Reflecting on my past year and my goals for the new year, I re-read Brian Tracy’s famous book “Goals”. In this book he identified three principles that are necessary to “program our subconscious minds” to achieve our goals. I found this to be a valuable resource and wanted to share his suggestions with you as you embark on the process of casting your vision for the new year.
Tracy suggests that we write goals with the 3Ps in mind: present, positive, and personal. Writing goals using these three principles dramatically increases both the probability and speed with which we achieve our goals.
1. Present. Our goals are more effective in the present tense. Rather than saying “I will exercise three times per week”, we can say “I exercise three times per week”. By writing our goals as if we have already accomplished them, we practice seeing ourselves as successfully achieving our dreams. This is similar to the “mental rehearsals” that many high-performing athletes use to prepare themselves.
2. Positive. Our goals are more effective when written as positive statements. This is one principle that I have often broken in my previous goal setting activities. Stating goals positively means focusing on the presence of what we desire in our lives, not the absence of something we dislike. I’ve often included on my goal setting lists, statements such as “get rid of the clutter in the office”. However, if stated positively my goal would read “I have a clean and organized office.” I can literally feel the difference in my emotions when I switch to the positive statement. Stating goals positively takes our focus off what we don’t want and onto what we DO want. Remember what we focus on, gets magnified.
3. Personal. Our goals are more effective when stated using the word “I”. Instead of writing “my goal is…”, we can write ” I weigh X lbs., I am a nonsmoker, I am the senior administrator of X company”. Tracy describes the power of “I” statements as submitting a factory order to your subconscious mind who will immediately go to work trying to figure out how to deliver.
Goals are an important and powerful component of both success and happiness. I hope this helps you in writing better goals and achieving them. Happy New Year!
Too often fear keeps us from identifying and going after our goals. We are afraid that we won’t be able to have the life that we want, so why bother dreaming. Or we get stuck in the dreaming/planning stage of our life without ever putting into action our plans to achieve our dreams. Both are the products of fear of failure. What would happen if we saw failure not as something that prevents us from accomplishing our dreams, but rather an essential part of the process? How might eradicating the fear of failure free you up to fully pursue and realize your dreams?
What gets labeled as “failure” is actually useful information that hold the keys to our success. Trial and error is an essential part of science and of life. All practicing scientists implement this system because they know that they can never accomplish the goal (e.g. cure for a disease) without trying out what is currently their “best educated guess” (hypothesis). Even if the experiment proves the scientist’s hypothesis wrong (which happens in most research), the experiment is not a “failure”. It has given the researcher and other researchers interested in this problem, valuable information to help them better understand and address the problem. Every scientific breakthrough and piece of technology that we have is the result of innumerable “failures”.
I am an observer of my own life.
So today take on the identity of a scientist studying your own life. Observe the activity and outcomes of your life without judgement. What yesterday you may have labeled as a “failure” today is simply “data”. Use that data to readjust your activity until you reach your goal.
If your goal is to stop eating fast food and you find yourself chomping on a Big Mac, don’t judge yourself and say you have failed. This is valuable “data”. Did you arrive at McDonald’s because you were working late and didn’t prepare a meal? Did you go there with friends who don’t share your goal of avoiding fast food? Are you there because you only have $5 in your budget for lunch and can’t afford a salad at Panera? Each situation provides a different understanding of the problem and the potential solution. By observing you behavior without judgement you are better able to learn from your “failures” and plan for your success.
Good luck to all you future scientists, I look forward to seeing what you will accomplish through your method of observation, evaluation, and action. Fail your way to success!