Move toward a positive future, not away from a negative past. When you are deciding to make a change in your life do are you moving away from something negative in you life, such as an unhappy relationship or a job that you dislike? How easy was it to make that change?
Thinking and feeling negatively has been proven to reduce to the amount of options you can think of. When we want to get away from something bad we employ the emotional centre of the brain, this gives us less choice, as this part of the brain is there to keep us safe, at its most extreme you are offered 3 choices: stay and fight, runaway, or play dead. On it’s day this is very useful to stop us from being harmed or at worst killed. However the solutions offered are quite short-term and perpetuate negative thought. This is our default setting, so we will always revert to this approach if we do not make the effort to think differently.
Thinking positively however has been shown to increase our options and creativity. This approach employs more of the brain, and therefore is much more considered, has short-term and long-term elements, and is therefore more likely to succeed.
It is important to recognise that the driver for the change will sometimes be a negative, as this will give you the desire to move. Allow your emotional thinking to give you the reason. This however will not be enough to make the need to change compelling enough to do something about it.
Where would you rather be? What would you rather be doing? Once you have answered this question, you then need to put some detail on this place or job. Start to imagine what it looks like, what it would be like to live there or do this job. Visit your future regularly adding more and more detail every time. Don’t think that day dreaming is childish or a waste of time. Day dreaming is essential when creating a compelling future. You need to really want to be in this future, this gives you, your reason when you a struggling to achieve your goals later. As mentioned earlier, it also increases your creativity, therefore increasing your planning ability.
Once you have a compelling vision of your future, that can be recalled easily, you then have to make this a goal, to turn it from a dream into a reality. Make sure you take care with setting your goal and do not rush it. You goal must be clear and not ambiguous. I use to spend about 5 minutes writing a goal that would be ambiguous and open-ended and wonder why I never achieved it. When I was a smoker I would say to myself tomorrow I am going to stop smoking. By lunchtime the next day I was smoking. I had put no thought into how I would achieve this. How I was going to deal with my physical and psychological dependency on smoking. Until one day I decided to plan how I was going to deal with the dependency and gave myself a clear date when I would start and when I would review my progress. My initial goal was on the 12th January I am going to buy 5mg nicotine gum from the chemist, and on the 13th January I will replace smoking cigarettes with chewing the gum. I will chew a piece of gum at specific points in the day when I crave for cigarettes, these will be on the way to work in the morning, at 10am during a morning break, after lunch and on my way home from work. After 2 weeks I will remove one of these gums. It worked I have not smoked since Jan 2016. My compelling vision in my head was playing football with my grandchildren in the back garden. When ever I fancied a cigarette I would summon up that image.
So make sure your goal is really what you want to achieve, that it is specific (it is clear to you exactly what you want to achieve), that you know when you have achieved it (it has a measure, like I will stop smoking), that it is achievable, realistic (no matter how dedicated and clever you are training to be a nuclear physicist in 6 weeks is never going to happen), and that you have a timescale. As I said earlier it is also important that you can day-dream your future, seeing it in your mind’s eye gives you that compelling reason. Make sure your goal fits who you are and where you want your life to go, otherwise it is just going to make you unhappy again. For instance if you like routine and order and do not cope well with the unexpected then becoming a paramedic or a firefighter would probably be inadvisable. Lastly make sure it is going to challenge you, if your goal is to easy, it is unlikely to make much a difference to your life.
The next time you want to change something in your life, before you act on your emotions, ask yourself what you want your changed life to look like, then create yourself a goal and take action.