This one should be pretty obvious but it’s really not. If you want to get somewhere, you have to know where that somewhere is, right? Would you get in your car to go on vacation and have no clue where you are going? Not likely. Yet many people go through life doing just that. They say things like “I want to make a lot of money” or “I want to lose weight” but those are not clear goals. How much money do you want to make? How much weight do you want to lose? What’s your target date for achieving those? Very few people have any idea of the specifics of what they want or how to achieve. Most people don’t know how to set goals to get themselves focused on what they really want to achieve.
Dr. Maxwell Maltz said “When you see a thing clearly in your mind, your creative “success mechanism” within you takes over and does the job much better than you could do it by conscious effort or “willpower”.” This does not mean you’re free to sit back and just think about something really hard and it will automatically happen. What it means is that if you focus on what you want, make it a priority in your mind, you unconscious mind will start to move toward that thing. It will start coming up with ways of how to get it. Have you ever wanted something really bad, like a new car? You see a specific model you like and make up your mind you want one of your own. Then you start noticing them on the road and in parking lots and you look more closely when you drive past a dealership. You read more about it, notice more ads for that car. Pretty soon anything that involves that car catches your attention. What’s happening is your unconscious mind has become focused on that car so you become more aware of everything that involves that car. You start working out ways to get one and the more focused you become on getting it, the more ways your mind comes up with to make it happen. It has a goal.
So how do you set goals? First, you have to have at least some idea of what you want to accomplish. If your goal is losing weight, think about it and determine how much weight you want to lose. Now you have a goal of losing 20 lbs. Think about it, maybe you want to lose 20 lbs. of fat and reach a body fat percentage of 8%. Now you’re getting into specifics! Be as specific as possible.
Now, attach a time frame to it, but be realistic. Wanting to lose 20 lbs. is a great goal but wanting to do it in 2 weeks is not only unrealistic, trying to do so would be dangerous! Considering a weight loss of 1.5 – 2 lbs per week is the recommended safe rate, set a goal of losing that weight in 10 weeks.
Now you need to understand why you want to get to that goal. When creating your goals, the reason doesn’t have to mean anything to anyone but YOU! The more emotional your reason, the stronger the need to reach that goal. Perhaps it’s a health reason, your doctor told you to lose the weight or die. It can even be that you just want to look great at the beach! Maybe there is certain someone you want to make yourself more attractive to. As long as it holds some emotional meaning to you, it doesn’t matter if it means anything to others.
Come up with a plan. Plan out how you are going to reach that goal. Maybe it’s weight training 3 times a week and cardio 3 times a week. Maybe it involves walking the dog every day before work. You must have a plan in order to reach your goals. While it is important to have that goal, it’s also important to have a plan for getting there.
Your next step is to write down your goal. Yes, put it down on paper. To start, you can make a bulleted list of each goal, the specifics of that goal, including timeframe, and the reason. For example, you might start with:
- Lose 20 lbs. by June 1st, to look great for my
trip to the beach.
- Lift weights 3X per week.
- 30 minutes of cardio 3X per week.
- Maintain 2000 calories per day.
Writing it down helps solidify the goal and the plan in your mind because it’s starting to take physical form. Do this with all of your goals.
The next step is to write your goal in the form of an affirmation. An affirmation is a statement of your goal as if you have actually achieved it and your actions as if you are doing them (and you should be).
- By June 1st, I weigh 180 lbs. and I look great
walking on the beach!
- I am weight training 3X per week and doing at least 30
minutes of cardio 3X per week.
- I am eating healthy foods and staying at 2000 calories per
Your unconscious mind does not work in the future, it works in the present. At any given time, it is working toward your goal, whatever it is, as if it were happening right now! Think about that. If you are sitting around telling yourself you are fat or you can’t give up cookies or beer, that’s what your unconscious mind is working toward. You gave it a goal of being fat, so that’s the target it aims at. We all have negative thoughts but we must learn to turn those thoughts around before they give our unconscious mind a target.
Ok, now you have your affirmation written down. Write it again. And again. Write it down on a card you can carry in your pocket at all times. Take that card out several times a day and read it. Anytime you have a minute or 2, take the card out and read it. Write it on a sticky note and put it on your bathroom mirror so it’s the first thing you see in the mornings. Put it on a sticky note on your monitor. Take 10 minutes when you wake up and 10 minutes before you go to bed to write it down at least 3 times. This will help to solidify this goal even more in your mind. When you repeatedly give your unconscious mind the same command, it can’t help but shoot for it! You still have to do the work to get there. That’s why you wrote the plan. Follow it.
One final note, when you are writing and reading your goals, believe in them! You can read them and write them all day long but you must believe and act as if they have already happened! Your mind must accept these goals as truth. Otherwise, they will not become the target for your “success mechanism” aims for.