Tool #3 Breath Walking

If the way in you think, feel, and act are not supportive of your goals then you’ve got to course correct. This is an extremely effective way that you can do that, by changing the three variables that constitute your mental state: Focus, Physiology and Language. You can use it to drastically change your state in a matter of minutes.

Focus

That is what we focus on. Are we focused on a problem? Are we focused on what’s not working out in a given situation. Do we remain focused on something that is making us angry? What if instead we change our focus and put our mind towards a solution? The first step to change our focus is to become aware of where it’s at right now or in a challenging situation.

Physiology

Emotional states are reflected in our body: how we’re breathing, holding and moving our body, speaking. It matters a lot how we use our body. In the case of breath-walking this means how we’re walking. We can consciously affect our physiology if we choose to.

Language

The words and phrases that we use. These are the questions we ask ourself in our head. If we ask: “Why am I always procrastinating?” – this put’s the focus on the problem. Then we might use negative language and say discouraging words to ourself – this pulls our focus in a certain direction. Questions guide focus. The resulting emotional state then finds expression in our body (physiology/bodylanguage).

This is how a state is created. Now if we want to change our state then we can do so by changing these variables.

Breath Walking

A certain state has momentum. Imagine a massive round boulder half the size of your body on a flat surface: It’s very heavy, but it’s completely round. Now you want to move that rock. You start pushing it. You push with all your strength, but it’s very hard in the beginning. You push all you can but it just doesn’t budge. But you don’t budge either so finally, at a certain point, it starts moving. It’s the same with emotional states. Sometimes you have to keep going at it. You have to keep attempting to change your state and at some point the negativity just evaporates and the a new state appears. Then you can use that more resourceful state to do what you initially intended. If you regularly change your state then you can recondition yourself and changing your state will become easier and the old pattern will get weaker and weaker.

So don’t give up if initially your attempt to make a shift does not yield a result. Just keep at it. You have to do it for 5 or even 10 minutes – depending on what your state at the beginning was and how much engagement you bring to the activity. But you will notice a change eventually.

Walking

Start with the way you are walking. You want to walk in a way that’s strong and empowered. You can do it at home if you have some space, but it’s great to do it outside. Walk in a way where you’re upright and your shoulders can release and drop. Relax your back and allow your head to rise. Get a firm stance on the ground and connect with your feet and the floor. Try to really feel your heels. If you’re outside you can get on your toes and let your heels fall on the floor to get a feel. You can also stomp a little bit to feel your feet and connection with the ground. This can help you to ease into a more confident way of walking. Walk in a way that for you expresses confidence. You can also take big steps and take up some space with your body and this is going to help you to change your emotional state quickly.

Tapping & Breathing

With your thumb now touch your index, middle, ring and little finger and then again start at your index finger. This way you’ll cycle through your fingers one by one – with both hands at the same time, symmetrically. Now with each touch you’ll take a partial breath – so four partial in-breaths through your nose followed by four partial out-breaths through the mouth. Watch my video to get a live demonstration of this if it is unclear. You can also do this breathing exercise without the walking, but combining it with walking is more effective. Now as you sync the breathing and tapping with walking you take one step for each partial in-breath. Find your own rhythm that feels just right for you.

Incantations

You can do a gentle affirmation in your mind to accompany the breathwalking. See that you actually feel what you are saying and do it with conviction, otherwise it’s not going to have much effect. Anthony Robbins teaches that an incantation is like an affirmation, but with conviction and emotion. Here are a two good ones that you can sync to your breathing:

  • “Every – day – in every – way – I’m feeling – better – and better – yes” (8 counts)
    You can use “more and more confident/healthy/inspired”, “getting healthier and happier, getting more and more disciplined) whatever state you want to cultivate. Say it out loud in your head while you are walking, breathing and tapping.
  • All I – need is – within me – now (4 counts, so repeat 2 times)

This has a huge effect on your state. It’s going to take a little time but once you ease into it your state is going to shift drastically. Remember to walk in a way where you are feeling confident, centered, grounded and do the tapping because this activates your body as there are many nerves on the ends of your fingers. It’s a different stimulus that can help you to enter a new state of mind. If you’ve been in a stuck-state and you do something new then you are changing your focus and get unstuck – even if it’s something simple like tapping your fingers. You’re giving your brain something new to focus on, the tapping and confident walking which is synced to your breathing and those inspiring incantations in your mind. You’re affecting your focus, language and physiology. This will work quicker than you think. It’s very easy to do this and also very enjoyable.

I hope this was helpful and I encourage you to get a feel for this. Do it at home or somewhere you are comfortable doing it (it’s rather discrete anyways) – maybe on your way home from work or on your way to the subway. You can only do the breathing and tapping alongside the incantations and it’s still going to be helpful. However when you start to walk in an empowering manner then you will quickly begin to feel more centered, confident and positive. Not only that but you can increase your performance, charisma or well-being. Once you’ve learned how to do it then you have a great little tool to change your state when you need to. You can also use this to recondition yourself over the long term, by regularly practicing it each morning. Your body and mind flow towards habits. Practice makes perfect.

Tool #2 Relaxation Breath

Today I want to share a very effective and simple breathing exercise for effortlessly bringing more balance and relaxation into your life. We go through varying levels of tension and relaxation throughout our life. Tension manifests in our body through the function of our autonomous nervous system, more precisely the sympathetic nervous system. Relaxation on the other hand manifests through its counterpart, the parasympathetic nervous system. “Stress” is actually a very natural function and an asset, if it is balanced with sufficient periods of rest and digest activity. It is then we speak of a balance of the autonomous nervous system. This can be measured by the variable of heart rate variability.

When our sympathetic nervous system is chronically over-stimulated then we have a problem on our hands. Now via the breath we can effectively trigger the parasympathetic nervous system response. We can directly affect our physical and mental/emotional state. How regulating our breath affects our body is scientifically researched. It’s all around our culture and has become a great trend – be it with yoga, which also incorporates breathing patterns, or modern “breath meditations”. All these things are great and they work – provided that you consistently do them. The technique I share here is extremely simple and easy to do so there really can be no excuses. It can be done in a matter of a few minutes, wherever you are. It’s simple and very effective for relaxing your body. It happens by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, the “rest and digest” response, via stimulating the vagus nerve. It also allows you to take in more oxygen, which you might have been deprived off through shallow breathing or high stress levels.

Breathing Exercise

Begin by taking in a deep breath. As you do this notice where your breath is flowing. Are you breathing into your chest? Are your shoulders lifting? Or are you breathing more into the lower parts of your lungs, your belly, lower chest and on the lower back? Many of us have developed a habit of shallow breathing. Children know how to breathe naturally and deeply into their belly. Shallow breathing is related to states of tension and danger. It’s fine when we breathe in this way when there actually is immediate danger or a challenging situation – but if we stay in a stressful state and maintain shallow breathing for too long then problems are brewing.

Now in the video I drew a glass being filled with water. The water fills the glass from the bottom up. When we breathe like this then we can get much more air into our lungs than if we superficially try to press air into our chest. We can allow our diaphragm to gently expand and our lung to fill from the bottom up. You can feel the difference. This way we get much more air into our lung and take in more oxygen. In addition deep belly breathing stimulates our vagus nerve and we can use it to consciously relax.

Breathing through the nose is quite important as the air gets cleaner and breathing out is slower so you can absorb more oxygen than via mouth-breathing. If you habitually breathe through your mouth you should do some reading on this and consider switching to nose-breathing.

  • Now put one hand on your belly and place your feet flat on the floor so you have a good stance. Let your head rise and sit comfortably relaxed and upright. Now imagine that you are filling your lungs, like a glass of water, from the bottom up with air. Remember to breathe through your nose. Fill your lower belly, down into your groin area, to the back of your lungs and up to the abdomen. Fill your lungs from the bottom up all the way to the chest. Don’t push it into your upper chest so that your shoulders rise – focus your breathing on the lower parts of your lungs and let it rise from the bottom up. Do this for 5 seconds on the in-breath, filling your lungs gently and expanding them. Don’t press the air in but do make a little effort to breathe deeply and fill your lungs. Also try to breathe into the back (explore where you can actually put air into!)
  • Hold the breath gently (don’t press) for 2 seconds
  • Breathe out for 5 seconds through your nose by relaxing. Don’t push the air out but let your lungs “collapse”. Don’t try to push all the air out, just breathe out gently.
  • Now again hold for 2 seconds (your lungs now being somewhat empty).
  • Then again breathe in for 5 seconds.

Repeat this process for 6 deep breaths in total.

This is a very strong and effective practice. Don’t underestimate it because it’s so simple. It quickly refreshes and restores your body and mind to a higher state of functioning. It helps dissolve excess stress and to find your center. This is something you can do anywhere. You can do it at home, on the subway or during work. Once you get the hang of it you can even do it while walking. I’ve done another video on progressive muscle relaxation which is not really suitable to be done in public. This breathing exercise is completely discreet. You can do it anywhere and nobody will notice it – except you who is going to feel its positive effect! I practice conscious breathing for a few minutes every day. It has a great effect on the body and mind and helps a lot with managing stress and restoring balance. In addition you will develop more awareness for your breathing patterns and thus gain control over your habitual patterns of tension.

Commit to try it a few times in the coming days (do it once a day when you are commuting for example). This way you’ll store it to memory and you’ll remember it when you need it. You’ll know first-hand of its positive effect.

Tool #1 Progressive Muscle Relaxation

I want to share a very simple and powerful relaxation technique with you. It is effective in two ways:

  1. Developing awareness for bodily stress. By tensing up all the muscles in our body and then relaxing them we explore the two extremes of full tension and complete relaxation of the muscles our body. This helps us to develop awareness for how it actually feels when our muscles are really relaxed.
  2. As an Emergency Tool. It is extremely effective if you are feeling really tense, worried, are having a challenging day or something threw you off. If you have only a few minutes to really relax and calm down before you need to move on – this technique is very strong and always delivers.

A lot of us go through the day holding a lot of tension in our body without knowing it. We’ve become accustomed to these tensions and often only notice the negative consequences of accumulated stress when it is too late (when we can’t fall asleep at night). By the way that is a situation where progressive muscle relaxation can work wonders! First mental tension manifests in our body and later this tension feeds back negatively into our mental and emotional state. You may well remember the last time you had really tense shoulders or a painful back. If we use tools like this one to release stress that has become physically manifest in our body then we can significantly increase our productivity and quality of life. We also become more pleasant company for others. Now if you watch my video you can see me going through the steps. You can also hear my voice change and get a little bit deeper and more relaxed. This tool is great for freeing up your voice from tension and nervousness before a presentation or speech and can give you better vocal projection. As the tissues in your body are relaxed they start to resonate with your voice and your voice becomes louder.

I’ll describe the process to you. Read through it once and then give it a try, it takes about 5 minutes at most. It’s not important that you follow everything to the letter, the main thing is that you go through all muscle groups one-by-one, tense up all muscles in that group, hold this tension for 10 seconds and then release and feel the relaxation for ten seconds. At the end you tense up all the muscles in your body (by adding the muscle groups in the same sequence) and then relax completely.

Face
Start by tensing up all the muscles in your face. Eyebrows, lips, cheeks, Eyelids. Tense every little muscle you can find and then hold that tension for ten seconds. Now release the tension and relax your face completely. Again count to ten and feel the relaxation in your face.

Shoulders & Arms
Hands, upper arms, lower arms, shoulders, the back and front of your shoulders, on the inside – tense all muscles you can find. Now hold for 10 and then relax and feel the relaxation for 10 seconds.

Chest & Abdomen
Tense your chest on both sides, all of your abdomen all the way to the inside, see that you find every little muscle and tense it up. Again hold for 10 seconds and then let all tension go and feel the relief.

Back
Upper back, lower back. Inside and outside – tense the whole breadth of your back. Hold for 10 and then relax and feel into the relaxation for 10 seconds.

Hips & Butt
Front, back and on the inside, all around your hip joint. Tense your bottom and every muscle you can find in that area. Now hold for 10 seconds, relax and really feel the relaxation.

Legs & Feet
Thighs, calves, around your knees, your feet and curl up your toes (carefully).

Whole body
Now go through all the areas again broadly. Face, shoulders & arms, chest & abdomen, back, hips & butt, legs & feet. Tense up your whole body and hold the tension for 10 seconds. Then let it all go for the last time. Take a few minutes to feel into the deep relaxation and release in your body. Remember this state.

You can do this anytime you need a quick relaxation. You can also do it lying down. Over time it’s going to help you to develop awareness for how much tension there is in your body. Once you notice excess tension you can start relaxing it. This is going to make you a lot more productive and balanced. Commit to use it a few times in the coming days (do it once a day when you come home from work for example). This way you’ll actually store it to memory and it’s going to be available when you need it. You’ll know first-hand of its efficacy.

Becoming The Captain Of Your Ship Of Life

What if you knew with full confidence where your ship of life is going and had complete clarity to say No to what’s unessential and zone in on what’s essential for achieving your top priorities with ease? Let’s talk about how to do that, starting with your Why and then developing the awareness to seperate what matters from what hinders your most important ventures. The more clarity you have about where you’re going, the easier it will be to do what’s necessary and – to stop doing what has been keeping you or slowing you down from achieving your goals so far.

We live in a society that constantly bombards us with stimulation. Advertisements, different kinds of information, news, others wanting or demanding things from us. People trying to convince us to one thing or the other. Why are we being bombarded in this way? Why do advertisements exist? People want to tell us: “Hey! There is something that you need. Here is a service that’s good for you. Hey there! You’ve got to do this. Look: This is the way to be happy!” Why? They want to have our money in exchange for what they are providing. They are providing and we’ve got to consume. In order to consume what they offer (besides food, shelter, clothes and medicine) they have to convince us that what they have is something we need. That’s how the system works.

Energy flows where attention goes

Now the issue comes when you have a certain goal in your life that takes a lot of focus and attention. Something that takes a lot of work to make it happen and to make progress with that. Then this system is not going to help you, because when you engage too much with the games the world tries to play on you then you lose precious time and energy – time and energy you need to further your objectives. This is a world that is built to distract you and that is built to make you do stuff for other people, not for yourself. Really think about this. All these advertisements are not there for your benefit – they are there for the benefit of the people who advertise. Do producers and marketers of unhealthy sweets really care about your health or enjoyment? Or is their main objective to make money with their products – even if their consumers are small children? Take a look at how sweets are marketed to small children if you don’t believe me. Mostly it’s not about what’s best for the consumers – it’s about what sells the most product. So what we need to do in order to stay on course and not get distracted by the agendas of other people is to start discarding unessential things and focus on the essential things in our life. We’ve got to do this like our head is on fire, if we want to be successful.

Know your Yes

In order to say No to anything we’ve got to know what we are saying Yes to. What are you saying Yes to? The yes is your why.

  • What’s your biggest goal?
  • What’s your biggest aspiration?
  • What’s the most important thing for you?
  • What’s your true number one priority and goal in life?

Once you have that, you’ve found your Why. That’s why you say Yes to certain things and No to others. Finding what defines your main purpose and priority enables you to make intelligent choices. If you don’t know what harbour you want to make for with your ship of life then any harbour is fine. There are plenty of harbours all around. The advertisements and people around you – they are going to give you many suggestions of what you can do with your life. They are even going to tell you what you should do with your life! Yet there is only one person who has to carry the responsibility of your decisions and who has to ultimately face the consequences all on their own – You. When you take full responsibility and you know what you want to do with your life, what is meaningful to you, then you know your Yes. You can feel it in your heart. With that yes comes the responsibility, the necessity even to develop a No to certain things. There’s so many things coming at you and you just have to say No. If you accept everything that’s coming your way then you’re going to end up flooded and confused. You’re going to be drawn into random directions – not the direction that you actually want to move in.

Essentials & Nonessentials

There will be things that are not essential to your main objective. So you have defined your goal, you have it very clear in front of you: clearly figured out and at best written out. You also know: There are things that I have to do on a consistent day-to-day basis to move towards the realisation of my goal. Now once you have that this crystal clear vision in your mind you will notice: There are certain things I’m doing in my life that are not furthering this purpose. Still they are important to you in some way. What you can do now is to weigh your Why for doing that activity/behaviour with the why of your main objective. Then see what happens. Ask yourself: Is this supporting my main purpose in any way, shape or form? Sometimes it might positively affect your main objective. For example if you want to perform at your best at work then it’s going to be essential to keep your body and mind in good health. To practice good sleep hygiene. If your body is sick and you’re not feeling well then you’re not going to perform well either. Try to find the connections and see which of the things you’re doing are valuable and which may be more detrimental than helpful for achieving your main priority. You’ve got to be totally honest. If there’s something you’re doing and you are only doing it because it’s very pleasurable but it takes up a lot of your time and you have no time left to progress with what actually matters to you then then you might have a problem. Of course it’s only a problem if you make it one – that is if your Why is strong enough. Indulging in things that are a hindrance or that have no positive impact on my main objective is something I try to reduce and avoid in my own life. The next time you get the feeling that something you’re doing might hinder your main objective honestly ask yourself: “Is this activity a waste of my time?” If it is then you’ve got to be able to say: No.

Saying No is letting go

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People

Be really careful about the people you associate. We’re the average of the five people we spend the most time with. If the people you are associating with are not supporting your main objective, your main goal in life then, as hard as this may sound, it might be best to let them go. Or to reduce your affiliation. That might be painful but associating with people who support where you actually want to go is incredibly beneficial and satisfying instead. Even if that means you’ve got to stretch and live up to a higher standard to be able to keep up to them. Even if it makes you feel a little uncomfortable and out of your depth at first, because you notice that these people are having their life in order more so than you, they are more disciplined, positive and productive or have cultivated a better character and more positive qualities than me. It’s great when you can seek that out. Seek people and information that make you raise your standards, to do just a little bit better than how you did yesterday and be proud of yourself.

Reading

There’s so much to read. Information used to be scarce and people had to go to the library to get a book. Now we just unlock our smartphones. We’ve got the whole world at our fingertips and can consume endless amounts of information anywhere, anytime. Information is not the culprit – it’s what kind of information we choose. Which pieces are you taking in? You’ve got to be ready to say No more than you ever had to. Because if you take in everything then you are going to lose out, not the other way around. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. If you take in two hours of information per day that are not contributing to your big Yes, to your main objective, to what’s most important to you, then you have just wasted two hours of your life. You’re never going to get them back. Never. If you spent them, they’re gone. You can earn back money if you lose it, but you cannot gain back time. Your time is an invaluable resource.

Habits

These can be a blessing or a curse. You are doing certain things on a consistent basis, you’ve gotten used to it and it feels normal to you. But how often do you ask yourself: Which of the habits I’m doing are actually contributing to my success and happiness, to achieving my top priorities in life and which are not? Maybe you spend your evenings watching movies. Every evening you go watch a movie or series. I’m not saying don’t do this. If you ask yourself in each situation: Is this helping me with my main objective in life? – You’ll know the answer yourself. I used to watch a lot of movies. For many years I watched five or six movies a week. I remember watching three seasons of game of thrones over the course of two days, doing nothing else. At some point in my life I realised that while there is some pleasure in entertainment, it’s not really going to help me become happy. Once the movie is over, so is the happy feeling. It’s not going to help me achieve the things that are important and dear to me either. I stopped doing that (watching movies at all) and I’m feeling much better since I’ve done so. Of course you don’t have to take such an extreme route, but even a small course correction can bring many benefits! Just consider.

There’s so much coming at us and we have to be careful with our choices. We’ve got to be able to say No and really focus on what’s most important for us, if we want to achieve our goals. We’ve got to zone in on those things that matter. Some time ago I was talking to a friend of mine who has his own company that’s now growing quite big. I always noticed that he’s extremely focused. He told me that the most important thing for him is to focus on what’s essential and only do the things that serve that purpose. To do what’s necessary to progress with his main objective. If you focus intently on what’s most important to you in your life then there’s not going to be any time to do things that are unimportant. Your vision is going to grow. What you focus on grows. As you focus on the things that are dear to you, that give you the most benefit and the greatest impact the unessential things will fall away. At the same time it’s good to employ a proactive approach of saying No to things unrelated or detrimental to your main goals in life. When you’re taking the subway: Are you looking around? Are you looking at the adverts? Are you looking and thinking about the people around you? Are you using your time or are you wasting your time? That’s the question you should be asking yourself.

Daily Priority

A great thing you can do to nourish that vision and objective of yours is to create a Daily #1 Priority. Something that you can do every single day. Start small. For example this can be reading for 5 minutes on the subject that is most relevant for achieving your goal. Now 5 minutes may sound ridiculous, but I suggest you stick to that bare minimum for at least a month. Define finishing those 5 minutes as success and focus on consistency. Everything above 5 minutes can be a bonus. Trust me, this works for building habits. Maybe 5 minutes a day are perfect for you, or maybe you want to take a bigger step like spending one hour on your goal first thing each morning. (Only do this if you know you have the necessary motivation, discipline and strategy. Otherwise it’s better to slowly build it up. You want to build on small successes because thats most effective.) Personally I spend three hours, one in the morning, at noon and in the evening working for my main objective. I do this every day and I also do this when I have to work mornings (I just do it before work and usually get up at 4:30 AM). If that sounds painful to you check out my video on Early Rising or my article on Nurturing Your Vision for developing motivation. It’s not something I have to force myself to do (of course it still requires a certain amount of discipline), but it happens naturally as a consequences of me having clarity about my priorities. This as well as awareness of the consequences of not taking action AND of the positive consequences of me taking action. Whatever your action steps are going to be – it’s really important that you do it consistently. If you’re working on your most important goals every single day, if every single day you are putting in work and effort then it’s bound to grow. It becomes much easier to let go of things that are not part of your vision and to really focus in, zone in on and stay with what really matters.

Let’s say you commit to those 5 minutes . Now 8PM rolls around and you haven’t done it. It’s the time of the day where you usually watch TV, read or play games, or where you go out with your friends. Now you’ve got to be clear: “I’m having a conflict between my most important value – that’s making progress with my main objective that is really dear and important to me and enjoying myself in front of the TV.” Now you can decide for yourself. You could say: “Ok. I haven’t done it until now. I’m going to skip TV until I’ve done it. I will do this because I prioritise what’s going to give me the best long-term benefit. Because if I don’t take the small steps then I cannot achieve my big goal.” Decide wisely how you want to spend your time. All our time is limited, even if most people make it seem like we have “all the time in the world”: We don’t. You really don’t.

Check Progress

There are four steps to goal achievement:

  1. What do you want? Define your goal, your Yes.
  2. Take action. Start moving towards its realisation. Wanting is not enough. That’s those 5 minutes or more you are investing each day to start making tangible progress.
  3. Notice if it’s working or not. There’s no use in following a plan that doesn’t work.
  4. Change your approach until you get the result.

New strategy – new actions – new results. If you’re reading for 20 minutes every day for a few months but you feel it’s not really helping you get closer to your goal: see how you could better invest your time to get where you want to go. “This is not working – what else can I do?” I talk about this in my article on planning. The point of a plan is to get to the goal, it is merely a tool. Maybe instead of reading you need to go out and actually connect with people who are good at what you want to become good at. Maybe you need to start experimenting and taking action, instead of only reading.

This process has to be repeated again and again. I describe the mechanics of it in “Staying Motivated”. You keep progressing and adapting your approach until you achieve the desired result. In order to do that it’s essential to: Discard the Nonessentials and Focus Exclusively on the Essentials. To what degree you want to do that – that’s up to you. However I can say from personal experience that it is a very gratifying experience to know in my heart that I am focusing the brunt of my life, most of my time, on my real priorities. On what’s really important and what matters to me. I can’t say with 100% that in a few years time or even in ten years (if I’m still alive by then) I won’t have a different opinion or think: “That wasn’t such a good decision back then.” Yet right now it’s my conscious decision and I’m taking full responsibility for the way I live my life and that’s an empowering position to be in.

I encourage you: Take full responsibility and control of how you spend your life. Every minute of it. Take the time to find out about your Yes, about your Why, because it’s worth it many times over. Once you know it you’ll no longer be like a ship without a captain. You’ll know which harbour you want to make for with absolute clarity. All these different harbours that are enticing you from all around – they will be nothing but faint dots on a map. You’ll know: “This is the harbour I am going for and these are my reasons for doing so. I’m saying No to this, because I know what I’m saying Yes to.

Why Having Standards Is Paramount

Standards are clear rules that we uphold. Things we expect and tolerate – anything that goes beyond that we don’t tolerate. We don’t consort with people, engage in behaviours, say things or engage in thoughts that do not meet our standards.

If you’re having a strong internal compass then you’re going to feel centered and grounded. You’re not going to be destabilised by what other people or life throws at you. Without standards anything can come in – there’s no protection from outside influences. 

Your Vision

A standard really is rooted in a goal or vision. If we have no vision then how can there be standards for our conduct? Being lost and without a destination it doesn’t matter how we act and we’re mainly motivated by short-term gain and pleasure. This manifests in reactive behaviour – we start acting just like an animal. Is this making proper use of our intelligence? But what if you had a long term vision that enables you to act with a higher standard and with integrity. Coming from a deep place within that leads you in a direction that feels truly worthwhile to you and where you are aiming at contributing not only to your own but also to other people’s happiness. Now that is a really amazing place to live from because you are going to feel much more at peace with yourself. In contrast to just living day by day, trying to get by and trying to gratify your senses. Do you have a clear vision – a deeply meaningful goal for your life?

Inspiration

There are many people who have lived with a high standard for themselves and that have contributed to the lives of countless people. If we look at them we can gain valuable inspiration and motivation to seek and find a why for ourself. We can look at them thinking: “This person lived with high integrity and strong values. This person was honest and really contributed to others. Here is an example of someone who kept their promises and followed through despite all difficulties – until they succeeded. This person had a great character. I’d love to become more like this person!” Is there a person who’s qualities you really respect and look up to?

When we do this then we allow a seed to sprout within ourself. We start to develop the conviction: “I now want to hold myself to a higher standard, just like X did. I want to live in such a way. I want to be of high integrity. I want to be somebody who is kind and patient, even if others are mean to me. I want to follow through on my goals – until I succeed. I want to be somebody who really contributes to others.”

From this vision the specific standards for your life are going to spring. They are like signposts showing you the way towards your goal. Like the rails at the edge of the road telling you where you are getting off-track. You’re going to start putting up boundaries to what is not in alignment with your vision because it is this vision that you now hold dear.

Boundaries

We’ve got to put up boundaries towards situations, people and behaviours that are non-supportive. Boundaries are not to be feared as something that oppresses us – quite the contrary. Having absolute clarity about our values sets us free. It becomes so much easier to make decisions. We’re in alignment with ourself.

People

This can be boundaries for who you want to associate with. If you lack boundaries then you might have friends who are doing all kinds of unwise things like stealing, taking drugs or people who don’t really care about others and just look for their own benefit. If you associate with such people then you are going to draw this energy into your own life. You’re going to start behaving similarly. There’s the saying: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” This has many reasons. We are social animals and thus are very dependent on our environment. We quickly adapt and get in sync with the people around us. Mirror neurons are a powerful proof of this fact. Just think about how quickly children absorb things from their surroundings. As adults we are still picking up ideas, emotions and habits from others – often without noticing it. This delicate fact makes it extremely important that we associate with people who are in alignment with our vision for ourself and our life. People who are also on or even further down the road that we want to take. People who inspire us!

Remember this is not about judging people (every person has positive qualities!) but rather about the qualities and character traits that we want to draw into our life. We might say: “I only interact with people who focus on staying positive and constructive.” That doesn’t mean we don’t listen to a friend sharing his or her problems – but if the majority of what they are saying is negative then it might be time to distance ourself from them if we want to promote our own happiness – even if that might be painful. If somebody comes into your life who is complaining a lot and focusing on negativity you know that: “I have a standard to only associate with positive people. I’m sorry. We don’t match.” There’s no hard feelings – you just lose interest in things that do not further your purpose and happiness. Now the other thing that will happen is that you will attract people who match the energy you are emitting. You’ll start attracting positive, optimistic and resourceful people into your life – because you are starting to embody these very qualities. This is another great reason for developing worthwhile values. If you become a person that is truthful, honest, kind and patient. Somebody who likes to share and contribute to the well-being of others then you will attract these kind of people into your own life. They are going to a great enrichment to your life.

With standards we now have a way to deal with negative behaviour of others and of ourself. We say: “I don’t tolerate negativity from myself and I don’t tolerate it from other people.” We can experience much more freedom because we have clarity – it is truly empowering.

Entertainment

You could establish a standard that regulates how much time you spend with entertainment. Maybe in the past you spend lots of time time at the computer playing games. Now I’m not saying don’t play videogames. What I am saying is that if you have a certain goal then there’s going to be certain cost to it and certain actions required. If you have ambitions to shape your life for a bigger purpose then every minute is precious. Standards, which are in alignment with your goal, ensure that your vision becomes a reality. They ensure you are going to grow into that person that you aspire to be. So that you yourself become someone that you respect. So you are proud of the way you are living your life. Now if you’re having boundaries concerning entertainment then you might feel: “I want to watch TV now!” But then you’re asking: “What’s my bigger vision for my life? What do I want to do in this limited time that I have available here?” Let’s be clear. You don’t know when your heart is going to beat the last time. No one of us knows this, only that it’s going to happen with 100% certainty. Everybody thinks: “I’m not going to suddenly get sick or die. Sure, other people may die – but certainly not me! I’m young. I eat healthy! I always exercise. I have solid health.” But then people just die. Young people. Healthy people. They get into accidents or suddenly fall ill and die. That’s not a fun thing and we don’t like to think about it – but it’s a reality. A reality that when we face it helps us to discard the unessential and focus on the essential. So I invite you to ask yourself: “How do I want to spend this limited time? What is the most important goal I am trying to achieve? With what standards to I want to live and how do I want to conduct myself?”

Food

We may decide to stop eating certain foods because we realize that they lead us to low energy and even disease. We now reduce or avoid un-natural food that is highly processed – anything that does not occur in nature, has a long “ingredients”-label or worse: a very long shelf life. Food that is not consisting of natural ingredients and has very little micronutrients. We understand If we eat too much of these foods then we are not going to have the health and energy to achieve the goals that we want to achieve, to get to our destination. Equipped with this standard we are empowered to say no to those things that are detrimental to our success and happiness. Now when we see a certain food that we have a weakness for but we are able to say: “No. I have a boundary here. I’m not eating this food.” That’s either: “I’m not eating it at all”, “I’ll only eat it once a week” – whatever your rule is. This is such an empowering thing to do! When you have self-control then you gain freedom. Think about it. While indulging in habitual tendencies while making up excuses might seem like freedom – but in reality it’s the state of being a slave. A slave to laziness, confusion and a lack of direction in life. Once you know where you’re headed with your life then making decisions that seemed hard in the past becomes easy and straightforward.

Work

You say that you’re going to deliver a certain result on a specific day and you don’t feel like doing it. But you have a standard: “If I commit to something then I am going to finish it. I’m going to do it.” I talk about this in my article/video “How To Master Consistency”. I share my process for changing my mental state and getting done what really matters. It’s possible to do this while feeling motivated and entering flow by having a crystal clear vision for the goal. Getting out of a trajectory of low energy, demotivation, depression to one where you’re feeling strong, empowered and clear and delivering and performing on whatever you want to deliver on is possible. It is made possible by having strong and clear standards. If we have a standard that: “If I say something, if I commit to something then I’m going to do it.” then that is a very strong internal motivation.

Important Values

We’re always at the effect of our own behaviour. When I’m being angry with another person, like shouting at them, then I’m the first person feeling that. I’m going through these negative emotions. In order to shout I first have to generate that anger within myself and only then can I project it outwards. Within I’m already boiling and then the excess pressure is what goes out. I’m certainly feeling it. I’m directly experiencing this process that is happening in my body and mind. There’s a hormonal processes that happens when we get angry because it is a state of stress. If you were to get bloodwork done before and after getting angry you would be able to measure certain changes. Now you can imagine that if you’re getting really angry let’s say twenty times a day then you are not going to sleep well at night. You are the prime recipient and victim of your habitual negative emotions – even though your anger, resentment or disappointment may be “directed” at other people and you might think that “the other person is at fault”. When you go to bed in the evening you’ll experience the effects regardless of who was “at fault”. Thus it’s crucial to develop a sensitivity for how our emotions (also those we express “to” or “because of” others) affect our body and mind. Realizing this means understanding that cultivating kindness, patience, honesty and compassion towards not only other people but also ourselves is a great service to ourself.

Likewise we are the first benefactor of our kindness towards others. Sometimes people don’t realise this. They think: “Yeah I should be kind to other people. But some people just don’t deserve it!” Being kind to others is something that you do primarily for yourself – that others benefit from it as well is a nice bonus. If you don’t believe me then just try it. It’s really hard to feel bad when you’re being kind to another person. When you see a person who is in need and you help them it’s really hard to not feel good about that. Not to feel your heart opening with kindness. Like I said with physical consequences of negative emotions – it’s the same with positive, harmonious and kind actions and emotions. You have different hormonal responses and your brain chemistry is going in a completely different direction than before. How you hold your body begins to change. You can empower yourself with these values by cultivating them and you will easily get into much stronger states of coherence, calmness, kindness more and more often. These states enable you to perform at your best consistently, without the weight of habitual negative emotions pulling you down. Being kinder towards others you’ll also be nicer to yourself and more loving and nurturing regarding your own needs. It’s all connected and over time it’s going to become more and more natural for you to be kind in all your interactions – with others and with yourself.

Kindness

Now let’s say you have a high standard of kindness as a character trait that you develop in yourself and that you expect from yourself. As a role model you could take somebody who is considered to be a very kind person. Jesus for example. You now set that standard and are committed to being a kind person (like Jesus). Now you go shopping and there you meet a person who is very mean to you. They bump into you and act as if it was you who should have paid attention – although you were standing still. Your initial reaction might be: “That’s so rude. I’m going to get back at this person and teach him/her a lesson!” But then you remember that: “Ahh.. I have a vision for myself and how I want to conduct myself. I want to be very kind to people. That’s how I want to behave because that makes me feel good and in alignment with my own values.” Then you’re going to act differently. You’re going to have a boundary against acting with negativity because you’re going to feel like it does not align with the image you have for yourself (your standards). The other person might still act with negativity, but that’s their responsibility, not yours. What you do is you take full responsibility of your own behaviour (recognizing that you are the prime recipient of your mental attitude and actions). Imagine you manage to stay friendly even though this person was rude to you. Now that’s going to be a very rewarding experience. Not only for you but also for the other person, who might just be having a tough day. Later on they might think: “I bumped into this person at the store and was really rude to them. I regret that. But they were just patient with me and kind. What a great person.”

Honesty

Closing off let’s talk a little bit about honesty. This is really important to me. As I said: Each time we’re doing something to others we are also doing it to ourself. Each time we lie and twist the truth we are actually lying to ourself. Once we get into the habit of pretending we start losing trust in our own word and next we lose trust in ourself. This can really twist our mind. What we can do is start with ourself – by being really honest and truthful with ourself, by keeping our word and doing as we say and by staying with the facts even if it’s painful or uncomfortable. Not only will we start respecting ourself and get a very clear mind and begin trusting ourself more and more but other people will also pick up on this and they will realise that we are a person of high integrity, somebody who is honest and trustworthy. That’s such a wholesome and important character trait that you can develop. This is essential for achieving more peace of mind.

Meditation?

You can lie and be angry all day and in the evening you can sit down and concentrate your mind by doing some meditation. Sure, you can still achieve a certain state of mental peace. But what if you were developing these qualities throughout your day and throughout your life? If were being completely honest with yourself and with others, with nothing to hide. If you really developed your patience – for example when you enter the subway. You want to be the first person who gets in? Take a step back and let somebody else go first and just relax. See how that feels. Resist that urge to jump at your emotional urge. Resist that desire to be the first person, to be the most important person. See how that makes you feel! Or see how it makes you feel to make it a habit to contribute to other people. To give without expecting something from that person in return. To be kind even when other people are not being kind to you.

Now that’s “meditation” you can do all day, no matter if you are walking, standing, sitting or lying down. You don’t need to sit down cross-legged to cleanse your character. In my opinion this is much more effective and beneficial than observing your breath for twenty minutes in the evening. It gives you tangible long-term benefits. Even better – if you develop these traits then in the evening there is no need to sit down and “calm your mind” or do a guided meditation. Your mind is going to be clear and you will be reflecting: “I’ve been really honest. I was patient and didn’t give in to my urges. I acted in alignment with a higher moral standard for myself. I was kind to this person.” Simply recollecting these things your mind will become clear on its own. You’re going to feel unburdened and peaceful. This is how it happens. I’m not making this up – this is something I have experienced. The way we behave with others comes back to us – because it is with our own body and mind that we act. We can’t escape our intentions.

Recap

  • Standards are amazingly important and helpful in shaping our lives.
  • What drives standards is a strong why. We need a goal. Without a strong why there is no standard.
  • If we don’t have a goal then we can look at people who are a great inspiration to us, who embody values that we want to develop in ourself. This can be certain leaders, activists and people of the past. People who held themselves to a higher standard and really contributed to others. Somebody you admire and who inspires you. This then helps you to plant a seed and make that seed grow into a vision for yourself.
  • With that vision you will then give birth to standards. These are signposts that help you stay on track – to becoming like that vision you are holding for yourself. This vision that inspires you.
  • Then you are going to set these boundaries that can give you freedom – because you have clarity and are grounded in your own values. The benefits are obvious: You are going to have more peace of mind, be in alignment with yourself and you’ll attract like-minded people as you develop values like honesty, patience, kindness and compassion. Now when going to bed you are going to recollect about your day and you are going to be pleased about yourself. Pleased about the way you acted and how you are growing into a person that you truly can have respect for. You’re feeling at peace.

Clean Desk – Clear Mind

I want to share a very simple tip that helped me to increase my productivity and feel more comfortable in my environment and about myself: Cleaning up! This means organising and tidying up your desk, workplace, your room or apartment – however big you want to take it. Learning to appreciate order and the huge value it can have for your life.

Why?

Our environment affects our mind. Imagine you are walking on the street and there is litter everywhere. You’re not seeing the litter and think: “Amazing – there’s litter lying around!” Instead it’s something that may annoy you or make you sad. It may just irritate you a little. It’s the same if we get to work. We sit down at our table and it’s a complete mess: stuff is lying around, there’s dishes and remnants of yesterday’s lunch. You can’t even put your elbow down without getting stuck to the table. Or maybe there’s just a mild disarray on your table with sheets of paper and notes lying here and there. All of this is a potential distraction from focused work.

If you want to progress in a concentrated, organised and productive way then it’s essential to align your environment with that goal. This is why keeping your workplace clean is amazing for increasing your ability to zoom in, get into flow and getting done what matters. Being tidy can also help your creativity. If you’re keeping your environment, mind and life in order there can actually be more time and space for creating things.

Mind and Environment

Your environment affects your mind and your mind affects your environment. This is like the relationship between our physiology (how we hold and move our body) and our emotional state. To shift our emotional state we can start by changing how we hold ourself, talk, breathe and move our body. Getting moving completely changes our emotional state. Our environment and mental state are likewise connected. How can we design our environment in a way that supports a clear, coherent and productive mental state?

A great way to put this into practice:

  • Get into the habit of cleaning your desk before you start your work. Even if it’s just a few simple actions. This can be a great pre-work habit. After you are finished with work: again clean up your desk or workspace. When you clean up before and after this increases the probability that your space will be pretty clean most of the time. This is going to help you a lot when you sit down to work, when you see your desk or think about work. You’re going to feel like: “Yeah. There’s order on my desk. It’s ready for me to get to work.” This order in the external world is going to help you keep your mind in order. It will be natural to think in a coherent way. Less distractions on the outside equals less distractions on the inside. If you don’t believe me just try it out!
  • Another way to do this is to have a “Refuge Space”. Right now I don’t keep the whole apartment in order, because I live with my son (and his mother) and it would simply be too much fuss, there are other priorities. I have a desk I use for work and that table I always keep clean. If somebody comes and puts stuff on it – I put it away. I just keep that table clean and thus it’s always ready for me to take out my laptop or a notebook and get to work. The cupboard that is part of my workspace I am also cleaning up regularly. So how big the space you are keeping clean is doesn’t really matter – it’s the intention behind it.

Action —> Habit —> Character

“The way we do small things becomes the way we do all things”. If you’re keeping things tidy on your desk then it might just start seeping into other areas. Maybe you notice yourself deleting unnecessary apps or keeping your desktop tidy, or you start giving away stuff you don’t really need, that’s just cluttering up your life. It can start with a very simple habit like cleaning your desk before and after work. Even if you just put books or slips of paper on a stack, pens and pencils back in a pencil holder and simply creating a little order. This great attitude of simplifying and organising your life that can have a considerably positive effect on your mental health. It can affect many other areas of your life down the line. Before you know it you have developed this great character trait of being more organised and can reap the rewards.

I’m speaking from experience. I used to be quite a messy person. I lacked structure and purpose in how I spent my life and my environment reflected this attitude. When I started changing both my environment as well as my attitude I started to “make friends” with structure and being organised. Once I adopted these values of keeping things tidy and focusing on what was really important to me I experienced many positive changes in my life. I was getting more of the results I actually wanted and spending my time deliberately and on my priorities – instead of wasting my life away in procrastination or confusion. It’s truly a great character trait to develop!

As your habits become your personality, like a magnet, you begin to attract like-minded people, information and circumstances. You start harmonising with people who, like you, value keeping their mind and life clean and focus on what matters. You will find information that takes you further in that direction and before long your life at large will begin to reflect the state of your mind.

Try out my suggestions – I hope that you can gain a lot of value from it. You can experiment with cleaning up your desk before and after work and see how it feels to you. Later check if you want to bring this attitude into other areas of your life. You can also take a look on my article about the unbelievable benefits of making your bed if you are curious.

How To Master Consistency

How can we consistently achieve the results we desire and perform at a high level and do so even when initially we may lack motivation, energy or inspiration? Is there a process through which we can fulfill our own expectations as well as meet external deadlines while enjoying the process? Is there a way to feel pleased with ourself and our ability to follow through consistently?

All of us sometimes lack motivation to do what we should do and/or feel internally blocked. There might be stagnation, a lack or energy or negativity may start creeping in. It seems like: “Wow. I don’t know how I should do this.” It’s okay to feel that way, nothing wrong with that. Although being in this state you still feel determined or responsible for getting the job done. Now let me show you how to move from a negative trajectory up into “orbit” – to a path that can take you to the successful completion of your goals. Just imagine getting there: now feeling motivated, strong, aligned and purposeful and pleased with yourself while delivering your desired result. Interested? Let’s talk specifics:

Standards

This is the foundation. If we really commit to doing something then, even if we don’t feel like doing it at times, we’ll still get it done. We hold ourself to a higher standard and do not tolerate anything less. We do it because of our expectation to follow through, to keep learning and growing, to consistently do our best.. For me, this means I am committed to produce one video plus article a week – even if I don’t feel like doing it. I will still do it and deliver on what I committed to doing. If we lack standards for ourself then we have to resort to external motivation. Research has shown that the strongest kind if motivation is motivation that comes from within – either from wanting to contribute to a bigger, philanthropic purpose or from staying true to our own rules and standards. The standards we hold become part of our self-identity and there is a natural tendency to act in alignment with our self-image. If you establish and maintain strong standards for what you expect of yourself then you have a strong motivation at hand that can help you take action consistently and align your behaviour with your values.

The Triad Of Human Emotions

Let’s imagine we’re in a situation where we are facing difficulty doing what we should do or want to accomplish. We might feel a little conflicted, frustrated, bland, annoyed or even depresesd. Whatever is happening in our mind or body: We’re always moving in a certain direction and “building” a state. That’s the experience of our lives – we cycle through sleep and wake states as well as emotional states. If we want to consistently perform at a high level then we have got to know about the building blocks of our state and how to change it:

Physiology

There’s the body, how we move our body, how we’re breathing and standing (if we stand with curved shoulders and let our head hang down in discouragement) this is going to have an immediate effect on our emotional state. Try it for yourself by adopting a body language that correlates with a depressed or tense state of mind and remain in it for a minute or two – then do the opposite and notice how you feel. We can consciously influence our physiology and through this shift our mental state. More practical tips below.

Language

The questions we ask and how we talk to ourself, including our choice of words. If you feel negative emotions taking over then look at the words and questions surrounding your situation. How can you shift those to create a more empowering state? This means moving from “Why does this always happen to me?”, or “Why do I always..?” to questions like: “How can I learn/benefit from this?” and “What’s funny about this?”

Focus

We’ve got to keep our focus on the solution, not the problem. Where focus goes energy flows. Where our energy goes, these things grow in our life (we develop habits and strengthen neuronal connections). An old but good example to illustrate this point is that race drivers apparently learn that when their car gets off track or out of control, what they need to do is focus their attention on the road instead of the obstacle. If we focus on our problems then we will start moving towards them. If you want to get to your goal you’ve got to remain focused on it at all times. 

Now if I want to record a video what I need is a resourceful state where I’m feeling connected with myself, positive, feeling like communicating and sharing with others. It’s similar if you’re giving a presentation or talking to a customer, or if you’re working on an intense project. In all cases you’ve got to focus and be there completely. If you want high performance then overindulging in negativity is no longer an option. If one thinks negatively the body gets depressed and the mind starts to shut down. Then one can’t function at a high level. So you’ve got to be very careful with discouraging self-talk! If you talk to yourself in a negative way that is just going to strengthen an unresourceful state.

My suggestion is when you notice and recognise negative self talk to take a moment to remind yourself that: “I have a high standard for myself and my rule is to perform now. I need to stop this and I choose to stop indulging in this now.” By reminding yourself of your standards you are putting the focus back on your goal.

You’ve got to be very deliberate about how you use your body and mind – you can quickly develop strong momentum.

Also notice what your body is doing. How are you sitting or standing? Are you holding a lot of tension in your face, shoulders or other areas of your body? I suggest you get up and shake out your body a little and return to a neutral state. Allow your head to rise and get grounded by assuming a solid stance on the floor. Take a look at my article/video on grounding and posture. It takes some effort to break old habits but it’s worth it!

In summary: Notice what’s happening in your body and mind and make a conscious change to your focus, language or directly to your physiology and things will start to shift immediately.

Clarity

Get clear on your why

Once you’re at a neutral or even slightly positive state you need to get clear on why you want to achieve the desired result. These are the deeper reasons: Why are you inspired to do what you want to do? Why is this project important to you? What are your personal reasons? Not what are the reasons of other people – what are your reasons. While other people might be affected by you not delivering the result – it’s more powerful to find your own reasons. You can ask yourself: “How do I want to show up in the world and what is my expectation of myself? What is my standard for myself? How important is it for me to keep my word both to others and to myself? What’s the value of personal integrity in my life?” That might be to be reliable and to have high accountability. That’s a really strong standard which can motivate you greatly. It’s much stronger than: “Other people are going to be angry at me.” Really get into it and get to feel your reasons. Why do you want to do it?

For me when I record a video or write an article my reason is because I want to help people. I want to help someone else to make their life easier, to make their life more harmonious. I want to contribute something and I want to share some of the things that I believe might help others. I want to see someone else get value and positive results from my contribution. Furthermore I’ve made a commitment to myself to post a video/article every week. It’s something I promised myself to do as it supports my goal of getting my coaching business off the ground and earn money in a more flexible and creative way. That’s what motivates me to do this – even if at times I don’t feel like doing it.

Get clear on your what

You’ve got to define what you actually want to do. Because when in a state of stagnation or discouragement it’s easy to lose clarity regarding your goal. It’s really good to write down the answers to the question: What exactly is it that I want to achieve?

If you’re doing a presentation then you might write: “I want to do a great presentation. I want to take the most important points about my topic and really connect with my audience. I want to get the matter across in a way that people can really feel it and understand it – so that my message reaches the recipient. I want to enjoy presenting and share something and enrich people’s lives with my presentation. I want to present this point about it very clearly, I want to do it in a way where I’m feeling connected with myself, where I’m speaking clearly and where people can hear me.” As you go into the specifics you take your goal from 2D, which is a fuzzy sketch to 3D. You flesh it out and it becomes clearer what your goal actually is, you add another dimension to it. One thing you can use now as well as any time is goal visualisation. You just close your eyes, go inside for a moment and you ask yourself and think about: “What is it that I want to achieve here?” You think about the optimum end result.

How I do it: I think about sitting down, there comes a great idea for a video. I write it down, feeling motivated. I’m taking out my camera. I’m standing there, presenting it, I’m feeling clear in my mind and grounded in my body. I’m engaged and inspired to do the presentation. I’m connected with myself and the camera. I’m in a flow state and things are working out. I just visualise that it’s a great video, a great result and I’m feeling proud of myself. That’s my goal visualisation. If you’re in a rather negative state try to start small: “I’m getting up. I’m starting it – I’m writing the first few sentences of work, doing the first few calculations. I’m feeling good about myself for having started the work. Or you think: “Yes. I’ve done the first few slides for my presentation and it’s getting clearer what I have to do.” Then you can start upgrading to the end result: “I’ve now finished my presentation. I finished all the slides and I’ve rehearsed it once and I feel great about myself.” Visualize your sub-goals as well as the end goal – see it as if you had already achieved it. This can be visualisation in internal pictures, you can talk to yourself or really get into the feeling: “How does it feel to actually have finished the work that you set out to do? To have finished the presentation, made the call with your customer feeling like you really connected with that person. How does it feel having communicated very clearly, presenting your ideas convincingly and honestly?” Getting into this strengthens the goal that you are aiming for. As a result your body and mind are going to follow suit.

Imagine being the captain of a ship in really foggy weather. You’re not sure where the harbour is. Goal visualisation is like switching on the lights in a lighthouse at the shore. Now you’re clear and can steer the ship into the right direction. The brighter and clearer your goal – the easier it gets to steer your ship of goal achievement in the right direction – towards the achievement of your goal.

State Change

Emotion is energy in motion. If you want to shift your state you can do this very effectively via your body. I’m not a fan of “getting motivated” and “pushing” too much – yet sometimes when  it’s necessary to perform and deliver results there are some great tricks to really have an immediate impact on the body and mind:

Breath walking

This is a simple exercise Anthony Robbins teaches: You cycle through touching both your thumbs synchronic with your index finger, middle finger, ring finger and pinky – after which you again start at your index finger. With each touch you take in a small partial breath into your nose (so 4 in-breaths). Then you breathe out 4 small breaths on next cycle. Now you can do just this and it’s going to have an effect on your state – but even better is when you have space to walk. You now take 1 step with each partial breath (it’s a brisk walk, depending on how fast you are breathing).  This gets your body moving and can drastically change your state. Anthony Robbins teaches using affirmations (saying them in your head while doing the breathwalking, like “Every day in every way I’m feeling stronger and stronger – yes!” or “Every day in every way I’m feeling more and more confident – yes!”. A few years back I used to do this in my morning routine for 15 minutes each morning and it certainly is a strong tool for both changing your state and also for reconditioning yourself. The touch on your fingertips is stimulating the nervous system. When I’m really tired I might just touch my fingers in this fashion and this helps me to wake up.

This is a great way to change your emotional state – once your state changes then different thoughts will be coming into your mind and it will become much easier to re-focus on your goal and performing at your best.

Smiling

You can do that anytime – also when you’re not “feeling” it. It’s scientifically proven that this affects our brain and mood. Here’s a 7-minute Ted-Talk discussing some studies on it. Changing your physiology from a frown to a smile is a big shift. To achieve maximum effect you can smile with your lips, eyes and even the corners of your eyes (try to feel it in your heart too). That being said – simply lifting the corners of your mouth can do wonders. So if this is challenging for you then you can start with a really subtle and relaxed smile and just keep it there for a few minutes (you’ll have to refresh it). Check out my video on Smiling Meditation where I explain this great tool.

Power Poses

There are certain poses that you can take with your body which have a direct effect on how you feel. One posture is to stand more than hip-wide apart and put your hands on your hips. Let your head rise and get your chest out a little bit. Now put on a big smile and hold this posture. Now try being really negative and see if it works. Check out either a 30-second clip or a longer video, also by social psychologist Amy Cuddy.

Another pose: Get a solid stance on the ground and feel the connection with the floor. Now put your hands up towards the sky. Bend your knees a little bit and stand like this for a few minutes. There are more power poses you can find on the internet.

If you stand in a power pose for some time then this will have a very positive effect on your emotional state. When you’re having to do something and battling with negativity and stress that’s a great opportunity to try this and break your pattern!

Recap

Have standards. If you want to feel motivated even to go through these steps then you need to have a strong reason. For me: I have a standard that I’m going to perform when I schedule it and that I’m going to do a video once a week. When you have that standard – then you’re motivated. When the motivation is coming from the inside then it’s going to be much stronger than external motivation.

Get clear on your why. Why do you want to do this project, action, presentation – whatever work you’ve got to do. Why do you want to do it? What are your internal reasons for doing it? Why are you motivated? Why are you inspired to do it?

Take it from 2D to 3D. Make it crystal clear. What exactly? How are the end result or the sub-goals going to look? Visualise – get in tune how it’s going to feel once you’ve completed it. Because this is what gradually gets you from this negative trajectory to a positive trajectory – where you’re feeling inspired and getting into a flow state and achieving and even over-delivering on what you wanted to do! This has happened to me so many times. I apply this whenever I’m feeling very demotivated or feel like “I can’t do this today” or when I’m feeling self-conscious. I go through this process and I remind myself of my standards, why I want to do it, what exactly do I want to do and how is it going to look? How is the end result going to look? How am I going to feel? Really getting into that.

Mind your Focus, Physiology and Language at all times. Being very careful about negative self-talk because this really strengthens a negative trajectory that you can’t afford to be on.

Actively change your physiology – try breath-walking, smiling (you can do that all the time) or combine smiling with power poses. Some people feel uncomfortable smiling if they’re not ‘feeling’ it and it does not seem genuine but after some time, as your state changes, it actually becomes genuine! Give it a try because it can help you a lot with changing your state.

As you change your state you can get on a trajectory where you are suddenly starting to feel inspired and motivated and where you can focus your mind to over-deliver on what is important to you.