How to Really Act “As If”

You’ve probably read or heard of the advice to act “as if” from many articles, books and workshops. Act as if you’ve already got your dream job. Act as if you’re successful. Act as if you’re confident.

If you believe in the theory behind the action, it means that if you try on the thing you’ve always wanted, you’re more likely to achieve it. Another version of this is the 12-step mantra told to newcomers: “Fake it till you make it.”

Problems arise, however, if you don’t actually want the life you say you want. For instance, you may say you want to run your own business, but if you actually don’t want the added responsibility, acting “as if” will be an empty exercise. You’ll believe that you don’t have what it takes to make your dreams happen.

So what’s the solution?

How do you turn what you say you want into what you actually get? Here are some ways to begin.

Start slowly. When people decide to make a significant change in their lives they often try to do too many things at once and get overwhelmed or discouraged. Pick one thing that’ll get you closer to the “you” you’d like to become and focus on it.

Face your resistance. Change is challenging for most of us. Give yourself a leg-up by being willing to face any underlying stories or beliefs that might be getting in your way. As you do so, remember to be kind and compassionate with yourself. You’re only human and you don’t have to be perfect.

Don’t just set goals, visualize them. Whether you make a list or create a dream board with magazine photos of your life as you’d like it to be – a visual representation is a potent and tangible reminder of what your ideal life looks like. You could also spend 30 seconds creating a snapshot of your ideal life. Really imagine how your dream life looks and feels.

Start acting like it. Once you’ve visualized yourself living “as if” you’re already becoming that person, start taking the actions that person would take. Actions can either reinforce the old beliefs or the new ones.

Pay attention to the people who are like what you want to be. Who are your role models? Who has the qualities that authentically resonate with you? Observing them is a great way to learn what works and avoid what doesn’t. If they are someone you know, ask questions. If not, study their books, articles, or videos.

Take time for self-care. Ask yourself, “How would these ideal ‘as if’ people treat themselves if they were experiencing similar challenges?” Imagine what they would say or do, then respond accordingly.

Change your environment so it’s in alignment with your new “as if” reality. There’s no better killer of change than a stagnant environment that encourages stagnant behavior. Try a change of scenery or adding some spark to your existing one. It can be the impetus for a positive attitude and behavior change.

Let go of old habits. It’s easy to become stuck with (or comforted by) old habits. When routines get in the way of change, the best way to shed them is to replace them with something new.

Grow into it. Make choices in your business and work life as though you already have the growth you want. That doesn’t necessarily mean getting into debt by spending “as if” you have the million dollars you’d like to have. It can be as simple as replacing a scarcity philosophy with one of abundance.

Acting “as if” doesn’t mean change occurs overnight. We’re all faced with dozens of decisions every day that either support the life you have or the life you want. By incorporating some of the steps above, you’ll be ready to make choices that’ll help you realize your dreams sooner rather than later.

Felicia Baucom
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