It’s a well-known fact of human perception that we see what we’re looking for – and hear what we expect or want to hear. We have evolved with a survival mechanism which enables our senses to filter out the things that aren’t relevant to our interests, needs, fears and wants – and to focus on the things that are.
The human brain’s reticular activating system (RAS) is responsible for ‘briefing’ our senses on what to look for. Have you ever noticed that when you take an interest in something, and start thinking about it, you begin to see it everywhere – even if you’d never come across it before?
Have you ever noticed that some people seem to ‘attract’ the very things they want – while others seem to ‘attract’ the very things they fear? That’s RAS in action. Whatever your mind focuses on, is what your senses are primed to pick out amongst the barrage of stimuli thrown at you by the world you live in. It looks like things are coming to you – because your awareness is reaching out to them.
We can use that power when focusing on specific goals – it brings luck, coincidence and opportunity to us. As various scientists and sportspeople have found, it’s amazing how much ‘luckier’ you get when you start to plan and exercise self-discipline. As Thomas Jefferson said, "I’m a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it."
That’s the power of focusing on positive goals because we attract what we think about – good and bad. If we focus on what we lack, we don’t see anything else. If we focus on problems, things will get worse.
When I talk to people about setting goals, they often have what I call ‘head goals’ and not ‘heart goals’. Head goals are things you think you want to achieve like KPIs (key performance indicators) – for example, I want to make $1 million, I want to earn a $100,000 a year, I want to get a degree, I want to build a portfolio of ten houses, etc.
They are things you can strive to achieve but what is motivating those head goals?
Why do you want to make $1 million? Why do you want a degree?
Heart goals are how you imagine yourself living your life. Where do you see yourself in five years? What do you see yourself doing? How do you see yourself living your goal? The example I always give is that when I visualise, I visualise myself living in my goal. So if you visualise yourself earning a degree, the vision isn’t so much earning the degree, it’s actually practising with that degree. It is a means to an end.
Most people know the story of when I was 17 I wanted to be a millionaire by the time I was 25. What I actually visualised was me jumpstart skiing off the back of the pontoon at my house. That’s what I had a heart for – me owning that home, with a pontoon on a north-facing acreage block on the main river – which meant that I would be a millionaire. That was my heart goal.
>>> Coming Next: 10 Steps to Help You Establish and Keep Your Goals.