Thinking about what you want to get away from, rather than what you want to achieve
Resolutions like “I will not smoke” are expressed in negative language – they’re describing what you don’t want. But this only gives you a mental image of what you’re trying to get away from – in this case, smoking.
Your brain unconsciously filters your perceptions of the world around you. Given the huge amount of sensory data available to you every single second, you have to ignore most of it – there just wouldn’t be time to take it all in. So, without even thinking about it, you choose to notice what you are interested in and ignore the rest.
Some of the filters are instinctive, designed to help us survive by noticing events that are likely to affect us – if somebody yells in your ear or starts taking off their clothes in front of you, they will probably attract your attention!
Some filters are learned – for a fashion-conscious person, someone with the latest handbag or top will stand out from a crowd of thousands.
The rest of the filters are the ones you install yourself, through your goals. Once your goal is set, your unconscious mind will be scanning the information coming in from your surroundings for anything relevant to achieving the goal.
You will notice opportunities, resources and people that can help you to get closer to your goal. It will seem like you are ‘attracting’ these helpful opportunities and people. if you had not set the goal, on the other hand, you probably would not even have noticed them, because they would not be relevant to you. It
So since we tend to attract what we are thinking about, telling yourself “I will not smoke” will just keep your attention on your cravings.
Other examples: “I wish I wasn’t in this job/relationship/flat” – if you think this way, without clarifying for yourself what you do want, your next job/relationship/flat may not be any better.
“Away-from” motivation can be great for giving you the kick you need to get going – but it’s undirected (“away” can be any direction) and it runs out quickly, as soon as you get far enough away from what you’re escaping. It’s also stressful, because you are carrying around your mental image of what you want to get away from.
More about this in my book “Achieve Your Goals” which you can order now on Amazon.
Next: How to avoid goal-setting mistake #2
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