If you want to achieve or learn something new, you need commitment and focus. You can unlock these by playing some clever tricks with your mind. This shouldn’t scare you, as it’s a relatively simple exercise that anyone can do.
Every 60 seconds, somewhere in the world an ambition dies a quiet death. It dies because it never had a reason to exist. It might be an ambition that started with the best of intentions, but then life happened. Many people’s dreams and desires get repeatedly suffocated by other priorities.
It’s all a matter of priority
‘Not having enough time to do something’ has nothing to do with time and everything to do with priority. If something is important enough, people find a way to make it happen. But, if something else comes along that seems more important, they go with that instead.
It might seem like every project you think you are committed to is only one crisis away from being destroyed entirely. Since life never stops throwing surprises at us, how do you combat this and stick with your goals?
You just need a why
A lot of self-development books start with a section on ‘why’. They even tell you not to skip it because it’s important. The reason why I used to ignore that and skip it anyway was because nobody explained how it worked.
We are heavily influenced by our subconscious mind. A good ‘why’ is like a business case for your subconscious. When you start something with a convincing why, you almost never struggle for motivation.
Your subconscious allocates enthusiasm just like the CEO of an organisation allocates money to big projects. A CEO won’t release funding for a major project without a solid business case, and your subconscious won’t release enthusiasm without a solid why.
Example 1: Starting without a why
Imagine it’s a Saturday afternoon. You’re sitting in your living room, and you look up and realise it needs a really good tidy up. So you say to yourself “I really should clean this place up”. Next, you look at your laptop and remember that your favourite TV series has just been released on Netflix. Deciding your cleaning can wait, you decide Netflix is more appealing, and spend the rest of the afternoon watching episodes on there.
What just happened was that your subconscious declined the business case “Clean the house” because it saw no benefit to you in doing so.
Example 2: Getting warmer
You take a break over Christmas and start reflecting on the year passed. You reflect on what worked, and what you could improve on. You decide you’ve had enough of being a few pounds overweight, and want to get fit again. So you proclaim that this will be your new years’ resolution. You join a gym and start an exercise program.
Three months later, you realise your decision was an impulsive one, and are stuck paying a gym membership for the remaining 9 months of the year. What happened?
Unlike the first example, your subconscious approved the business case, but gave it a one-off grant. It said
“Ok. I get that you’re really keen on this exercise thing, and it seems to have other benefits like improved health and wellbeing, but your case isn’t compelling. So, I’m going to give you a grant. You will have three months of enthusiasm from me, then after that, you’re on your own”.
Sadly, I suspect most big initiatives receiving a grant from our subconscious end this way.
Example 3: Starting with a persuasive ‘why’
You have a strong interest in a particular culture, and skills that could really help them. The problem is, you don’t speak their language. You truly believe that you can help them and make a real difference in their lives. But if you can’t speak their language, you can’t help them.
You decide you are going to learn their language. Rather than start for the sake of it, you make your work all about the impact it will have on those people. Learning a language is hard work, but it’s also an enabler of something much bigger. You focus on that. You think about what life will be like for those people if you put in the hard work now.
When you hit stumbling blocks along the way, you will be fighting for a much bigger cause than something you impulsively decided over Christmas.
What do you think your subconscious will do here?
Do you see the difference?
Having a why isn’t really an option, it’s a necessity. A good why speaks directly to your subconscious by helping it visualise how life will be if you achieve your goal. The why needs to speak to your core being, and light a flame within you that won’t burn out.
If we are to squeeze anything important into our increasingly busy lives, it’s critical to have a compelling reason why.
What are some times when you have seen this in action for yourself? Let me know in the comments below.