In 2013 I attended an event that Tony Robbins spoke at. A word came out of his mouth that I had never heard of before: reframe.
A reframe is simply taking an idea, activity, or phrase and changing its meaning — typically from a disempowering meaning to one that supports your goals and future self.
The reframes we are about to go through involve your psychology and how you choose to think. Seven years ago when Tony Robbins mentioned the idea of reframes, it caused a change in my thinking.
Each year since then that change has compounded and turned into a radical change in thinking, which you’re about to see, and can take advantage of if you choose. Here we go.
Rejection is altering your path not blocking it
You’re going to get rejected many times in your life. Some notable ones include career rejections, romantic rejections, your ideas being rejected, public rejections on social media, and rejections from people you admire.
Life is one giant rejection. That can be depressing or the greatest reframe known to humankind.
Last year, while being turned down for every job imaginable, a friend said something strange: “Rejection is altering your path not blocking it.”
Each rejection was another sign that I was trying to sign up for a career ideal that was wrong. The same happened three years ago when I tried to find a romantic partner by using three of the well-known dating apps.
Never in my life have I ever experienced so much rejection. Every time I opened the dating app, there was another rejection waiting for me — the worst being the dreaded ghost where you don’t get a reply and have no idea why.
My friend Chi said to me “You’re only looking for one, remember?”
She was right. There were hundreds of rejections delivered to this blue-eyed, self-conscious, BFG (Big Friendly Giant) and all it took was one potential woman to see me in a positive light and perhaps do coffee.
The rejection in both situations was painful until I reframed the outcomes to reflect what was really happening. Rejection was leading me closer to my goal. It’s better to be rejected and navigate your way through life’s obstacles than give up and never know where you might end up.
This change in mindset helps you generate the positivity to keep going when you get rejected, instead of giving up.
Time is a better currency than money
I used to look at money as an object to be obtained. After reading the book “Money Master The Game” a different idea was presented. What if time was the ultimate currency to value and worship like Gandhi, not money?
This question led me to come up with a simple reframe:
Money is just a representation of the time you had to give up to earn it, times the value you have built from your existing set of skills.
If you increase your skill level in 1–2 areas and build mastery in them, your value in each of those areas goes up. With the extra value you create, you can earn more money and use it as a resource to work less. That idea led to the next reframe.
Imagine a world where social media was full of people bragging about how much time they had to use how they wish, rather than how much money they’ve made or the material possessions they’ve obtained.
Reframe your idea of money by focusing on time instead. This change in mindset creates abundance rather than scarcity.
Retirement is not real because you never stop working
How many people do you know who have retired? Both my parents are retired and what’s weird is that they never stop working.
My next-door neighbor retired and he traded his job at a corporate who sold IT products he hated, for eight hours a day to spend painting. Consider your neighbors, friends, and family. Did any of them ever really retire and sit on a beach doing nothing for the rest of their life?
A reframe I have been ruminating a lot lately is the concept of work. There are two forms:
1. Work we do to earn a living and pay bills
2. Work we do because we enjoy it and don’t attach a monetary value to
I’ve been thinking lately, “What if the goal is not to retire but to shift my balance of work towards the variety that lets me choose based on curiosity, imagination, and learning — rather than what salary, bonus, and leader I’d be working for?”
Imagine choosing to work a government job because you’re curious about how your state runs and not caring what it pays. Imagine going from earning $100,000 a year to $50,000 a year because you can. Imagine experimenting with work and changing jobs every six months for the hell of it. Imagine not worrying about job security because you’re focused on getting enjoyment from your work.
Reframe how you think about retirement because we never stop working. Focus on how you can shift from working to earn a living, over to work you enjoy and that is not tied to money.
This change in mindset will help you do work you enjoy and derive meaning from rather than focus on money.
Housework is time to decompress your mind
You probably dread housework if you’re anything like me. I used to avoid doing the dishes and even letting mold build upon them because the thought of cleaning a mug full of coffee stains was worse than facing Darth Vader in a lightsaber battle to save the galaxy.
Moving in with my girlfriend changed all of that. Dishes were now my daily job and there was no getting out of them. I turned again to the art of the reframe for a solution and found one.
Doing repetitive, boring tasks does have value. When you do the dishes, your mind gets to decompress and switch the focus away from your day’s problems and towards cleaning the dirt off the plate you just used to eat a Margherita pizza off.
My experience has been that when doing the dishes, my mind is decompressing. Letting off steam now comes from vacuuming, mopping, doing dishes, ironing shirts and folding clothes (not using the fashionable Marie Kondo method).
If you hate housework, reframe the work into time for your mind to decompress and get ready for the tasks you do enjoy doing.
This change in mindset will help you make housework have a purpose that will empower you to do it sooner rather than put it off.
Opinions don’t really matter because you can’t control them
Whether you post your work online like I do, or have your work judged by your colleagues or customers, this reframe is helpful.
Being consumed by opinions and letting that stop you is pointless. It took me six years of writing online to fully understand this concept. None of us can control what people think about our work. We cannot enter someone’s mind, change their thoughts, stick a happy face on each one, and then exit through the ear has changed their perspective.
Even when your work is amazing, there will be a portion of the audience who hate it. They might hate your work because of what it says, or they might hate your work because of what it reminds them about their own life or failures. They might even hate your work because they are having a bad day.
If you find yourself thinking about what opinions people are going to have about your work, reframe these thoughts into the single idea that you can’t control opinions, and therefore they don’t matter. Quality is subjective and you’re doing the best you can.
This change in mindset will help you to take action rather than dwell on the reaction you might get from your work.
It’s not them, it’s us
One of the most renowned magicians of all time — who has been running his weekly magic show with his pal Teller for decades in Las Vegas — made a bold statement in an interview recently.
Penn Jillette said he’s “Trying not to use the word them.” “It’s not them, it’s us,” was his response when talking about the current political environment.
When society makes a mistake or gets something wrong, we’re all responsible and have the power to change it. Penn recommends using the phrase “Those of us who…” as a way to talk about different ideals/beliefs in society.
Putting everybody into groups and casting generalizations can make us irresponsible and, at times, ignorant.
Penn’s reframe from “it’s them” to “it’s us” is a way we can all take more responsibility and face the problems we have created as a species rather than living in an ignorance bubble.
By reframing blame into responsibility — you get the gift of courage, the chance to use your unique voice, and a desire to take action.
Tim Denning in Your Inbox: Want to stay up to date with our Tim’s top-performing posts each week? Sign up for his private email updates by following this link.
This article originally appeared on Medium.