The best way to get things done is to push yourself to start just a tiny bit, 5 to 10 minutes a day. One baby step. There is a rule in psychology that says “YOU DO, THEREFORE YOU ARE, THEREFORE YOU DO”. Just doing something causes you to think differently about yourself. If you start to do your goal activity like say exercising for 10 minutes a day, you will start to think, “I’m an athletic person” and thereby start to get into a habit of doing things towards your goal.
There are lots of motivational books, tapes, training programs and courses that talk about visualizing yourself achieving your goals and doing self affirmations by telling yourself that you are a great person and you can do anything. There’s also the popular best-selling book “The Secret” which says that you just have to ask the universe for whatever you want and think positively to attract good things.
Now as enticing and magical as all this sounds, science has proved that visualizing or fantasizing about yourself achieving goals is actually bad for you. According to extensive studies at the University of California and the University of Pennsylvania, people who fantasize about being slim or getting a dream job, or landing the mate of their dreams, are more likely NOT to reach their goals.
There are two reasons for this… since fantasy is just that, fantasy, people who daydream are often unprepared for the setbacks or difficulties that come along on the road to success. When something goes wrong, the visualizers tend to give up their dream instead of persisting. Researchers also found that indulging in fantasy and escapism was more fun than actually doing the work required to reach the goal, so visualizers tended to waste too much time dreaming instead of doing.
Now having said that there is a kind of visualization that actually works. Instead of visualizing yourself as a top tennis player, visualize yourself going through the process of training. Visualize yourself eating and sleeping properly, getting out on the tennis courts with an instructor, practicing your swings, etc. Visualizing the process of getting to your goal is actually effective.
Imagine the benefits of achieving your goals and also visualize the kinds of barriers or problems you are likely to encounter when you go after your dream. These kinds of strategic visualizations actually work very well. So, don’t daydream about sailing on a yacht with George Clooney; visualize how you’re going to get on that yacht with Clooney and some of the setbacks your likely to incur. And once you’ve figured out how to get on that yacht with Clooney, let me know.
Other techniques that have been scientifically proven to work in achieving goals are:
1. Making a step-by-step plan. Write down everything you need to get to your goal and break it into daily steps.
2. Telling other people about your goal tends to force people to complete their mission.
3. List the benefits of your goal.
4. Give yourself rewards along the way… everytime you make progress, give yourself a treat like a movie, bubble bath, new shoes, a cup of good tea.
5. And lastly, recording your progress in a journal or chart.
Now as mentioned earlier, you are going to hit some snags on your way to the top. A great motivational speaker, Les Brown says:
“If you don’t develop the hunger and courage to pursue your goal, you will lose your nerve and you will give up on your dream. If you don’t have the courage to act life will take the initiative from you. Act on life or risk having life act on you.”
There are many setbacks that can occur in life. Toxic people are one of them…and it’s a biggie. It takes an enormous amount of energy to achieve your goals so you need to surround yourself with people who inspire and encourage you and who make you feel good about yourself.
Now, what do you do when life hands you things that are totally out of your control…there are three questions you can ask yourself:
1. What can I do to move forward?
2. How can I grow from this challenge?
3. What’s within my control to change?
Scientists have also concluded that OVERTHINKING can sometimes severely impair our judgement and convince us to choose something we don’t even like. In Western culture we’re taught that the more we think and reason, the wiser and more rational our decisions will be. But the more we cut ourselves off from our gut feelings and natural instincts, the less equipped we are to make clear, smart choices. Our ability to pick up subconscious and nonverbal clues are more effective in guiding us to make correct decisions than hard thinking.
So don’t overthink or rationalize things, or make excuses. Go with your hunches and gut feelings! I hope you all go for the life of your dreams without delay, and don’t let anything stop you.
Written by Orli Kohn