How to Think Better: thoughts

Thoughts lead to behavior. Behavior creates results.

This is one of those formulas you can’t outwit or work around. It’s simple and true and just is.

When you’re not getting the results you want in your life, all you have to do is look at your thoughts. Because your thoughts are leading to your behavior. And your behavior is creating the results in your life—or lack of results.

So it follows when you’re not getting the results you want in your life, take a close look at your thoughts.

Do a thought audit

Let’s say you want to be healthier and more fit. But life is busy, and you routinely find yourself thinking if you only have 15 minutes to exercise, it’s not enough time to be worthwhile. So following the thought—15 minutes of physical movement is not enough to make a difference—you don’t move your body. The result? You’re not any healthier or fitter.

A massage therapist would like to have more clients, and marketing would lead to getting more. But her recurring thoughts are: I don’t know enough about marketing. I’m not very good at marketing. Can you guess what follows those thoughts? Inaction, stuckness, self-doubt. And the result that creates? You guessed it—no new clients.

Or how about this one. A woman tells me she can’t keep up with all there is to do. She’s overwhelmed and stressed. When we talk about lightening her load by letting go of a few of her commitments, she says emphatically, “Oh no, I can’t give anything up.” Sure enough, that thought perpetuates the behavior of an overbooked life, which results in a constant state of overwhelm.

Your thoughts are not facts

Practice observing your thoughts. Recognize them for what they are. Your thoughts are not facts. They aren’t foregone conclusions.

Here’s the formula reverse engineered:

  1. Focus on a result you’re getting in your life that you wish were different.
  2. What behavior on your part is contributing to that unwanted result?
  3. What thoughts are leading to your behavior?

By doing this thought audit, you’ll start to see how disempowering some of your thoughts are. And you’ll have a choice.

What different thought would lead to different behavior—and ultimately create the result you want?