Ever go on a diet and gain weight? Ever promise yourself to cut back spending to the bare minimum and find yourself shopping online? Ever find yourself pining over someone you’re not supposed to date? The good news is that it’s not because you’re a weak person with no willpower, no matter what you say to yourself, it’s simply that you haven’t learned to manage your will power and intention in a way to help you succeed more easily. There’s all kinds research to back me up on this….the idea that what you resist persists!
If you want to read more on your own about this, Srinivasan Pillay, MD, is an assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard, no less, and he’s recently written a small book called The Science Behind the Law of Attraction. I found this gem while playing on Amazon and Pillay totally supports the approach to advanced goal achievement as taught in our Clarity + Confidence eCourse.
Here’s the crux of goal achievement: the number 1 predictor of what you achieve is what you think you will achieve. Therefore, if you’re not achieving something and you’ve been working at it persistently for some time, you might want to examine why you may lack confidence in your ability in this specific area.
I’ve seen this happen over and over in my own life (with losing weight and successfully growing my business) and with my clients (with making more money, speaking out effectively and changing careers.) Once a person really gets that achieving X is possible, that reality begins to manifest.
Sometimes what works best is to relax and focus on something else for a while.
In essence, when you try to achieve something you don’t really and truly think is possible, you create a great deal of anxiety in your brain. Keep in mind that your brain’s first function is to help you survive, not to become Mr. BigShot or Ms. Diva. If your brain feels stress (which it probably interprets as a threat to your survival,) it will put considerable pressure on your subconsciousness (the most powerful part of your brain) to avoid all semblance risk and to relapse into default behaviors that may be the ones you were trying to change in the first place. So...you have to outsmart your own brain!
Here’s a juicy example for a study cited in Pillay’s book.
Let’s say you’re in a stable relationship. perhaps happily married and someone at work strikes your fancy. You KNOW you don’t want to pursue this, but there is definitely some spark there. So you sternly tell yourself not to go there…and yet you keep going there in your mind. It’s like the more you don’t want to think about that person, the more you think about that person. Just like when dieting, the more you tell yourself not to eat X, the more you want to eat X.
If you’re totally focused on not spilling your red wine on the white carpet, guess what you’re likely to do? Yep! That’s right. You create so much stress around NOT spilling the wine that spilling the wine is exactly what you do. It’s like your brain doesn’t hear the "NOT" or the "won’t."
So what’s a high achiever to do?
Here are some of the strategies we teach:
Let’s assume your goal is to sock away $10,000 in savings each year and so far you haven’t done that. Let’s divide that by 12 and say you want to save $834 each month, or $384 every 2 weeks.
1. Write out a budget. We’re now in Dave Ramsey territory so you might want to check him out. What Mixonian Institute is saying, you gotta have a plan, even if it’s a bad plan, a crazy plan or a ridiculous plan. It’s not the plan that works, it’s the planning process that outsmarts your brain!
2. If you don’t think you can swing putting away $834 each month, how much can you save? Start smaller and build up. Each smaller success builds your belief in your ability for greater achievement.
3. Write out the advantages of saying this money, or make it visual with a vision board (that’s a poster with cut-out pictures from magazines that illustrates your ideal life.) A vision board is similar to a storyboard for those of you in the advertising business.
4. Make sure your goals are articulated in the affirmative. As stated above, your subconscious mind does not register the "not’ or "won’t."
5. Prepare for roadblocks and monkey wrenches. Based on your past experience, what do you think could happen to derail you? Decide in advance what you will do when unexpected expenses crop up, or you’re faced with culinary temptation at the SuperBowl party or you just heard your 34th "no" for the day and are feeling discouraged.
If you were the executive coach, what would you tell yourself?