness process is where you begin actively seeking out the information that you need to get you where you want to go.
Remember the story of my work colleague Wayne Parrot and his cancer? Nothing was going to get in the way of his recovery from secondary lung cancer and overcoming the odds of his 12 week sentence to the grave. Nothing.
There are two parts to this step to master. The first part is where you start resourcing potential solutions to your problem and the second part gets you to analyse your choices, using your conscious understanding of what beliefs are driving the decisions you make and the actions you take.
The first part of this step is looking at where you might resource the solutions to your problems and the ‘how to’ part of achieving your aims. Here is how you do this:
Write a list of all the ideas you have that could be a potential solution. It doesn’t matter at this stage whether you are willing to pursue this idea or not. Write it down anyway. This could just end up being the very option you choose after we go through the analysis part of this step.
Resource other information
Educate yourself. Seek out the information that you need from as many different resources as you can. Internet, libraries, books, magazines, expert articles, forums etc. When you begin searching for the information you need, you are bound to get it sooner or later.
You want to arm yourself with as much information as you can for dealing with this issue and getting to your aim. Remember again Wayne’s search for health? He was doing about 80 different things and working with doctors all over the world in order to reach his successful outcome. You may not find your answer in just one solution. Also, you may not find your information in main stream society either. Keep your mind open when seeking answers, because you never know what information you might stumble upon.
What are other people doing?
Seeking out the information you need from other people who have ‘been there’ and experienced your problem, can be a valuable resource. They will have tricks and tips that you may never have thought of, or that are not published in any normal type of resource.
If you have a problem with your child, seek out someone who has had that problem and ask them how they’ve overcome it. Seek out famous celebrities who have similar stories to yours and read their biographies to learn what things they did. Join support groups so that you can listen to the stories of others and be inspired by their success. Be careful though, if you do join one of these groups, that they are not spending most of their time ‘rolling in the mud’. While it can be supportive to listen to each other’s struggles and to relate to other people’s stories, you don’t want to get sucked into focussing too much on what has happened in the past or the problems the past has caused.
You want solutions. You want information that will change your life and meet your aims. Sitting around talking about this problem and that problem is not going to get you that!
What drives the decisions you make and the actions you take?
The next part of this Choices step is to analyse the information that you have just resourced, but before you do that, I’d like to remind of what drives you to make decisions and take the specific action that you choose.
In other words, what is it that governs your choices?
The answer is beliefs. Your beliefs and values will always come into play when making a decisions. This is not a bad thing, nor is it a good thing. It just is. You just want to be aware of the decision making process when you are making your choices, which is why we go through a little bit of an analysis of these decisions in order to determine what you believe.
Remember the priority triangles that I showed you? Here is one again to remind you.
Every belief you have will be rated between a high level of importance and a low level of importance and this can fluctuate depending on what situation or topic is causing the belief to be triggered.
Even though it can seem as if you have conflicting beliefs with equal importance, only one belief can ever win out, and that belief will have your self-worth attached to it somehow.
There is a self-worth component behind every decision we make and action we take because we are always working in the best interests of ourselves 100% of the time.
With that in mind, we then move onto analysing your options by asking specific questions to identify the beliefs governing your choices.
Analysing the information found
So once you have resourced all you can for now, create a list of all the information you have that constitutes as a potential solution or action towards your aim.
Now split that list up even further into two – choices that you might like to try and choices that you are ready to throw in the bin. Answer the following questions in regards to each list:
Assessing List One (options that I would like to use)
- Do all of these options align with my bigger picture aims?
- What reservations do you have about any of your aims? What are your ‘buts’ when it comes to the thought of implementing these options into your life? Does this option align with my bigger picture aims?
- What can you do to overcome this ‘but’?
- What is your payoff (motive, priority) for choosing these options?
- Do these options motivate, excite me and/or encourage me?
- What are your opinions/beliefs about why these options won’t work?
- What is the payoff (motive, priority) for not choosing these options?
Assessing List Two (options that I would not like to use)
In summary, the choices step is pretty simple: Seek out the information you need that will educate you on how to get what you want, and then follow it.
We can’t know everything and you are not a failure for going through this issue or whenever you have a problem in your life. All it means is that you have something to learn. So learn it. Don’t spend a lot of time remorseful over the life that you were ‘supposed to have’.
It’s happened the way it’s happened because it was supposed to happen that way. How do I know this? Because it happened. So what are you going to do about it?
Learn the lessons that you need to from this moment by seeking out the information you need that is going to educate you on how to proceed from here. When you put it like that, it’s not really rocket science, but it may take some work.
These steps on the Mind TRACK to Happiness process are very simple in theory, but may be more difficult to practice, however keep practicing them and they become easier to apply.
Be mindful as you are using step four on the Mind TRACK to Happiness process: choices, that what you are putting together is information to create an action plan FOR NOW. As you continue implementing your strategy for handling this situation you may find that you receive new information or experiences that make you want to deviate from this plan.
That’s okay. Life is full of twists and turns and just because you have tried something or started something, it doesn’t mean that you have to stay with it if it is no longer right for you. This often happens when people believe they have to stay in a career because they studied for 10 years to get into it. Or it often happens to mums who decided that they would be the full-time, dutiful stay at home mother and wife and then find themselves going insane not being able to work.
Whatever is going on in your life, it is an experience that you are learning from and receiving new information from and this could very well lead you to want to change direction from your current planned path.
Just follow the steps in the Mind TRACK to Happiness process to continually assess where you are at, what your beliefs are, how to align them with reality and then create some new aims and plans. Nothing is set in stone and there are no rules saying that just because you make a plan, you have to stick with it, especially if it doesn’t meet with your bigger picture aims.
Keep measuring your life against your bigger picture aims and set situation aims that align with them, so you can lead the most fulfilling life you can.
In tomorrow’s final lesson of the week (before exercise day) I will give you a recap of the final step on The Mind TRACK to Happiness Process: Know your Plan & action it.