Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.
Why you need a vision
Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.
How to create your life vision
Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.
What do you want?
The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.
It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.
Some tips to guide you:
Remember to ask why you want certain things
Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
What are your values? What issues do you care about?
What are your talents? What’s special about you?
What would you most like to accomplish?
What would legacy would you like to leave behind?
It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.
Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.
A few prompts to get you started:
What will you have accomplished already?
How will you feel about yourself?
What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
What does your ideal day look like?
Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
What would you be doing?
Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
How are you dressed?
What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.
It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next step. Give yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.
It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.
What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
What would you have needed to learn along the way?
What important actions would you have had to take?
What beliefs would you have needed to change?
What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
What type of support would you have had to enlist?
How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?
Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.
It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.
Here are the six visualizing guidelines that I personally follow when I visualize that allow me to get into the details. They’re not rules. You can come up with your own and develop your own patterns and habits. For me, these are what work and I’ve got some rationale behind each that I’ll share, but I don’t want you to think that these are rules. I’m always making exceptions to them and so can you. This exercise is simply based upon our thoughts becoming things, which is really the only “rule” there is.
1. Visualize once a day. Once a day is all that’s necessary. Of course, you can think happy thoughts on your way to work, or falling asleep at night, and you might even visualize a second or third time every now and then, but overall let this be an exercise that you do one time each day and then let it go. I’ve met too many people who’ve never visualized before in their life, yet suddenly they read or hear about visualizing, get very excited, and then want to do it forty-seven times a day! If you go overboard, thinking that if once is good a hundred times must be better, chances are you’re going to start comparing your champagne and caviar dreamed-of-life with where you now are and become overwhelmed with the disparity and the distance that it seems that you have to travel. You may even become discouraged to the point of quitting visualization altogether. Moreover, you’re constantly and perpetually living in some future world and you’re going to miss out on who you already are and all you already have. Don’t do that to yourself. Do it once a day and let it go.
2. Visualize no longer than five to ten minutes at a time. If you try to visualize longer, no matter who you are, you’re going to start day-dreaming…probably about sex! Or something else equally distracting. And then you’re going to get mad at yourself. You’ll label yourself, thinking you must have adult ADD. You’ll then draw the false conclusion that visualizing doesn’t work for you. It does work for you and it’s easy, just cut it off at no more than five or ten minutes. I visualize every morning before work for just four minutes.
3. Imagine every conceivable detail. Playfully create imaginative, elaborate scenes in your mind’s eye that depict your changed life. Imagine the sights, sounds, colors, textures, and aromas. Make the image in your mind as real and vivid as possible. Of course, I’m not talking about attaching to those details. Just use them to get excited about all the amazing changes that will soon be happening in your life. This how the details are valuable—priceless, even.
4. Feel the emotion. Feel what you’d expect to feel, experiencing the life you dream of experiencing. Feel the joy, the confidence, the satisfaction. No matter how silly it seems in that dark and quiet room when you’re shouting “whoo-hoo-hoo-hoo,” do it! How badly do you want what you want? Chances are you want it bad enough to feel a little silly, to get a little “stupid” in the dark quiet privacy of your own home when you’re visualizing. Emotion is truly the turbo-charger of change; it’s as if our emotions supercharge the thoughts associated with them and that extra charge gives them power over your other competing (or sometimes contradictory) thoughts, drawing circumstances into your path that facilitate your big dream’s manifestation. I tell anybody who wants to bring about major life changes that they should begin with a visualization program; however, I tell anyone who wants to bring about major life changes quickly to visualize with emotion. I’m actually told by many audience members that they aren’t able to imagine details. They tell me their mind doesn’t go there and they even wonder what it is everyone else is seeing. If this is you, perhaps you’re even at an advantage because the most important thing anyone can put in their mental imagery are not the physical details, but the emotional ones. Drop all of the physical details, and just feel the joy, which truly cuts to the chase, bypassing all cursed hows, giving the Universe maximum latitude to work out the details that will bring that smile to your face, the way you put it out there when you visualized.
5. Put yourself in the picture. You’ve got to be there, in the picture, if you want your manifestation to include you. For example, let’s just say one of the details you’re visualizing is a new car. Right before you close your eyes, look at the back of your hands. Your hands are different than anybody else’s: your fingers, finger nails, the hairs, wrinkles, and even the rings you wear are unique. Visualize your hands in your mind’s eye wrapping around the steering wheel of whatever it is that you most want to be driving. This was confirmed beyond doubt by someone who wrote me saying, “Mike, I’m having trouble visualizing. I want that new Volkswagen Beetle, retro-design, sapphire blue!” And of course I replied to her that this is not asking the Universe for too much; you know, there are a lot of those out there, you can have it, visualizing shouldn’t be hard. “Mike, you don’t understand. I was recently involved in a traffic accident…” Unh-oh, I thought. “I was rear-ended…by a sapphire blue, retro-design Volkswagen Beetle.” Ah-ha! “And, Mike, that’s just the half it…this morning…” (I could almost hear her crying between the words) “I watched my neighbor drive to work in her brand new, sapphire blue, retro-design Volkswagen Beetle!” The moral of this story? Put yourself in the picture. And for that matter, while we’re at it, include happy, smiling pictures of yourself on your vision board and scrap book! Feel your toes in the sand at the beach, or feel your hand in the palm of another as you walk together on a moonlit night. Smell the aromas of the scene you’re imagining, perhaps the salt in the air or the smoke from the fireplace. And of course, again, feel the joy. Emotions are powerful for yet another reason, as they automatically put you in the picture.
6. Dwell from the end results—or beyond. This is just one more way to say what I’ve already said many times: do not mess with the cursed hows. When visualizing go to the finished, completed picture—your dream already come true. Do not visualize how it will come true! The cursed hows are the banes of our primitive existence. Yet we’ve all been told since we could crawl that we should mess with the hows, that we’re irresponsible and reckless if we don’t. The truth of the matter, however, is that messing with the hows is what slows us down, tying the hands of the Universe and leading us to think that we must carry the weight of the world upon our shoulders. Incidentally, should you be wondering how it’s possible to take action while not messing with the cursed hows, that is addressed specifically in chapter four. For now, we’re talking about visualizing, and when you do this don’t even think about thinking about anything else. –
You know, we’ve all been there in one way or another: we’ve been tense and focused on money, maybe stressed, maybe short with our spouse, maybe short with our kids….and in that moment when we’re stressing about money, we’re missing the world around us.
You know what I mean when I say “That awful feeling in the pit of your stomach because you feel like you have to worry about running out of money at the end of the month.”
I’ve been there, then back on “top”, then stressed again, a few times in my life.
I heard a funny thing the other day; someone was saying how they thought ‘rich people’ always think about money and ‘rich people’ are all shallow.
Maybe some are shallow, but in my experience and from what I read, when you had enough money to pay the bills and to live in a decent way, you’re NOT thinking about money much at all. When you have enough to cover the bills, you can think about fun things, about things that you WANT to do in your job and career, and things that you can do for or contribute to others – you can choose to enjoy life a little more.
When I was struggling with income and bills, and when I observe others that have the same struggle to pay bills and meet their obligations, they think about money all day long.
There is a great book that I highly recommend called “Bridges out of Poverty”. It helps explain how people struggling in poverty are constantly thinking about how they are paying the bills, food on the table, tires on the car, utility bills, etc.
Even if we aren’t at the poverty level, we can sometimes have some traits of the poverty mindset……we worry about money, about paying the mortgage, about our jobs, etc. This never creates a good feeling inside, does it?
Again, as someone that has been back and forth, here is some wisdom that I’ve learned from a few others and I believe that it really can help:
Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want – instead of focusing on the bills and lack of cash, focus on the things that you really want, the freedom, peace of mind, better health, better relationships, enjoying life, security for your family, etc.
Watch your self-talk- we all talk to ourselves and ask ourselves questions throughout the day. There is enough negativity in the world, don’t add to it by bringing yourself down. I was someone who beat myself up for many things and once in a while still do – if you do also, STOP. Reflect on accomplishments, look for references why you’re good at something, ask yourself questions like “Why do I deserve this?” and “Why am I so lucky?” instead of things like “Why can’t I earn more money” or ‘why is this such a struggle’ or ‘why don’t I ever win anything?”
Have a vision – ok maybe your life isn’t where you want it to be now and you want to improve – almost everyone does….create a vision. It doesn’t have to be a major complicated thing – something as simple as some bullet points or a paragraph or two is fine – create a simple story of you as you want to be – make the story in present tense as if you already have it – as if you are already “THERE” and you’re looking back on today, when you are struggling. Make sure that in the story you talk about how you’re proud of the steps you took, the hard work, the good attitude, and how you changed for the better. Remember, tell the ideal story of your life as if it is already done!
Enjoy the present, live in the moment – when we worry about the future or fret over the past, we miss moments and experiences right in front of us. I recall a time when my wife and I had time alone and I sat there worrrying about something that never even happened. Another time I recall worrying about something and basically ignoring my daughters when I had a free day with them. We all lost and nothing was gained. Take a moment to look around, be aware, and live today’s life. Things can happen in a moment. Look for miracles. You gotta celebrate life’s moments no matter what. There is no rehearsal.
Here’s something that can be the toughest for any of us – do the above each and everyday. We can all do things for a while or on occasion, or here and there. We have to ask the right questions, focus on the good stuff, reflect on our vision, and enjoy the present every day! We all must take action – even if they are just baby steps each day. Ask, ‘what thing, regardless how big or small, can I do today?” You don’t have to spend long on it – but at least 5 -10 minutes. Can you turn off the TV, put down the phone, or walk away from the computer or ipad for 10 minutes if it makes you better?
Remember, people with much less smarts, ability, education, opportunity have done great things, contributed, made money, helped others, and been successful , you have the ability, you have the power inside, you just need to take action.
(Simple Stuff is simply a bunch of inspirational, motivational and other quotes meant to make you think, reflect, smile, even laugh a bit. Hopefully helpful, useful stuff….)
Celebrate what you want to see more of. -Tom Peters
The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate. -Oprah Winfrey
You’ve to celebrate the good days because there are brutal days that make the good ones sweet. -Brian O’Driscoll
Life has meaning only in the struggle. Triumph or defeat is in the hands of the Gods. So let us celebrate the struggle! -Stevie Wonder
Dream on it. Let your mind take you to places you would like to go, and then think about it and plan it and celebrate the possibilities. And don’t listen to anyone who doesn’t know how to dream. – Liza Minnelli
“Don’t forget to CELEBRATE!!! Anchor the experience of doing something truly extraordinary with an awesome celebration.”- Tony Robbins
I think we all need to celebrate more often. – Jim Frey
Imagination was so much fun for me when I was a kid. I recall growing up in the 1970’s and very early 1980’s and pretending to be superheroes like Spiderman and Batman. I imagined that I was Luke Skywalker or Han Solo from Star Wars. I even pretended to be a guy called Ultraman – Ultraman was a TV show on cable – it was from Japan and often the dialogue was dubbed. Ultraman sometimes fought Godzilla, so that may draw a picture for you what the show was like.
I’ve never really liked to go to sleep. Even today I don’t want to go to bed, many nights. I’d rather do something else. When I was young, I of course had to go to bed at a certain time. So I would lay in bed and pretend to be one of the above superheroes. I’d go through scenarios while laying in bed, probably for hours. I recall my dad walking in on me once and I must have been pretending to be fighting a villain while saving the world. He wasn’t too upset but said it was late.
I also used to imagine myself as a pilot and business man. I wanted to be a fighter pilot for so many years – long before “TOP GUN” came around. I went to airshows, read books and magazines about planes and talked to pilots. I actually later soloed in a plane before I had my driver’s license. I had about 40 hours in flight when it came time to go get a flight physical so I could proceed toward a private pilot’s license. I found out that my severe color-blindness and astigmatism was pretty bad, according to the flight doctor, and even though I could easily get a private pilot license, it would be very unlikely that I could be a fighter pilot, corporate pilot, or even a commercial pilot. I was pretty devastated. I took a few more lessons but decided that I was just wasting money and gave up on that dream.
So I focused more on business – working in an office, running a business, being my own boss, much like my father. I imagined traveling and talking to people, helping them, making money. Later in life some of my imaginations came true. I really believe that I set up these ideas in my mind and looked for them as life went on……
As I have gotten older, I have imagined other things – a career, things about my marriage, things about my daughters and our relationship, my golf game, remodeling homes, etc. We had a totally unfinished upstairs at our first house – my wife and I used to imagine how we’d finish it. Finally we drew some sketches and then went ahead and did it. Like so many people, we visualized the outcome long before it was done.
….Imagination is so powerful. It is pretty fun too. Just think about it – basically everything in our world; homes, buildings, books, movies, amusement parks, hospitals, songs, art – everything happening in some way or another in someone’s imagination first….then it became real. Think about Disney World and that great empire….even if you aren’t a fan of going there it is a wonder of achievement and making dreams happen.
Imagination can be our friend or foe. Worrying is a form of negative imagination. If you sit around and worry, you are imagining bad things. Just as you can create an idea about remodeling, then make it happen, you can create a situation that involves stress, anxiety, fear, anger – and it too can happen.
Imagination; paired with the right emotions and a strategy, can help you achieve anything! When was the last time you had some fun and imagined a bit. Take a moment and imagine – almost like you were a kid. Maybe you want to think about your golf game, a relationship, your career, or just something crazy and fun. Take time and do it.
Below is from Wayne Dyer at www.waynedyer.com. He shares his thoughts about imagination…….
Your imagination is your own fertile field for growing any seedlings that you choose to plant for a future harvest.
You may have been told that you have always been a dreamer, as if this were a fault. I can speak here from experience. Family, friends, teachers, and even advisors frequently disparaged ideas that burned brightly in my imagination. I often heard comments such as, “Wayne, you’re such a dreamer. Get real. You are never going to make it as a writer, or a television performer, or a movie personality. Be realistic—we know what’s best for you.”
When I was being discharged from the Navy at the age of 22, my superiors warned me that starting college at my “advanced age” was loaded with uncertainty, particularly since I had no higher education experience, and I would be competing with younger recent high school graduates. Since I already had a skill as a cryptographer in the Navy, they advised me to pursue what they felt was best for me. But I had a dream—an imagination filled with the idea of teaching, writing, and speaking to large audiences. I saw myself onstage. I saw myself as a prominent author. And this vision could not and would not be sabotaged by someone else’s vision of what I should or could become.
As a young boy in a foster home, I almost always ignored other people’s ideas about what I should be thinking or doing—I simply was indifferent to their opinions regarding what I could imagine for myself. I have carried this kind of inner discipline regarding my own imagination with clarity, refusing to allow external opinions to cancel or diminish what for me was hallowed ground.
Not long ago, others advised me that acting in a movie was not sensible for me as a 68-year-old man with no acting experience. I once again remembered to hang the DO NOT DISTURB sign at the entrance to my imagination, and proceeded to take acting lessons and adopt the self-enforced regimen that allowed me to create a movie. It is a product that fills me with pride today—all because I have diligently practiced the following rule:
Never, and I mean never, allow anyone else’s ideas of who you can or can’t become sully your dream or pollute your imagination. This is your territory, and a KEEP OUT sign is a great thing to erect at all entrances to your imagination.
Stay in a state of grace and gratitude for this resplendent gift that is always yours to do with as you choose.
These pillars are essential to success in any business, but especially important if you’re building your business on your own. They are:
1. BUSINESS MODEL 2. PLANNING, PROJECTS & SYSTEMS 3. MARKETING 4. MINDSET
In today’s lesson I’m going to give you specific exercises that will help determine your financial future. But first, I think it’s worthwhile to know why I created The Alliance – not because I want to sell it to you; but rather to start a conversation about what it really takes to learn what you need to know, AND build something remarkable (and profitable) with that knowledge.
I’ve been serving as an author, speaker, and mentor for service business owners for the better part of a decade and I’ve always been a bit skeptical of my industry. Over the past few years, I think it’s gone even farther off the tracks with inexperienced coaches offering mentoring programs, over-the-top hyped up events and too many silly and half-baked “3-easy-steps” type of advice.
I know that service professionals are in need of a lot more than a weekend event or a teleseminar lasting a few weeks. It’s great to get energized but it shatters your confidence when you come home and all the hype fades away.
Don’t get me wrong, inspiration and passion play a huge role in creating the life of your dreams. After all, I am “the guy to call when you’re tired of thinking small.” In fact, I wrote the book on it: The Think Big Manifesto.
But you also need real, concrete, actionable plans to serve as a vehicle for your passion if you want to succeed. I’ve taught thousands, tens of thousands actually, how to get more clients and the truth is; there is an unending source of tactical information out there but only those who are truly serious and committed to a long-term plan create remarkable (AKA: real marketable) businesses.
I wanted to do something about it. It’s one thing to sit around being annoyed by what I saw as the lack of real business-building programs but another to do something about it.
Anyone can tear something down; building something better in its place takes courage and commitment. If I was really going to be true to what I teach, I needed to create the solution.
I believe that I’ve done it in The Alliance. If you are serious, I mean very serious about creating the business and life that you really want then consider applying. It’s not for everyone. It’ll be hard work and I’ll challenge you. But it may be for you. If it is, that means I’m meant to serve you and I’ll do my best work with you.
In The Alliance, we always start with the most important habit an entrepreneur must develop: GOAL SETTING and the ACHIEVEMENT of those goals. It’s a basic concept but fundamental to success. I suggest you start with the same now.
Of course, the future is uncertain. You cannot always predict a result but when you set goals you:
Engage the power of a decision. Your Ferrari will go nowhere until you decide to shift into first gear.
Begin to filter out the noise. When you know what you want, you can begin to ignore the things that don’t support the achievement of your goals.
Conscious and subconscious mind begin to work in unison to achieve your specified objectives.
Are able to model others who have achieved what you want. Only by being clear about what you want can you locate the best mentors to model what they do. It’s one of the fastest ways to succeed.
Great leaders always deal with reality. If you know where you are then you can map out where you want to go and how you will get there. Start with the two most important questions:
What’s working best in your business?
What aspects of your business are in need of the most improvement?
Now, look at how you currently spend your time by filling in the blanks to the following statements:
Over the past 12-months, % of my time has been spent working ON the marketing, sales and growth aspects of my business.
Over the past 12-months, % of my time has been spent working IN the business with clients.
Over the past 12-months, % of my time has been spent on personal pursuits (friends, family, hobbies, etc.)
Over the past 12-months, on a scale of 1-10, I would rate my efficiency as a ________
How would you like to spend your time?
Over the next 12-months, % of my time will be spent working ON the marketing, sales and growth aspects of my business.
Over the next 12-months, % of my time will be spent working IN the business with clients.
Over the next 12-months, % of my time will be spent on personal pursuits (friends, family, hobbies, etc.)
Over the next 12-months, the #1 thing I need to do consistently to be as efficient as possible is…
And, finally, how much money are you going to make over the next twelve months?
Over the next 12-months, I would like to earn $ ________ in gross revenue.
Over the next 12-months, I would like to keep my expenses below $ ________.
Over the next 12-months, I would like to earn $ ________ in profit from my efforts (gross revenue minus expenses).
That’s it for today. Remember to think big and embrace abundance. If you need to go back and do this exercise of thinking bigger about who you are and what you offer the world, do so now.
Know that the only true scarcity is your resistance to embracing your own true self, your hopes and dreams, your capacity to think big.
When you resist yourself you create false scarcity: I’m not enough. I’m not as good as . . . [pick a name]. It’s too hard. There’s no time. I can’t start because I don’t know how it will end. When you focus on what you are not, what you do not have, and what you do not (and often cannot) know, you focus on a self-induced scarcity.
Each of us is naturally abundant. To exist is abundant. Look inside and see the glory of who you are–more than good enough.
I’ll be back soon with a deep and inspirational message on how to get your mind right. You’ll need it so that you’re able to handle all of the success that comes from the goals you’ve set.
Along with my beautiful wife and two great daughters, I just watched the movie, “Here Comes the Boom” with Kevin James
I find it pretty cool how Kevin James and other writers and actors in Hollywood can offer a movie that provides humor, insight, fart-type jokes, and inspiration.
Yes, I said inspiration.
In the movie Kevin James plays a teacher who decides to fight in the world of MMA to raise money to save the school’s music department. Sounds good, right?
But it is more – the teacher inspires others around him. Others inspire him. He raises the bar for himself. Others see it and they follow. They raise the bar and try to do better. Sure he gets some push back and there are naysayers and doubters. But the teacher, Kevin James, keeps moving ahead with the goal in mind.
He pushes himself beyond his comfort zone. He grew, became more confident, had focus, had clarity, gained more confidence, built momentum, built better habits.
He combined a good strategy with good emotions. He had friends that supported him, he had a coach to keep him focused and to help him stay focused.
He changes his own beliefs about him. He sees the world around him differently. His identity changes for the better.
The movie may not be the deepest movie but it was a good message to my kids, and yes, even me.
Forget the movie for a moment.
Ask yourself this, what do you that inspires others?
What can you do to inspire others?
Movies are able to offer dramatic examples of inspiration. We all would like to be able to be the hero, to go fight in the MMA, for instance, save the music program and be an inspiration to a whole school.
But it is just as or more important to inspire each other each day.
People are watching you each day – co-workers, kids, neighbors, friends, and strangers. People watch you and observe what you do and what you don’t do. You’re setting an example whether you know it or not.
Maybe you’re not fighting the guy in the MMA ring but you’re able to do something else to inspire others.
Maybe caring for others, teaching, giving, contributing, writing, taking a change, taking a class, following the dream.
Get up and take action.
Get up and inspire someone by doing, saying, or being something you want to be.
Inspire others because of all those people in your life, alive and dead, that have given to you, supported you, and inspired you. Inspire others so that you can look back on your life when you’re on your deathbed and know that you did all that you could.
To Achieve Your Goals, Learn How To Hack Your Brain
By Elliot Berkman and David Rock-October 10, 2012
A well-formed goal needs to engage your brain on both the “why” and the “how”–but you can’t focus on both at the same time. Here’s how to apply the latest findings from neuroscience to your own to-do list.
During the Major League Baseball playoffs over the next few weeks, you’ll likely hear a comment about a pitcher having a bad outing. You’ll hear commentators say he’s throwing but he’s not pitching. They mean the pitcher is going through the mechanics of delivering the ball to the plate, but his motion isn’t coming together as a cohesive whole to achieve his goal of getting outs. This usually means the athlete is overly focusing on the goal of the pitch–aiming it to a location, getting a strikeout, “not giving up a home run.” Often pitching coaches will advise the pitcher to focus on one concrete detail of their mechanics, such as their release point. This helps the pitcher subconsciously assimilate all the other details of his motion–the position of his fingers on the ball or the angle of his arm–to deliver a perfect curveball.
It turns out that the wisdom of baseball coaches applies to everyday goals like the ones we set at work, and offers insights about how goals are represented in our brains. Along with recent results from neuroscience research, those insights help us improve how we pursue our goals and ultimately increase our chances at success.
As with pitches, we can think about goals in different ways that can affect our success or failure. Are you merely typing words on a page or are you authoring a novel? Are you sitting attentively in a meeting or are you being an empathic supervisor? Psychologists Charles Carver and Michael Scheier would answer that you’re actually doing both at the same time. This is because both actions–typing words and authoring a novel–are embedded within the same goal hierarchy that contains multiple and different aspects of the goal. Motivation is represented at higher levels of the hierarchy and mechanics are represented at lower levels; asking why moves you up in the hierarchy, and asking how moves you down. With the pitcher, finding his release point is the way, but striking out the batter is the will. To succeed at most goals, both pieces are required–without a will, there’d be no need for a way, and without a way, there is no means to achieve the end–and, critically, the two must remain connected to one another to sustain goal pursuit through to success.
Researchers Robert Spunt at CalTech and Matthew Lieberman at UCLA recorded the brain activity of participants watching videos of people engaging in various everyday tasks like brushing their teeth or reading the newspaper. Critically, the subjects alternately thought about how the people were doing the tasks or why they were doing them. Thinking about how engaged regions on the left side of the brain involved in planning motor movements and tracking one’s location and others in space such as the premotor cortex and the posterior parietal cortex. Thinking about why engaged separate regions that are active when thinking about the states and intentions of others such as the right temporoparietal junction, the precuneus, and the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex. These two regions have little overlap, and some evidence even suggests that they are inversely related–when one set is active, the other set is suppressed.
These facts about the brain reveal practical tips for people seeking to better their own goal pursuit or to help others improve theirs. A well-formed goal needs to have a will and a way connected in the context of a goal hierarchy, but our brains can’t focus on both at the same time. The best we can do is to start at the top and work our way down by asking how until we reach a task we can easily accomplish. However, it’s important not to lose the connection between the levels of the hierarchy so you can readily switch back and forth between them. For example, if you get stuck on a task, move back up the hierarchy by asking why. Or, alternatively, if you are frustrated in why you’re not achieving a goal–whether it is delivering your PowerPoint presentation on deadline to a conference organizer, writing your presentation in a loud office with many distractions, or getting ahead of the batters by throwing strikes–you can move down the hierarchy and ask how. Addressing a key how can get you unstuck, moving you toward your why.
Leaders can play a crucial role here by identifying when employees are stuck at one level in the hierarchy and help them shift gears. For a pitcher, the coach might have to remind him that the goal is to record the out and not necessarily throw the perfect pitch. One brain may be forced to choose a will or a way, but two can have them both.
–Elliot Berkman, Ph.D., is assistant professor of psychology at the University of Oregon and a professor at The Neuroleadership Group. David Rock, Ph.D., cofounded the NeuroLeadership Institute and is the author of four books including the 2009 business best seller Your Brain at Work, and is also the founder and CEO of the NeuroLeadership Group, a global consulting and training firm with operations in 24 countries.
The NeuroLeadership Summit in New York City, October 15-17, will present a new model for thinking about goal setting. “Focus Your Aim: A Social Cognitive Neuroscience Model for Goal Pursuit,” will be held from 9:00-10:30 a.m. Eastern on Tuesday, October 16. You can also access our presentation live through a free streaming webcast of the conference
As you may have guessed I have been self-employed before and I enjoyed it. Even when I worked at two banks, I had lots of self-autonomy and acted as if I was running my own business or profit center…….
….I believe that we all should have freedom to be with our family or friends as we choose, to do things as we want, to make as much as we want, to spend quality time with those we want to, to be creative, to exercise and do healthy things, and so on…..
I really relish what working for oneself has to offer – whether it is inside a larger corporation or actually self-employed. I gravitate to these sorts of things….I wish more people knew what it felt like too…..
In any case, we all know that the Internet is full of so many gurus, gadgets and ‘opportunities’ that appear to offer freedom, income, etc. etc. I confess that I’ve tried a blog and business before. I had a CD-set of information, advice and references that I sold. I had podcasts. I sold books written by others on the same subjects. I’ve tried things and failed. I’ve also had a few successes.
I think many of us would like to work from home, or be able to do something like that. I believe that it is possible.
So, my point is, that I’ve come upon a couple interesting things. Really just two. I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars on many others. I have found many useful items, many scams, and things in between. Many items were actually good but perhaps something not what I wanted to do. There are many items out there that one can actually make money or do. It is about committment.
I respect the fact that you read this blog, I respect that visited this once or maybe visit each day. I promise that I won’t abuse your trust and the relationship that we have. This blog is primarily here to share good ideas, information and have fun. Deep down I believe that if I find something that is really good, it will still fulfill these things.
(This is one of a part of a series of WORDS TO LIVE BY. This series grew out of a workbook I first made for my young daughters and discussed at the dinner table. These Words include values, good ideas, and Words to aspire to….and learn from….enjoy!)
Clarity is something I think, as a whole, society, us, most of us, lack.
What do I mean?
Are you really clear about what you want in life?
Are you clear about your desires, dreams, goals?
For instance – I know many people, including myself, often talk about earning more and having a home business or something independent. We know we want more money, more independence. We know we want some sort of money set aside for a nice retirement, but then we stop there.
Clarity provides an idea, goal, understanding, transparency that we need.
If you can sit down and clearly write out your goal/plan/intention/idea, if you are clear what you want, all parties benefit.
How many times have you felt uncertain, uneasy about something? You just don’t feel right about it – often because you’re unclear about it, undecided, on the fence, etc.
I’ve had situations where I was in a bad financial jamb. I was cooked for the forseeable future.
For a long time I just tried to ignore or avoid the problem.
I felt uneasy, upset, stressed, confused, etc.
Then one day I told myself I’d sit down for 5 minutes and review all my statements and paperwork. Just 5 minutes.
Even though my situation didn’t improve, reviewing the problem – becoming clear what the situation was, did help.
Then I took a piece of notebook paper and wrote a very simple plan to move ahead.
I assure you that the plan was not complicated, high-tech, creative, or brilliant.
But I was now clear on the problem, and clear on action steps that I could take.
I felt a lot better. A simple step helped!
I confess that my wife told me I seemed happier. I saw a friend that day and he said I seemed more relieved (He knew my situation).
My wife and I have had challenges in life and we approach them differently for all sorts of reasons. Like any relationship, we had to communicate our expectations and come to some sort of agreement.
Many times, relationships are stressed because people don’t communicate, they don’t share expectations, and they aren’t clear with each other.
Now my wife and I sit down and spend just a few minutes on our budget, expectations for the week, for the next few months, for our common goals – we work together to get clear on our life.
It is a simple step that we didn’t take before and it added to our financial problems.
When you’re working, going to school, doing anything worthwhile (even not-worthwhile), being clear about what you want makes such a big difference.
How many people do you want to reach today with your message?
How do you want to contribute to the world/society/family/life?
How much income do you want to earn this year/5 years/10 years?
What kind of work do you want to do? How many pages do you want to write?
What things do you want to improve upon in _______?
WHat does freedom/independence/the ideal life really mean to you? What is the ideal day life for you?
What do you want people to ‘feel’ when you talk to them?
What is important to you – GET CLEAR!
We so often go through the motions, get lost in the noise, listen to society.
Our inner voice is so much better, so much more powerful.
You may believe in something else, but I believe in some sort of Creator.
I believe that the power or Source or whatever you want to call it is not just “out there” but it is IN US.
We are part of this Source/Creator/God.
If we get quiet, listen to ourselves, and get clear on what WE want, and let our inner voice guide us, rather than someone else, I believe that we can act with guidance from the Source/Creator/God – it is almost divine guidance.
It doesn’t need to take long either. Just take a few minutes and get clear on one thing….right now.
Below are some more thoughts on Clarity……
Think about the recently famous Felix Baumgartner’s Supersonic Jump from the Stratoshpere (on October 14th, 2012). Have you seen it or heard about it? If not – it’s OK – I wrote a post about it here on this site.
The reason why thoughts of that jump filled my mind is because Felix Baumgartner accomplished a very clear goal he set for himself about 5 years ago… it took him that long to train for it… but his intentions were crystal clear even though that goal 5 years ago might have seemed a little unrealistic.
I know it took him 5 years to accomplish it but you’d be surprised what you can accomplish in 30 days.
Just as an example, when I got laser focused on my blogging almost 60 days ago now, my blog traffic went from daily visitors in the teens and twenties to hundreds .
I sometimes listen, watch, and read stuff from a marketing guy named David Wood. David Wood spends close to 2 hours on the subject of clarity in this one podcast (and much much more) and how to set goals in such a way that they become so crystal clear that you can actually feel them as being accomplished.
Also, here is a video by Tony Robbins where he emphasizes how important clarity is to accomplishing goals.
What Tony Robbins says in that video is right on the money…
“Life Will pay whatever price you ask of it.”
Without clarity, you cannot accomplish any goal that you set for yourself.
You too, can have clarity, implement these methods in your business and start making the income that you deserve.
Do you ever get so busy with the details of your life and the countless things you need to complete, that you end up feeling exhausted and disconnected?
The result: Your mind becomes clouded and unable to focus and you start to make poor decisions regarding your priorities. You end up working hard instead of working smart.
What do you do when this happens? Do you take the time to step out of the situation to regroup? Or do you continue with what you’re doing, all the while feeling that you’re running out of time, besides you still have a massive list of tasks to complete. In the past, my natural inclination was to do the latter and, in the end, I would be left feeling burnt out with my spirits down.
Lately I’ve been running around preparing for several major changes in my life. I’ve felt my mind becoming consumed by the problems revolving around these changes. My eating schedule became irregular and my decisions felt clouded. When my clarity started to fizzle, I found myself making decisions and judgments based on emotions rather than on logic or intuition arising out of clarity.
The following is a simple technique I’ve used to reconnect myself to what’s most important: my inner self. In doing so, Clarity came.
I’ve always been attracted to the idea of a Spiritual Day or a Clarity Day, in which you spend the whole day disconnected from the information world and the many distractions of modern life, and start to connect within yourself.
If this sounds too mystical, don’t get caught up with the words, they are just linguistic symbols to communicate ideas. When you really get into such a day, it can become a source of great bliss and understanding of one’s self. During these times, we can experience tremendous personal growth, peace, and satisfaction.
This is also the perfect chance to clear out the noise and mental clutter that collects in our inner space from the hectic demands of our life. Through better understanding of ourselves and our surroundings, we gain more than clarity, we gain self confidence.
Similar to Self Dates or Alone Time, on a Clarity Day your goal is to spend an enjoyable day on your own and away from everyday distractions. Aim for minimal planning, so that you spend the day following your heart and enjoying the spontaneous expressions of the present moment.
Here’s an example of how I spent this past Saturday, when I deeply needed clarity and to connect with myself:
Basics – From 8am to 8pm. I was doing everything on my own, without friends or family. All distractions such as cell phones, home phones, computers, and TVs, were turned off.
Salon – I’ve always enjoyed getting my hair done. My favorite salon straightens my hair at each appointment. I sat there with my eyes closed and enjoyed being there. The girls kept asking me if I needed a magazine, and I would say “No thanks. I’m happy just sitting here.”
Walk – I walked out of the downtown Salon and drifted randomly uphill to the Capital Hill neighborhood. The day was so beautiful. I enjoyed looking up at the sky and passing by families of tourists and Saturday shoppers.
Café – I found a comfortable corner seat by the large windows at a local café. I pulled out my book and my journal. Periodically, I would sit back with my book in my lap and enjoy watching people. People are so interesting, and if you try, you can sense what people are feeling. I had a fantastic seat for people watching and deeply enjoyed the experience.
Meet a Stanger – I started talking with an interesting new friend who sat next to me. We talked about happiness, art, and creativity. It was very simulating and felt good to connect with another human being; they add meaning and dimension to your life.
Read – I read Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle. A short but enlightening read. It is full of bite sized wisdom to help find the stillness within you.
Meditation – 35 minute guided meditation. When I opened my eyes after the meditation, I felt like I was seeing the world with new eyes. I felt calm and happy. I followed this up by lying down on my yoga mat and visualizing all of the things I am grateful for. I got up feeling incredibly centered and present.
Journaling – with my new found clarity, I wrote out my thoughts and feelings. In doing this, it gave me a chance to organize my thoughts (which were the source of my problems), along with options for dealing with them. I’ve learned that recording emotional events and personal realizations in a journal can be a fulfilling experience. Especially when you read the entries several years later.
I stepped out of the day in a peaceful state and had regained my clarity. I felt like my spirit had been recharged. It also became clear that my problems are only as big as I perceive them to be, in my mind.
Henry David Thoreau famously wrote that most people (‘the mass of men’) live lives of quiet desperation. Most of us probably wouldn’t describe our daily experience as ‘desperation,’ but there may be an uncomfortable feeling that we are drifting along, not having a clear aim, not having achieved what we dreamed about in the past and yet not knowing quite why.
Usually, this feeling is not painful enough to drive us into making any real changes, so the danger is that we can drift along like this indefinitely. Many people who have made significant advances in life have had periods of intense discomfort which have forced them to go inside, reflect and become more aware.
For most of us, there are things we can do to become clearer about where we are, what we want and how to get there. These practices may be less radical that sudden upheavals and painful experiences, but they can be uncomfortable – learning new things usually is – and a gentle persistence will be an important attitude to adopt if you attempt them seriously.
The kind of meditation the Buddha is said to have taught is most closely reflected in Vippassana or ‘insight’ meditation. The technique is extremely simple: no special apparatus or prior knowledge is needed, just a quiet place and a period of time. All you have to do it sit comfortably with a straight back and observe your breath. Nothing more. In time, the practice is intended to bring about clarity and insight into the nature of the self, and that of reality.
Some years ago, I attended one of S. N. Goenka’s famous ten day Vippassana retreats. The Goenka organization is a worldwide group dedicated to teaching the practice of insight meditation. The retreats are tough – many hours of meditation, only two small meals per day, basic communal facilities such as dorms, and a strict code of silence. Attendees are not allowed phones, books, journals or any other form of intellectual stimulation.
The Goenka courses are excellent in the sense that they force you to meditate – there are quite literally no distractions, and one is forced to face up to the many obvious – and subtle – ways in which we try to avoid a practice which is so alien to our restless mind and which forces us to face some uncomfortable realities. But for those not quite ready to take the plunge, there are plenty of online courses available, such as those offered by Wildmind. It is also usually possible to find a local meditation centre offering guided evening sessions.
Meditation is a way of focusing on the present moment in a very intense kind of way; the practice of mindfulness is a way of being present throughout the day. It just means watching yourself, being a silent witness to your own feelings, thoughts and reactions, in order to gain clarity about everything you do, feel or think. We usually move through life in a fairly unconscious state, responding to circumstances in a conditioned way, unconscious repetition of learned behaviors.
Becoming more mindful is not easy – it requires a great deal of practice but will, in time, lead to a great deal of clarity and insight into what drives us. With this knowledge, we can make better choices and exert more control over how we respond to situations and hence what we experience.
Two books I particularly recommended are Awareness by Anthony de Mello and Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Gunaratana. De Mello’s book is full of anecdotes and stories which underline the importance and the (sometimes surprising) consequences of being more ‘awake .’
Our connection with the natural world
Although we might sometimes be tempted to see ‘nature’ as ‘something out there,’ separate from our experience, we are, of course, very much a part of the environment, and we naturally feel more centered and clear when we are close to our natural environment. We haven’t been living in houses and apartments for very long, and city living is a particularly new innovation which can be very stressful.
It is helpful to find time regularly to spend time in a more natural environment. This doesn’t have to mean trekking through the jungle – even walking through a park or a garden can bring great benefits. In Hong Kong, where I have lived for many years, it can be extremely difficult to find the time and the opportunity to get out into nature, but it is possible, and making a conscious effort to do so enables me to maintain more balance and perspective. If I can do it here in Hong Kong, I think almost anyone can!