Affirmations are positive thoughts and possessing a mental attitude of being able to achieve success using these thoughts. It is a self help strategy that is used to promote self-confidence and a belief in one’s abilities.

The big question though is do they work? The answer is that depends.

Studies show that the brain is wired to mix up reality and imagination at times and this can be effective when using affirmations as it promotes a strong self trained belief of being able to do or accomplish things in the future.

Creating a mental image of acing an interview or scoring a goal, or parachuting off a plane can actually activate these emotions and a feeling of success. This means that regularly repeating these affirming statements can encourage your brain to make these things happen in reality so the thought precedes the action.

Action is imperative 

As much as affirmations can help, action is imperative. Taking action is a must, affirmations can only do so much.

Making them count 

Make affirmations that are set in the present, take small steps at a time as lofty goals maybe too overwhelming. Ultimately self-affirming statements will depend on how you use them to your benefit.

Setting them in the present means acting as if you’ve already succeeded. Start imagining yourself working in that company or on the project that you hope to get and you’re halfway there. This is also a good way to change long standing patterns or self limiting belief systems like “I can’t do it’ or “That’s definitely not for me” or “Good things don’t happen to me” which work against you as a negative belief system.

Create an affirmation that works for you that is tailored to your own personal goals and desires and try and make them specific so that way you can take “affirmative” action towards that goal.

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Also it is always helpful to tie affirmations to good values and principles such as loving kindness, honesty, dedication or hard work.

So if you’re feeling down about your career track and things aren’t going your way you can always say something like “I love my job and my co-workers, I’m productive and I know I can make a difference.”

This both sets the goal and intention of staying the course, working well and ultimately translating that into a rewarding career, promotion or better paycheck.

Be realistic 

Bear in mind that affirmations are not a magic bullet, sometimes change doesn’t happen at all and sometimes it doesn’t happen immediately but it can be a catalyst for other things or teach you to appreciate the things that are going well for you.

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For example if you’re working out and want to lose weight, your physical structure may never be that of a supermodel but you can always affirm that you are fitter, stronger and leaner than before and you’re working towards a healthy lifestyle in general.

Everyone is unique so focus on what you’re good at, affirm that it will work and most importantly work towards that goal consistently and diligently. Don’t forget to throw in a dash of compassion, always be kind to yourself and don’t go crazy with ultra positive affirmations like “I have 10 million dollars” or “I am the most beautiful person ever” and you should be on the right track.

Most importantly be consistent and make it a daily practice. Try something like “it’s going to be a good day today” a couple of times before starting your day for example.

A daily affirmation can be a great step towards self-improvement depending how you use it.