Welcome 2016! It’s a great time for goal-setting! Let’s throw out the term “Resolutions,” as it’s loaded with a lot of negativity. Goals are important every day of the year, not just in January, but it’s nice to feel like I’m starting over fresh with a clean slate, not worrying about past failures with unmet goals and focusing only on improvement.
This post is part 1 of what will be a several-post series on creating and reaching your most important goals. Through January, on this blog you’ll learn about how and when to review your goals, overcoming fear and obstacles that are stopping you, tools that can empower your mind in reaching your goals more quickly, how to “chunk it down” into doable action steps, and using accountability partners.
The first step is writing down your goals, because as the saying goes, a goal not written down is only a wish. As you go to write yours, try the following four tips to make your goals as powerful as possible.
#1: Use Present Tense and the Phrase “I Am”
When we go to set goals, we see how far off we are now from where we want to be. Telling yourself “I will get in shape” isn’t real enough to your mind. It will just pick up on the implication that you’re not in shape now. Same with “I want to make an extra $1000 a month.” “I want” just draws attention to the lack that you’re experiencing right now. I know it sounds weird at first, but write your goals in the present tense of where you’d like to be, not where you are now. This creates “structural tension” in your mind. You’re saying (or writing) that something is a reality when it actually isn’t yet, so your mind will do everything it can to make it actually a reality, thus relieving the tension caused by the disparity.
Also try to use the phrase “I am…” whenever you can. These are the two most powerful little words to your brain, which is always searching for ways to define your identity. It will wake up and pay attention whenever it hears these words, especially when spoken with intensity, emotion, and repetition.
So what will your goals look like when written this way? Using the getting-in-shape example: “I am feeling energetic, slim, and trim.” (the subconscious also likes rhyming words!) And with the financial example, if your income is currently $4000 a month, your goal could state: “I am depositing $5000 per month into my bank account.”
#2: Use Positive Wording
Too many of us, when stating our goals, word them in terms of what we want to get rid of or stop doing. This is problematic because the subconscious mind often doesn’t pay attention to the words “no,” “stop,” or “lose.” What stands out to it are the words that evoke an image or a feeling. If the goal is “Stop smoking,” the word “smoking” is what the mind clings to. If the goal is “Don’t yell at my kids anymore,” it hears “yell at my kids.” If the goal is to “Lose weight and stop eating junk food,” the subconscious will remember “weight” and “junk food.” This is not what we want!
A more positive way to write a weight loss goal is, “I am feeling healthy at my ideal weight of 120 pounds.” Instead of “Cut back on sweets” or “No refined sugar,” write something that focuses on what you want. “I am craving only nourishing foods and indulging in dessert just once a month.” And a parent might write a goal stating: “I am speaking to my children in affirmative ways, using a kind and gentle tone of voice.”
#3: Write Measurable Goals and Include a Target Date
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Goals are dreams with deadlines.” Dreams are sometimes too big and ethereal to take action on. You need a target date because even though your brain may be motivated to reach the goal, your body needs the motivation the deadline implies, to kick it into action. And your goal should be measurable so that you know when you’ve achieved it, giving you a burst of “accomplishment energy” that comes as a reward every time you reach a goal. A goal is measurable if any impartial observer can come along and determine whether or not you’ve achieved it. (As with the parenting example above, this isn’t always possible, but you can still strive to be as specific as you can.)
For example, instead of “Buy a nicer house,” a measurable goal with a target date might be, “I am living in a new 5,000-square-foot beachfront home on or before October 1, 2016.” Instead of “Travel the world,” your goal could be, “I am enjoying touring Italy with my family in April 2017.”
#4: Handwrite Your Goals
No one hates handwriting more than I do. It has only gotten sloppier and more illegible over time. My husband is always going back over what I write and fixing the letters! But writing by hand is very important at certain times when you really want to get through to the subconscious mind. Typing just doesn’t make the same connection. Also, seeing your goals written down in your own handwriting has a powerful effect on your mind, making them much more personal. Since I keep a typed journal, I’m going to both type my goals and write them out by hand.
To close, I just had to include this list of goals I found in my daughter’s room when she was just six. (My favorite part is “If have time.”) Too cute! If she can write down her goals at such a tender age, so can you!