Are you a chronic goal setter? Maybe you know someone who is. A lot of us walk around with a “to-do” list, either written out or in electronic format, but these are not goals. When I speak of goals I mean the life-altering decisions you make.
True goal setting has four major components: 1) Deciding what you want, 2) Developing a Strategic Plan of how you’ll achieve it, 3) Developing a Tactical Plan that shows how you will achieve the Strategic Plan, and 4) Setting deadlines for the execution of the Tactical Plan.
Step one might seem obvious but for most people deciding what they want is the hardest step in this process.
This is a very personal decision that only you can make. We all want different things and finding out what makes your heart sing is your own personal journey. Decision making is intrinsically linked to our emotions and given our unlimited choices, makes choosing virtually impossible. The key is to make a decision based on what you most want and then, make that decision right.
The second step is writing a strategic plan to get from where you are to where you want to be. This is generally where goal setting starts to breaks down. This is meant to be a statement of everything you think you need to do to achieve your goal.
The third step is the tactical plan is where the rest of the goal-setting falls apart. The tactical portion is meant to be the step-by-step guide for how to achieve the strategic plan. Well, that’s great if you have already achieved what you want – because then you would know the steps to take.
When setting a goal, you have a desire and then you create a belief that you can achieve that desire. Creating strategic and tactical plans focuses your energy outside of yourself. Goals are something you go after by pushing your energy out toward the object of desire. What if I told you there is a much easier way to achieve what you desire?
The evidence for the power of goal setting was propagated by a famous Yale University study that supposedly proved beyond a doubt that goal setting was the secret to success. The study surveyed the graduates from 1953 and twenty years later did a follow-up study where they found that 3% of the surveyed graduates had a higher combined net worth than the remaining 97% of the participants. Due to a large number of articles citing the 1953 study in 2008, a Yale research associate did an exhaustive search of Yale University’s alumni research archives and found that no such study was ever conducted – the study was a myth and never existed.
There was, however, a study conducted in 1921 by psychologist Lewis Terman at Stanford University School of Education with 1500 gifted children to gain a better understanding between human intelligence and human achievement. This study concluded that intelligence was a lesser factor in the determination of human achievement. Discipline and self-confidence proved to be far more important than human intelligence for human achievement but by far the most important factor was the tendency to set goals. A tendency is an inclination toward a particular characteristic. If your normal habit is to set a goal you already exhibit the discipline needed to create intentions by controlling your thoughts, focusing on what you want, removing all doubt, and imagining you have already achieved your desire. Your imagination is the key element.
“Imagination is a preview of life’s coming attractions.” Albert Einstein
Three Levels of Emotions
There are three levels of emotions that attract success: desire, belief, and knowing. Although you must start with desire, it can sometimes be vague and lack specificity. It will get you some improvement but not necessarily what you might want, deserve, or even what you are capable of achieving.
The more we understand something the more we start to believe in it. With the achievement of each small step in the tactical plan, doubt begins to disappear, creating belief.
Knowing is an exponentially higher emotional energy level than desire and belief, removing all doubt while providing detailed clarity. Knowing is associated with the things in life you take for granted. Think of something you already do without consciously thinking about it. Maybe you have been making the best cakes from scratch for so long you can make them while blindfolded. Think of turning the water on at the faucet. You know, without doubt, water is coming out. There is no question in your mind. This knowing is the difference between setting a goal and setting an intention.
An intention is a goal with all doubt of attainment removed. Baby steps are not needed because there is no doubt for a belief to overcome. With intentions, you pull or attract objects to you. The difference between goal setting and setting intentions is the direction of effort. With intentions, you must know what you want and be definite in your ability to achieve it all the while keeping a clear mental picture with unwavering faith that it is already yours. You live it in the mind with a mental attitude of ownership and gratitude.
In Trevor Blake’s book “Three Simple Steps” he lays out three daily routines that can create intentions.
First: Reclaim and master your mentality. It isn’t easy and will be a lifelong endeavor but you must learn to control your thoughts to avoid anything negative to penetrate your consciousness and only think of positive outcomes. Control your thoughts by creating a mentality shield to protect yourself from all of the negativity in the world, on television, and in the people around you. You must practice the art of paying attention to what you really want, not what you don’t want. After that “React Forward”, take some action in support of your positive reality.
Second: Make a formal commitment to change. You will need to recognize and change existing patterns of unwanted behaviors. Once you open your eyes and your mind you will begin to see unwanted behavioral patterns. Pay attention to what unwanted emotions, thoughts, and reactions appear in your life. Once you have gained control of your mentality you will be able to break the unwanted patterns and rewire your brain neurons. In this case, believing leads to seeing changes.
To strengthen your connection between your thoughts and what you want, and to help create new neuro networks in the brain, take quiet time in nature and meditate for 20 minutes each day. A study done in 2011 suggest that only when people take time to quiet the left brain, to forget about to-do lists and unplug from all input, solutions often appear. Ideas, answers, and solutions will find their way into your consciousness. Most of the time we are thinking too hard to find the answers. It takes the stillness in nature to bring forth solutions for our questions. When you take quiet time, the answers find you. The more you struggle the more you get stuck. It is the stillness that will help open your subconscious to ideas and possibilities that will enhance your life.
Third: Transform your ideas into achievements. Your job is to know what you want but you don’t need to know how to get it. It is not your job to know how to achieve your desires, life will unfold the details. With this step you have to create a state of knowing. Creating a state of knowing is the key. It is created by a critical shift in mentality. Small changes in thought equal large changes in outcome. Thought energy creates reality. If you believe Einstein’s theory of relativity E=mc2, then you believe there is no difference between energy (thought) and matter (energy manifested). Because there is no difference between thought and matter, if you change your thinking you can use the power of thought to create the reality you want. The trick is to imagine you already have received what you want. Because your brain cannot distinguish between what is real and what is imagined, focused imagination is the key element.
By analyzing what thoughts and decisions got you success, all doubt is removed and the process is about getting ready to receive the benefit. The power of getting to the state of knowing is in the detailed understanding of the intention. Imagine yourself in the future having your desired intention. This causes your mind to recollect what took place to get you there, increasing the detail and familiarity with your desire because in your mind you have already achieved it. You experienced in your imagination what it felt like to have that desire. Your mind will automatically fill in the details of what it took to get there.
With goal setting, you think about what you want and design steps to take to get there. With Intentions, you work backward analyzing the steps and actions taken to make it possible. Belief is not a requirement for creating. Setting intentions uses the natural laws of the universe, specifically the law of attraction and the law of allowing. These laws of nature exist whether you believe in them or not. Mental imaging helps to create feelings of having already achieved your desires. In the famous words of Steve Jobs:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path; and that will make all the difference. “
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