One of the keys to success in any area of your life is staying focused on what's important in a given situation or period of time. What you most desire – your goals – are inseparably connected to your highest values, certain core emotional yearnings you are hardwired, as a human being, to aspire to realize.
The key to realizing what you want therefore lies not only in your ability to stay focused on your goals, but also the skill of cultivating and holding fast to an impassioned understanding of the connection between your goals and your deepest values. It's about getting your brain to work for you, optimally, with you.
Connecting what you want to higher values?
You can realize amazing things in your life and relationships when you understand the power of your focused attention. No longer theory, there are complex processes that are automatically handled by the 'operating system' of your brain and body, also known as the subconscious or unconscious mind. What you pay attention to expands.
Simultaneously, certain core universal yearnings or values operate automatically, in that, these hardwired emotional drive/needs, consciously or subconsciously, motivate human behaviors akin to human physical drives for sustenance.
More precisely, what we're talking about here is how to make this a conscious process, something that you, and not your subconscious mind, are in charge of.
As long as you remain a passive bystander, your subconscious mind will be solely in control of forming or changing your habits, guessing what goals and wants best fulfill your deepest yearnings. Of course it gets it wrong perhaps most of the time. That's because many of the perceptions that it relies on (i.e., about what you need to do to matter in life) were imprinted subconsciously when you were a small child!
Additionally, your subconscious mind automatic releases feel-good and feel-bad hormones, and cannot discern between feel-good options that are healthy (i.e., nutritious food) or toxic (i.e., junk food, drugs), and feel-bad options that are toxic (i.e., poison) or healthy (i.e., facing a fear of conflict). It's up to conscious you, and your wise-self to discipline and 'teach' or 'train' your mind and body to adopt healthy choices.
Ten steps to infuse your goals with momentum.
Speaking of goals, studies shows people who have written goals, or better yet S.M.A.R.T. goals, are more likely to realize them. It makes sense, considering that, when you take time to write something down, you automatically engage your brain in deeper processes of focused attention.
Unless you've achieved mastery in focusing your attention, it's preferable to select one or maximum two goals, from your personal list of goals, to work on to complete the ten step exercise below. If you have not yet put together your own personal list, here are two lists of goals (personal and relational) to give you some ideas, from which to choose one or two goals most important to you.
Possibilities for personal goals:
- Improve my self-esteem and confidence.
- Develop healthy body-image and relationship with my body.
- Adopt a lifestyle of eating nutritious foods (and break addiction to junk foods).
- Let go of extra weight to look and feel better.
- Realize and maintain a trim, fit, healthy body.
- Embrace a lifestyle of regular exercise.
- Improve my performance, success and productivity at work (career, school, etc.).
- Break an addiction to drinking, smoking or taking substances.
- Stop or dramatically reduce time on computer or watching TV.
- Break free of fear of failure to go after my dream, career, relationship, etc.
- Serve and meaningfully contribute to a community or group.
Possibilities for relationship goals:
- Energize emotional closeness, fun, passion in my couple relationship.
- Cultivate deeper, more engaging friendships.
- Heal a relationship with a parent, sibling or child.
- Attract a special partner, who is loving, healthy and caring.
- Heal my couple relationship from harmful conflict, infidelity or other trauma.
So, take out a sheet of paper and a pen and write down a goal you now select, and would like to devote yourself to infusing with action-activating passion. Begin by writing the goal down, and then complete the exercise below.
1. What do you most want?
First, clearly articulate what you goal you want to focus your mind and body's attention on.
EXAMPLES of goals:
- I want to improve my self-esteem and confidence.
- I want to heal my relationship with one of my children.
2. Revise core assumptions to declare belief in yourself, and own your capacity to change.
Second, whenever you set a goal, what you're doing is declaring your intention to make a change, whether big or small. In order to energize the power to change, you need to first check your core assumptions about yourself, your capacity for change, and so on. Revise them accordingly to declare belief in both yourself and where the source of your power to change resides – inside. When you consciously choose to believe in yourself, and your inner capabilities to empower positive change, you step into an image or vision of yourself as a responsible and caring architect and creator of your life experiences.
The reason this is so powerful is that it energizes your subconscious mind to better serve you, to learn and to be open to incorporate an empowering mindset, and an optimal set of perceptions that would best allow you to live your best life and relationships.
Three Essential Assumptions to consider adopting:
- I take complete and full responsibility for realizing any of my goals or making changes in any area of my life.
- I believe in myself, and am grateful for my innate capacity to do and change anything I put my mind and heart to realizing.
- I always have a choice to choose what is good and in the highest interest of my mind, body and spirit (emotional well-being).
3. Why do you want what you want?
Third, consider why you want to realize this goal.
EXAMPLE of why you may want what you want:
- I want to realize this goal because I want to feel confident, to accept and to feel better about myself as a person when I'm around others.
4. Explore 'why' more deeply to fully understand and exhaust all reasons.
In the fourth step, look for what reasons underlie your reasons to create an exhaustive list of reasons. To the extent you understand why you want something, you accordingly energize your inner passion for this goal.
To more deeply explore, keep asking yourself, "What else can you say about this?" or "Is there more to this?" after each of your "why" responses you write down.
EXAMPLE of responses to "What else can you say about this?"
- Well, I don't want people to take advantage of me like they did my mother. I want to be able to say 'no' instead of stewing inside, then resenting others or myself.
EXAMPLE of a response to "Is there more to this?"
- I don't want to end up like my mother who didn't have the confidence to stop my father from beating us. Until recently, I blamed her for the beatings my siblings and I endured. Now, the more I mature and have gotten to know her, I realize that she wasn't an accomplice, that she just felt powerless in the face of my father's anger.
EXAMPLE of another response to "Is there more to this?"
- Yes. It breaks my heart that I am setting a bad example for my daughter, by not having the confidence to value myself, speak my views with confidence.
5. Explore deeper values (emotional drives or "needs") you yearn to fulfill by meeting this goal?
In step five, you connect with the deeper values or emotional drives related to your goal, of which the overarching one is 'to matter' in life. Keep in mind these universal yearnings, such as the yearning for happiness, safety, health and wellbeing, understanding, integrity, fun, emotional connection, and so on, have life-shaping power as they activate the firing and wiring of neurons that in turn determine if you take action or not, and whether the action you take leads you closer (toward) or farther (away) from your goal.
EXAMPLE of what deeper values or emotional drives that you may be seeking to fulfill by meeting this goal:
- The emotionally drives seeking to be fulfilled by my attaining more confidence and self-esteem are happiness, acceptance, emotional connection, and authenticity.
6. What do you most fear in relation achieving this goal?
Sixth, you identify what you fear most in relation to successfully realizing this goal, for example, ask yourself: "What would be the worst thing about completely achieving this goal?"
EXAMPLE of a fear in relation to achieving this goal:
- I guess what I would fear most if I had self-esteem and confidence is that others, especially my family and friends would not like me, or even reject me, and think I am selfish, self-centered or arrogant.
7. What do you fear most in relation to failing to achieve this goal?
In step seven, you ask a similar question, but this time you seek to identify what you fear most in relation to not fulfilling this goal. Here, ask yourself the following, "What would be the worst thing about failing to achieve this goal."
EXAMPLE of a fear in relation to failing to achieve this goal:
- It would be a terrible life, in that I'd feel trapped and voiceless, as if I do not even exist or matter to others, or to myself, since I don't even have the courage to stand up to speak my views in my personal relationships, and at work.
8. What do you declare instead for yourself?
For this step, you now declare for yourself what you aspire and yearn for instead, in other words, in place of what you do not want to happen. This articulates a new vision for your life.
EXAMPLES of what I declare for myself instead:
- To feel healthy self-esteem and to live a life of confidence despite any fear or doubt I have.
- To feel confident and believe in myself enough, to be a healthy and positive example for my daughter, by having the courage to be myself, to stand up to express how I feel.
- To feel worthwhile, deserving to make requests, saying what I want.
- To feel confident that because this is a most loving thing to do for myself, that those who love me in a healthy way would want this for me as well, just as I want this for my daughter.
9. What action big or small will I commit to start taking today?
Next, identify a specific action you can start taking right away in the direction of your goal. This step is critical because action is what seals the deal so to speak. In other words, though all steps listed here are important, in essence, the true benefit of the first seven steps is to ensure that your focus and attention, and thus any action you take move you in the direction of realizing your goal. It does not have to be huge, just small action
EXAMPLES of an action step am I committed to start taking today:
- Memorize the Three Core Assumptions and, for a month, repeat them three times first thing in the morning and last thing before sleep at night.
- In a journal or notebook, make two lists, on the left hand side of the page, list ways you help, serve or attempt to make life easier for others at home or work; and on the right hand side of the page, list ways you help or attempt to improve the quality of your life, health and relationships.
10. What affirmations will best serve to infuse your actions with passion and momentum?
In this final step, you formulate one or more succinct, empowering, inspiring affirmations that are specific to infusing your particular goal with passion to act and maintain your momentum. This turns your goal into an statement that powerfully energizes the optimal emotional-physiological states in your mind and body that you need to support you to realizing your goal.
EXAMPLES of succinct, affirmations that can infuse your mind and body with the high-frequency emotional energy you need to take action in the direction of realizing your goals.
- Even though I am unhappy about and want to change certain aspects of my life, I fully and completely love, value and accept myself just as I am.
- I now fully enjoy being a confident and energetic person.
- I am free to now easily see myself as an asset to my family, company or community.
- In my home and work, I am loved, valued and accepted just as I am.
No matter what your personal goal is, you can use these steps to successfully influence your subconscious to make the positive changes you desire to achieve. It takes courage and wisdom to take the reins as captain of the ship of your life.
You achieve this by working consciously with your subconscious mind, the part of the mind that controls the autonomic processes of your body. It's essential to form a working relationship with this powerful part of your mind because it is in charge of forming or breaking habits, strategies — and even addictions.
It's all about consciously disallowing your body's sensory system, or survival response, to take over your life with default choices by making conscious choices instead.
The key to realizing what you want rests in your ability to remain consciously focused on what you really, really want, and simultaneously hold an impassioned understanding of the connection between realizing your goals, big or small, and fulfilling core emotional drives, to energize the momentum and action you need in the direction of realizing what you aspire.
Why not soar like an eagle? You always have a choice to put your life in high gear with conscious-love in action.
Relationship consultant, author, licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Athena Staik shows clients how to break free of anxiety, addictions, and other emotional blocks, to awaken radiantly healthy lives and relationships. Dr. Staik is currently in private practice in Northern VA, and writing her book, Safe Enough to Love™: Breaking Free of Addictive Love in Couple Relationships. To contact Dr. Staik for information, an appointment or workshop, visit www.drstaik.com, or visit on her Facebook fan page DrAthenaStaik
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