There are times when each of us stops to ask ourselves whether we are living the life we imagined. Such moments can be profound, exhilarating, disheartening or even shocking. While we can't go back and change our pasts, we can use knowledge from these moments to map our futures. In the first column of this series, you learned four key steps to setting clear and realistic goals for yourself. Setting them is the most important part of the process, however, the hardest part is actually sticking to your goals over time. There are three essential skills that are easy to learn and practice, and they have a proven track record with some of the world's most successful people.
1. Visualization. When you visualize yourself achieving your goal, you send a clear message to the unconscious mind -- it then starts making decisions and promoting behaviors that lead to your goal. This process has more power than most of us realize. Some publications from the field of sports psychology suggest that elite athletes spend as much as 30% of their time on mental work and visualizations. The famous golfer, Jack Nicklaus attributed mental image to be 50% of his golf fame. Renowned motivational speaker and businessman, Anthony Robbins, believes that positive visualization is the tenet of personal and professional success.
Start by sitting down in a quiet place and closing your eyes. Picture the goal you want in great detail as if you have already achieved it and are enjoying the fruits of your success. Try to include color, faces, things you are saying, thinking and feeling. The more detail, the better. Do this consistently, at least once a day. If your mind wonders, bring it back to the vision.
Use submodalities to increase the power of this exercise. This refers to the ability to alter your vision by slightly changing it in ways that make you feel excited or happy. Submodalities that inspire you are called drivers. The more drivers you have, the more strength you give to your vision.
2. End results. Your visualization should also focus on the results, not the goal. What's the difference? A goal is what you are going to do; the end result is how you are going to use or enjoy that goal. For example, if your goal is to get a law degree, the end result will not be to get a certificate that says you are a lawyer, but to actually practice law. If you're not sure how to make this distinction, ask yourself this question: What will my life look like once I have achieved my goal?
3. Interconnectedness. No matter what area of your life you have chosen for goal setting, the circumstances to support you must be present. If you are exhausted, depressed or anxious, no amount of visualization will help you stay on track. There are three things in your life that require your attention before you can achieve your goals - diet, exercise and attitude. Think of these three things as the fertilizer for the goals you are planting. That doesn't mean they have to be perfect, but it is crucial to make sure you are getting exercise at least five times a week, and eating in a way that gives you energy and balance. Finally, and most importantly, decide to have a positive attitude every day is crucial. (See past articles for steps on maintaining a great attitude).
To quote Andrew Carnegie, "If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes." We may not have full control over our futures, but we can harness the control we have and use it to the best of our abilities - so that in our moments of retrospection, we will be able to look back and say with confidence that we would make the same choices all over again.
Elisa Levy conducts seminars on conflict resolution and anger management. For more information, contact her at 305-296-5437 or visit http://www.elisalevy.com.