Many people set a goal in their mind of what they would love to accomplish, only to instantly prevent an emotional attachment to that goal by creating a backup plan. Commitment to success and the existence of a backup plan are mutually exclusive. Entering halfway into any endeavor is the quickest way to ensure a future exit.
To reach any goal, a true connection and commitment to that goal must be made or the driving force to change your habits will not be strong enough. Saying “I would love to lose 40 pounds, but I’d be ok with losing 15″ often prevents you from losing 40 OR 15 pounds. The backup plan of 15 pounds is not nearly as exciting of an accomplishment, so thinking about losing 15 rather than losing 40 pounds instantly disconnects you emotionally from your TRUE end goal. Emotion is your absolute most important tool in reaching the goals that you set. New habits based on logical choices without an emotional anchor are nearly always short lived.
The key is to convince your subconscious mind that your goal is not simply a wish or hope, but is just an inevitable “future memory”- and once you believe that you will accomplish your goal, your daily habits and choices will begin to reflect that. The saying “What you believe, you can achieve” is not simply a cute saying to tell children, it in fact has more truth and depth than it is typically given credit for. Will power can greatly affect short-term decision making, but if you do not believe that you will reach your goal then you really have no reason to stay committed to it.
The most effective way to re-wire your brain for success in your goals is through the use of meditation and visualization. Even in a short time of 8 minutes per day, the changes can be amazing. While meditating, you achieve brainwave states that allow more direct communication to your subconscious mind, with much less of a “logical” conscious filter telling you that what you are thinking about is silly and will never happen.
Visualization also has this conscious by-pass, as your subconscious mind does not truly know the difference between imagination and real life (which is why your silly and ridiculous dreams still feel real while you are asleep and unable to access your conscious filter). A short meditation to clear the mind of conscious thoughts and reach a more receptive daydream-like state greatly improves your ability to access your imagination that most of us have all but lost in our adult years.
A great place to start is to meditate for just 5 minutes, trying to sit comfortably with your eyes closed and just focus all of your thoughts on your breathing. At first, quieting the mind is no simple chore- but the most important part is to understand that this is completely normal and just remind yourself as many times as is necessary to return your focus to your breath. If anything, the more times you find your thoughts wandering away from your breath, that is more reason to be excited about the process you are undergoing. The more room for improvement, the greater the opportunity for change.
Immediately following this 5 minute meditation, spend the next 3 minutes just visualizing yourself having already achieved your goal. The absolute most important part of this is to FEEL the emotion of reaching your goal. If your goal is to lose 40lbs as in the example, then don’t just picture yourself 40lbs lighter, but instead picture yourself doing all of the things that you will be able to do and feel in a different way once you have achieved your new body. And of course, picture yourself looking the way you want to look.
Try to picture the same scene every time that you do this so that you can burn that visual into your mind. This will make it gradually get easier to visualize, because it may not be easy for you to access your imagination at all in the beginning- but if you can just get a couple of vague images, then the next time you do it you have that as your starting point to gradually build on each time you do it.
Begin putting these habits into practice and you will be amazed at what will happen in just 30 days of following this routine. The best times to do this are directly after waking up or directly before going to sleep. Or, if you want to fully immerse yourself in your new thought patterns, you can achieve even faster and more powerful results by doing this both after waking AND before going to sleep, and even a 3rd time to refocus yourself in the middle of the day. I personally do a 30 minute morning meditation when I wake up and 15 minute meditations mid-day and before going to sleep (I do not recommend starting at any longer than the 8 minutes described earlier).
In the end, the details behind how you do it are much less important than the fact that you do it.
…To be continued in my next blog in which I will cover the significance of each of the 5 brainwave states (most importantly for this topic- Beta, Alpha, and Theta), more tips on how to meditate and eventually reach deeper states of meditation, what is really happening from a neuroscience perspective on re-programming your brain and how that leads to changes in daily habits.