Ready, set, goal!

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By Danielle Medrano

Danielle Medrano. Photo courtesy of the writer

Choose a goal. Any goal. It can be one you’ve wanted to accomplish for years, or one that’s recently entered your mind. Write it down in the present tense as if it’s already happened. For example, if my goal were a promotion at work, I would write:

“I’m the VP of Communications for company XYZ.”

Now repeat this goal out loud. And once you do, rate your believability of that statement on a scale of 0-10, with 0 meaning, “I don’t believe it at all,” and 10 meaning, “I’m surprised it hasn’t already happened.”

No matter what your number is, even if it’s a zero, this is valuable information to have and can help you take the next steps to actually accomplishing your objective.

Why you may feel stuck

There are two powerful forces that are either working for you, or against you in relation to accomplishing anything in your life. These forces are your beliefs and habits. When you do something repeatedly, to the point you no longer have to think about it, this action becomes a habit.

Do you remember the first time you learned how to drive? It might have been a stick shift or automatic, but it was difficult nonetheless. Both hands on the wheel, trying to keep an eye on the road, the rear view mirror, the speedometer, then braking, accelerating, turning, and oh, don’t forget – trying to keep some semblance of cool.

It was a lot of information to manage, but now after years of doing it, we only require a tiny fraction of the focus we needed when we first learned to drive. It becomes second nature to us, so to apply the same amount of concentration would not only be unnecessary, it would also be exhausting. Because the habit of driving has become so ingrained in our minds, we can listen to the radio, talk on the phone and drive at the same time.

And just like our actions, our repeated thoughts, too, become habitual. And those repeated thoughts turn into beliefs. Do you want to know if your beliefs and habits are aligned with your goals? Take a look at your results.

The science of success

Our brain is a mass of neural pathways, and every new action we take creates a new neural pathway. When we repeat the action, that specific pathway is strengthened, just like training our muscles. This is how we form habits and how we’re able to perform tasks without “thinking,” tasks as simple as brushing your teeth and as complex as driving a car.

Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief, says that 95 to 99 percent of our daily behavior is automatically caused by our beliefs and habits. Sit with that for a moment. That means, every day, almost everything you think, feel and do is programmed. It doesn’t require concentration and focus. It’s habitual.

The ability to automate certain behaviors served our ancestors well when they needed to keep an eye out for danger or hunt down dinner. In today’s world, it allows us to multitask and get things done on a daily basis without over-expending energy, like tying our shoes.

The only problem is, this automatic button programs our thoughts in more important areas of our lives and determines what we believe to be true about money, health and relationships.One goal, two minds

We’ve all picked a goal before, maybe even mapped out a detailed plan to get there, only to have our desire run out of gas a few days or weeks into the journey. Need I mention weight loss or New Year’s resolutions? We can do all of the right things behaviorally – purchase a gym membership, follow the latest trend in dieting, buy mounds of lettuce – but our decision to change comes from our conscious mind, and our beliefs and habits are stored in our subconscious. In an arm-wrestling match between these two, the subconscious will win every time.

Think of the conscious and subconscious mind as an interdependent couple. They interact with each other all day long. One can’t live without the other, but interestingly, their personalities are very different.

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One Response to Ready, set, goal!

  1. Pingback: My article featured in Latino Perspectives Magazine! | Mindful Management

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