Jeff Davidson's book, Simpler Living, was Amazon Kindle #1 in its category, first quarter, 2012. Jeff is featured in the NY Times, Forbes, Chicago Tribune, Businessweek, Fortune, Organized Executive, and Success.

Choosing Positive Goals

Whether you want to be happier or would like to quit smoking, setting positive goals can set you well on your way to achievement. If you want to quit smoking by the end of the month, for example, then you start with a carefully worded positive goal that becomes your rallying cry. “I choose to have clean, clear, healthy lungs.”
If you’ve been smoking for many years, chances are by the end of the month clean, clear lungs may not happen in its entirety. If you’ve given up smoking for a month, however, you certainly will be on the road to having clear, clean, healthy lungs.
Nature is very forgiving. In the case of smoking, you could have abused your lungs for ten years or more, but in as little as a year of abstinence, you can achieve near miraculous results. In two years, for many people, you can almost eradicate the effects of all the years of abuse (given that permanent damage has not taken hold, such as lung cancer).
When you choose to have clean, clear, healthy lungs, a new world of choices opens up before you. Not only will you not smoke, but perhaps you will decide to avoid establishments where heavy smoke fills the room. You avoid jogging on days when the smog count is too high. You buy an air ionizer to improve the quality of air indoors. Maybe you start taking courses on deep breathing. Perhaps you begin doing long-distance swimming since this is one of the few exercises that can actually help to maintain the elasticity of your lungs even as you get past your mid-forties.
The goal of having clean, clear, healthy lungs points you in a positive direction, and your subconscious doesn’t know what to do at first. After all, you haven’t mentioned cigarettes as part of the goal, so it waits and it watches looking for the opportunity to drag you back to what it thinks you need to do.

Day by Day

Day after day you affirm your goal. Perhaps you refer to a poster placard or wallet-size card. Maybe you put up posters that show breathtaking mountain scenery or the beach at dusk. You flood your consciousness and subconsciousness in images of strong, deep breaths.
In time, at least the twenty-one days the experts claim, the new habits begin to take hold. Positive, healthy habits. Your subconscious has been waiting all this while for its chance to make a move. Oddly, it doesn’t see the opening it usually sees. “Hmmm, maybe this time Ed or Edwina is serious. It looks as if clean, clear, healthy lungs is what he or she wants. Okay, I can support that.”

Break on Through to the Other Side

Congratulations! Welcome to the world of the winners. You’ve stuck to your positive goal long enough for your subconscious to get the message that this is the new status quo, the new you. It actually begins to support you, automatically, as it supported you when it thought that you wanted to keep smoking.
How did this process start? It’s all in the wording, the language that you use both for goal statements and in your everyday life. Even the language in your head.

I’ll Be Happy to Handle That

George Walther, an author from Seattle, Washington, says that even the most subtle of phraseology can have a dramatic impact on you and the people around you.
Think of the last time you called a company and were told something along the lines of, “I’ll have to look that up.” What would the impact be on you if instead you heard, “I’ll be happy to look that up?” Or, if you were told, “I’ll be happy to look that up for you?”
More importantly, what is the impact on the person who abandons a grudging response and replaces it with a friendly one? The effects are dramatic. If you’re in a customer service position and answer the phone all day, your day, your week, and your life can seem like drudgery as you have to look up one thing after another for the people who call.
Suppose, however, that you’ll be happy to look these things up day after day, week after week, month after month. What does your subconscious conclude? That you enjoy your work, that you like to help people, and that looking things up makes you happy. Guess what happens as a result? Looking things up does make you happy, and helping people keeps you happy.

Language that Uplifts

No matter what you’re doing and in what capacity, the language you use will impact your view on what you do and can help create an upward spiral. You begin to look forward to doing what you do because indeed, it can make you happy. Use positive uplifting language any time you either set or seek to support one of your goals.
While you wouldn’t necessarily walk down the halls of your organization shouting about how happy you are to have clear, clean lungs, you could harbor such thoughts to yourself, as well as these:
  • I enjoy having clear, clean lungs.
  • I am feeling more energetic each day with clear, clean, healthy lungs.
  • I constantly seek activities that enable me to maintain clear, clean, healthy lungs.
In essence, when you say yes to the goal that you’ve chosen, you say yes to the choices that you’ve made.

Positive Words for Positive People

Now for affirmations. Much has been written on this topic and often it’s misunderstood. An affirmation is simply a positively worded phrase that supports a goal. Affirmations can be:
  • said out loud, a form of positive self-talk,
  • read out loud, or
  • thought silently.
As you attempt to think positively about a given situation for the first time, it’s helpful to write it down and post reminders on the dashboard of your car, in your kitchen, near your PC, and in your appointment calendar. You may say in big letters, “Today is going to be a great day.” Or you could say, “I choose to make today a great day,” or, “My goal is to make today a great day.”
The wonderful thing about this affirmation is that it doesn’t matter on any given day whether or not it turns out to be a great day. And indeed, what is a great day? Assessment would always be highly subjective anyway.

A Solid Observation

You will notice a discernible, cumulative build-up. Each time your subconscious sees the phrase, “Today is going to be a great day,” it concludes that this is where your interests lie. Your subconscious will go to work for you to find ways to “make it a great day.” If this all sounds like positive self-talk blather to you, rest assured, the benefits are both significant and extraordinary. There are few substitutes in life to using positive language and engaging in positive thought. Thus, affirmations are a wonderful tool. It’s productive and useful to constantly have reminders all around you of your competence, intelligence, and resourcefulness so that you can tip the self-talk scale in favor of the positive. This creates an upward spiral and a victorious circle (as opposed to a vicious circle). Thus, you’re automatically more often how you want to be throughout the day.

Record and Reap

If you’re so inclined, you can even go so far as to create your own cassette tape. In your own words, record affirmations that you can play back each day to further increase the amount of positive self-talk that you hear.
For example, you can record such statements as the following:
  • I am a highly resourceful person.
  • I am confident in my abilities.
  • I willingly meet career challenges.
  • People look to me as a source of inspiration.
  • I accept my role as a leader.
  • I am able to discern the opportunities that come with change.
  • I am ever adding to my storehouse of knowledge and wisdom.
When recording such statements, leave lengthy pauses so that you can repeat the statement to yourself before the tape plays the next statement. That way, each statement sinks in on a deeper level.
Studies show that if you play a tape of affirmations for twenty-one consecutive days, say, each morning while you’re getting dressed, you will actually begin to notice changes. You will feel different, and you will gravitate toward these affirmations that you’ve been making so much that even others will notice.
You could also create a tape of affirmations that specifically encourage you to behave a certain way. Suppose your goal is to have confidence and assert yourself when situations call for it. On your tape you might include the following:
  • I feel confident when I encounter someone who is highly attractive to me.
  • I feel confident when encountering someone whose experience or formal education is considerably more than mine.
  • I feel confident in the face of near impossible deadlines.
  • I feel confident that I can handle life’s challenges.
  • I can easily make myself heard and understood.
  • I speak up at appropriate moments.
  • I know how and when to stand up for myself.
Think of yourself as a work of art in progress. When noted Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes asked why, at an advanced age, he was reading the voluminous text, The Lives of Plutarch, he responded, “To improve my mind.”

Jeff Davidson is "The Work-Life Balance Expert®," is a preeminent time management authority, has written 65 mainstream books, and is an electrifying professional speaker, making 886 presentations to clients such as Lockheed Martin, Eckerd, Kaiser Permanente, IBM, American Express, Lufthansa, Swissotel, Re/Max, USAA, Worthington Steel, and the World Bank. Jeff is Executive Director of the Breathing Space Institute and the author of books such as:
  • Simpler Living (Skyhorse Publishing)
  • Dial It Down--Live it Up (Sourcebooks)
  • The 60 Second Innovator (Adams Media)
  • Breathing Space (CreateSpace)
  • Accomplishing Your Goals (Smart Guide Publications)
Jeff is the premier thought leader on work-life balance issues and has been widely quoted in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, USA Today, Businessweek, Forbes, and Fortune. Cited by Sharing Ideas Magazine as a "Consummate Speaker," Jeff believes that career professionals today in all industries have a responsibility to achieve their own sense of work-life balance, and he supports that quest through his website

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