Our discourse on goal achievement has to do with accomplishing things that we have always wanted to, but never truly deemed ourselves capable of. This could be anything at all, such as recovering from a chronic ailment, landing a more lucrative job, finding a romantic partner, or losing 100 lbs. So why do some individuals manage to turn their aspirations into realities while others seem to struggle? We hope to uncover some of the ingredients to success in our blog posts this month. There are many valid opinions on the tenants of success; hard work, tenacity, determination, opportunity, etc. but the components we will be exploring in this post have little to do with attitude or desire, and everything to do with self-image and core beliefs. If you harbour negative thoughts about your abilities, be they conscious or not, it doesn’t matter how badly you want something or strive for it on a conscious level, your subconscious will prevail, as it is impossible for us to accomplish anything that is inconsistent with the way we view ourselves. We hope to help clarify this philosophy with this post, and introduce what are truly the most essential ingredients for success.
Essential Ingredients for Successful Goal Achievement:
1) Decide you are capable and worthy: wanting something, and truly believing you are capable of achieving it, are two very different things. When you want something and simultaneously consider yourself both competent enough to achieve it, AND worthy of the end result, the way you strive for your goal will guarantee success. Ask yourself why you might not be accomplishing certain goals? Do you truly believe you are capable? Could you have some subconscious beliefs that are inconsistent with your goal or insist you are not worthy of success? For example, a good friend of mine has struggled with her finances since we got our first jobs as teenagers. She is a kind-hearted and generous person, who is otherwise very responsible, but for some reason, no matter how hard she tries to manage a budget, she struggles, and always feels like she is “strapped for cash.” A recent chat between us revealed a lot about her as she had done some recent soul searching. She confessed that although she would love to achieve financial freedom, or even wealth, as many individuals do, she always held a core (irrational) belief that “rich people” were morally flawed; either greedy, dishonest, or unkind. She knew, from personal experience that this wasn’t true, but because she held this core belief, and identifies with being a good and honest person, she felt it might be what is blocking her from attaining her financial goals. This is but one example of how a core belief might subconsciously influence your reality. Think about your core beliefs and about your self-image. Dig deep and learn about yourself. Determining your personal obstacles and overcoming them is a necessary first step.
2) Pay more attention to your successes that to your failures: this does not mean you shouldn’t take responsibility when you make errors. This is about acknowledging your mistakes, learning from them, and then ending that cycle there vs. insisting you are a failure because you failed once before. Instead, try again until you’ve succeeded, and choose your experience of success to ruminate over and count as the rule rather than the exception. Just because you failed a math exam in 7th grade, does not necessitate that you are a failure, or even that you are poor at math. All successful individuals have failed in their lives. They just choose not to let their failures define them. When you succeed at something, even something small, remember it, make a mental note of it, and count it as an example of competence. With this kind of reinforcement, your mind will become wired for success as it recalls past experiences of success to solve new problems. So, when it comes to failures or errors, use them as lessons, not as material to dwell upon with regard to self-esteem and self-image.
3) Put your imagination to work: imagination is often dismissed as being for kids or the Peter Pans of the world. This is unfortunate. Using your imagination doesn’t mean your visions must involve the cast from Game of Thrones. It means visualizing yourself living out your goal, however small or large it may be. I have a friend who is a waitress but is very clumsy. She hates being clumsy and her goal was to change this about herself. Every day before work, she visualizes herself successfully carrying dishes to tables without having an accident. She hasn’t dropped a thing in over 6 months now. Many professional athletes have credited their success in sports to deep, focused visualization. As a matter of fact, it is one of the most commonly used and most effective strategies in sports psychology. Closing your eyes and imagining yourself carrying out any action or reality you possess a deep desire for, is not synonymous with day dreaming or fantasizing. It plants the necessary seeds for future success. Our nervous system does not actually know the difference between a real or imagined event. This means that if you truly entrench yourself in your vision, your mind and nervous system will respond the same way it would if the imagined event were actually happening. So, when you imagine accomplishing your goal, use sensory depth; what does it feel like to hit that home run? What does it sound like to get that standing ovation after your valedictorian speech? No matter how big or small the goal, if you can’t even imagine it, it will never happen.
4) Reflect on your goals: think profoundly about aspirations. About the things you wish to accomplish in your life. Are these things you truly want for yourself? Or have you set certain goals based on societal expectations, or on pressure you’ve received from significant individuals in your life? I must say at this point that it is possible to want something that your parents, for example, also want for you; the two are of course not mutually exclusive. However, it is very difficult to accomplish goals that are inconsistent with the things we truly want, and with the image we have of ourselves. If you find yourself having difficulty attaining a certain objective, ask yourself; do I really want this? The answer to that question is often either, “no,” or “I do, but I don’t think I have what it takes to get there / I don’t think I deserve it.” The latter can be worked on if you change your beliefs and start conceiving of yourself as capable and worthy (point #1), but it is very difficult to convince ourselves that we want something if we truthfully do not on some level. So, when setting goals and striving to achieve them, always ensure they are authentic goals that are important to YOU, before anyone else.
We hope this was helpful in shedding some light on the most important pillars of goal achievement. Many of these principles were derived from world renown physician Maxwell Maltz’s theory of Psychocybernetics; an excellent system for achieving health, happiness, and success. We will be posting more articles on this topic throughout the course of the month in hopes of providing more valuable information on how to successfully accomplish the things that are most important to you in your life.