Watch Your Language

If I were to ask you, “What language are you using?” how would you respond?  I imagine most folks would say something like, “English” or “Spanish” or list some other language at which they are proficient.  I doubt many would respond with something like “negative”, “self-defeating”, or “discouraging”.  In fact, I doubt many people give much thought to what type of message their language is conveying beyond the words they speak.  The language we chose to use is powerful, and has a significant impact on our thinking and our outlook on life, as well as our influence on others.

Take a moment and think about the language you use.  Do you have favorite “go-to” phrases you often rely on in your conversations?  What language do you chose to use in describing the world around you?  Does your language consist of phrases like:

  • “That’s just not in the cards for me.”
  • “What’s the point?”
  • “Another day older and further in debt.”
  • “The little man just can’t get ahead.”

Consider the impact a diet of this type of language has your thinking, and on your outlook on life.  Regular use of this kind of negative language can become a vicious circle in your life.  It’s like this…

  • You use negative language that sends a discouraging message…
  • With continued use of this language, you start to believe the negative messages you’re sending…
  • As you begin believing the negative language you’re using, your thinking changes to incorporate these negative thoughts and beliefs…
  • You use even more negative language…

Where does it end?  Furthermore, what kind of people will this kind of language cause us to become?

What if we were to watch our language for the next week with the intent of making it more positive and encouraging?  What if we actually gave thought to the type of language we use and chose our words and phrases as carefully as we chose our next smart phone or automobile?  I’m certainly not saying we have to stop and spend several minutes contemplating everything before we say it.  What I am saying is that using positive (or negative) language is a habit, and we should be mindful enough to ensure that our language serves to improve our outlook and thinking as well as to lift up and encourage ourselves and those we interact with.  Ultimately, we want to build the habit of using positive language.

If you need some help watching your language, cause something to happen by focusing on the following:

  • Begin replacing negative phrases with ones that are more positive and uplifting.  For example, instead of saying, “I’ll never be able to do that.”  Say, “I don’t know how to do that… yet.”
  • Be mindful of the triggers that cause your language to be negative.  Maybe it’s events, locations, or certain people.  When you know you’ll be exposed to one of these triggers, decide in advance that you’ll use language that is positive.  Maybe it’s even time to remove some of these triggers from your life.
  • Remove words from your vocabulary that have a negative connotation and consider reducing or eliminating profanity in your communication.

If you’ve been in the habit of using negative language, and you seek to use more positive language, realize that the change won’t occur overnight.  It will require continuous effort, but don’t let that stop you.  Stick with it!  For as you begin to watch your language, and consciously choose to make it more positive and uplifting, note the change that is also occurring in your thinking and your outlook on life.  Changing our language for the better will change our thinking for the better as well.  And changing our thinking is the beginning of great things.

To begin, we need only to watch our language.


A Routine Tune Up

I think routines we perform intentionally can be good things.  I mean really, who’s going to argue against the routine of saving and investing a portion of your earnings, or of exercising on a regular basis?  We intentionally establish and, almost automatically, execute these routines because we’re expecting a positive result from doing so.  However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t occasionally hold our routines up to examination.

It is important to regularly review our routines to make sure that they are still yielding the results we expect, otherwise, why should we continue following them?  For example, take exercising or going to the gym.  Sure, you may be working out several days a week, but are you still seeing the results you were striving for when you first began the routine?  You are repeatedly investing your time in the routine, right?  Are you getting the return you expect from the time you’ve invested?

Just because a routine is done for the right reason doesn’t mean that it is exempt from the need for review and scrutiny to see if changes need to be made.  Continuing to use the example of exercising, perhaps that routine needs to incorporate some new exercises or maybe some additional knowledge or perspective is needed from a coach, trainer, or book.  If we’re going to invest the time and effort into following a routine, shouldn’t we strive to get the best results possible?

Changing an established routine can be difficult when the routine has become comfortable and familiar.  The awkwardness of changing can cause us to revert back to the familiarity of our unproductive old routines. (I’m currently experiencing this struggle as I’m changing up my exercise routine and confronting the awkwardness and discomfort that goes with trying something new.)

What about you?  Are there currently some good routines in your life that could use a tune up?  Are you in a routine where you’re trying to cause something to happen, but not getting the results you want?  If so, here’s a simple process that might be helpful:

  1. Examine what parts of your routine require a tune up.
  2. Determine the specific changes needed that would improve your routine to the point you will achieve the results you desire.

As you face the awkwardness of changing up a familiar routine, keep the following 2 thoughts in mind to avoid slipping back into your old routine:

  1. Keep a clear picture of your end goal in mind.  What’s the reason behind the change you’re making?
  2. Remind yourself that if you’re going to maintain a good routine, you should expect to get the greatest return for the investment of your time.

But don’t stop there!  Continue to evaluate your routines on an ongoing basis to ensure you’re getting the return you expect.  As you make improvements to your routines, be on the lookout for the benefits and positive results that will follow.  They won’t be hard to find.

Does What You’re Doing Inspire You?

I love listening to a good motivational speaker.  The stories and illustrations they share get me fired up and eager to get out, seize life, and aim higher in the goals I’ve set for my life.  It feels good to be motivated.

I also like being inspired.  “Wait a minute!” I can already hear, “Isn’t being motivated and inspired the same thing?”  On the surface, inspiration and motivation appear to be the same.  However, I believe there is a slight but significant difference between the two, and once we understand this difference, we’ll be better equipped to chart a successful course for our lives.

So what is the difference?

Motivation is an external force that comes from seeing an example, reading a book, hearing a great speech, or myriad other sources.  You can be motivated to do things you are neither passionate about nor interested in.  I’m not saying motivation is a negative force.  On the contrary, it can be quite strong, enabling us to do great things.  But it is external, and can be fleeting.  I look at motivation like taking a shower.  You can’t just take one shower and be clean forever.  A shower is good for a while, but before long, you need to take another one if you want to remain clean.  Likewise, motivation is not something that occurs once and then you never need to be motivated again.  It must be regularly sought.

Inspiration, on the other hand, is something internal.  When you’re inspired, it’s like you can’t avoid doing what you’re inspired to do.    You can spend untold time working toward an outcome that inspires you, and giving your best performance for a sustained duration.  To me, inspiration feel like a fire within that provides extraordinary energy to move forward even against huge odds or pushback.

Ok, great.  Motivation and inspiration are different.  So what?

Here’s the important point about knowing the difference between motivation and inspiration:  if you want to cause something to happen in your life that is significant, pursue something that inspires you.

So what thoughts or activities inspire you?  Are you currently trying to pursue a different course in life, and have multiple options to choose from?  If so, pay attention to what motivates you versus what inspires you.  Choose to pursue those things that inspire you and begin setting yourself up for extraordinary success.

Commitment: The Choice is Ours

2014 has arrived!  If you’re like most people you’d probably like this year to be better than the previous year.  Not that 2013 was a bad year.  On the contrary, 2013 may have been a very good year.  It was for me.  Most people I know, however, would like to get better or improve this year from where they were the previous year.  I usually don’t meet people that say, “I want to gain 30lbs in 12 months” or “I really need to take on more debt and neglect my most important relationships this year.”  We usually envision a new year where we make improvements in our lives and get better from where we currently are, no matter where that is.  I think that’ a healthy thing to do, as it provides direction and focus for the next 12 months.

The important question is, “What do I need in order to achieve the goals and dreams I’ve laid out for myself this year?”  Hoping they come about is not enough.  Hope, by itself, is a bad plan because it requires nothing on our part.  By itself, hope is a “wait-and-see” event that usually has disappointing results.  What is needed to reach the goals we’ve set for ourselves in the New Year is commitment.

Commitment is the price that is paid to achieve the goals we’ve set.  It’s what we’re willing to start doing, or stop doing, to cause something to happen that will move us closer to the achievement of our goals.  Commitment is the willingness to say, “Yes” to the events, habits, and behaviors that will cause us to be successful and “No” to the ones that won’t.

Here’s the cool thing about commitment…we get to choose it.  We don’t need “commitment approval” from anyone, but rather we get to choose for ourselves whether or not we are going to commit to paying the price required to reach our goals.  That’s encouraging and empowering to me.  If we know what we want, we need only commit to paying the price required.  The other side of the commitment coin is that we can also decide that either the price is too high or we really aren’t committed to paying the price required.  Either way, the choice is ours.

So what goal or dream do you have that requires commitment?  Do you know the price that needs to be paid to attain it?  Have you committed to paying the price with actions rather than just words?  (That last question is where real movement occurs.  Answer “Yes” to that one, and you’ll soon realize significant progress.)  Once your goal or dream has been identified, commit to it with decisive action and then be on the lookout for the positive results that will surely follow.