Thoughts are Things

Truly, “thoughts are things,” and powerful things at that, when they are mixed with definiteness of purpose, persistence, and a burning desire for their translation into riches or other material objects.—Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

I recently had the pleasure of reading the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill again. The first time I read this book was in 2006, when I had first come to Korea and was pretty lackluster in all things.

I had no real purpose in life; didn’t even know what direction I should be heading in. I was pretty much just existing – going to work, reading stories to kindergarteners, coming home, and crashing in front of the TV. I rarely went out on except for groceries, and wasn’t even “brave” enough to go to a Korean restaurant to order food by myself. I felt very young, immature, and directionless. (I suppose looking back, a better term would be “rudderless.”)

Like a ship without a rudder, I was simply allowing the winds of work (my boss) and circumstances to shift me around in whichever direction it pleased. I had no map, and no destination. I was adrift.

At that time, my biggest takeaway from this book was:

I have choices about my destiny. I can control my future by controlling my thoughts and actions. If I don’t like something, a couple of the best strategies to deal with it would be – change my thoughts + continuing (self) education.

Afterward, I started reading more and learning web development and graphic design (slowly). Now, 12 years later:

  1. I’ve got a Master’s degree in Graphic Design,
  2. I program websites with WordPress, PHP, JavaScript, Angular, and React
  3. I design a quarterly magazine publication for a Provincial office
  4. I freelance in website building and graphic design
  5. I manage almost all tech and design stuff at church
  6. I teach Computer Science and Graphic Design at an international high school
  7. I work as a full-time English teacher at Jeonju University

I’d say that the majority of these accomplishments have come about from how I’ve thought about myself and my future after reading this book the first time.

  1. I decided to quit goofing around, and start getting serious about a “career” in non-English teaching work. That involved learning graphic design and web programming for a start.
  2. I decided to “level up” as much as possible in a non-English teaching field – so I decided to get my Master’s Degree in Graphic Design – and this (with my computer background) helped open up the doors that led to me teaching Technology at the high school.
  3. I decided I wasn’t content to earn a “low” salary after my wife had kids and quit working. (It’s not hard to live a comfortable life on a single teacher’s salary in Korea. But when I’m supporting 4 people on that single teacher’s salary, plus paying off large grad school loans, life is tough and the money just wasn’t stretching. It was at that point that we began KeyToKorean and I started freelancing and taking as many additional side jobs as possible.)

I’ve previously written about how powerful thoughts can be. For example, Arnold Schwarzenegger asserted to himself for years that he would become the biggest name in Hollywood, and he did! The Rock likewise has said that he wanted Will Smith’s career, but bigger – and now he’s achieved that.

One of the key standouts in Think and Grow Rich is how a Burning Desire linked with a Definite Major Purpose in life can (and will) eventually lead you to exactly what you desire – with enough Persistence. These (and others) are some great concepts that could use a little more exploration (in later blog posts).

And that’s where this new series of blog posts will come into play.

Twelve years after reading Think and Grow Rich the first time, I’ve now finished it again, and have noticed some major problems with how I’m thinking and living. No, life isn’t “bad” per se, but I find myself again cruising out in the ocean of life – much calmer and smoother sailing now than years ago – but virtually rudderless. I have ambitions and dreams and goals. I’ve made plans and accomplished many things, but there are also many things that I say are truly important but my life’s actions show are not so important. Here’s a quick list that I’m trying to focus on more these days:

  • E – Exercise
    • I’ve noticed over the years that once you “settle in” to life and a lifestyle, it’s relatively easy to maintain your shape over time (and hard to change). Personally, I’ve never had a solid six-pack, and have always had a spare tire and I don’t want to live the rest of my life like this. Hugh Jackman played Wolverine for 17 years, and it took almost 10 for him to get the really iconic Wolverine physique we all admired. I figure, if it took him 10 years, I can also give it at least 10 years of solid effort. I’m hoping to build my body sufficiently in the next (at least) 10 years to sustain a good level of health until I die. But I also don’t plan to quit after just 10 years – I’m just hoping to see some (better) results than what I’m seeing now.
  • P – Programming 
    • I’m currently enrolled in a Udacity Nanodegree for React programming which I’m having a hard time continuing in. But I paid the money, so I want to get my money’s worth. It’s also my life goal (I say, but don’t show) to get a “real life” web programming job. Ideally, the job would be either a remote job, or a job in a local Korean company – because I honestly love where I live right now. It’s very conducive to the healthy lifestyle and exercise I’m cultivating.
  • I – Impact 
    • I want to make a difference in the world. Whether this be through my graphic design freelancing, or my blogging, or the KeyToKorean website. Basically, I don’t want to just allow myself to get complacent and rest on my laurels – especially not for this website. So, I want to build up a habit of blogging and teaching Korean (while I also strive toward Korean fluency) here again. But, again, my words speak louder than my actions. So, hopefully I’ll be able to take some of the principles from Think and Grow Rich to develop strong thoughts that will translate into strong actions.
  • K – Korean
    • My ultimate goal is Korean fluency. I really don’t want to return to the US before I’ve achieved at least conversational fluency and newspaper literacy. But again, what have I really worked on lately to back up my words? So, I’m hoping to really get in there again – starting this summer – with a dedicated schedule to Korean and all the other things listed above in order to start turning these Thoughts into Things.

I’ve noticed as I’ve gone through Think and Grow Rich that there are a number of excellent principles contained within the book that would be worth some brainstorming and blogging on. So, I’m hoping to pick up my “Monday Motivation” blog posting again by going through the main principle contained in each chapter of the book.

Today, “Thoughts are Things”. And as the week continues, I’ll be working on solidifying my Thoughts so that I can get to work with them on producing the Things in my life I’ve listed above. One of the first things I’m hoping to create is a series of Affirmations – and a Definite Major Purpose – that I can review every morning upon waking and every evening before retiring. This is one of the first great principles presented in the book. And a great quote to conclude things:

Life moves in the direction of your strongest thoughts.

Don’t like your life? Change your thoughts.