Planning for success: Step 4 – Belief

So far in this mini-series of Planning for succeess series we have talked about Vision, Goals and Motivation. In this post we shall focus on the topic of beliefs.

Beliefs and more importantly self-belief, are extremely powerful things. There is a massive amount of information out there on beliefs, it is a huge subject. In writing this post, I want to introduce you to the topic and to some of the key points about beliefs. Henry Ford’s “Whether you think you can or cannot you are right” is often used to capture the essence of beliefs, however, I saw the following one and thought I’d use it instead.

He can who thinks he can, and he can’t who thinks he can’t. This is an inexorable, indisputable law – Pablo Picasso

What are beliefs?

Any guiding principle, dictum, faith or passion that can provide meaning and direction to life – Tony Robbins

Beliefs are assumptions, presuppositions, premises that we hold to be true. They influence our behaviour and act as guiding principles (our internal compass) that guide our decision making and the things we choose to do or not do. Beliefs can be thought of as a map of the past; as the one’s we hold now are formed from our experiences, upbringing, media, culture, expectations and repetition/habit. However, they can also be a blueprint for the future as we act in accordance with them. However, we can take control of that because we can change our beliefs by changing our thinking, what we expose ourselves to, what we experience etc.

Self-belief is what we believe to be true about ourselves and those beliefs are made up by what we are told about ourselves by others, what we think about ourselves, what we feel about and how we see ourselves.

There are fundamentally three types of belief:

  • Pure beliefs: these tend not to invoke any form of emotion and cover common beliefs such as the sun will rise in the morning.
  • Positive beliefs: these are supportive, give ‘permission’, release our capabilities and allow us to create results. I/it can…
  • Limiting beliefs: these are negative and tend to hamper us, I/it can’t. These tend to exist in three forms:
    • Worthlessness: do not believe that you deserve to achieve something
    • Helplessness: belief that we are not capable of doing something even though it is possible
    • Hopelessness: do not believe that something is possible

What makes beliefs so important?

The importance of beliefs lies in the fact that we tend to act as if they are truths. They provide strong perceptual filters through which we interpret events and experiences, the filters act to let through the data that maintains and reinforces our beliefs. In that way they tend to become self-fulfilling. This is sometimes referred to as the Pygmalion or placebo effect.

It can be inferred from this, that if you believe or you have been repeatedly been told that you are not capable of something or do not deserve something that it is highly likely that you will sub-conciously find the evidence to support those beliefs and vice-versa.

Change your beliefs, change your future

It is worth knowing and you can take some comfort from the fact that beliefs are not fixed, it is possible to acquire and develop new ones. If you want to be successful, to achieve, you can develop the beliefs that will support you and move you towards that. As discussed above beliefs are formed from what we experience, repetition, the media, who and what we expose ourselves to. Here are a few thoughts on how you might do that:

  • Positive self-talk statements/affirmations
  • Act as if you can:
  • Get to know and associate with positive role models
  • Associate with people who will support and help you, not knock you back
  • Define and break down goals into ‘bite-size’ chunks and deliver them; that will give you the regular experience of success and build confidence
  • Study, read or listen to the stories of others who have been successful or have achieved similar things to what you wish to

As you develop the new beliefs your perceptual filters and behaviours will change and develop to support your new beliefs.

Take a little time to reflect and think about your belies. Are they helpful or hindering? What beliefs would it be useful for you to develop to support and deliver your goals and vision? How might you develop them?

Next time we move on to the importance of planning

Peaceful Meditation free creative commons
Creative Commons License photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography