One of the most impactful things I’ve learned is that if you want to create new results in your life, you’ll have to train yourself to believe new things. Simply put: Change your beliefs, change your life.
Here’s how you can implement this powerful tool.
Step One: Identify Your Current Beliefs
Most of us (myself included!) don’t typically slow down long enough to question and examine our deeply held beliefs. I’ll use the example of my first home to illustrate how this looks in action. When Jordan and I bought our first home eight years ago, I had a lot of negative beliefs about it. I had dreamt of a home with a backyard, lots of open space, and an eat in kitchen. While I was incredibly grateful to be able to buy a home in the San Francisco Bay Area after years of looking, our home had none of these things. It was built in 1916, and made up of small, poorly lit rooms with minimal storage space and no backyard to speak of.
Here are some of the thoughts I was focusing on when we bought our home:
- This isn’t what we wanted
- This house doesn’t have enough light
- I wish we had a backyard
By clarifying what I was thinking about my new home, I could see what results those thoughts were producing in my life. In this case, the result was that I didn’t love my home, or see the potential in it. Objectively I know that I am lucky to be able to own a home, but when we were buying it, my brain wasn’t able to focus on our good fortune. That’s why this exercise is so important – because our thoughts often do not match our circumstances, nor do they allow us to fully enjoy them.
Ready to try this out? Pick a subject (your home, your career, your relationship, your body) and write down all of your beliefs about it on a piece of paper. Once you identify your current thoughts, the key is not to judge them, or yourself. The goal is just to clarify your current belief system.
Step Two: The Belief Audit
Once you have identified what you currently believe (i.e my house is small and dark and not what I wanted), the next step is to look at those beliefs critically, and determine whether or not they are serving you. The key here is that you are in the driver’s seat of your life, and you get to decide which beliefs you want to keep and which you want to shift or ditch all together. Look at your beliefs as if you’re looking at a menu at a restaurant. Which items do you want to order and which items do you want to take a pass on? It may be helpful to circle the items you’d like to keep and cross out the items you want to let go of.
Step Three: Identify What You Want to Believe on Purpose
Now that you’ve clarified what you currently believe, and which current beliefs you’d like to keep and which you’d rather let go of, you’re ready to get intentional about any new thoughts you’d like to integrate into your belief system. In my case, once I had clarified that most of my thoughts about my new home were negative, and therefore were producing negative beliefs in my life, I could identify what I wanted to think about my house. I wrote these new beliefs down:
- I love my home
- I’m grateful to own a home
- This home has endless potential
- This home is my creative canvas
- I can’t wait to transform this home
Step Four: Baby Steps to Cultivate New Beliefs
One of the biggest mistakes people make once they identify a negative belief system is to try to jump to a completely new and opposing belief system – i.e This house isn’t what I wanted / I love my house, or I hate my body / I love my body. Chances are you’ve been practicing your current belief system for years – maybe even a lifetime, and it will take practice and a lot of intentionality to cultivate a completely new belief system. In my case, jumping to “I love my house!” wasn’t believable, so I had to start small with “this house has endless potential.” That thought was believable to me, and helped me feel motivated and inspired to start making small changes.
Try starting with one new belief you’d like to practice. Remember: If it’s too big of a leap, it won’t feel believable, and you’ll experience cognitive dissonance when you say it. Instead, identify a “baby step thought” you can practice that will get you closer to your desired belief. A few examples:
- This house isn’t what I wanted > This house has endless potential
- I hate my body > I’m grateful for my healthy body
- I’m not good at making money > It’s possible I could make more money
Get the idea? By taking a little baby step towards your ideal belief, you’ll be able to move one step closer without making a leap that feels incomprehensible to your brain. Baby steps lead to incremental change. Once you’ve started moving a little closer to your desired thoughts, you’ll gain momentum and keep inching closer and closer. Here’s a succinct version of how this played out with my home in real life:
This house isn’t what I wanted → This house has potential → I can implement small changes to transform my house → It’s super fun to renovate, paint, and design my house → I love my house so much
There were probably dozens of other micro thoughts along the way to loving my house, but you get the point. You can practice this step by writing down one thought you would like to believe, and then breaking down all of the baby-step thoughts that can get you there.
Step Five: Practice Makes Progress
Now that you’ve clarified your existing beliefs, the new belief you want to build towards, and the first baby step beliefs you’ll need to believe to get there, you’ll need to put energy into practicing and cultivating your new belief. Write it down, say it out loud, tell a friend, post it above your desk. Make your new belief your daily mantra.
Hardwired beliefs don’t change overnight, but with commitment and practice you can shift your beliefs, and in turn, increase your capacity to create new results in your life.
Want a little support to put this tool into action? Stay tuned for my new goal setting program that will be launching this spring. More soon!
Photography Credit: Vivian Johnson Photography