Episode 097

The Thought Ladder and How to Achieve Any Goal

In last week’s interview with Gila Ross, we scratched the surface of an important topic: the thought ladder. Your thoughts about a specific goal start out from a perspective of impossibility, but as you move up the thought ladder, you go into possibility, and the next stage is that achieving your goal becomes inevitable.

Especially as we enter the Jewish New Year, I believe it is our responsibility to believe that God has everything planned out and our income and achievements for the year are already determined, but we still have to do our part in bringing it to fruition. It’s difficult to go from earning six figures to believing you can make seven figures in the next year. But by using ladder thoughts, you can start to take the steps that get you to a place of real belief.

Whatever result you want to create in your business, tune in this week to discover how thought ladders can help you achieve any goal you set for yourself. Just thinking positive thoughts isn’t enough, but when you can use some ladder thoughts to open yourself up to truly believing in the possibilities available to you, you can achieve any goal you set for yourself.

If you want to achieve any goal you set for yourself in your business, you need to join Wired for Wealth. Click here for regular coaching to shift your thoughts, your feelings, and the actions you take in pursuit of your business goals.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • What a ladder thought is and how ladder thoughts will serve you in your business.
  • How to spot the cycle that produces our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
  • The difference between thoughts and beliefs.
  • Why just thinking positive thoughts isn’t enough.
  • How to focus on thoughts that fuel positive action towards your goals.
  • The best possible times for you to use thought ladders to create new results in your business.
  • How to use a thought ladder to anchor your beliefs and achieve any goal.


Read the full transcript now

You’re listening to The Jewish Entrepreneur Podcast with Debbie Sassen, Episode 97.

Welcome to The Jewish Entrepreneur Podcast. I’m your host, Debbie Sassen. I went from being a financial adviser, author and chronic underearner to building my business to six figures as a financial planner and money mindset coach. And then, on to multiple six figures as a full-time money and business coach.

I help entrepreneurs create money making businesses and build wealth, using sales and money mindset strategies in alignment with authentic Jewish values. Now, let’s dive in to today’s show.

Hello, my friends and welcome back to the podcast. This podcast is dropping between the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. To all of my listeners, wherever you are in the world, wherever you’re listening and whenever you’re listening, I want to wish you a shana tova; it should be a good and sweet year.

A year that is blessed with sweetness, with good health, with prosperity and abundance. Enjoy your life. Enjoy your family. And God willing, this Jewish year, tav-shin-pei-dalet should be a year filled with all good things for people everywhere.

Today on the podcast, I want to go deeper into a topic that I touched on just a little bit in last week’s interview with Gila Ross. People have commented on what I said. If you go and listen to the podcast, it was a beautiful interview, a wonderful discussion that Gila and I had.

Very near the beginning of our interview, Gila was talking about moving from Manchester to Denver and what went into that, and I stopped her and I said, “I just want to point out that the thought of moving to Denver was impossible, then it became possible, and then it became inevitable.” In fact, today, when I’m recording this podcast, Gila is already living in Denver. At the time when we recorded that podcast, it was before she even left Manchester.

During the course of her summer travels, she actually landed in Denver before the podcast aired live last week. But people commented that that was something that they took away. That things, in the beginning, you don’t think you can really achieve them, and ultimately, you do.

So, I thought today, and also, since it’s the new year; the new year for me, the Jewish year; and on Rosh Hashanah, I believe that God decrees what my income is for the entire year. Now, I don’t know what it is. It’s my responsibility to believe that He wants to give it to me, that He’s there, and to trust Him and rely on Him.

Of course, I have to do my part. I mean, I can’t go hang out on the beach. I mean, maybe a little bit, it’s always nice to have a beach holiday. I can’t spend all of my days hiking in the mountains. I know there are people who do that, they take days and weeks and months off.

In fact, there was a two-day period a few weeks ago where my husband and I almost signed up for a hiking trip to Kilimanjaro in January and February. But that dropped off of our radar for various reasons. Maybe one day, in the future, I will climb Kilimanjaro, but it is not happening in 2024.

But we’re just going to plant seeds, and we’re going to see where they sprout. At the moment that is still an impossible dream, it has not yet even moved into possibility. But anyway, I wanted to talk about, as you’re going to your goals, you’re thinking about your goal, it’s possible for you to create $100,000 a year, $500,000, your million-dollar year in your business; wherever it is.

We use what people commonly call “mindset.” I call it “thought work.” Really focusing on your thoughts in order to reach your goals. I’m going to teach you a concept today called “thought ladders.” But before we get into exactly what a thought ladder is, we’re going to have to do a little bit of background work.

So, you might want to get out your journal, a pencil, paper. It’s almost going to be like school. Or, you can just listen. The first thing we have to talk about is the think-feel-do cycle. We’re always operating in a cycle. We think thoughts. Now, for most of us, probably all of us, on the human planet, the first thoughts we think just happen so quickly. We have no idea what they are. They’re just probably jumping out of our subconscious mind into our conscious mind.

Because of our thoughts, we feel feelings. There is energy coursing in our body, and that is emotion, energy in motion. Because of the things we are feeling in our body, that causes us to do things, to act or not act. It could be something that we say. If you’re feeling that somebody insulted you or offended you, you might reply back to them. You might bark back at them, or insult them back.

You might have learned how to conquer your emotions and you can be quiet. But whatever it is, we’re operating in think-feel-do cycles. You think thoughts, you feel feelings, and because of the emotions, because of that emotional response in your body, that is what fuels your actions. Then, the actions you take lead to results. So ultimately, it is your thoughts that cause your results. But we’re not talking about that right now. Okay, so think-feel-do cycles.

Let’s also talk about the difference between a thought and a belief. A thought is something that you can think over and over and over again, but you might not yet believe that it’s true. For example, one of the thoughts I am working on believing is that I am a million-dollar earner in one year. My business has already generated over a million dollars from the time that I started in my business 15 years ago until now. But I want to collapse time and earn $1 million in my business in a year.

So, I’m thinking the thought that it’s possible for me to earn a million dollars in a year. That is exactly one of the thoughts on my thought ladder that we will get to. But it will become a belief when I actually see that it is inevitable. That it’s almost there and I can almost touch it. Then, that thought is no longer just a sentence in my mind, but it is a strong, firm belief that I’m a million-dollar earner in a year.

Now, the amazing thing is that we can think thoughts that we do not yet believe. That is something that humans can do. We have this special gift that we can think thoughts on our thoughts, that we can imagine, that we can visualize. We can visualize things that are completely not true.

There is a lot of fantasy and cartoons and movies, and all the things. We can create an alternate reality of things that we don’t believe. Because we can think about them and we can conceptualize them, we can create them. When we go to the movies, or we watch a show or something like that, it will trigger or generate an emotional response in our body.

But when we bring ourselves back to reality, bring ourselves back down to the material world where we are building our businesses, if you’re thinking a thought that you do not yet believe, for example, “I am a million dollar in a year earner,” that’s not going to trigger a positive response in my body. In fact, it might trigger thoughts in my mind like, “Debbie, who are you kidding? Who do you think you are? You haven’t done that yet. It’s absolutely impossible. Don’t blow smoke. That’s ridiculous.”

What happens to so many people when they’re trying to stretch themselves to an income goal, and we’ve talked about setting stretch income goals on the podcast before, if they’re stretching themselves too far and trying to believe something that is outside of their reality, it doesn’t generate an emotional response in their bodies that fuels positive actions towards their goals.

I think I’ve even told you in the past about one of my clients. I worked with her three, four years ago. Indeed, she had a million dollars on her vision board and she said she was numb. It really didn’t inspire her to take the next step forward in her business because it was too far out.

That is exactly the reason why we need ladder thoughts, because we can’t jump. Let’s say your business is earning $100,000 a year, you can’t jump from believing you’re going from $100,000 to a million dollars in a year. It’s just too much of a stretch. So, we have to have little baby steps in between. We have to have a ladder of thoughts to help us believe that something is possible.

Now, before we just jump into the thought ladder specifically, let me just share with you one more thought. One more idea that is connected with the idea of thoughts being different from beliefs; because a belief is something that you have thought over and over again and you actually see it coming into reality.

That is, I want to debunk the power of positive feeling. This is something that I’ve probably talked about before, but when you try to think a thought that is so far stretched from reality, and your body knows something different… Like, your body might know subtly, that you can earn $100,000 a year because you’ve done it; or you’re at $80,000 or $90,000 this year, in 2023. So, you can actually see how close you are.

There’s this dissonance that’s created between what you know for a fact, and what you are trying to believe. And your body always wins. There is wisdom in your body that is telling you, again, “Don’t blow smoke, that is so far gone. It is so far removed from reality. You’re dreaming. It’s never going to happen. Stop it, already.” Right? Our brains, our bodies… Your gut actually is like another brain. They have wisdom that they’re holding for us.

We really want to be able to drop into the wisdom of our body, and listen to what it’s telling us. So if it’s telling you, “That’s ridiculous. It’s not happening. Stop trying to think all of these positive thoughts…” In fact, I once had a client tell me that she would visualize before she would go to sleep. She would visualize money raining down from heavens.

You see how creative we can get? We can imagine money falling down from the heavens, like mana falling from the sky when the Jews were in the desert for 40 years. But if your mind isn’t believing it, it is not generating those feelings in your body that is causing you to take positive action towards your goal. So, this is exactly the reason why we need to create a thought ladder.

When I’m working with my clients in Wired for Wealth… We’re actually spending the entire month of September really noticing our thoughts, focusing on our thoughts, and we’re trying to see what the next best thought we can think. I call it a 1% shift in your thoughts. Because you might be thinking, “I’m too far behind. I’m never going to get there. It’s impossible. Nobody wants to work with me. Nobody wants to pay my prices. I’m exploiting my clients when I charge those prices.”

We’ve had a lot of negative thoughts coming up in Wired for Wealth, and I never, ever make them a problem. In fact, it’s beautiful, that we can find them, that we can excavate them, that we can uncover the thoughts that are generating feelings that are negative, that are holding my clients back from taking positive steps towards their goal.

When we can shift their thinking by 1% and open up possibility, it’s beautiful. That is exactly when my clients will be able to take the next step forward. In fact, yesterday, one of my clients was telling me she was about to have a sales conversation with a potential client. She was scared, and it was beautiful that she recognized the thoughts in her head that were triggering fear before that sales call.

we were just able to shift it a little bit so she was able to have the sales call without shutting down in fear. Really just kind of throwing it out to God; whoever wants to sign with me, will sign with me. Whoever doesn’t want to sign with me, won’t sign with me, right? Learning the skill of having a sales conversation by changing your thoughts, and changing the way you show up to your sales call, makes all the difference in the world.

That’s why we focus so much just on your thoughts, just to get started. Because when you can shift 1% it’s going to change the entire trajectory of your business. If you think for a minute of a boat, a boat on the water. The boat is heading towards a goal and they get their goal off by one degree. The boat starts sailing off into the sunset one degree separated from where they thought they were going.

Where are they going to end up after hours and hours and hours of sailing? They’re just not going to get to the same goal. That’s why we want to shift your thoughts.

Alright, let’s talk about a thought ladder. It is exactly what it sounds like. Imagine you draw yourself a ladder. Your ladder can have four rungs, five rungs, 10 rungs on it, it doesn’t really matter. But you want to put the thought that you’re thinking right now at the bottom of your ladder.

So, let’s say your thought is, “I am a $100,000 a year earner,” and your goal is $1 million dollars a year earner. So, your goal thought would be, “I am a $1 million dollar a year earner.” But again, as I shared with you, I don’t yet believe that thought. So, I have to think of baby steps. Again, that 1% shift that’s going to get me from the belief that I am $100,000 earner…

My personal situation is that I’m already at $300,000 a year or so, but we’re just going to leave it because we have 10 steps. It just makes the math very easy. But we want to start thinking new thoughts that are just one step removed, one rung on our ladder removed, from, “I’m a $100,000 a year earner.”

So, sometimes we put phrases in front of the thought that we’re trying to think, that goal thought. So again, if it’s “I’m a $1 million dollar a year earner,” and I actually dropped a hint to you, “It’s possible that I am a million dollar a year earner. It’s possible that I am already a $1 million dollar a year earner. I am choosing to believe, that I’m learning to believe, that I am open to believing, that I am a $1 million dollar a year earner. I am becoming a million dollar a year earner.”

Do you hear what I’m saying? When it’s not so definitive… Again, it’s that belief that my brain is going to reject and my body’s going to repel. It’s going to be like, “Nope, sorry, Debbie, you’re not that.” That’s why we just want to make it a much more open, expansive version of the sentence. So, that we can start eliciting an emotional response in our bodies that is going to encourage me to take actions towards my goal.

So, as I’m becoming a $1 million dollar a year earner, I’m open to believing that I’m a $1 million dollar a year earner. And you can do a brain dump. Download a bunch of ideas of what works for you. I mean, any of the ones that I’ve said are very valid and will work for you.

For me, when I think about my rung, “I’m open to believing that I’m a $1 million dollar a year earner” is lower on my ladder than, “I am becoming a $1 million dollar a year earner.” Somewhere down towards the bottom of the ladder would be, “It’s possible that I am… I am learning that it’s possible…” I’m choosing to believe that, right?

There’s really no right or wrong with the order, you just do a brain dump of all of the possible thoughts that sound more open between you and your goal, between you and your goal thought, and then rank them in order that works for you. This isn’t a math test where you need to know that 1+1= 2 and 4×5= 20. I’m going to get myself all in pretzels if I keep going on with my math, but it has to work for you.

Because again, it’s your thought that is going to fuel your feelings, and your feelings are going to drive your actions. Because you are operating in a think-feel-do cycle. So, you want to just put them on the ladder that works for you.

Then, you want to practice your new thought, that’s on your thought ladder. “I’m open to believing that I’m a $1 million dollar earner.” You practice it over and over and over again. You can look at the mirror when you’re putting on your makeup in the morning.

And as you’re just putting your mascara on your eyelashes, you can be saying to yourself, “I’m a $1 million dollar a year earner.” as you’re cooking food in your kitchen. As you’re doing laundry, washing your hands, taking a walk around your neighborhood, right? Make sure, that during the day, you are continually thinking your thought.

I mean, not obsessively thinking it all day long. But you might leave a sticky note on a mirror. You might write it three times every morning in your journal, and three times every evening before you close up work for the day. Make sure that you connect with your ladder thought several times during the day. You might write it on your phone, so it’s going to be the backdrop to your phone.

Or there are even apps that remind you. They’ll, all of a sudden, pop up. You might have a reminder at 12 o’clock every day, when you sit down and eat your lunch beautifully, in a civilized way. You’ll have an alarm on your phone that reminds you of your thought.

What you will notice is, after you have practiced this ladder thought over and over again, you’re going to wake up one day and you’re going to be like, “Yeah, I really believe that.” Then what happens, is you take the next step up the ladder. So, you move from “I’m open to believing” to “I’m choosing to believe” or “I’m becoming the person who…”

You will find the next step up your ladder towards your goal thought, and then one day you’re just going to start thinking, “I’m a $1 million dollar a year earner,” and it’s not going to create a negative emotional response in your body.

Like, just now, as I’m recording this podcast and I said it, I felt a twinge in my stomach, which means that I don’t yet believe it. Now, maybe it’s time for me to jump from “I’m becoming a $1 million dollar a year earner,” which seems much more neutral on my stomach. It’s time, as I’m recording this podcast and noticing my thoughts, for me to jump to my goal thought and work on that for a while and see how that feels.

I also want to share with you another way that you can create ladder thoughts. Because sometimes a thought like, “I am a $1 million dollar a year earner” will be too far for me or you. I might think to myself, “Well, gosh, I’m a mom of eight, I have grandkids, and I have a busy life. I have my Jewish community, and there are all these things going on. I can’t imagine that that could ever happen to me.”

Then, I have to look around the world, I have to look for evidence, I have to see other people who are similar to me. I mean, if somebody’s younger, if she has less kids, if she has other things going on her life, I might believe in my mind, “It’s okay for her, but my life is different.” So, I’m going to want to find evidence of people, who are similar to me, who were doing what I want to do.

I know some women with large families who are also million dollar a year earners. So, I can have sort of this side thought, right? “There are women in the world, who run large families and large businesses, and are earning a million dollars a year. Right?

When you notice that there are other people who are similar to you, then your body and brain don’t want to deflect the thoughts so much. Because you’re like, “Oh, there’s evidence in the world. I see that it’s possible for her. If she can do it, that means it’s available to me too.” By the way, this is something that I work with people on when we’re just working on their thoughts about money.

Because there’s so many negative beliefs about money; if you’re wealthy, you’re going to become an evil person. You’re greedy, if you have a lot of money. We have a lot of negative thoughts about wealthy people. And so, again, we want to look around. We want to find evidence for the fact that there are wealthy people in the world who are doing good. Wealthy people in the world who are kind. Wealthy people who are generous in doing really positive things in the world.

If your brain and your body are deflecting and rejecting the possibility of growing a million-dollar business, or a multi-million-dollar business, you also want to find evidence in the world for wealthy people who are good, kind, nice, generous, supportive people. Don’t always make the people who are at the top of the newspaper headlines and in the media as the evil, greedy types, right?

Make sure that you find evidence. It’s possible for them, it’s possible for you too, and your brain loves that. It helps you to anchor in the belief that whatever you want is possible for you. And hey, if you can’t find any evidence, there’s no reason why you can’t be the first.

I think it’s amazing that there are so many women today who are growing big, beautiful businesses. Who are growing million-dollar businesses and even multi-million-dollar businesses. And we need more people like us. We have been conditioned and socialized for generations to earn low wages. And yes, the number of women at the top is very, very small, but things are changing, the tide is changing.

So, I’m encouraging you to set your goals big, to set your goal thoughts big, and get yourself to the top of the ladder. Because you too, can be a role model for other women, for your family, for your daughters and daughters-in-law, and granddaughters and granddaughters-in-law. And of course, all of the men that are in your family; your sons and sons-in-law. We women, we get to rise to the top and we get to be the role models for the next generation.

All right, my friends, let’s just do a quick recap of how you use your thought work to get from it’s impossible to possible to inevitable. That is by finding where you are right now, what you are believing today, and then setting your goal thought. You know what that is, but there is a dissonance between what your brain and body believe today and what is possible for you in the future.

So, just little by little, baby step by baby step, ladder rung by ladder rung, we’re going to change our thoughts. Because when you change your thoughts incrementally, it will change the feelings that you’re feeling in your body, and the feelings that you feel in your body will trigger different actions, and those actions are going to create your results. Go ahead, create your goal for the new year. Create your thoughts and your ladder thoughts that are going to get you there.

If you’d like to take this work deeper, I encourage you to check out my group coaching program, Wired for Wealth. Wired for Wealth has transitioned to Unlimited Coaching. Meaning, you get lifetime access to the program. It used to be a nine-month program. But now, once you’re in Wired for Wealth, my goal is that you create your first $5,000, $50,000, and $150,000 in your business, however long it takes.

If you’re a wife and a mom, and you’re doing all the things and it takes you two years to create $150,000, that is beautiful. You get weekly coaching, and we are working on your thoughts and changing your thoughts, shifting them, 1% at a time.

When you excavate what’s going on inside, it will all of a sudden create so much awareness. You will be able to change your feelings, the actions that happen as a result of you doing the thought work, and changing the way you show up for your business. So, you can go to my website, DebbieSassen.com/wealth. Check out what I’m offering you in Wired for Wealth.

In October, we are going to work together to create our signature offers. I’m going to share a 90-minute workshop with all the members of Wired for Wealth. You too, will create your signature offer that you’re going to focus on in your business for the next year.

All right, my friends, thank you so much. Again, I wish you a Shana Tova. It should be a good, a gut gebentsht yohr. It should be healthy. You should have a Gamar hatimah tovah, you should be signed and sealed in the book of life. Bye-bye for now.

Thanks for listening to The Jewish Entrepreneur Podcast. If you want to stop underselling and underearning and close more sales, you need to clear the limiting money beliefs that are sabotaging your business growth.

Head on over to DebbieSassen.com/mindset and download my free Money Mindset Workbook. Uncover and dissolve money blocks, like hundreds of other entrepreneurs who are now building six-, multi-six-, and seven-figure businesses and creating true financial freedom.

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