I was sitting across from my coach (virtually) and we were talking about how I often have the thought that I have “too much to do”.
“Is this thought serving you?”, she asked.
“It might not be serving me”, I responded, “but it definitely feels like it’s the truth.”
It is so interesting how we create our results with our minds. The way that we think about ourselves, and the world around us, creates our results because those thoughts influence how we feel and the actions that we take. And it is the actions that we take that create our results.
For example, if I believe myself to be too busy, I am more likely to feel, and act, stressed, reactive, and like a victim of circumstance, than if I were to believe that my schedule is completely under my control. The more that I think, feel, and act in control of my schedule, the more evidence that my brain has to prove that thought to be true.
One of my coaching mentors likes to say, your T (thought) always ends up in your R (results).
If this is all true, then productivity, or your ability to create value, is simply a function of how you think. It might not be a lack of skills, talent, or experience that is holding you back; it might actually be your thoughts about yourself that are really limiting your potential.
Have you ever distinguished between productive thoughts and non-productive thoughts? If we think about our thoughts at all, it tends to be in the context of thoughts that are either ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ for us. This is because our survival brain is conditioned to scan the environment for danger, and historically, it was a matter of survival to be right about our judgments.
However, I would like to offer a ‘reframe’ to the way that we currently think about our thoughts.
The reason for the ‘reframe’ is that we might have a thought that is technically right, but non-productive, such as: “I should exercise more”.
Or, we might have a thought that we had originally dismissed as wrong, that is actually productive, for example: “I could start my own business”.
The difference between a productive thought and a non-productive thought is how the thought makes you feel. Any thought that starts with “I should” is a non-productive thought. It just leads to feeling guilty. Nothing productive ever comes from guilt. You might think that productive actions come from guilt, like my friend Sarah who believed that the more she beat up on herself, the more likely it was that she would work out. However, she came to realize that the action of working out was coming from an alternate productive thought, such as “I am the type of person who works out regularly”, rather than the guilt and beating up on herself which was more likely to have her stuck in a shame loop of avoidance.
A lot of productive feelings come from thoughts that start with “I could…”. Things like hope, motivation, clarity, inspired, and courage. Many productive actions come from those feelings.
The idea that we produce action from our thoughts is very exciting because it means that we have complete control over our productivity simply through the thoughts that we choose to believe.
Creating More Productive Thoughts
In order to start creating more productive thoughts, first take a look at the beliefs that you have about yourself and your productivity. Do you consider yourself to be a procrastinator? A perfectionist? A people pleaser? Challenge those beliefs. Just because you tell yourself something (perhaps for a long time), doesn’t mean that you have to believe it.
Once you have identified some of those non-productive thoughts, start looking for evidence to the contrary. Our brains are very diligent in proving our thoughts to be true, so you may have developed tunnel vision when it comes to your beliefs about yourself and your productivity.
Look for those exceptions that disprove your non-productive beliefs about yourself to start to demonstrate to yourself that this belief is not always true. This is where a productivity coach can offer a lot of value. Sometimes it is very easy to see the result of non-productive thoughts in others, but more difficult to see it in ourselves, and even more challenging to decide to believe something different about ourselves.
Once you have identified those non-productive thoughts that are holding you back, start introducing more productive thoughts that are believable to you. Instead of “I can’t…”, try “I could…” or “It is possible that…”. Your brain will then start to look for evidence that what you are trying to achieve is now possible.
POWER Productivity Thoughts
Some of the most powerful productivity thoughts that we can have are: “I am going to…”, “I will…”, and “I am the type of person who does…”. When you believe these thoughts, they result in feelings of commitment, determination, certainty, decisiveness, confidence, and persistence. Try one on for yourself.
A productive thought to experiment with is, “I am the type of person who gets things done ahead of time”. Where can you find evidence that that is true about you? When you believe that thought about yourself, what feeling is generated? What actions do you take?
When it comes to the labels that we put on ourselves, they start to form our identity. And changing who we are (to ourselves) is one of the most uncomfortable processes that we can undertake. Although we might intellectually understand that identifying as a procrastinator is limiting, we still hold tightly to this belief. Believing something new feels inaccurate and/or risky because it is the first tentative step out of our comfort zone. Unfamiliar can feel uncomfortable. A productivity coach helps you to identify and challenge those non-productive beliefs about yourself.
The beautiful thing about all of this is that we get to decide how we respond in the moment. All of our power comes from our ability to make decisions about what we choose to think. If you are ready to get started, contact Kim for your free productivity coaching session today.