This is Gonna’ be My Year!
Many friends reminded me in their Christmas cards that 2016 was going to be my year. After all I had completed some recent milestones—like finally getting my master’s—and it was time for me to reap the benefits of all my work.
And now, as I’m well into January, I’ve decided if indeed this is going to be my year I should start setting things in motion to create what I want. Luck is good, but destiny can always use a helping hand, so I’m sharing my five-step plan to initiate change:
Step 1: Decide specifically what you want. It's very hard to really get what you want if you don’t know exactly what it is. People often spend more time deciding what TV shows to watch or what restaurant to have dinner at than what they want in life.
And if there are several decisions to be made (as there are in my life right now) prioritize, pick the one that is most relevant and put your energy there. If you want to handle an impossible boss more effectively or master yoga or be less stressed during your week, be very specific on what the results will look like. For me it’s finding the best city for me to relocate to. Specifically I want to wake up loving to walk in the green areas, not stressed about too much traffic, never worrying about snow. I see myself making a quick trip to an easy airport to fly off on speaking engagements, loving to come home to my beautiful city. The idea is to use your imagination and get specific. Einstein reminded us of the necessity of imagination; it’s a must if we’re going to create any type of change, otherwise our minds keep recreating what we’ve already got!
Step 2: Act as if it’s already yours.
Bright folks from William James--often called one of the fathers of modern psychology--to authors like Norman Vincent Peale, champion the behavior of acting “as if.” What does this mean? If my goal is to get a job and I’m going in for my interview, act as if I’m supremely confident and know I’m well suited for the job. Imagine how successful candidates would walk, talk and act on the interview, what their energy would look like. It’s unlikely we’ll get what we want--despite the hard work and effort we put into something--unless we create the results mentally first.
Step 3: Don’t allow internal sabotage.
It’s easy to get through Step 1 and 2, but then the pragmatic voice inside our heads reminds us this won’t work, hasn’t in the past and won’t now. Don’t worry, we can actually change that nasty little voice!
First of all our brains are wired to scan for, store and recall negative memories much more often than positive ones. By default we focus on the negative; it’s part of our heritage. Yet research says our wonderful brains can absolutely change if we argue against the negative thoughts we think. For example switch from a negative to a positive thought of feeling powerful and remembering when you brilliantly led the meeting or how you felt when you accomplished a really important task or skied a challenging trail. Savor the feeling and hold that thought for five, ten or even 20 seconds. Neurologists tell us that the longer something is held in awareness the more emotionally stimulating it is and the more neurons that fire and wire together. Focusing on the positive memory you want increases dopamine release making it easier to keep giving the experience your attention and strengthening its neural associations in implicit memory. Bottom line, when we remain alert to rogue, negative thoughts and keep focused, we set in motion opportunities to create exactly what we want.
Step 4: The Academy Awards are right around the corner, therefore see yourself in this new role as if you’re viewing it on a movie screen.
This approach is an excellent way to anchor the belief that you’ve already got what you want. How bright is the image? Where do you see yourself? What are the surrounding sounds, smells, sensations? See yourself in this movie and then experience walking into it, as if you’re the actor playing the role. If you’ve read my blogs and articles, I often speak of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelp’s secret weapon, what coach Bob Bowman devised to make him the greatest swimmer in his class…he taught Michael to create a video of winning, and watch it every day. The late author Stephen Covey reminded us to begin with the end in mind, and this is exactly what we’re doing, seeing ourselves accomplishing our goal as if it’s already part of our reality. And don’t forget the brain can’t separate our imagining something from actually living something, and will respond as if it’s already here!
Step 5: Stay focused.
Make this goal an important part of your plan for the new year. Perhaps that means you set your phone alarm to remind you five times a day to take five minutes and focus on your goal. Or talk to others as if it’s already a fait accompli. I’ve used this approach to buy the home of my dreams, climb Kilimanjaro, launch my non-profit and many other things. It works!
Why do some people seem to accomplish more than others? They follow these steps, whether they label them differently or just do so without even realizing their patterns. It’s the difference between folks who are always trying to get something done and those who refuse to stop until their goals become their realities. Sure setbacks happen, but they view them as feedback and information to use as they continue moving forward. And they make a daily practice of finding things in their lives to feel grateful for; it’s an excellent way to stay grounded, alleviate stress and feel happier.
Make this YOUR year. It can mean getting a promotion, losing weight, creating wealth or anything that matters in your life. Don’t focus on what seems to be the reality of the moment (I want to move up in the organization but no openings in my specialty are available) but on the outcome you want, and tenaciously keep that image. Remember just one small thing can create massive change, and you never know where it’s coming from or when, but this approach enables you to start the process. The results are always worth the effort!
Looking forward to helping you REACH YOUR GOALS this year. Please look over my programs and classes and let me be part of your success!
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Interested in hearing more about Jennifer’s future book It’s Never Too Late for a Second Chance? As a step-by-step manual to achieve success regardless of past history, track record or other challenges, it’s an inspiring and pragmatic combination of neuroscience, NLP, positive psychology and real-life examples that guarantee success through dozens of exercises and strategies.