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The one problem with visualization

family positive thinking Jan 23, 2017

Now that you have visualized what success looks like in your chosen area, I have to warn you about a potential pitfall.

When we use visualization effectively, it releases all sorts of feel good chemicals in our brain and makes us quite happy.

Why is this a problem?

Because the brain has such great feelings thinking about our goals that it thinks that it has ALREADY achieved success! This is why day dreaming is so very lovely (and problematic!!)

When we have all these great feelings we end up doing LESS to achieve these goals!!

This can be hard to understand but think of it this way: we set goals and strive to accomplish them to feel we are living on purpose and to feel good about ourselves.

One of the pitfalls of visualization is that it creates these good feelings without actually working or achieving these goals.

What I am saying is that visualization is great but it is NOT enough on its own.

So, what should we do?

1) Visualize success and get clear on the goal BUT then take step...

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The 4 demons that stand in the way of aiming high

Let's talk some more about discomfort. Aiming high and achieving our goals requires us to do some hard work. But it also requires us to become VERY used to living with uncomfortable feelings.

Let me explain.

  • Fear 
  • Uncertainty
  • Doubt 
  • Shame


These are some feelings that we encounter when we want to achieve something meaningful in our lives.

When we first begin on the journey to actualizing our potential, we think that if we are feelings these things, something's wrong. We may think that either we are on the wrong path or that we are ill equipped to take this journey.

What if I told you that EVERYONE (well, mostly everyone that various studies have followed!) feels fear, uncertainty and doubt when embarking on something ambitious and/or meaningful to them?

I remember that when I was writing my book last year, I became very familiar with what I began to call 'the demons' of fear, uncertainty, doubt and shame. These demons would make me want to give up on a daily basis.

I learnt...

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Between discomfort and delusion

Goals outside our comfort zone challenge us and encourage us to give it our very best. They create the right amount of stress to help us perform our best.

There is, however, a fine line between discomfort and delusion.

Delusion means that the goals are so unrealistic that they are highly unlikely to be realized. Delusional goals are not only outside our comfort level, they are wayyy outside our current skill set and available resources.

Goals in the delusional zone set us up for failure, leaving us feeling defeated, frustrated and discouraged.

Let us take health goals. Committing to a non-negotiable regimen of daily movement maybe outside our comfort zone if we do not have a regular program of movement and lead a sedentary lifestyle. Setting and achieving a goal of regular movement will require us to make commitments and develop habits which will very likely be uncomfortable in the short run.

Setting a goal of running 10K outside every morning in the winter at 6am in Eastern...

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Aim high when setting goals

Let us talk about career and personal goals for a minute.

You may be tempted to play it safe when you are setting goals. You may want to set targets that you can easily reach to avoid feeling the emotions that come with failed attempts at reaching your goals.

While easy goals may cause some satisfaction and feeling of achievement in the short run, (it feels sooooo good to tick off something off that list, doesn't it?) they do not lead to major progress or growth in the long run.

Your goals need to be outside your comfort zone to cause you to stretch and grow.

In other words, aim high. Get over playing it safe. No one who achieved anything significant in life did it while playing it safe.

Let the adventure begin.

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Process and outcome goals

There are some changes that we desire to make in our lives are habit related, for example, to exercise "more", eat "healthy", go "less" on social media. These are mostly the kind of resolutions that we make.

We will refer to them as 'process goals' because these are permanent changes that we wish to implement in our lives. Things that we want to give up or new habits that we wish to adopt fall under this category.

Regular exercise is a great example of a process goal. This is something that ideally we would like to become part of our lifestyle.

There are other goals which are outcome related, such as "lose 20 lbs", "read 10 books", "make 1,000 sales" etc. Goals like these are accomplished when the target is reached.

Of course process and outcome goals can work really well together in many areas of our lives. In health for example, a process goal would be to exercise 6 times per week and an outcome goal might be to achieve a blood pressure reading of 120/80 or better. The outcome...

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How are your New Year Resolutions going?

Did you make New Year Resolutions this year? How are they going?

If you are like most people, you made some resolutions (that you have made before) and are already beginning to fall behind. Statistics show that less than 10% of people who make New Year Resolutions end of keeping them for the duration of the year with most people failing to keep their resolutions within the first quarter of the year.

Does this mean that we should just give up and not work at becoming better or achieving progress in various areas of our lives?

Not at all.

We just need to rethink how we are going about it. In other words we need to set ourselves up for success so that we have the best chance of achieving what we are working towards.

As a first step we need to move from making resolutions to setting goals. What's the difference, you ask?

A goal has is a clearly defined target while a resolution is just a hopeful change that requires no plan. We can resolve in our minds to make improvements, but until...

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What were the biggest lessons learnt this year?

Did you get a chance to 'clean up' unmet goals and commitments over the weekend?

As we continue with our end of year review, let us reflect on the life lessons that this year has taught us.

It is important to reflect on lessons learnt, because it has been said that those who don't learn from their past are doomed to repeat it.

So what are some of the lessons you have learnt this year?

While you are writing them down, it is a good idea to write them in short positively worded statements such as:

1) I learnt that if I keep taking small consistent steps towards a goal, they really add up
2) I learnt that it REALLY pays off to bite my tongue when I want to be right
3) I learnt that God always sends a sign when I need it the most. I need to be clear in asking for it, though!

Do you feel like sharing some of your life lessons from this year? I would love to hear them!

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What needs to be cleaned up?

As we continue with end of year reflections, let us tackle some more challenging questions:

What are some goals that you did not meet?
Commitments you did not end up keeping to yourself?
Commitments that you did not end up keeping to others?
People that you need to apologize to? (hard one, this!)

The end of year is an excellent time to review what did not end up happening this year. Declare it not done, and either recommit or let it go.

It is not a good idea to ignore it or carry it forward to next year because it is sapping your unconscious energy.

A fresh start requires that we are intentional about endings as well.

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Check your assumptions!

Human beings are meaning making machines. We often take 2 + 2 and make it 22, filling in all the missing numbers in our head.

Making assumptions, or mindreading as it is also called, is not always a problem. When I am grocery shopping for example, I will often pick up things that I assume my family will like.

Other times, however, when we make assumptions about what someone is thinking, why they are doing what they are doing or what they are thinking, we need to remind ourselves that it is very possible that our assumptions are wrong.

The only way to know for sure if our assumptions about someones behaviour or thinking is to check them out.

How? Just ask!

"why did you . . ."
"why didn't you . . ."
"am I right in thinking that . . ."
"would love to know your thoughts"
"how do you see this"
"am I right in thinking . . ."
"help me understand . . ."

This week just begin to notice how many times you are assuming what is the motive behind someone's action. And then check your assumptions. You...

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Perfection versus excellence

Let us talk about excellence. Excellence is "the quality of being outstanding or extremely good". Not perfect. Just "extremely good".

Compared to perfection, which can only be achieved in the final outcome, excellence is something that we can choose to practice moment by moment.

The standard of excellence empowers us to keep giving our best. It is focused on effort rather than outcome. On the process rather than the outcome. We could give it our best and achieve an excellent result, even though it is far from perfect.

This is why I call myself a recovering perfectionist. Each time the 'perfection monster' whispers in my ear: "You did not do that perfectly" or "That could have been much better", I remind myself how perfect is the enemy of good. And how done is better than perfect.

It is the only way to move forward, really.

How about you? Are you ready to try practicing excellence rather than pursuing perfection?

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