It’s that time of year again when there’s fresh inspiration to start anew, a great opportunity to re-energize your life with new possibilities for the success and happiness that await you in the coming year. The sky is the limit.
If you read my previous post on “How New Year’s Goals Give Life Direction,” you know this endeavor is a healthy one, highly recommended for its physical, mental and emotional benefits. Symbolically, it’s a good time to stretch out of an old comfort zone, make desired improvements at home or in your business, or replace a life draining habit with an enriching one, and that’s just for starters.
Let’s be honest, however.
When you start to think about the upcoming year, New Year’s resolutions and making changes in your life, all in one breath, do you get a weary déjà vu feeling? Or maybe a “been there, done that” moment?
Like many, do you start to predict the future, and seemingly certain of the results, do you make the same negative forecast each year? For example, you recall your good intentions when you listed your resolutions, however, the inevitable emotional roller coaster ride arrived, along with those dreaded feelings no one likes, such as disappointment, inadequacy, or just plain overwhelm, making you ready to get off, and wondering why you got on in the first place!
Before you allow your emotional energy to be affected by this storyline, however, consider the following. If New Year’s resolutions haven’t worked for you in the past, and they don’t for most people, it’s likely not you, rather the approach or thinking pattern that is the problem. These kind of thoughts, which are common by the way, lead people down a rabbit hole.
So, first, to refresh your thoughts, pause for a moment, smile, close your eyes, and take a long, deep breath or two. Now, feeling grateful, really grateful (keep smiling!), imagine the amazing abilities you know you have to create happiness and the life of your dreams. See it. Feel it. Believe it.
Next, ask yourself, “Do I really want to make some changes and improvements?” If not, read no further.
If your answer is yes, however, there’s good news! Goal setting is now a proven science. It’s based on recent findings in neuroscience as well as decades of studies of top performers in all fields of endeavor. Based on this research, we now understand why resolutions generally do not work. They are vague, uninspiring, and feel like “must’s” — all of which produce low energy states for your brain. To get those action producing neurons firing, you need high-energy states, such as enthusiasm and determination—what is known as a mindset for success.
More specifically, to succeed in achieving your goals, you need to address the following three areas:
- First: You need a mindset for success.
- Second: You need clear, specific and inspiring goals.
- Third: You need a plan to maintain your enthusiasm in difficult moments.
I discuss the first area below, and the second and third areas in two subsequent posts. So what can you do to prepare your self with a mindset for success to successfully realize your goals? For starters, you can approach goal setting in the following four ways:
1. Envision your success in reaching your goals. Studies show one of the key attributes of successful people is the automatic habit of imagining themselves reaching their desired goals. They contemplate “with the end in mind,” in the words of leadership guru Stephen Covey. Envisioning the achievement of your goals allows you to feel the great feelings this produces inside. Why is this important? These good feelings automatically produce thoughts and actions in the direction of your goals.
2. Practice a positive attitude to regulate your emotions. You need a way of thinking of goals that allows you to better handle stress, setbacks, etc, that are a natural part of life. The beliefs you hold about these stressors, or what is possible for you, shape your emotional states. Whereas positive thoughts and feelings produce hormones such as Oxytocin, the safety and love hormone, negative thoughts and feelings produce hormones such as Cortisol, the stress hormone.
Your thoughts explain why you tend to gravitate toward some things and avoid others. The ability to consciously choose what brings you joy, i.e., eating healthy food, rather than give in to your senses, i.e., junk food, gives you emotion-regulating power. And, it is your emotions than shape your actions, not logic.
3. Have a working knowledge of how your brain works. Whenever you want to implement change or an improvement, the part of your mind that runs the body’s autonomic systems, the subconscious, is your point of contact. This is the part that is responsible for your survival response, emotions and the formation of habits.
Unlike the conscious mind, it does no thinking of it’s own. It eavesdrops on your thoughts 24/7 to know what emotional states to produce and behaviors to activate. If you have hidden fears, resentment, rage and so on, connected to a desired goal, your subconscious mind will block any changes. So be prepared to learn ways to gain the cooperation of your subconscious.
4. Handle your fears by taking a learning approach to life. For many, setting goals is a fear inducing activity. It’s essential to identify, to understand and to take action to confront any limiting fears. One way to effectively deal with survival fears of rejection, abandonment or the unknown, etc., is to adopt a win-win view of life, for example:
- See life as one ongoing opportunity! Whatever you do is either an opportunity for success or for learning. It’s a win-win. Refuse to take any set backs or obstacles personally!
- Tell yourself there is no failure. It’s all feedback. Wins come from failure. For example, many people know of Babe Ruth’s record home runs, did you know he has the record for the most career strike outs?
So are you ready for the next phase of goal setting with a success mindset? The only thing you stand to lose is…a poor attitude. Why not let go of old attitudes, and proceed with courage and fortitude…and smile! You are meant to be triumphant and victorious!
Once you understand this, know, believe, and act on it with a mindset for your success!
This New Year, I wish you hearts filled with gratitude, awakened to inspire all the possibilities you have within you to create a bright future for you and your relationships!