My goal in life is to have no goals. They get in the way of true progress.
Plenty of successful people swear by goal setting. They’re praising the wrong behavior. Brain research tells us that the goals don’t matter–it’s the intention that gets us where we want to go.
Intentions and goals are not the same. Goals tend to be arbitrary and number-oriented, such as the number of pounds lost, amount of money earned, number of hours spent in the gym, number of new clients introduced or new products developed. Intentions are big-picture statements about what fulfills you. It’s a little harder to measure an intention, but the results are more meaningful.
Let’s say you want to lose 20 pounds. How will you feel when you do that? What will your life be like if you are 20 pounds lighter? Establishing an intention requires recognizing what will satisfy you.
You want to lose weight so that you will feel healthy, strong, fit, confident, attractive, and sexy. The number on the scale isn’t what matters most–it’s how you feel each day.
Here’s a weight loss goal: I will lose 20 pounds in five months.
Here’s an intention: I feel strong, healthy, fit, confident, attractive and sexy.
The problem with typical goals is that we tend to get bogged down by our “even though” statements. We tell ourselves that we are going to lose 20 pounds EVEN THOUGH we failed last time, EVEN THOUGH we question our ability to do so, EVEN THOUGH we don’t think we’ll be able to maintain it. Our minds go directly to the negative images and we sabotage our efforts before we even begin!
Here’s a thought: Why not create an intention that will get your brain to work for you instead of against you?
Intentions allow us to picture ourselves–and how we’ll feel–when we are successful. There’s no room for failure in the picture. We focus on the positive and powerful feelings we’ll have.
Intentions are always stated in present tense, as though you are already where you want to be. Instead of saying, “I will be strong, fit, healthy, etc.”, you say, “I feel strong, fit, healthy, etc.” What seems like a small semantic difference is a huge shift in our brains.
The latest brain studies suggest that the most effective way to change our beliefs is to create a mental story of success. We need to picture ourselves as we want to be, and we need to talk about it. Here’s the basic formula: See it, say it, hear it.
Our unconscious brain sees everything in pictures. It does not filter images based on what our conscious mind considers true, likely or possible. It literally does not distinguish between reality and fantasy. Think of the nonsensical dreams you’ve had!
Language is most fully processed in the brain when there is a visualized image to go along with it. These images and words become linked to create our “truth”– at least, according to our brains. And that’s where it matters most.
Say it out loud, and you’re engaging your aural learning skills as well.
By intentionally creating new images through visualization, we literally create our own version of reality, and as you’ve probably learned by now, we tend to live in whatever reality we construct. Our potential is limited only by the mental images we choose to develop and store. It’s that simple–and that profound.
Stop setting goals, and start creating intentions. The secret is to include ALL of these steps:
- SEE yourself in the circumstances you desire. Picture it perfectly.
- Craft a one-paragraph story that you would like to be true, and SAY it in present tense, as though you are describing your life right now.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat. Demand to HEAR that same story every night before you go to sleep.
What’s your intention? Focus on feelings, not numbers. Picture it, and write it down. Repeat it to yourself until it becomes familiar and beloved–complete with favorite parts, great pictures, and a happy ending.
Stop pushing toward goals and start being pulled by your intentions. Let your brain go to work for you.
See it, say it, hear it. You’ll never need another goal!
About The Author
Maya Talisman Frost is a mind masseuse. Her work has inspired thinkers in over 80 countries. She serves up a satisfying blend of clarity, comfort and comic relief in her free weekly ezine, the Friday Mind Massage. To subscribe, visit