Why the best life goal is having one and how to go about it.
These first few months of the year are often a time for taking stock and making plans, by now the chances are most New Year’s resolutions will have faded as old habits prove too stubborn to shift. But alongside the common goals of losing weight, getting fit, sorting the finances etc., many will find themselves contemplating the bigger questions in life, like where am I heading and what life goal should I pursue? And this is a great question to be asking yourself, maybe even the best question. And yet unfortunately, it doesn’t get asked enough, here’s why and what you can do about it.
Many people spend their lives focusing their attention on what they don’t want, in the hope it will keep them clear of it - keep them ok. The paradox is that when we put our efforts into avoiding something, it often brings it closer, feeding the fear of it happening. This can escalate into problems with anxiety, panic, obsessive behaviours, phobias and more, all of which restrict how we live and often have a far greater impact than the original thing we were trying to avoid. What’s more, focusing on the negatives leaves us less energy for channelling into the things you do want to happen, such as positive goals or even just enjoying life.
Other people avoid setting life goals altogether, dropping their heads and limiting their view of the horizon as a means of self-protection. The thinking often goes along the lines that if they don’t state what they want then they can’t be disappointed when it doesn’t happen, which is true. What’s also true is that you’re unlikely to get what you want if you don’t know what it is or take aim at it. Leaving the big things down to chance regularly leads to disappointment in the long run, again, the outcome that the original behaviour was trying to avoid. A further problem can come when this reality dawns only once valuable time and opportunities have already passed by.
These two examples help to explain some of the common traps people fall into when it comes to focus and goals. Fortunately, there is a better approach, one which I follow with my Clients at The Practice Rooms in Norwich.
The 5-Steps to Effective Goal Setting
Be intentional – much of my work as a Hypnotherapist is in helping people to connect the conscious and subconscious parts of their mind so they can work better for them. This involves knowing which part does what. In simple terms, the conscious mind sets the direction for the unconscious mind to navigate towards and therefore, the destination must be clear. Think of it like setting a Satnav, you could enter the city you’re travelling to and you’ll get nearer, but plotting in the postcode will get you right where you need to be.
Be positive – a goal must be stated in the positive for it to work. For example, if someone tells me they ‘don’t want to be overweight’, this can be reframed this into a positive statement of ‘I want to be a healthy weight’ or words to that effect. By saying what you don’t want, the mind has nothing clear to work towards, and the mind works best with positive instructions - like an oven, it bakes what you put in it.
Be multisensory – as a Neuro-Linguistic Programmer I work with my clients using all five of the sensory systems; sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. Together, these senses create the neurological patterns our brains use to understand what goal we are setting. When imagining our desired outcome, the more of our senses we involve, the stronger our programming will be towards achieving it. I use hypnosis to help my clients imagine their outcome in a way that feels very real for them, this fires the motivation and subconscious mind towards achieving it.
Be flexible – whilst it is important to have a richly defined idea of what it will be like once we’ve achieved our outcome, it’s equally important to stay flexible over exactly how it will be realised. Why? Because, once your subconscious has a clear idea of your outcome, it will set about presenting the world to you in a way that helps you to achieve that goal, things you didn’t notice before will come into view, literally the world you experience will change in accordance with your goal. If you’re interested to read more on this, search for Reticular Activating System.
Take action – whilst the exact route you take to your goal will unfold with the help of your subconscious mind, you have to set the ball in motion. You need a first next step, having fired up your imagination with all of the above, and the temptation can be to make the first step more of a leap. My recommendation is to make it realistic, get yourself underway and enjoy the feeling of ticking off your first milestone, the pace will pick up as momentum builds.
If you have a particular goal you’d like to achieve or perhaps need help finding the right life goals for you, contact me for a free consultation call.