Have you set your goals for the next 12 months? I’m not talking about your standard New Year’s resolutions, which usually only last a few days. I’m talking about your life’s desires for this year – things that, once accomplished, will make a big difference for you.
Have you given up setting big goals like that because you’ve done it all before and it never worked? The reason why many goals remain unattained is that you have to decide consciously which goals to strive for and, at the same time, rely on your unconscious mind – where all your memories, beliefs and emotions come from – to get you there.
There are a couple of reasons for this: first, your conscious mind can only pay attention to so many things at the same time, which means that very soon after you determined which dream you wanted to make reality, you have to hand it over to your unconscious mind for safekeeping and further processing. It wouldn’t do any good to keep staring at your goal all day long because you’d miss major turns along the way and could end up where don’t want to go. Life wouldn’t be much fun if all you did was focus on the future and the steps needed to get there. Love, happiness and enjoyment are all in the present, and who wants to experience life without these, even if all other goals are achieved?
Only your unconscious has the ability to act in place of your conscious self and keep an eye on things while you’re not looking. This is the second reason why goals remain elusive: if your unconscious doesn’t support what you consciously desire, you’re on a losing wicket. No way will you get the help you need to keep going when obstacles appear in your path and when you have some growing to do. After all, change is the most important part of moving towards your goals. If you don’t need to change as a person – in your behaviours and attitudes – you would have, and be, everything you wanted right now. First you have to become the person who has or is whatever you desire.
Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” This applies to your personal life as much as it does for nations. Stories abound of instant millionaires who squandered their fortunes within months and ended up more miserable than before, simply because they were handed something they were not ready for. This process of getting ready for your goals can only happen in your unconscious, where all learning and change takes place.
Here are the 7 steps to achieving great goals by enlisting the help of your unconscious mind:
1. Know Your Outcome
Write down exactly what you want. Be very specific. Describe it in sufficient detail to make it measurable. Just wanting to have lots of money or a new car is not enough. You need to be able to tell when you have what you want. Describe it as if you have it now.
Add a date for when you expect to achieve your goal. Saying things like in three months or next year will not work because the three months will just keep rolling ahead in front of you. Remember, your unconscious mind is like a child: very eager to help and needs to be told exactly what and when you want it.
One more very important point: your goal must be stated state in positive terms. Don’t write down what you don’t want, say what you do want. “I don’t want to be poor” or “I don’t want my boss to hate me” will not make a very good impression on your unconscious mind.
Feeling a strong desire for what you set out to achieve is crucial. You have to really, really want it! Be honest with yourself: is it really something you want to have or be? Is it for you alone? Will the achievement of your goal make a big difference in your life? Are you excited about the prospect of achieving it? How determined are you to get it? In his book ‘Think and Grow Rich’, Napoleon Hill talks about “white hot desire”. Is that what you feel? Your unconscious mind will not reply to lukewarm demands, it will always take the path of least resistance and won’t step up to bat for you unless it knows it is worth the effort.
What is the purpose of achieving your goal? You have to know why you want it! A strong enough ‘why’ will help you overcome challenges and get back on the horse when necessary. Going for great goals is not always a walk in the park and sometimes you need all the help you can get. A strong enough ‘why’ is the fuel you need to keep going against strong headwinds. In addition, make sure that what you’re after will be good for you and the people around you.
4. Mental Imagery
Picture yourself achieving your goal. Make a strong mental image of what you will see, hear and feel when you have what you want. Write down what takes place when you are there and paint it in vivid colours, creating a strong imprint on your unconscious mind. Describe in as many words as possible how you will feel and who you will be. Make sure that what you describe gets you excited about the prospect of achieving your goal. Go on, be as colourful and concrete as you like – it’s for your eyes and ears only! Write as if it’s taking place right now. Re-read this frequently – your unconscious mind will carry this image and will be excited with you.
5. Take Action
Alright, it’s out in the open now. The only way to get what you want is to take action, which usually means doing something different from what you’ve been doing so far! Asking alone won’t get you to your goal – there is no such thing as a free lunch! Decide on the steps you will take, and act on the first step immediately. You don’t need to know in advance every detail about how to get there. Every journey starts with the first step and moving ahead will open up new vistas and show you new opportunities for action along the way.
When you take action, do so from a state of excellence. Trust in yourself and your abilities and imagine yourself to be the person who has already achieved the goal. Feels pretty good, hey?
Be mindful of the results of your actions and change your approach when necessary. Don’t keep doing what doesn’t work. (Insanity has been defined as repeating the same action and expecting a different result). Flies don’t have behavioural flexibility, so they keep bumping against window panes until they knock themselves out. Adjust your actions to overcome challenges.
Focus on what you want. What you focus on is what you get, so if you focus on what you don’t want, that’s what you’ll get! Any doubts or anxieties about your goal are reminders from your unconscious mind to focus on what you want. State your goal in positive terms and keep it in your mind that way. Whenever you catch yourself questioning the prospect of your success, change the course of your thoughts by focusing on what you want with absolute certainty. Focus is like a magic carpet: if obstacles appear insurmountable, and scepticism and apprehension come to the fore, it will spirit you across.
Can you see how following these steps is a roadmap to your success, how approaching goals in this way will eliminate frustrations and make your journey pleasurable?