Negative thinking might not seem the most helpful strategy to recommend, but it can be incredibly powerful and here’s why.
One of the reasons that you may be getting stuck when trying to make a change in your career is because you find it hard to define what it is that you actually want to do. And it is a bit hard to set off on a journey with a strong sense of purpose if you don’t know where you are going.
Yes, you do need a goal, a destination, but that can sometimes be tricky to figure out.
So why not try the opposite?
Instead of trying to look forward through the mists to identify a goal that is hard to make out, consider instead what you don’t want in your work and life.
Start with where you are now in your working life. Allow yourself to apply a negative thinking approach for a while. What do you find annoying, frustrating, irritating? What is it about your current job or career that really gets you down? What are the key reasons you are thinking of a change?
Then think more broadly. What are the other irritations in your life? Make a list of all the sources of discomfort for you in the way your life is now. And allow yourself to take this forward into the future too. What are the things that you don’t want to have happen in the future? Not just next week, but next year, in 5 year’s time, 25 year’s time?
Get stuck in and make it as detailed a list as you can. Engage your emotions with this exercise. Don’t just record the things that make are a bit frustrating, allow yourself to feel righteous indignation! Get angry with yourself and with your situation!
Just think how mad you will feel if in 5 year’s time, you are still facing the same challenges and nothing has changed. Think how disappointed you will be with yourself if in 25 years’ time you are looking back with regret at the opportunities you failed to take.
Not depressing, but energising
Using this negative thinking approach might sound like it will leave you feeling thoroughly depressed, but actually it doesn’t work that way. The point here is to get you out of the ‘stuck’ place where you just don’t know what you want - so you do nothing.
If looking forward blocks the flow of ideas for you, then look in another direction in order to get the flow moving again. This will bring in a breath of fresh air, a new energy to your thinking and that is just what you need.
I often find that when I talk with clients, the negative thinking approach, asking them what they don’t want, frees up a log jam and the ideas start flowing.
There is something very powerful about reaching a point where you are willing to stand up and say ‘NO!’ Enough is enough! This is the moment when you take control of what is going on in your life and stop blaming other people, your circumstances, your upbringing.
Now use that energy
That’s the energy you need to harness to get you thinking creatively and with real commitment to making the changes you need.
With the power of the word ‘no’ behind you, you will be much more likely to think round your problems and work at finding solutions.
Don’t know what else you want to do? Well you now know what you don’t want, what would you like to have in your life and work instead?
Can’t afford to change career? What could you do to make it affordable?
Think you are too old to change? Who can you find who had made changes at your age or older who can prove to you that it is possible?
Haven’t got time to do all the research you need? How can you make time?
When you use the negative thinking strategy to create a strong sense of ‘no’ in your mind, you will find it much easier to transform the ‘yes, buts…’ into ‘how can I…?’ and once you start asking how, you are on your way!
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