Influence. Do you have it?
You’re probably thinking about your ability to influence others, but that’s not what I’m talking about.
I want to know if you have the ability to influence yourself.
Your ability to influence yourself determines how easily you create change in yourself and your life—changes in behavior, mindset, health, relationships, finances, and career, for instance.
You need influence to change anything. Maybe you want to you want to stop smoking, cut out that nightly bowl of ice cream, become more present with your family, start an exercise regime, be more productive at work, or focus your attention.
The ability to change requires you to influence yourself. If you can’t do that, you won’t change. You will struggle to commit to a new behavior.
Of course, you may want to influence others—to change for the better, buy something from you, or take any other action. That’s important, too, especially if you want to make a positive and meaningful difference in the world—to have impact.
But if you can’t influence yourself, there’s a high likelihood you’ll struggle to influence others as well.
Persuade vs. Influence
You can think of influence as your ability to persuade—yourself or others. The two words are quite similar.
Or consider influence over yourself as your ability to bend your will—like when you can’t eat just one potato chip. Can you develop enough will power to stop at one? Can you persuade yourself that eating just one chip—or no chips—is a better choice? And then can you commit to that decision—carry through by not eating any more chips?
I’ve been known to say I have no will power when it comes to salt and vinegar chips, ice cream and frozen Milky Ways. I just can’t seem to persuade myself to not eat them at all or just eat a small amount! I have no influence over myself when they these foods are in the house.
‘Fess up. You know there’s some area of your life that would benefit from more influence over yourself.
But that begs the question How do you influence yourself?
As I’ve worked at gaining more influence—I don’t eat chips anywhere near as often, only have ice cream once a week (if that often), and only eat those Milky Ways on Halloween—I learned a few strategies that strengthen my ability to persuade myself. Here are four hat might strengthen you persuasive abilities, too.
1. Reward Yourself
Give yourself rewards for good behavior.
Yes, treat yourself like a kid. (We all have an Inner Child.) Every time you get yourself to change—to do what you say you want to do—offer yourself a reward.
For example, let’s say you want to quit smoking. Every time you don’t smoke when you want to, you get to have lunch with a friend, spend an hour reading, or take a walk.
Decide what constitutes a reward in your mind. What do you want badly enough to not do something so you can have it? Then use that as a dangling carrot.
2. Make It Painful
Try associating pain with not changing.
Sticking with the smoking example, every time you want to smoke a cigarette, think about something that causes you pain. Associate smoking with pain.
For instance, my father-in-law died of lung cancer, and he was a smoker. Maybe you associate the chance of dying or grief over someone who died from cancer with smoking.
Or if your girlfriend doesn’t like you to kiss her after you smoke, you could associate the pain of rejection with smoking.
Sometimes people put an elastic band on their wrist, and each time they repeat a behavior they want to change, like negative thinking, they snap the band hard.
What’s painful enough to influence you to change?
3. Make It Pleasurable
Let’s flip pain to pleasure. How can you associate pleasure with what you want to do or the change you want to make?
Let’s go back to smoking. Imagine you’re down to two cigarettes a day, and you can breathe more easily, run two miles, and your girlfriend is more receptive to your romantic advances. Those are pleasurable associations.
Maybe your girlfriend is a health fanatic. But every time you’ve gone hiking with her in the past, you end up coughing and wheezing. You couldn’t keep up with her. So every time you pick up a cigarette, you imagine hiking up a beautiful mountain trail side by side with her as you breath freely and deeply the fresh air.
That’s associating pleasure with a new habit or change you want to make.
4. Make it Meaningful
Last, find meaning in the change you want to make. Most of us won’t commit to change or personal growth unless it means something to us.
You have to have a Big Why behind that new behavior.
If you want to quit smoking, you’ve got a couple possible Big Whys. You’re want to be healthier, reduce your chance of cancer, and spend time with your significant other doing fun athletic activities. You want to breath more easily—emotionally and physically.
So, why do you want to change? What gives your change meaning?
Find that meaning. How does the change affect your life? How will it affect others?
Back to smoking: Your girlfriend will be happier because you’re not smoking. The meaning for you is to maintain your relationship.
But that’s about them and not about you.
A stronger why comes from you, such as your desire to be healthy and live a long life.
You even need a Big Why for developing more influence over yourself. What’s the reason you’d like to persuade yourself?
Answer that question, and you’ll have an easier time achieving more inspired results.
If you need help influencing yourself, click here to apply for a free one-hour Certified High Performance strategy session with me. I’d love to help make the changes you’re struggling with so you can achieve your highest potential.
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