A simple yet powerful idea I learned from Earl Nightingale is to grab a blank piece of paper (or a blank computer screen) and brainstorm a list of 20 ways to improve. You can write down anything – ways to increase your income, improve your health, better your relationships, etc. The focus is on generating ideas to make your life better. I find this usually takes 30-60 minutes, and I like to do it first thing in the morning before breakfast. If you do it every day for a week, you generate 140 ideas. It’s OK to generate more than 20 ideas per session, but 20 is the minimum to shoot for.
The first 10 ideas will usually come quickly. The next 5 take a bit more effort, and the last 5 really force me to think. Most ideas tend to be junk, unworkable for one reason or another, but often it’s idea number 19, 20, or 21 that turns out to be golden. The best ideas are those that are very simple but which have a decent positive impact.
I’m well aware that the previous paragraph begins to address a potentially sensitive subject matter, so please understand that while I aim to address such topics with maturity and respect for everyone’s spiritual beliefs, I cannot consider the subject of spirituality itself taboo for this blog, the simple reason being that covering certain important aspects of personal growth ultimately requires addressing one’s underlying philosophy of life.
So on the one hand, be careful not to over-rely on confidence to save you by using it as an excuse to procrastinate on preparation. But on the other hand, it’s amazing just how far confidence alone can get you. When I was going through college, I often didn’t have as much time to prepare for exams as I would have liked. But I was really good at putting myself into a state of certainty of success right before the exam, regardless of how well-prepared I felt intellectually. And this state of confidence was often enough to allow me to perform well, even when I had barely studied the material. Because I expected to do well (via my imagination, not my knowledge), my subconscious mind found a way to fulfill that vision. Often this came in the form of creative solutions. For example, if I took a math test and didn’t remember the formula that was intended to be used to solve a particular problem, my subconscious mind would find an alternate way to solve the problem using what I did know – because I was in a state of total certainty of success, I had the fullest possible access to all my internal resources, including the ability to solve problems in ways I wasn’t consciously aware of.
Instead of “20 Ways to Improve,” you can also brainstorm with a more specific intent, like “20 Ways to Generate Extra Income” or “20 Ways to Increase Productivity.” And if you’re an office manager, try having all of your employees generate 20 ideas to improve operations, increase sales, improve morale, etc. One good idea can easily be worth the time investment, not to mention the eye-opening effect of reading everyone’s ideas. Many managers offer small cash bonuses ($5-50) for good ideas that end up being implemented.