Have you ever been through tough times and it felt almost impossible to overcome them? Maybe it was a business where you ran into financial hardship? Or you went through a rough patch in your relationship?
In this post I share how to not just get through challenging situations but how to break through them. You see, often we go through tough things in life and even though you might get through them, they just seem to happen over and over again. So my aim for this post is to bring awareness to a necessary skill (which you already have) for breaking through challenging situations.
Decisions shape your life and destiny
Let me ask you two questions. Can you think of a decision you made a long time ago that made a huge difference to your life? What if you made a different decision in that moment, do you think your life would be drastically different today?
The first step to overcoming tough times is understanding that break throughs lie in your moments of decision. If you answered the two questions above, you would have realised that where you’re at in your life today is the result of many decisions you’ve made in the past. So for you to break through tough times and take your life to the next level, you must start making new and more effective decisions today.
How powerful are your decisions?
Did you know that you make hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions everyday? Many are basic decisions like getting out of bed, brushing your teeth and what clothes to wear – even reading this post started with a decision. Then there are big decisions like buying a car or house, making that sales call or starting a business.
The problem many people face when it comes to decisions is that they make ineffective ones that don’t allow them to break through and create the life they want. Those decisions, or lack of decisions, could be due to doubt, fear or lack of belief in themselves just to name a few. But for one to really break through, they must make bold, effective decisions.
So how do you make powerful decisions? Let me explain…
Three decisions you’re making at every moment
Did you know that you make 3 decisions at every moment of your life? Even right now you’re making these 3 decisions. And depending on how effective you make these decisions determines how effective the results you get are.
I’ve previously explained in a post how the quality of a person’s life is the quality of their internal communication. Basically, the thoughts you have determines how you feel and how you feel determines the type of actions you take (read more about that here). See the following diagram:
Think —> Feel —> Behave
So if you’re having negative thoughts and feelings, do you think you’ll make effective or ineffective decisions? Ineffective of course! And if you’re having positive and expectant feelings, do you think you’ll make ineffective or effective decisions? Effective ones of course!
However, there’s one more part to this equation and that’s the equation on how to control the way you think. If you can control the way you think, you can change your life and results. So let’s get to the juice of this article – those 3 questions that can help you in breaking through tough times.
Decision 1. What do I focus on?
Did you know that what you focus on, you feel? And what you focus on is also what you get more of in your life. See the following diagram:
Focus = feeling
Have you ever met someone that believes everyone is out to get them? I know I have! These people are some of the angriest and unhappiest people you’ll ever meet. If you’re in sales, you've probably experienced these people who are constantly trying to expose how you’re “trying to take advantage of them.” It’s not a fun experience! And if you made a genuine mistake in the sales process, they’ll abuse you for “taking advantage” of them and won’t give you the space to explain to them why it was a genuine mistake. Because this type of person is constantly focused on how everyone’s out to get them, they act in ways that creates more negative results for them. And when they’re feeling negative, angry feelings all the time, do you think they’ll be able to make effective decisions to get better results in their lives? Of course not! Because all they’re focused on is in trying to figure out how other people are taking advantage of them.
On the other hand, if this customer was compassionate and they understood that everyone makes mistakes, the sales person would have a much more enjoyable time and he or she would go above and beyond for their customer – even after the mistake.
What about if you’re a business owner? Do you think you’d get different results if you were focused on your own needs versus your customers needs?
What about focusing on what you can’t control? Do you think you’d get different results compared to focusing on what you can control?
What about focusing on how something didn’t work compared to focusing on what you learned from the experience so you can do it better next time? Do you think your results would be different?
And how are you making this decision right now? Well, you could be worried (focused) on figuring out where you’re going to get money to pay your bills this week or if your kids are safe. Or you could be focused on soaking up as much of this information so you can implement it to get better results in your life.
I think you get the picture now. Remember, what you focus on, you feel; and the way you feel determines the decisions you make and actions you follow through with.
Decision 2. What does it mean?
The next question you’re constantly asking yourself is figuring out what meaning to give a situation or circumstance.
I remember a few years ago, my father owned a business and he would often say that he wanted his children to take over the business soon because he was getting too old for it – he was 50. He had grown tired and was worn out. Once, I mentioned to him that a lot of people become wealthy at his age because they have an advantage – their kids are grown up so they have more time, energy and money to focus on creating financial success. He didn’t listen to me at the time. However, after seeing my personal development journey and results, he opened up to the idea and today he’s more fired up about creating financial success than ever. He has huge business goals and plans he’s implementing and has already told me that he’s certain he’s going to be a millionaire within a few years.
BTW – If you're reading this Dad, I'm proud of you!
So what changed for my dad? Well, previously the meaning he gave to his health and business was that “it’s the end” and therefore he was ready to move on from it. However, today he’s changed his meaning to “it’s the beginning” and that’s allowed him to see even greater opportunities, focus on his own personal development and make more effective decisions, that I’m 100% convinced will help him reach his goal of becoming a millionaire.
Something many people fall prey to, especially in business, is that when the economy slows down they give it the meaning that “it's the end”. When they give it than meaning, they spend less money on advertising, they stop seeking new customers and eventually their business fails. Then they affirm to themselves “I knew it. The economy really is bad.” Do you see how that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy?
On the other hand, successful people understand that when the economy slows down it’s the greatest opportunity to ever happen – that it’s the beginning of something new. So what do they do differently as a result of this empowering meaning? They put their focus on where people’s needs have gone (new market opportunities) and they know that a slow economy filters out all the incompetent business owners who rode the trend while the economy was booming. To them, a slow economy means more opportunities and profit because they’re a competent business owner and all the business ends up going to them.
When you give a negative, disempowering meaning to a situation or circumstance, ask yourself “Is this a problem? Or is this an opportunity?” Another great question to ask is “What is the gift in this?”
How are you making this decisions right now? Well, you could give this post the meaning that it’s all B.S. You could be saying to yourself “How could my thoughts determine my feelings and my feelings determine the actions I take. This is B.S. I’m going to go get a beer instead – that’ll make me feel better!” Or you could give it the meaning: “Wow, this is powerful stuff! I’m really going to implement this so I can find out for myself and see if I really can get better results by changing my thoughts.”
Remember, when you get a meaning you get a feeling and when you get a feeling you’re going to take action based on that feeling. Your feelings always control what you do, which leads us to the third question you’re constantly asking yourself.
Decision 3. What should I do?
As I mentioned before, if you’re a business owner and you give the economy the meaning that “it’s slow and it’s hard for all business owners”, you’re going to take specific actions, like cutting back on your advertising budget, which will result in less customers, less income and eventually the shutting down of your business. Again, a self-fulfilling prophecy based on your thoughts, feelings, decisions and actions.
How would this work in a relationship? Well, if you gave your relationship the meaning that “it’s the end”, do you think you’ll treat it much differently compared to if you gave it the meaning that “it’s the beginning”? I know I’ve experience both sides of the coin. When you’re in a new relationship it’s so easy to “die to yourself” and happily do everything your partner asks you to. But after a few years when your partner asks you to do something, it’s easy to get angry and say to them “Why are you always hassling me to do it!? You’re just as capable!” It’s in moments like these that relationships start to fail and by giving it the meaning that “it's the end” often ends up creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. The best way to get a break through in this situation is to start giving your relationship the meaning that “it’s the beginning and an opportunity to learn, grow, give more and take this relationship to the next level” and then follow through with actions that are in alignment with that meaning.
Remember, to change your life, you must change your decisions; and to change your decisions, you must change the way you think. Decision-making is the power to breaking through tough times!
To conclude, I want to leave you with four questions to ask yourself:
What was one of the worst decisions you’ve ever made?
What did you learn from it?
What has been one of your greatest successes?
What did you learn from it?
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