I read an article once where Sigourney Weaver told about a time she was in an acting class. Looking around, she thought, “I feel so sorry for all these people. They’re not going to make it, and I am.”
Soon after I read that, I was in an acting class myself, and I sure as hell did not feel that way. But, I admired the strength and confidence she must have had, to believe that. I didn’t think she said it in a mean way – it wasn’t like “They suck and I’m awesome.” It was just a belief she had, a sense of certainty that she’d succeed. And she was right. (I’m guessing the rest of the group didn’t all go on to win Oscars).
But that day in my own class, I looked around and thought, Wow, these people are so talented. How on earth am I ever going to make it?
And that troubled me. I knew that if that was the belief I carried around me, my results would reflect that. So I made a conscious effort to change my beliefs.
It didn’t work for me to think “I’m going to make it and they’re not.” That didn’t resonate with me. But here’s one that did: “Wow, it’s going to be so great when I make it.”(Not if!)
I started to visualize, taking on the confidence that I wanted. Soon, I was telling myself, “It’s gonna happen, it’s just a matter of when. I just have to keep going until that ‘when’ becomes ‘now.’”
Soon after that, I began to get more and more roles, until one day, I realized: that “when” was “now.” I had made it. I was starring in Guiding Light, getting offers for other roles, living the life I’d imagined.
Last fall, I had the privilege of bringing Moticise to U Penn’s Positive Psychology students, run by the illustrious Scott Barry Kaufman. In his fantastic book on creativity, Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind, Scott writes, “Highly motivated creative people fall in love with an image of themselves as a person who will do whatever it takes to achieve their dreams – and this identification becomes, in a way, a self-fulfilling prophecy.” In my case, I fell in love with the idea of myself as a successful actress, and my actions – and then the results – followed suit.
Now, Kaufman warns against merely daydreaming without taking action. “People who fulfill their creative dreams over the long haul balance optimism about the future with realistic strategies for getting close to their goals,” Kaufman writes. He quotes the entrepreneur James Clear to underline his point: “You have to fall in love with building the identity of someone who does the work.”
Our emotions are powerful, and fortunately, we can put them to work for us. We can harness our passion by allowing ourselves to fall in love with a vision of a hardworking, successful, inspired vision of ourselves. And by doing that, we set ourselves up for the ultimate success: becoming that person.
How do you want to see yourself?
Where do you want to be? How do you want to feel?
Notice how your body feels when you imagine that successful, happy version of yourself. Focus on those wonderful, light, warm, energizing feelings. And keep doing it! By welcoming in those feelings now, you’re welcoming them in to stay.
Go out, take that brilliant light within you, and shine.
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