Life Issues, Opportunities, Personal March 12th, 2008
We all go through periods of discouragement and depression. At times like that it’s hard to motivate yourself to keep moving forward as a domainer or entrepreneur. The good news is that there are tools you can use to get through those rough patches.
I’m no exception. Sometimes the ills of the world, and my own personal problems, weigh on me like a sandbag on my shoulders. I feel lethargic and tired of my work. It’s easier at such times to pick up a good novel, especially a science fiction or fantasy novel, and lose myself temporarily in another world. Or I might begin several new online chess games and immerse myself in chess strategy. I have always been like this.
Now, however, this is a problem. I’m not a student or a 9 to 5 employee anymore. I’m a self-employed entrepreneur with a family, a business to run, and bills to pay. Furthermore, we are entering a challenging time, with PPC income down and domain buyers adopting a conservative stance as the U.S. heads into a recession.
So, what to do? It happens that I’ve survived stormy seas in the past and I’ve gotten to know myself well. Over the years I’ve developed a suite of motivational and organizational tools that helps me get through these rocky periods.
I’m a big believer in the power of affirmations. J. Donald Waters, a well known author and lecturer, says,
“An affirmation is a statement of truth which one aspires to absorb into his life. It has been said that we are what we eat. It could be truer to say, ‘We are what we think.'”
I began using this tool in my mid twenties, when I went through a dark and difficult period, and it made a huge difference.
Affirmations helped me overcome:
- negative self-images of myself
- negative self-assessments of my competency
- negative memories of my past behavior that replayed constantly in my mind
- feelings of jealousy toward others who are more “successful”
- self-pity and cynicism
At the same time my understanding of my own strengths and worth, and my right to realize my dreams, came into fruition. Along with this came a new faith in the future.
In subsequent years I wrote extensively, held a steady job for years (a first for me), started a business, got married and bought a house. All of this was possible because prayer, meditation, and daily affirmations enabled me to change my self-conception. I went from confused to intrepid, self-reliant and determined.
I didn’t intend for this to be a how-to on affirmations, but I do think this is an important subject, as I believe that many people are crippled by negative self-beliefs that have been put upon them by others.
My personal affirmations consist of three short lists, each containing different types of “I” statements: “I am,” “I will,” and “I love.”
“I Am” Statements
“I Am” statements are affirming declarations of some good qualities that I possess, or want to possess. For example:
- I am a loving, attentive husband and father. I cherish my family and they are the most important part of my life.
- I am a hard working, confident and highly successful domain name investor.
- I am a natural moneymaker. I am good at making money, investing money, and increasing my wealth.
- I am open to opportunities that others may miss.
- I am a talented writer, with an original voice and important ideas to share.
- I am an athletic man. I love working out, practicing martial arts, lifting weights, hiking, and strengthening my body in every way.
- I am a spiritual person. Prayer and meditation are an important part of my daily routine.
To those of you who are already self-confident and self-aware, such affirmations may seem like a waste of time. But most people are full of self-doubt in some or all areas of their lives, and their doubt acts as a brake, shutting them down when they try to move forward.
Keep in mind that the affirmations do not have to be 100% true. For example, looking at the second one above, I am indeed a hard working and relatively confident individual. But there are times when my confidence flags. And I would not call myself highly successful yet. That’s where I want to be, but not where I am. The affirmations steadily mold my self-perception until they become reality. In addition, they act as motivational kindling, stoking my internal fires to move me forward.
There are three critical points to keep in mind concerning affirmations:
- Make them ambitious but believable.
- Repeat them frequently, at least two or three times a day.
- Follow them up with specific action plans.
You may have noticed also that my affirmations are balanced across the various spheres of life, including business, family, physical and spiritual. That meets my needs, but yours can be more focused on one area if you wish.
“I Will” Statements
These are statements of specific, concrete goals that you intend to achieve. Again, make these challenging. They should stretch your capabilities, but be believable. “I will sell a million dollar domain name within five years” is great, but “I will become the richest domainer on earth” is not believable.
“I Will” statements can also cover all spheres of life.
I suggest that you write these statements down and keep the list somewhere handy so that you can review it, at a minimum, three times a day: first thing in the morning when you wake up, once in the middle of the day, and last thing at night before you go to bed.
In the beginning you will be skeptical of your own affirmations and you may find yourself thinking that it’s silly or embarrassing. You have been conditioned for years to believe that your dreams are unrealistic and silly, and some of that will come out as you read your affirmations.
Never mind that. Just keep at it, three times a day minimum, and you will find that in time your skepticism will disappear. As your faith in yourself grows, you will see opportunities that you did not see before. You will conceive of concrete ways to realize your goals.
“I Love” Statements
This may not be for everyone, and in fact I only occasionally use this portion of my list. These statements are appropriate for individuals who are deeply depressed, discouraged or negative.
Make a list of the things in life that you love, no matter how small or remote that may seem. For example:
- I love my parents, my wife, my children, and my close friends (it’s a good idea to name each person individually).
- I love the color of the sky in the evening just after sunset.
- I love a good banana split.
- I love the soreness in my muscles after a workout.
- I love the satisfaction of making a good profit on a domain name sale.
Etcetera. Reading this list over each day will serve to remind you of all that is good in life, so that you’re not constantly thinking of life in negative terms.
Disclaimer: For individuals who are clinically depressed or suffering some emotional trauma, I am not suggesting that affirmations should take the place of therapy or medical care. But they can augment your recovery.
What these are really useful for is long-term reshaping of your self-conceptions, which then changes your approach to everything in life.
To learn more about the power of affirmations and how to craft them, I’d suggest reading the following books:
Part two of this article will discuss simple organizational techniques that can keep you moving forward when you’re not in the mood.