I live in Chiang Mai, Thailand at the moment, and there is a whole lot of meditation, yoga, alternative medicine, etc.
Some of that stuff is really great, but there is one massive, extremely dangerous misconception which needs to be rectified.
I have heard way to many people talk about “The Law of Attraction” – otherwise known as “the secret” – in a way that raises all kinds of red flags. A quick formal definition (thanks Google):
The law of attraction is the name given to the maxim “like attracts like” which in New Thought philosophy is used to sum up the idea that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life.
That definition, in itself, is profoundly useful and accurate. Focusing and visualizing positive or negative experiences DOES have the (very obvious and rational effect) of causing correspondingly good or bad things to happen.
Positive Example: If you constantly visualize your goals and ideal self, then you will automatically recognize opportunities to progress towards each, and also catch yourself doing things that are inconsistent with them. (See Cognitive Dissonance).
Negative Example: If you are obsessed with the idea that your significant other is going to leave you, then you will start to inadvertently sabotage your relationship and basically guarantee that it will indeed happen sooner or later.
Great. Use this effect, and use it well.
But here’s the problem…
Too many people misinterpret this principle as some magical, mystical principle which REPLACES taking intentional action to actually achieve what you want.
Yes thinking about it is cool, but you actually have to DO something to make it happen. In. Every. Single. Situation. Even if it’s just recognizing and pursuing an opportunity that “the universe has magically manifested” for you.
I have a really good friend who talks a lot about all the things she wants. I want this relationship, that job, this house, blah blah blah. And she writes about it, visualizes it, and does all the “secrets.” That’s all great, but what I have constantly told her is that you can’t just stop there, you also have take action. And I was listening to a Darren Hardy talk the other day and he framed it really well:
(Paraphrasing) You can’t just think about what you want, you have to understand who you need to be to achieve what you want.
(Thanks to Hugh Bayati for sending me this talk.)
Go ahead and visualize your perfect spouse every night, and journal about them too…
But if you are not working on YOURSELF to become the kind of person you have to be to attract that kind of person (or client, or opportunity, or income) then it doesn’t matter how much you visualize it, even if you find the opportunity you will be unable to take advantage of it.
If you have the HABITS of a minimum wage employee, then it doesn’t matter how much you wait for the universe to “manifest” for you that 7-figure income… It just ain’t gonna happen.
Ok. Enough ranting about what you shouldn’t do. Let’s talk about what works really well.
Whenever I have a list of things I want to work on, or goals I want to achieve, I always focus on those involved with working on myself first. After all, I truly believe that investing yourself pays off infinitely more than any other investment you could possibly make.
Whether that is in the form of education, correcting some negative thinking patterns, taking care of your health, etc, it is all essential. Your body, your mind, and your character are the foundation for everything else.
Here’s a confession: I don’t like spending money. I grew up pretty poor, so I am pretty frugal.
But I literally spent $87.68 just yesterday on books I will read. I will be reviewing a course about programming and growth hacking that I think I will pick up later today for $149. Over 50% of my current expenses involve self-education, increasing my productivity, or improving my health.
Meanwhile I prefer to cook my own food because it saves a few bucks (and it’s healthier).
Whatever amount of time, energy, money, and social capital you have to invest… always invest as much of it as possible in your foundation – growth, health, and integrity.
If you do this, then…
When your dream client shows up, you are professional and skilled enough to work with them (and do a great job).
When you have to pull an all-nighter to land a partnership with your dream mentor, you have the physical energy and emotional fortitude to handle it.
When that woman you’ve “been looking for all your life” shows up, you can attract her and make her happy in a relationship (versus her thinking you are just another lazy/arrogant/boring/immature loser).
I like concrete action steps, so here are a few:
What is your biggest psychological hangup, and how can you work on it?
Are you currently living the way that the kind of person who achieves everything you want in life has to live? If you want to invent the next Tesla, then either start working as much as Elon Musk or change your vision.
Instead of thinking only about the things that you want, consider who do you want to be? Don’t just talk about how you want to give a Ted Talk next year, but work to develop the confidence, connections, and charisma required to do so.
The most important question:
Who is that person in your mind who is achieving all of your hopes and dreams, and what is the difference between you as you currently are, and that person?
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Mentioned in this post:
– My good buddy Hugh Bayati
Now that you know you can’t just wait for good things to happen with you, check out my other post on how to make things happen: Willpower is Overrated