Saturday, October 23, 2010

De-Mystifying the Secret

You’ve probably heard about the book/DVD/program called The Secret. Essentially it seems to suggest that achieving whatever goals you may have for yourself, your business or your personal life is a simple matter of having the right state of mind. It all seems very mystical and magical. I have a simpler, I think more rational approach to the phenomenon, which I wont call The Secret, because I’m sure that’s been trademarked and mine is a variation on the theme.

I do believe that it works and I believe I know why and how it works. The good news is, it’s not magic and with some practice, anyone can do it. My take is that it’s a kind of “top of the mind marketing” campaign. Your goals are the product and your subconscious is the target demographic.

It may be due to personal experience or a product of observation, but we often end up hard wired to believe that lofty goals are unachievable. Only a lucky few actually achieve the great things they set out to achieve. As a consequence we set the bar low. We immediately think of the obstacles to our success rather than the possibilities. The cumulative effect of our resultant behavior based on these underlying assumptions is that we don’t achieve what we want.

It’s not as easy as just making up your mind that you want to be a millionaire. You have to really sell the idea to yourself. Look at how companies like Coke, Pepsi, Google advertise their product and stay “top of the mind” with consumers. They splash their logos everywhere. They make you aware of who they are and what they have to offer and they keep you aware. You may not even notice the number of times you see a particular logo during the course of a day, but your subconscious brain sees it, and stores it, and eventually can influence you to act on it. That’s what you have to do with your goals.

Write them down. Believe you’re going to achieve them. Post them where you’ll see them every day whether you’re looking for them or not. Put a note on the fridge, on your computer monitor, above the stove. Set targets and regularly evaluate how you’re doing. The idea is to make spotting and taking advantage of opportunities to advance toward your goals automatic.

Your subconscious does not make things happen. However, you are bombarded with sensory information every minute of every day. You notice some things more than others. The collection of data that you choose to hold on to and process determines how you perceive the world, your day, your life. If you make yourself more receptive to input that will be of value to you in achieving the things you want, you will become more aware of opportunities and circumstances that you had been oblivious to before. Instead of unconsciously working against yourself, you’ll wind up unconsciously working for yourself. That’s why it seems like magic. You make better decisions which take you in the right direction without having to consciously process the information.

When Michael Jordan would drive the lane and make impossible slam dunk shots that thrilled millions, he didn’t ponder every step and measure every muscle movement. Constant practice, desire and confidence made it second nature. See goal; score goal. The subconscious and muscle memory did the rest with no overt input from Mike. Why did the tongue have to be hanging out from one side? Who cares? Don’t over-think it. Be the Michael Jordan of your destiny. Step one of course, is to decide what it is you really want and stop telling yourself you can’t do it. Then constantly remind yourself what you’re working for.

The more conventional approach to goal setting is to set aside some time to develop a plan and work on it at specific times while doing specific tasks. What percentage of your waking hours does that represent? If you can actually hard wire your brain to work on your goals full time like a software program running in the background, you can greatly increase the odds of success. The worst possible outcome is that you go about your day with a positive attitude and you don’t get a million dollars. What have you lost?

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