If you are living your life without setting goals, it’s akin to being driftwood in the ocean, meaning you end up going wherever the tide takes you. If you’re looking to take control of your life and determine your own destiny then you need to embrace the power of goal setting and positive visualisation. This article offers five tips that will help you catalyse any goal you seek to achieve.
- VISUALISE WHAT YOU WANT
We are visualising all the time, whether we mean to or not, and as the science of metaphysics has demonstrated time and time again – what we focus on, we bring about, which can be summed up in the line ‘thoughts become things”.
Your subconscious mind thinks in pictures, and therefore, you want to be visualising your goal in order to align with the natural language of your subconscious mind. This way, you’ll recruit your reticular activating system to get to work at manifesting the goal you have in mind.
It’s important you write down your goal too, but the real catalyst to manifesting and achieving your goal is connecting with the feelings associated with the goal and the best way to connect with the feelings is to visualise, as it’s the pictures we picture in our minds eye that leads to the feelings we experience.
Whilst you can think in broad terms, when it comes to pictures you want to zoom in on the detail, for instance, if you have an idea of your perfect holiday then get into the visual details, start looking at travel brochures to inspire your trip – and if you want to give your left brain something to do, you could even pick out the snorkel mask you will wear as you are snorkelling the great barrier reef or the pristine waters of Thailand.
Picture the colour of the fishes swimming all around you, hear the sound of the waves and the distant buzzing of the longtail boat engines, imagine the feeling of the warm sand between your toes, or the smell of coconut scented suntan lotion.
Visualisation isn’t merely visual, you want to recruit all your senses, in fact, did you know that travel agencies often pump out “suntan scented” odour in order to stimulate the part of your brain that associates with going on holiday, as it puts you in a much more motivated state to purchase.
Use visualisation to your advantage, just like how athletes do – and remember we’re always visualising, sometimes we’re just not in control of what we are visualising, and therefore, by default it can be negative.
Have you ever heard the term ‘stop picturing the worst case scenario’? See, we’re always visualising the future, we can’t help it – but most of us are doing this so unconsciously we are creating a future that isn’t aligned with what we want; imagine what would happen if an athlete kept focusing on their fear of tripping in a race rather than the feeling of the finish line gliding against his chest as he comes in first place.
Start to get more conscious about what you’re visualising and you will seriously transform your life.
- WRITE IT DOWN
There was a recent study at the Dominican University in California by Dr. Gail Matthews who is a professor of psychology that looked into the science of goal setting.
In the study, 267 men and women from all walks of life including entrepreneurs, professionals, and the unemployed were interviewed. The participants were split into one of two groups; those that did write their goals down and those that didn’t.
In a nutshell, the study discovered that of the people that did write their goals and dreams down on a regular basis, the percentage rate of those that achieved their goals was significantly larger than those that didn’t. In numerical terms, she found that people were 42% more likely to achieve their goals and dreams by simply writing them down – on a regular basis.
The reason for this is all down to how our brains work. There are two sides of the brain, left hemisphere and right hemisphere – the left is all about logical and intellect whilst the right is more about imagination and creativity.
When you THINK about your goals you are using the right hemisphere, activating the dreamer within, which is definitely important, but when you write it down, not only are you thinking about your goals using the right hemisphere but you’re now activating the left more logical side of your brain… which is what puts us into action.
Essentially, if you spend time thinking and dreaming about your goal then you’re saying “this is something I would like to happen” whereas when you write it down, you are using your left brain to come up with a plan to make it happen – as the brain is now treating it as a command rather than a happy floaty thought!
- SHARE YOUR GOALS WITH A TRUSTED FRIEND
There was a further component of the study that demonstrated the power of sharing your written goals with a friend who believes in you – as this adds more motivation to the process by providing the all important catalyst of accountability. See, it can be very easy to move the goalposts (i.e. deadline) on your own dreams but when you tell the world that you are going to do something by a certain deadline, it adds an element of social accountability and therefore compliance to following through on the goal you’ve set.
This comes down to the psychological phenomenon of congruence; meaning we all want to be congruent with what we say we will do and most importantly, at a deep psychological level we will always conform to our identity.
In some ways, this can be a positive thing, such as if you identify as being someone that is a high achiever then you will pull out all the stops to be congruent with this identity, whereas if you identify as someone that is always late, you will similarly ensure you are late as there is an overwhelming psychological need to be congruent with who we feel we are.
Therefore, when you share your goals with a friend you are adding a positive amount of social pressure to complete and keep congruent with what you’ve said you will do.
- CHUNK IT DOWN AND TRACK YOUR PROGRESS
There are a number of structured goal planners available that can be helpful in terms of keeping you on track, yet one of the most important practical things you can do in terms of working toward your goal is to chunk it down. There’s a popular saying that asks the rather peculiar question about how you should eat an elephant, the answer being, one bit at a time.
The saying is strange, but the principle is profound; as so often we are in a state of overwhelm, focusing on the distance between where we are and where we want to be – which can feel somewhat deflating, if not depressing, if your current life is very different to where you want your life to be.
This is where your left brain comes in; let’s say you have a goal of earning $50,000 a year. We can break that down into $1,000 per week, and we can break that down further to $200 per day, presuming you work 5 days a week.
Suddenly, we can start getting practical and realistic about things. If we are in a job that pays only $50 per day, then we know we need to make a change – and therefore start looking for jobs that pay in alignment with our target.
NOTE: Having a target is essential, as if you have nothing to aim toward, you are just going to drift through life.
Then, now that things are a little more realistic, in terms of how to reach your goal you can break it down into day-to-day action steps to take that will get you in the position you need to be in order to obtain your goal.
- GET STARTED
There’s a further saying, that’s slightly more sensical, that states “you don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step” – meaning you don’t have to see the whole plan for you to start making progress toward your goal, you just need to get started, take action, walk the first few steps and trust that the rest of the staircase will be revealed to you as you keep walking down that path!
So many people are trapped in a state of procrastination, where they aren’t taking those initial first step, but what the elephant story tells us is that we need to start making bitesize chunks toward our goal, as it’s better to get there “eventually” than to never start.
See, we are often waiting for the “perfect conditions” to get started – but the perfect time is right now, there is no “perfect time” and if you waste your life waiting or searching the perfect conditions to start pursuing your dreams, you’ll never get started, and getting started is everything… take that first step, and take it today, as there is no better time than right now to start moving toward your goal!