Inspirational Ateeq Hussain is a Huddersfield businessman who changed his mindset and changed his life. Here’s his latest monthly Monday Motivation blog.

Did you know that all life forms strive to the maximum of their potential? How high will a tree grow? As high as it possibly can, right?

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with humans. We have been granted the dignity of choice. We can choose to grow or stagnate. And whether you like it or not it’s your choices that determine how you live and how you die.

What do your choices say about you?

I recently discovered how facing the really difficult choices with courage, resolve and conviction can give life an increased sense of vigour, impetus and an all-important edge. Allow me to explain what I mean.

The issues we choose to face and those we choose to ignore vary massively from person to person. however, our minds are structured the same, in that we use two cognitive systems to navigate through our lives.

The Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman in his seminal international bestseller, ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’, explains the fascinating intricacies these two systems manifest.

System 1 is very active, it operates automatically and quickly with little or no effort, no sense of voluntary control and often an emotional bias. For example, what is 2+2? Easy, right? How quick and effortless is the answer? That’s System 1 territory.

Consider the alternative, the lazy System 2 allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex calculations.

The operation of System 2 is often associated with the subjective experience of cause/effect, choice and concentration. For example, 17×24. Is it difficult? If so, it’s woken up your System 2.

It’s crucial to know that System 2 can be made more resourceful and active by practice and discipline, but you need to give it a good reason to want to put in all that effort. Once you do, the possibilities for you are practically limitless.

For the majority of our lives our minds are spent in System 1 because it’s easy, comfortable and requires little effort. That’s just the way we are so we don’t have to exert ourselves.

We ignore difficult, complex tasks or we tend to rush through them without fully analysing the details, facts and long-term implications.

Hence we find ourselves making emotional decisions based on very little conscious investigation which could be having a detrimental effect on us as individuals and our society at large.

The absurd thing is, we often go around thinking – with System 1 – that we are making rational, logical, thoughtful decisions when the opposite is true.

Someone once said: “A statement closes the mind whereas a question opens it.” Think back to the times when you had a burning question and you searched and searched for the answer until you found it. How did it feel? Was it worth it?

Questions are powerful learning aids because they help to engage System 2 and ignite the 90% of your brain power that normally lies dormant and is stagnating away.

To stop this stagnation, as well as asking the right questions, you have to be honest and willing to wade through the rubbish and muck that you’ve allowed to collect in there. It may be tough, but imagine the possibilities?

Here are some of the profound and complex questions that helped me get a better direction going and I hope they can help you do the same.

  • If I could choose anything in the world to focus my time, effort and energy on, and money was no object and I knew I’d succeed what would I do?
  • Where do I want to be in 3/5/10/15 years’ time in terms of work, wealth, health, family, relationships, friends, society? What car do I want to be driving, where do I want to be living, what do I want to be contributing?
  • What do I need to do now to get there?
  • How will it feel when I get there?
  • Is it worth it?

My mentor Jim Rohn has a God-given gift of keeping it simple, which really helped him get his points across, and I can’t possibly say it any better than him, so I’ll share with you his life change questions that we all could ponder to get a better direction going.

The first questions was WHY?

Why go this far? Why set the goals? Why set the visions and the action plans? Why be inspired to the greats? Why be inspired to start my business? Why be inspired to look after my health and do the gym and do workouts? Why lose the weight? Why read the books? Why invest in myself? Why go through the training programmes? Why take the hours on learning and studying to make myself better?

Why do all these things? Why?

The second question he asked was WHY NOT?

Why would I not want to do the best I can? Why would I not want to impact people around the world? Why would I not want to improve my life? Why would I not want to read the books, consume the information that’s going to make me better, become the person that I need to be to achieve my goals and dreams? Why would I not want to put myself out there and impact people in a way that I could actually have a positive impact in this world? Give a positive message to the people that need it, to inspire them to take action? Why would I not want to help my friends? Why would I not want to start a business so I can help my family? Why would I not want to help myself and become the best person that I could be?

Why not?

Number three is why not ME?

Why can’t it be me that goes ‘I’m going to get up early in the morning.’ I’m going to take action. I’m going to make the plans. I’m going to go through my goal setting workshop. I’m going to plan my year. I’m going to achieve all those goals. I’m going to have a positive impact on my life and people around me. I’m going to be the best friend that I can be. I’m going to be the best mentor I can be. I’m going to be the best entrepreneur that I can be. Why not me? Why can’t I be the best?

Why can’t I make a difference? Why not me?

And the fourth question is why not now?

I’ve read this up until now, why can’t I turn this off and start? Why not now? What’s preventing me? Is there another notification, is there another article, another email, another message, another phone call? Or another video?

Why can’t I just put everything aside for one moment and think I want to do it for me?

In your current private and public lives, it’s not what you’re getting that’s important – it’s what you’re becoming that counts.

Am I becoming strong? Resilient? Enthusiastic? Motivated? Resourceful? Courageous? Courteous? Helpful? Useful? Empowered? Powerful? Knowledgeable? Influential? Fulfilled? Independent? Creative? Or are am I becoming the opposite?

The people I choose to surround myself with – digital and real – what have they got me thinking? What have they got me becoming? What have they got me doing?

How long will you allow neglect to stack up against you before you decide to act and make the changes?

As mentioned earlier we all have the innate ability to utilise System 2 in our thought process to really get down to the nitty gritty but it will take time to get all the facts on the table using conscious consideration. Do you have the time and the why?

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone,” wrote the French philosopher Blaise Pascal.

It’s a line repeated so frequently in the era of smart phones and social media that it’s easy to forget how striking it is that he wrote it in the 1600s. Imagine what he’d say if he was alive today?

Wishing you courage, peace and a good conscience.