|Originally uploaded by nateOne|
The difference between a person who continually works toward and achieves his or her goals, and the one who doesn’t reach them, is what they allow their brain to do with this information. What will you do in those moments when it hits you that your goal isn’t a no-brainer? Will you keep that picture of your goal in your mind, and invest whatever energy and focus are necessary? Right now you might already be talking to yourself about how your goal would be easier to achieve if you were smarter, richer, thinner, more organized or better connected. Does that reinforce your destination in your mind, or does that only help you continue to carry the baggage of the past?
See if you can recall for a moment an upsetting situation or incident from the past that still nags at you regularly. Perhaps it’s something you did at one time that you are not proud of. Maybe it’s a relationship that went wrong, and you’re having a hard time letting it go. Perhaps it’s a time when you worked and worked – and you didn’t get the results you thought you deserved.
If you really stop to think about it, that situation is like a balloon – once the balloon has been burst you can’t un-break it. The same holds true with the rest of your life history up to today. It just is, and all of the inner rehashing and replaying you might be doing won’t change a thing.
Think for a moment about whether or not there is anything you learned from the unpleasantness or disappointment of the incident. If there is, jot it down so your mind can take the whole rest of the thing out of your short-term memory loop.
Once you have finished writing, picture yourself packing that incident into a magic expandable trash bag, the kind that cinches closed. How big is that old situation, and how much does it weigh? Is it heavy, prickly, jagged, cold, lumpy? When you have finished filling the bag tie it closed, really tight, with a double knot if you have to. Now pick that trash bag up and heave it over your shoulder. Don’t hang onto it – let that trash bag go flying behind you!
Flying trash bags?
We’re talking about flying trash bags here because right on the heels of your initial enthusiasm about a goal comes a necessary process of separation from your old habits of thought and action.
Although it might seem logical that you would automatically move away from your unproductive habits of the past to the better way you have laid out for the future, the old ways have become ingrained. They have become familiar methods, and so are somewhat comfortable even if they are unpleasant, or don’t get the results that you want. Separation from them is a necessary part of change and improvement. Visualize the trash bag exercise, or write your past bad situation down on an index card, then tear it up or burn it. The idea is to take some sort of symbolic action to demonstrate to yourself that the past is done and over with.
In the early stage of personal development it may be clear to you what you don’t want to do, but it may not be as clear what you do want to be doing. During the next stage of personal change you will test the solutions you developed; some will work and some won’t. Although you have already planned your goal in detail, once you are in action mode you will be learning things along the way. You will be adapting and improving your actions accordingly – if you allow your mind to be open to the learning.
You are in charge of the mood that surrounds your pursuit of goals. You can choose to see them as useful stepping stones to the future of your dreams or you can view your goals as pressure cookers and whipping posts. You will keep your enthusiasm high and your action plan rolling best when you talk to yourself positively about the progress, however small, you are making. You will be more likely to persist in stretching and learning if you reinforce the wins in your early results rather than the losses. So give those lumpy, bumpy, heavy, smelly trash bags the old heave ho!