Do you put yourself into positive or negative circles? Let’s explore what this means in practice.
Louise was a manager who I mentored several years ago. During the first meeting she described the barriers she faced that caused stress.
Six months later, at the third meeting, she arrived dressed in bright colours, whereas previously she had worn grey and black. Louise felt calm and was enjoying life. She explained.
“During our first session you mentioned something I had read in books, but felt was too simple: ‘People spend time in positive circles or negative circles’.
"The first circle involves being in positive relationships where you get positive responses and positive results. The second involves being in negative relationships where you get negative responses and negative results.”
“I had put myself in negative circles. At work, for example, I concentrated on trying to influence unmotivated people, kidding myself that, if I discovered the magic key, I could achieve a turnaround. But I became enmeshed in a spider’s web which sapped energy. Now I spend time in positive circles.”
Let’s explore how you can follow similar steps in your own way.
1) Positive circles.
Most people know how to make themselves feel positive. Sometimes they follow these habits and find fulfilment. Sometimes they forget and feel frustrated. Then it is time to re-take charge of their lives. One person wrote that he aimed:
* To get enough sleep.
* To eat healthy food.
* To do the kinds of exercise I like, such as walking in the mountains.
* To spend time with my Encouragers and to encourage them.
* To do stimulating projects at work.
* To play the guitar and write songs.
* To count my blessings each day.
How can you do things that give you energy? How can you spend time with stimulating people? How can you do work you find satisfying? Try completing the following exercise.
2) Negative circles.
"I decided to stop putting myself in negative circles," said one person. "The first step for me was to recognise the warning signs. Strangely, it took years to associate scratching the occasional acne on my wrists with putting myself in the wrong places."
"Then I began forgetting things. For the first time in my life I double-booked. Sitting in a hotel in Singapore, I realised that I was due the next day in Sheffield. I had got the months mixed up."
"Finally I found myself getting into negative patterns with my wife and children. Going home tired, I focused on what the kids were doing wrong.
"My daughter is brilliant at Art and Drama, for example, but poor at Maths. She is likely to go into Drama Production. But instead of helping her to find work placements in that field, I kept haranguing her because she couldn't do Algebra."
"That was the turning point. Looking ahead, I listed the various situations that would: a) Be positive; b) Be neutral; c) Be negative.
"I then made plans to do more of those that were stimulating and cut-out those that were sapping. It took time, but now I have learned to stay out of negative situations."
If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Describe how you can avoid getting into negative circles.
3) Positive circles in the future.
People sometimes resolve to develop good habits, but then find it hard to maintain the discipline. So how can you tackle this challenge? One approach is to clarify your 'will' to reach the goal. Let's consider how this works in practice.
Imagine that you want to develop a certain habit, such as running three times a week. You can do the following exercise.
The goal I want to achieve is:
The benefits of achieving the goal will be:
The 'will' I have to actually do these things is: ______ / 10
Make sure the rating is at least 8+/10. You can then create a plan for doing the right things in the right way to get the right results.
Try tackling the final exercise on this theme. First, describe how you can continue to put yourself in positive circles. Second, describe the benefits of doing these things. You can then take these steps to achieve positive results.