I talk to a lot people who have been setting goals for years, and who think it’s a nice exercise, but not really important. That’s because their goals never really affect their lives. They’re either so mundane that it doesn’t take any effort to reach them, so abstract that you’d never know whether you had reached them or not, or so impossible that you can’t possibly reach them anyway.
You can read about the techniques of S.M.A.R.T. Goal-setting here, but this post is about using your unconscious mind to keep you on track.
One of the things that often stops people from reaching their goals is the amount of deliberate effort it takes to stay focused. If you harness your unconscious mind and give it clear instructions about what you are trying to achieve then you relieve your conscious mind of that task. This gives you more energy to apply to actually working towards the goal, so it’s a really powerful tool.
I’m really passionate about the power of goal-setting, but I think it comes with a caution. If you really can’t visualise your goal, you probably should ask some questions about whether you can get yourself there. On the other hand, once you have a clear picture of your goal, you can give your unconscious mind all the help it needs to carry you forward until you achieve them.
What Kind of Goals Do You Have?
People are different. They are genuinely motivated by different things. For some people it’s the car they drive, or the house they live in, or the clothes/jewellery they wear. For others it’s about charitable causes or relationships.
I don’t know what you really want, but if you can figure that out and write down your goals to incorporate sensory information – visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, olfactory, gustatory and emotional information they will intensify your image of the goal, and send a clear picture to your unconscious mind.
So, now you’ve given your unconscious mind a vivid picture of where you want to be, you work through the milestones you need to achieve them and send that to your unconscious mind as well.
Say you’re publishing a book (something I’ve recently been working on). My final goal, was to hold that book in my hand and be able to say, “I’ve done it!” Early in the process I created a mock-up of the cover so that I could focus my unconscious mind on what the finished product would look like (in the end I even changed the title and cover, but all the way through I had a picture in my mind of me holding the book).
Along the way there were many things I had to do:- writing the book, getting it edited, working with my graphic designer and printer etc. At every stage, I had a clear picture in my mind, and I could feed that to my unconscious mind so that I stayed focused and kept moving forward. I still had to make decisions, and put in the effort, but my unconscious mind kept prodding me into action.
Using Physical Prompts to Help Out
Your unconscious mind is very busy moving you forward, whether you’re aware of it or not. How much more effective it is to use your unconscious mind to take you where you want to go, rather than simply letting it keep you up at night – but you need to give it some help.
This is where physical prompts like lists, posters and white boards come in. My computer desktop usually contains visual prompts to keep my primary goals top of mind. That way, every time I open my computer I am reminding myself both consciously and unconsciously about the goals I’m working towards.
I also have a vision board on my bedroom wall just to keep me focused. Many days I don’t consciously notice it, but it’s always there as an unconscious prompt.
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