When it comes to improving yourself there are few, if any, shortcuts. However, there is one method that can dramatically shorten the length of time it would take to become to person you want to become… acting as if.
Acting as if means you take on the mindset of what you wish to become and allow (or encourage) your behaviours to follow. You bypass the “what ifs” and go straight to the “what is”. If you practice long enough, your acting as if will no longer be acting when you eventually grow into your new role. Acting as if will make you do things you would not normally do. It will create new normal standards throughout your life, standards that a higher than what you are experiencing now. Acting as if you cannot fail will cause you to expand and experience things you would not have otherwise. Life will open up for you in so many new ways.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 – 1832), the German philosopher, once wrote, “Before you can do something, you first must be something.” Act like the person you want to become. Acting as if keeps you focused on what you desire to become. It keeps you confident while diminishing doubts. It creates and strengthens your belief and faith in yourself. In essence act as if tricks your subconscious into accepting without question what you want to happen. To improve yourself you need to take action outside your comfort zone, which means you need to take some risks. Taking risks naturally brings on thoughts of failure and instinctively your subconscious creates fears and doubts.
When you find yourself too scared to follow through on an action (i.e. networking at a tradeshow, introducing yourself to a stranger, writing a proposal, etc…) immediately stop thinking and act as if: you are the most confident self you have ever been, and do what that self would do. If you feel fear building up tell yourself to “Stop!” and then go back to acting as if you were that best self. Inventor Charles Kettering, who in his lifetime held more than 300 U.S. patents, said it best, “Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail.”
When you act as if, your subconscious begins to accept your behaviour, your thoughts, and your feelings as being natural and normal for you. This sets the “Law of Normal Standard” in motion as set forth by Thomas Troward (1847 – 1916) who wrote that it is the activity of mind by which man draws into his life only that which he considers normal for him, rather than that which he vaguely hopes or wishes. When you act as if, you create a new “normal” for yourself.
Someone once said, “People do not attract that which they want, but that which they are.” In other words, only when you stop working on what it is you are trying to get and start working on YOU, will you get what it is you want. Think about how basic this is. To attract attractive people, you must be attractive. To attract powerful people, you must be powerful. To attract committed people, you must be committed. Instead of working on those around you, you need to work on yourself. What you are is what you attract.
We all know someone who works very hard, diligently and makes sacrifices to try and create financial wealth. However, have they changed who they are? Until they begin to think and act like someone who is wealthy they will never attract the wealth they seek. Rich people do not think and act the way they do because they are rich. They are rich because they think and act that way.
How many people are on a diet today who don’t stand a chance of losing, and keeping off, any weight because they are still the same person who gained all that weight to start with. Like rich people slim people do not think and act the way they do because they are slim. They are slim because they think and act that way.
To get what you want, you need change who you are. You change who you are by changing the way you think and act. The Greek philosopher Aristotle (384BC – 322BC) wrote, “It is easy to perform a good action, but not easy to acquire a settled habit of performing such actions.” In other words the first step to creating a new habit is to take the action. With respect to personal improvement this is a beautiful quote. It is difficult to form the habit, as we all have discovered over and over. However, to at least act like the good thing is already a habit; even if it is not will eventually make it a habit.
Act as if you are slim long enough and one day you will attract slimness even though you may be 100 pounds overweight today. Act as if you are financially wealthy long enough and then one day you will attract all the wealth you can imagine.
Imagine how different your life would be from today if you were to act as if:
· It were impossible to fail.
· You had no fears.
· What you did makes a difference (it does).
· There is enough time in the day to do what I need to do (there is).
· Everything will turn out alright even when it seems they will not.
· Everybody loves you and cannot live without you.
· You are a blank piece of paper that nobody had written anything on.
What if you were to act as if you had only 6 months to live? How much would you accomplish in those 6 months? Would you travel to places you always wanted to travel to? Would you finally tell your family and friends how much they mean to you? Would you re-establish relationships you have neglected? Would you mend broken relationships? Would you overcome those fears which have prevented you from experiencing everything life has to offer? Would you start appreciating each day to it fullest and using it to its fullest potential? Why are you not doing all these things now?
Acting as if is a tool to help you to become. It is a way to give yourself permission to try on a new role and see if it fits. At the very least, it allows you time and space to experiment with your life and find out who you really are.