07/27/2013 10:26 am ET Updated Sep 26, 2013

4 Key Ways to Become a Transformational Thinker and Get What You Want Out of Life

Recently, I decided that I really wanted to get back into the swing of playing tennis (pun intended), and up my game so that I can play more competitively (instead of swinging at the air and sending fly balls across the net like I tend to do). For round-robin tournaments and tennis leagues, I knew that I really need to be playing at a 3.5-ranking level in order to participate. The second I set that ranking as the goal, I found myself having thoughts like "In the past you've taken lessons and didn't really improve very much," and, "At your age, it's too late to get into tennis," and, "What if I take all these lessons and invest all this money and I still suck at tennis?"

Despite all of the negative ammunition I was pumping myself with, I signed up for lessons, and I'm having so much fun that I can't believe I even considered not going for it. I'm not a 3.5-level player yet, but the goal is in sight and I'm on my way. The lessons that I learned from that experience -- that my experience with tennis should stay in the past; having a clear sense of my goal (i.e., to play round-robins at a 3.5 level) really helps to keep me motivated; failure may or may not happen, and I'm not a psychic, so I just need to go with the flow; and that my strength in working toward my goal was my detailed action plan, which involved a cardio-and-weight-training regime and a minimum number of tennis lessons per week.

Those lesson are really the culmination of what I like to call transformational thinking, which is about overcoming limits that you impose on yourself and creating the results that you want in life. The following four tips will help you to become a transformational thinker, take action and get what you want out of life.

Don't make assumptions. Maybe you assume that it will be difficult to achieve your goals because you don't know anyone who has achieved that goal before. Maybe you've heard of other people's struggles with obtaining this goal. Maybe you look at your past and decide that you've failed before so you will most likely fail again. Whether your assumptions are based on beliefs about yourself or experiences your friends have endured, choose to stop making assumptions. Assumptions are just that -- assuming something will happen based on data from the past. By making an assumption, you may (consciously or not) start trying to prove it right, and therefore create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, choose to be hopeful and positive. Ask yourself, "What benefit am I getting by holding onto this assumption?" Simply answering this question for yourself can often help you move past assumptions to a more hopeful and positive place.

Define what you want to achieve. Often, we don't have a clear vision of what we want. We want to be happier, or in better shape, or have a more exciting life, or change jobs. We have a vague idea of what we want to achieve, but we cannot visual it, and we cannot see it and feel it. It's important to have as clear a goal as possible. What does an exciting life look like? What do you do in your new job? What makes you happy? What does being in better shape mean to you? Once you have a clear goal, it's important to remind yourself of this goal daily, as this clear vision can turn out to be the single most motivating factor in achieving success.

Set up an action plan, ASAP. Take action. A lot of times we are all talk, no action. Without taking action, goals are just thoughts. Set up an action plan to get happier, or lose weight, or find that perfect job. Detail concrete steps for each stage of the action plan, and follow thought on those steps. Make sure that each step is reasonable to achieve and break up your action plan into as many small steps as you feel is necessary in order to position yourself for success.

Expect and accept failure as a part of the process. Failure has become a dirty word. We might feel shame and disappointment when we don't achieve our goals, and beat ourselves up in the process. There's nothing worse than kicking yourself when you are already down. Although failure is inevitable, giving up is optional. Decide that failure is part of the plan. Decide that you will learn from any mistakes, alter your path accordingly and persevere. This characteristic is one of the defining factors of successful people. Successful people recognize that failure doesn't mean that you are not worthy or won't ever achieve what you want in life. Rather, successful people recognize that failing is a necessary part of the process towards success and it promotes growth and leads you down paths you might never have been inspired to pursue if you had achieved your goal on the first try.

Whatever you are trying to achieve, I hope that you go for it. You can get what you want, and once you have it you are sure to experience the empowering feeling that comes from creating your own destiny. In the comment section below, I would love to hear about a time when you took action and achieved an important goal in your life. To all my readers, keep reaching for your dreams now and always!



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