Is Stinkin’ Thinkin’ Keeping You From Getting What You Want?

While flipping through radio channels on a road trip recently, I came across a call-in show where the topic of the day was How to Attract Your Ideal Man.

The host of the show was an author of one of the many books on “Law of Attraction” and although I’m not much of a believer in that stuff, I decided to listen in anyway. (Not at all because I’m single – I prefer to call it research.)

The first caller to the show – a single mom in her late 30’s – explained how she’d given up on finding a “good man”, as she had a history of attracting only Losers. To help her out, the host asked the caller to describe exactly what she was looking for in her ideal man. She rattled off a few things, such as:

  • I don’t want someone who can’t appreciate what it takes to be a single parent.
  • I don’t want someone who isn’t kind and considerate.
  • I don’t want someone who does not want to be in a committed relationship.

After a few minutes, the host stopped the caller and asked if she recognized that she was creating a list of everything she did not want versus what she did want in an ideal mate. Surprisingly, she hadn’t noticed.

He explained his theory that her negative thinking was a huge part of the reason why she hasn’t been successful in finding the “right” man.

The host then suggested that she take some time to write down all of the things that she doesn’t want, then go back and change the wording in each sentence to instead reflect what she does want. By doing this, she would be changing her negative thinking to positive, which would allow her to actually attract her ideal man – who would ride up on a white horse and take her away to live in a castle far, far away where they would live happily ever after. (Ok, so I may have embellished a wee bit with the last part…)

According to the Law of Attraction, thinking about what you don’t want applies energy and focus in that direction and actually brings those things into your life, while applying positive thinking and intentionally focusing on what you do want sends “positive vibrations” out to the universe and attracts those things to you.

I don’t buy the universal positive vibrations mumbo-jumbo, but I do notice when people position things negatively in terms of their businesses and careers and recognize how often that limits their thinking (and mine) to potential possibilities and opportunities.

Ask a client to describe an ideal candidate for a position and they might say “We won’t consider someone who has worked in a very large company – they don’t fit with our entrepreneurial culture”.

Ask a candidate to describe their ideal opportunity and you might hear “I don’t want to be micro-managed or work in a company where there is a lot of bureaucracy”.

With each of these statements, I have to guard against going into a negative frame of mind, where I start subtracting from a mental list instead of adding to it. I’m also curious to find out more about the bad experience(s) in their past that are likely associated with their concerns, and as a result, we end up spending a lot of time focusing on what won’t or hasn’t worked instead of exploring what can.

Take a moment to consider how you’re describing to others what you’re looking for in terms of your career, your job search or your business. Ask yourself what your ideal opportunity looks like and then write down your thoughts without self-editing (just do a brain dump).

Or, go ahead and make a list of all of the things that you don’t want in your ideal opportunity, because those things may be more clear to you than what you do want at the moment. Once you’ve created your list, go back through it and change any negative words and statements into positive ones.

By doing this, when you’re asked about your ideal opportunity in the future, you’ll not only be prepared to positively describe it, you can also create an action plan to make it happen! You’ll find it much easier to create an action plan around what you want to accomplish versus what you don’t.

Do you have some examples of how focusing on the negative or what is not desired has affected you or others? Was there a change in thinking at some point followed by positive results? It’s definitely possible to get in your own way by being a Debbie Downer in terms of your business or career (or love life).

I don’t want that for you.

Scratch that. I want much better things for you!

President & Chief Talent Strategist

Jennifer McClure is a Keynote Speaker, Talent Strategies Expert and Executive Coach who works with clients and companies in the areas of leadership development, communication and talent strategy. Jennifer McClure offers keynotes, workshops and training that inspire and empower business leaders to be more effective in their careers and as leaders of their organization’s most valuable resource – people.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

8 thoughts on “Is Stinkin’ Thinkin’ Keeping You From Getting What You Want?

  1. Great post Jennifer!
    Like you, I am not a believer in LoA. I also hate the way in which most solutions to getting the money in your life using LoA, some how seem to have resulted in you selling others some form of MLM based LoA system. Much hence looks like a reinvention of pyramid selling to me!
    However, there is something to be learnt from LoA in both negative and positive thinking. You are right when looking at this from a recruitment view point, that what most candidates and employer clients often first describe is what they don’t want over what they do want. I guess the reaction to that is how much equal opportunities legislation we have: we wouldn’t need it if people were open to the idea of the results they wanted over the people they didn’t want.

  2. Enjoyed this post Jennifer! This seems like it should be obvious, but I admit that when I think about it, most candidates I talk to tell me what they don’t want. This post will definitely affect my approach in the furure when I encounter someone taking the negative approach. Thanks.

  3. @Ian – I agree with you that clients (or candidates) listing only what they don’t want definitely limits possibilities. Just as in the examples I mentioned above – saying that you don’t want someone who has worked in a large company because they don’t fit with your culture cuts out the folks in larger companies who may be itching to leave to go work in a more entrepreneurial environment. Better to start with what we do want in a candidate and find theme wherever they may be!
    @Trish – Now that I’m more aware of the “don’t want” approach, I notice it all of the time, so I’m sure you’ll find plenty of good examples!

  4. This is great advice for career and life. Thanks for this post — sometimes it’s so easy to get focused on the negative and forget about all of the positive things you’ve got to work with.

  5. Jennifer, thanks for the reminder that negativity is so d…r….a….i….n…i….n….g!
    I love the visual ‘scratch that’ treatment as well.
    Signed,
    Utterly Up (and not… Debbie Downer)
    a.k.a., Joanne Maly, Lincoln Maly Marketing, Cincinnati, Ohio

  6. Hi Jennifer,
    Unlike everyone else here, I am a firm believer in the Law of Attraction. 🙂 I’ve been using it for 20 years and it has worked in every area in my life! The more negative our thinking is, the more negative stuff we get in our lives.
    Not rocket science, pretty simple really. What we focus on expands. Focus on the good stuff, and that is what we’ll get.
    Just my .02 😉
    Erin Kennedy
    Professional Resume Services

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