Is obsession a bad thing? It depends. If being obsessed means falling in love with something that truly makes you happy, or something that could potentially change your life, and pursuing it with passion and determination — then obsession is probably a good thing.
Here’s ten tips to keep in mind if that’s the mindset you want to have.
1. Write it down and read it daily
First of all, what is it that you want to accomplish? By writing it down, you’ll basically force yourself to be as clear as possible. And the more clarity you have, the easier it will be to reach your goals.
Perhaps you are already spending a lot of time thinking about something, but your thoughts aren’t clear enough, and change frequently; by putting them on paper, you’ll discover and identify what you really want (take your time and feel free to experiment new ideas).
Then, you want to read what you wrote to condition your mind, so it becomes obsessed with it. You want to read your goals, or whatever you are supposed to work on, at least once a day, ideally when you wake up or right before you fall asleep — when your mind is in a relaxed state and can absorb information subconsciously.
2. Learn everything about it
To become obsessed with something, you also want and need to become more knowledgeable than the average person. The more you learn about something, the better you’ll be able to understand it, enjoy it, and master it.
Plus, expanding your knowledge will change your self-image: you’ll gradually become an expert at the skill or topic that you’re interested in, and, in turn, gradually feel more confident. By learning everything about something, and spending a lot of time mastering it, it will become part of your identity — who you are and what you do.
We’re lucky enough to live in a time where information is free (a smartphone and an internet connection is usually all we need), and the amount of things you can learn by simply reading blogs or watching videos is quite incredible. You can also consider investing a little bit of money to buy books or courses on the subject, or to attend a class.
3. Make it a habit
Whatever it is that you want to become obsessed with, you must turn it into a habit. So for example, if you are trying to learn a new language, spend some time every single day practicing the pronunciation or learning new words; if you want to become obsessed with fitness and health, make sure you take care of your body and eat the right food daily.
Most of the things we do on a daily basis, we actually do on autopilot (without thinking). Once you’re able to turn something into a habit, it will become one of these things, and you’ll be able to do it almost effortlessly, even if it’s complicated.
Think of driving in traffic: although it’s very difficult and potentially risky, and requires concentration, many of us do it without thinking simply because it has become one of our habits. So once you have identified what you need to do and become better at, make sure you practice it as often as possible until it becomes second nature.
4. Use visual reminders
Some companies invest millions in ads simply because they know they work. Many studies have shown that people are more likely to buy a certain product or service after seeing it advertised somewhere. And while word of mouth or reviews may be the best way to promote a product, visual ads are unquestionably effective.
With that in mind, if you want to become obsessed about one of your goals, or anything else, you can create visual reminders of it: you can change the wallpaper on your phone, note it down on your to-do lists, hang pictures of it in your home or office, or buy things that remind you of it.
Just like ads will grab your attention and make you think about a certain product (whether you realize it or not), your visual reminders will train your mind to become obsessed about the things that you want in life, thus making you more focused and more productive.
5. Meet like minded people
Human beings are social animals. Our needs, emotions, habits, and views are constantly influenced by the people we interact with, especially if we consider them to be close to us (for example, if they’re our partner, or a friend that we can trust, or a colleague that we admire).
If you want to become obsessed with something, it’s important that you surround yourself with the kind of people that motivate you to get closer to your goal each day. This may be people who already have what you want (a certain lifestyle, relationship, career, knowledge, better physical or mental health) or simply want the same.
Besides being able to learn from them, and teach or share with them what you know, being in a group of like minded people will hold you accountable and encourage you to pursue what you want. Plus, you’ll know other people will share a similar goal and you’ll no longer feel alone; it won’t be just you spending a lot of time and energy trying to pursue it.
6. Eliminate distractions
This is a big one, so don’t ignore it. If you’ve spent months or years thinking about learning something, or becoming better at it, but thought you’d never have enough time or energy for it — it probably means you have too many distractions around you.
And by eliminating these distractions, at least temporarily, you’ll likely be able to focus on your project or goal with much greater intensity, and without things that drain your mental energy. Then, once your new activity becomes a habit, it will be easier to practice it in any kind of environment.
If you want to become obsessed with one of your goals, try to live like an extreme minimalist for a week or two (don’t use your phone unless you have to, don’t watch TV, don’t use social media, and avoid noise and unnecessary distractions in general) and notice the increase in time available, energy, focus, and motivation.
7. Celebrate your small wins
I have already written an article about the importance of celebrating all your small wins, so feel free to check it out. In short, you want to train your brain to link dopamine to the thing you want to be obsessed with, so your mind will crave more of it.
This is basically what happens whenever a student gets a good grade and is then more motivated to excel at what they study; or when someone plays a game and wins money, and suddenly becomes addicted to that game; or when a dog gets “positive reinforcement” with a cookie. The process looks different, but what goes on in our mind is essentially the same.
So whenever you accomplish something related to your new goal or activity — celebrate, and be proud! It doesn’t cost you anything, and it tells your mind that this is what you want to do over and over again. Remember, whatever your mind links pleasure to, it’ll become obsessed with it.
8. Ask yourself this question
If so far you have found it difficult to align with your goals, it probably means you haven’t yet become the kind of person who is aligned with them. So to become obsessed with and excel at something, you want to ask yourself a very important question: “who do I need to become?”.
Once you have identified that, you can work on developing the skills, the personality, and the attitude required to achieve your goals. One of the easiest ways to do this, as explained earlier, is to surround yourself with the right people, so you can emulate and learn from them subconsciously.
Your identity and self image are key when it comes to working toward a goal. When you develop a new identity, you’ll be able to set goals that are bigger and more exciting, and you’ll also have more motivation to achieve them (or become obsessed with them, if that’s your plan).
9. Monitor your progress
Growth is addictive. It makes us happy, and it gives us confidence. Unfortunately, the bigger your project/goal, the harder it will be to feel you’re actually advancing.
For example, if it takes five years to reach your end goal, you could easily feel daunted because a day or a month may seem like a tiny percentage of the whole process; you may feel you’re going nowhere despite your efforts.
A great way to become obsessed with something and instantly increase your motivation, then, is to monitor your progress — track your growth and notice how much you’re improving, or how many things you’ve learned so far. And if you can’t see any growth or results yet, simply acknowledge the amount of work you have put in, and pat yourself on the back.
10. Avoid negative people
The last tip to become obsessed with something is to detach from those who discourage or criticize you. You want to avoid naysayers, energy vampires, and negative people in general, as well as anyone who belittles your efforts.
Your time, energy, and willpower are precious, and can’t be wasted on negativity, especially if you have big dreams. It’s hard enough to stay motivated and keep working on your goals, so you really don’t want to make the process even harder by being told you can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t. Especially if the other person knows nothing about your vision.
You also want to be aware of all the habits that tend to drain your energy (for example, eating food that causes brain fog or fatigue, not sleeping enough, engaging in negative thought patterns) and avoid those as well. If you want, you can even create a “stop-doing list”.