Many personal-growth experts will tell you that to attain your dreams and reach your full potential you must take charge of your thinking. And there is no question that this is true – the power within is the power of right thinking.
But what isn’t talked about enough is the hard work you must still do, beyond “just” changing your outlook. Learning to create a visualization of the life you dream of – what I call “future memories” – opens the door. You still need to take positive action to walk through that door to reach your goals.
Having a positive mindset is not enough. You must work to obtain your goals. For example, you may have to enroll in school to get trained in a skill or profession. You may have innate talent to paint or draw, but you need to learn how to use the right tools and techniques to hone your skills so you can express your talent. It takes action to achieve this. You can’t just wait for things to come to you. You have to invest your time and energy in the change you want to make. I’ve had people complain to me that they are lonely and they can’t seem to make friends. When I find out how they spend their free time—sitting at home in front of the television—I ask the obvious: “How can anyone reach out to talk to you and make friends with you if you’re always hiding away by yourself?”
You have to be realistic when you are working toward any goal. When you want to buy a car, don’t you plan it out? You have in mind what color car you want, whether you want a two-door or four-door car, an SUV or a pickup truck. You know you can save so much money a month and therefore what kind of car you can afford. That’s being realistic. The same realism and analysis applies to all your goals.
The flip side of this is that people sometimes say, “That goal is simply not realistic,” when, in fact, it is within their reach with a little creative thinking. Here’s an example, and one I come across often with young adults I counsel. When I spoke with a young man recently about saving money each month to put toward buying his own home in the future, he said, “I can’t do that because I don’t have any money to save.” Colin claimed that on his current salary, after paying for his car loan, his food, rent, phone bills, and other necessities, he didn’t have a cent left.
This surprised me, so I suggested we go over his expenses to see exactly where he was spending his money. When we looked at the list together, I noticed that Colin was spending more than a thousand dollars a month on food just for himself. “Okay,” I said. “Help me out. What are you eating? Are you sprinkling gold in your salad dressing? Are you really spending that much on food?” What I learned was that he was eating out at restaurants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He had no idea he was spending anywhere near that amount of money on food.
I explained to Colin that eating out for every single meal wasn’t necessary and it wasn’t healthy either. If he didn’t break this habit now, someday when he was married he and his wife would find themselves spending two thousand dollars a month on food. I also told him that the core issue wasn’t how much money he was making at his job right now but how well he was managing that money. Even if he earned one hundred thousand dollars a month but spent it here and there without thinking realistically about his budget, he would have no money left to save.
So I suggested that for one month Colin try not eating out and instead learn about the food he could buy and how to cook healthy meals. As an added plus, I told him, your future wife will be very happy that you know how to shop and cook! “Say to yourself, I only have so much to spend on my food, and see how you can manage to do that,” I encouraged him. “This will teach you to manage your meal bills and it will also teach you to practice aware-ness and visualization. While you are shopping at the grocery store, you’ll have to visualize what you want to cook for yourself.” I suggested he take on the goal of trying to cut the amount of money he was spending on food in half. If he could do that, he would be able to put the other five hundred dollars in the bank each month.
Colin didn’t think that was possible at first, but he committed to giving it a try. He went shopping each week and started to learn how to cook healthy meals. It took him a few months to get into the rhythm of doing this, but he stuck with it and amazed himself. Colin is now saving five hundred dollars every single month. In addition, he is in better shape because he is eating healthier food, he’s appreciating his food, and he is excited to be learning how to cook.
Very few goals are truly out of reach if you think about them creatively and are willing to make the changes in your life and put in the hard work it will take to attain them. If you can dream it, you can live it – but only by taking the positive actions that will take you there.
Tae Yun Kim author of Seven Steps To Inner Power, is a martial arts great grandmaster, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur. As head coach, she led the first-ever U.S. womenʼs Tae Kwon Do team to a gold medal at the Pre-World Games in Seoul, helping pave the way for women to compete in martial arts in the Olympics. Dr. Kim went on to found her own school of martial arts, aimed at overcoming limitations in every area of life. She is also the founder and CEO of Lighthouse Worldwide Solutions, a leading high-tech Silicon Valley company, and has won many awards for her achievements and humanitarian service. To learn more, visit: www.taeyunkim.com.