5 steps to turn positive thinking into positive actions to get your positive outcomes
Su’s popular Instagram feed is filled with awe inspiring yoga poses. Su is a lawyer by day and also Co-Founder of KEY Education Project, which provides scholarships and mentorship to allow students to further their education, and is currently supporting 13 university students in Nicaragua. Su shares with us how to use positive thinking as a solid foundation to taking positive action.
My Instagram feed is an outlet of creativity – a way of sharing my yoga, my struggles, my joys and connecting with a global community of souls taking their yoga off the mat and into the world. For those who just glance at my Insta, you might think the asana practice comes easy – but its taken many long years of practice and if you take a peek at my (often silly) Insta stories you will know there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes action to get to that point – late nights at the gym and waking up at sunrise to hit the studio before a day at the office!
I believe that positive thinking is a powerful and effective tool. But it is important to know that positive thinking alone isn’t enough to get you to your goals. You can think positively all you want about mastering a yoga pose and even changing the world… but unless that thinking becomes action, little will happen.
Here are the five steps I take to translate positive thinking into positive outcomes:
1. Positivity as a habit
I make positive thinking an active habit. This can be difficult – as a lawyer I’m trained to think about all the horrible things that can happen… the worst case scenario. But I don’t stop there. I don’t hold onto the negative thoughts. Acknowledge the worst case, acknowledge what is and is not in your control, and think of a positive outcome and possible solutions. Its not blindly looking through the world with rose-colored glasses; it’s a realistic visualization of what YOU can do to make things better. This first step is what Jodie Lynn has written about in her blog post: ‘Vibe Happy: 21 days to a more positive you’. It isn’t about just thinking positive when you remember to, it’s about really establishing this as a habit and personality trait.
2. Show gradtitude
Say thank you, send a hand-written note. Give compliments, and mean it. Slow down. Appreciate the beauty that surrounds us and the abundance in your life. Gratitude is a VERB not a feeling. It’s a natural reaction to a deep awareness of the world around you.
3. Envision what you want
Set a concrete goal, which leads to a bigger vision, of what you want to be, do, give, etc. Have a solid understanding of WHAT is MOTIVATING your goal – WHY is the goal important to you, what value will this goal bring to your life? This concrete understanding will guide you during the hard times, when you’re tired, when you want to give up. Break those goals down into digestible steps – what can I do today, this week, this month, this year, to get to where I want to be. If you do sports, this likely comes naturally, but the same principles apply to a career or personal goal as well. As a long distance runner, I didn’t wake up one random day and run my first marathon. I set an A, B and C-level time goal, found an appropriate online training schedule that broke down what to do each day to safely build up the strength and endurance for race day.
4. Engage a friend
Even the most driven and self-propelled amongst us needs a cheering squad! Don’t go it alone! Once you’ve established your goal, tell a friend, or post it publicly on your IG or FB page! If I tell someone (a friend, the teacher, etc.) that I’ll see them at yoga the next morning, its so much harder to hit the snooze button. Accountability works wonders and everything is more fun with a friend by your side.
5. Remember, there will be hiccups
There will be frowns… and if you’re like me, there will be tears and swearing ;p. I make mistakes, others make mistakes … I disappoint myself, others disappoint me. Injuries happen, weather happens, life happens. Hopefully those friends you’ve engaged (Step 4!) will be there to help you when the hiccups happen. As a fiercely independent, “don’t help me I’m fine” kinda gal, this is something I need to actively remember. Its okay to ask for help, to change plans and goals mid-way. When things don’t turn out, when things breakdown, I always look back and ask myself – is there anything I could have done differently; what can I learn and how can I grow from this experience.
The creation of KEY Education Project has been my passion project for the past few years, and I’ve lived through all of these steps along the way. KEY stands for Knowledge Empowers You and our vision is to transform dreamers into leaders by unlocking potential. I never set out to start a charity, KEY is something that “just happened” as a culmination of travels, reflecting on the blessings in my life and being inspired by chance encounters. It started with a belief that changing a single life, can change the world. A simple desire to give someone the chance to follow their dream.
My parents grew up in war-torn Korea, both of my mother’s older sisters had arranged marriages. I’m starkly aware that if my mother had not made the choices and sacrifices she did – rebelling and getting a job to pay for her way through university – my life would be very different. I’m immensely grateful to be able to live in a country where education is a given and freedom is not something we have to fight for. I know this is not the reality for much of the world. KEY is my expression of gratitude, my small way of giving back in appreciation for all I’ve been given.
In our first year of operations, and the generosity of friends and family, KEY awarded 6 university scholarships in Nicaragua, a country where most survive on $2/day and continuing education is an impossible dream. In our second year, we awarded 13 scholarships. While its heartbreaking that we can’t support every student who comes our way, my motivation is knowing that these 13 lives are a little easier because of KEY. I’ve seen first hand, the power education has in empowering youth to dream bigger and forever change their course of their lives – to break cycles of abuse and poverty, to inspire siblings to believe that something different is possible.
But I didn’t do this alone. Family, friends and strangers from around the world have poured money and time into making KEY possible and continuously motivate and encourage me to keep going.