Months ago, I decided that I must change myself and grow further into a person I more aspire to be. In short, there are a few areas of my life in which I am not satisfied. Like many of us, I have at various times attempted to make changes, only to be underwhelmed by the results. As an experiment, I began to force myself to be open to ideas that I may have discarded before. I decided to research various other ways and try those different approaches. When I say I decided to try them, I do not mean the normal, casual way of trying that I have been using all of my life it seems. I decided to try these new approaches, with a full emotional and mental commitment, with acceptance that the approach was valid and acting as if it would work.
When we want to make changes in our lives, we often use a general set of techniques to start.
- We pick a goal.
- We list some actions to take to achieve the goal.
- We do those actions for awhile, until its a bit uncomfortable, then we run out of emotional energy and will power, and give up.
Our old habits are easy to resume. Worse yet if you are trying to make changes, your habitual beliefs, thoughts and feelings will pull you in the familiar direction, in spite of your comparatively trivial conscious will power.
The things that make goal setting work, but are missing from the 3 item list above are the following:
- Write your goal down
- Get your unconscious mind to line up with your goal, as if it has already happened.
- Review the goal one time in the morning by posting it on your bathroom mirror for example.
- At an emotional level let go and let be, as if you have already achieved the goal.
- If you focus too much on the goal, you mind will believe you have not achieved the goal, and will focus on where you are instead of your goal, which will reinforce the old thought and behavior patterns that do not serve you.
As an experiment, I picked a crowd-pleasing favorite goal I wanted to achieve. I have been overweight, and wanted to start my re-invention with a physical change that is simple to understand, and easy to measure. I decided to pick a small weight loss goal, and started, by writing it down this way, on an index card:
Notice that in this goal, I dated it so I would be able to track the start. I wrote it as “I remember weighing 193 pounds.” Then I picked a future date, but used present tense in describing my goal weight of 187 pounds a week later. My believe from different approaches I have read about is that by using these verbal details, I was informing my unconscious mind that the goal already happened.
I can tell you that before 11-13, I had hit my target weight. I did not deliberately increase my excercise level. I did not consciously make a bunch of diet changes. However, I definitely ate less than normal. I did not find myself overeating, snacking between meals, and my sugar consumption went down a lot. From a will-power perspective, it seemed effortless. It was a vastly different experience than any time I have tried to lose weight before, as I was completely relaxed about the entire thing.
After achieving that first goal, I flipped my index card over, and picked another goal, albeit a little less challenging, as I was traveling for work that week, and would be out of my normal patterns.
I did not quite hit this goal…I was a pound short of making it. Instead of beating myself up, I spent 30 seconds thinking about what events contributed to me missing the date, what could I do to avoid those problems, and then I let it go completely. I checked a couple days later, and I had hit the desired goal. I did not set a specific weight-loss goal after that, until after Thanksgiving weekend. I was up to 185 pounds after Thanksgiving, but given the events of that week, it was fine. I was fighting a bad bout of sciatica-like pain on the day after I returned from my work trip (Nov 22), which is just starting to get better now. My family had some medical issues too during the week of Thanksgiving and the week after, which added some challenges to life in general. On the 26th of November, I wrote down one more goal: “I remember weighing 185 pounds. On December 6, I weigh 179 pounds.” Yesterday, I hit the goal.
The first purpose of this post, is to provide an actual example of a technique I used and its results for me, in case this is is interesting or helpful to others. The bigger purpose of this post is to boil down the technique used for this simple goal, so that it can be applied to achieving anything else you want. Here is how you need to express your goal, and a brief description of why it will work:
- You must write down your desired outcome, specifically. When you take a thought, and put it to paper, it becomes a real thing in the world, and your mind will respond by taking you closer to that real thing.
- It must feel real to you, as if the outcome already happened. If you are trying to force something, you will probably block the desired outcome, and will definitely feel more tired out and stressed than you need to.
- You should keep the goal in your awareness, but expressed as something that already has happened. Once a day, maybe twice a day is plenty to remind you of what you are doing. If you dwell on it too much, your mind will understand this as desperation about something you do not have or have not done. You want to feel like you have done it already, and have that as part of your belief.
- Realize, that regardless of the eventual outcome, you will be fine either way. If you do not get exactly what your goal is, something better is coming to you that you are not aware of. Positive thought, trust, and no desperation or stress about the outcome.
This was a simple goal to express and achieve. Some desires you have will be much more complicated and will require a longer time before they are fulfilled. The above techniques are still applicable, but some variations and additional practices can help support those bigger goals and desires. I may post a “Part 2” to suggest some things related to those!