In 2016, Scott Adams has been one of the most influential persons I came across. His book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big is the best self-help book available today in my opinion. In that book, Adams offers many hacks to help one become more productive and efficient, and succeed in life.
One of the things that he talks about in the book is affirmations.
What Are Affirmations?
Affirmations are simply the practice of repeating to yourself what you want to achieve while imagining the outcome you want. You can write it, speak it, or just think it in sentence form. The typical form of an affirmation would be “I, Scott Adams, will become an astronaut.” – Scott Adams, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, Chapter 24
When you want to achieve something in life, whether it is something material or in terms of any skill, you should say to yourself or write down on a piece of paper several times a day (10 to 15 times or more) that you will work for it and achieve it; and it vastly increases the odds of you achieving the desired thing.
Affirmations may not appeal to scientific minds, but let me assure you that I am not superstitious. I also don’t believe the pseudoscience of The Secret or the Law of Attraction and think that doing affirmations exerts some pressure on the universe to bend its laws in favor of the person doing affirmations. But I am convinced that they work.
Why Do I Believe In Affirmations?
The reason why the concept of affirmations appealed to me when I read about it in Adams’ book is partly because I had already employed them when I was younger and superstitious, and had seen success. I did them differently then and didn’t call them affirmations.
In those days, every night before going to sleep I used to recite some prayers and then say to myself, “I will do this-and-this”, “I will achieve this-and-this” and so on. I achieved many of the things I stated in my affirmations. But as I grew in age I stopped saying those prayers and affirmations, and thought I was superstitious for doing so. I also thought that I would have achieved them regardless of affirmations.
Now I strongly believe that affirmations did help me at least to some extent in those days. It’s just that the way the affirmations worked was different than what my superstitious mind thought at the time.
How To Do Affirmations?
You shouldn’t be too specific in your affirmations. For example, if your aim is to master guitar, don’t say “I will master guitar in two years“. Instead, just say “I will master guitar”. Understand that affirmations are not science like physics where you can apply x amount of force for y amount of time and be sure of the outcome. Leave out details like timelines from affirmations.
Keep the affirmations clear and short. Some examples below:
- I will master guitar.
- I will own a bigger house and a bigger car.
- I will quit my corporate job.
- I will make money online.
- I will write a book.
Write them down on a piece of paper 10 to 15 times or more in a day. Or you can just say them aloud to yourself. Work with 5 to 6 affirmations regularly. More than that would be too many.
This way you are repeatedly affirming that you will achieve what you desire. It will vastly increase your odds of achieving those things.
How/Why Do Affirmations Work?
Human mind is a complex organism. It cannot be operated in a straightforward way as we would like to keep it. You can’t just say “I want achieve so-and-so”, and glide through the path to achieve the end. There are distractions and you lose focus. There are also demotivating factors that derail the mind.
But if you hack your mind, you can get it to do what you want from it.
Affirmations are a mind-hack. They keep the mind focused on goals. They keep reminding you of your destination so that your mind quickly spots the influences that are going to derail you. As a result, you avoid the negative influences before they affect you. And not only do you avoid the negative influences, you draw positive influences towards you, too.
For example, if one of your affirmations is “I will always stay lean and healthy”, it will be easy for you to stick to healthy diet, avoid smoking, and find ways to avoid any and all health problems. It’s like your mind will always be on the lookout for information and guidance for healthy living.
If your mind is reminded of 5 to 6 long term goals several times in a day then any time it is free it will divert its energy towards activities that take you closer to those goals. This may sound simplistic, but affirmations are actually more potent than one would be willing to agree. Affirmations are one of the best mind-hacks.
As a closing remark I would add with emphasis that for affirmations to work best it would help if one believes that affirmations work and one wants them to work.
Try affirmations instead of New Year’s resolutions this time.