For many years I believed that in order to be a millionaire, I had to think like a millionaire.” I had faith in the power of positive thinking. All I needed to do if I wanted to move from poverty to plenty was to change my thinking.
Now thousands of books and programs have been sold on the benefits of positive thinking. Positive thinking advocates that if you force yourself to have thoughts of “abundance” you will become wealthy. All you need to do is visualize your dream self and success will become reality.
I have had moments where I forced myself to think I am wealthy, however nothing much changed. I came out of those encounters believing that I would make tremendous progress in building wealth, but progress was slow. In an experiment conducted by Gabriele Oettingen of New York University graduates were asked to note down how often they fantasized about getting their dream job after leaving college. The students who reported that they frequently fantasized about such success received fewer offers and ended up with significantly smaller salaries.
I havediscovered that the key to building wealth was not to think wealthy thoughts; rather I needed to act “as if” I was wealthy and I would eventually become wealthy!The “Act as if” principle was popularized by Richard Wiseman, but discovered by William James.Towards the end of the 1880s, James turned his attention to the relationship between emotion and behaviour. Our everyday experience tells us that your emotions cause you to behave in certain ways. Feeling happy makes you smile, and feeling sad makes you frown. However, James became convinced that this commonsense view was incomplete and proposed a radical new theory.
James hypothesised that the relationship between emotion and behaviour was a two-way street, and that behaviour can cause emotion. According to James, smiling can make you feel happy and frowning can make you feel sad. Or, to use James’s favourite way of putting it: “You do not run from a bear because you are afraid of it, but rather become afraid of the bear because you run from it.”
Throughout that time many self-help gurus promoted ideas that were in line with people’s everyday experiences about the human mind. Common sense tells us that emotions come before behaviour, and so decades of self-help books told readers to focus on trying to change the way they thought rather than the way they behaved. James’s theory simply didn’t get a look-in.
Jack Canfield, author of the bestselling book, “How to get from where you are to where you want to be: The 25 principles of success,” listed acting as if as the twelfth principle. This means thinking like, talking like, dressing like, acting and feeling like a person who has already achieved your goal, which is creating wealth. Acting as if sends powerful commands to your subconscious mind to find creative ways to achieve your goals.
In many of his seminars participants do an exercise called the Millionaire Cocktail Party. Everyone socializes with the other participants like they were at an actual cocktail party. However they must act as if they have already achieved all of their financial goals in life. They act as if they already have everything they want in life – dream house, dream car, their dream career – as well as if they have achieved any other goals that are important to them.
Suddenly everyone becomes more animated, alive, enthusiastic and outgoing. People who were shy earlier begin to reach out and introduce themselves. The energy and volume level in the room soars with people excitedly sharing their achievements. People reported feeling excited, passionate, positive, supportive,generous, happy, self-confident and content. They had not actually become millionaires in the real world, but they had begun to feel like millionaires simply by acting as if they were.
You can begin acting as if you have already achieved any goal you desire; and that outer experience of acting as if will create the inner experience, that will take you to the actual manifestation of that experience. Once you specify what you want all you have to do is to start acting as if you are already there. How would you act if you already were a billionaire? How would you think, talk, act, carry yourself, dress, treat other people, handle money, eat and so forth?
Once you have a clear picture of what you want start being it now! As soon as you start acting as if,you will start drawing to you the very people and things that will help you to achieve it in real life. The proper order of things is to start now and be who you want to be, then do the actions that go along with being that person, and soon you will find that you easily have everything you want in life – health, wealth and fulfilling relationships.
Decades of research has shown that this theory applies to almost every aspect of everyday life, and can be used to help people feel happier, avoid anxiety and worry, fall in love and live happily ever after, stay slim, increase their willpower and confidence, and even slow the effects of ageing. Start to progressfrom justthinking rich to acting rich and eventually riches will come.
Kenneth is currently the Managing Director of GfK RT Nigeria, the West African subsidiary of the fourth largest Market Research Agency in the world. He promotes Moneytalk, a knowledge based organization committed to dispensing financial intelligence that leads to financial freedom.
You can reach him on [email protected] or 070 6337 3391 if you would like him to facilitate Money talks and lessons at your events, seminars or conferences over the weekend in the Lagos area.
You can also follow him on twitter @moneytalkng. Or visit Moneytalk Resources Youtube channel for Money Lessons videos.