In order to Reach Your Peak, you must learn to set goals to become a better you. But how do you do that in a way that ensures that you will adhere to your goals?
It’s February 9th, 2008. By now you should realize that New Year’s Resolutions do not work, because if you’re like 99% of the people who made them at 11:59 p.m. on Dec 31, 2007 by now you’ve long forgotten them or deliberately threw them in the trash. Why? Because they are not backed by belief or the right mental preparation. They are usually conscious statements to overcome a perceived weakness, such as not drinking anymore (or as much), losing weight, watching less tv, spending more time with family, etc. Besides, there is a big difference between wanting something, and being prepared to receive it.
First of all, most people fail at resolutions because they expect to fail. They are conditioned to believe that they won’t achieve this goal because they never have before, so they believe they won’t work and they just run through the motions of setting them and hoping they will work. Hope won’t get you where you want to be; it has to be supported by a subconscious belief and inspired action.
Secondly, we are conditioned to remain at the same weight, income level or in the same mediocre relationship, due to the habits we’ve acquired and reinforced over the years. It’s like having an internal thermostat that will always bring us back to our current situation, even if it’s not desirable. Everyone is challenged when it comes to growing beyond our current “set-point” because moving outside of your comfort zone, even if it will improve your finances, relationships or health, is often more difficult than the perceived benefit (at least, according to your subconscious mind, which prefers homeostasis, even a mundane inferior one).
Will-power or resolve is the domain of the conscious mind, which only controls about 2-4 percent of you day-to-day actions and perceptions. In order to be successful, you must change the underlying beliefs that control your everyday actions, which is the domain of your subconscious mind, about 96% of the brain. If you don’t like your current situation in life, then you must break from your old patterns of thinking and believing, and take aim at the conditioning that is at the source of these patterns. Your underlying behavior and beliefs play such a large role in your decisions that pure willpower can hardly be expected to trump them.
John Assaraf speaks about the “psychocybernetic trigger” in your brain, called the amygdala, which has tremendous power over your perceptions and actions. It acts like a thermostat in your subconscious, and detects any efforts to change your current situation. It senses potential and real stress and orders the release of neurotransmitters in response to the stressor, causing you anxiety, doubt, and fear. When most people feel this anxiety, they then decide not to pursue that path of change, even if it’s something they said they really wanted. The amygdala metaphorically pats itself on the back for a job well done.
Why does it do that? In short, it doesn’t like change. When you make an effort to change something, it alerts you and fools you to thinking that the change is not worth the effort, causing you to doubt or have fear over what you are trying to do. It has an evolutionary purpose, to keep early man from venturing into that scary open space in the forest to avoid being eaten by a wild animal. Otherwise, without the triggers for extra caution, we might have been wiped out as a species. But in today’s world, it’s what holds you back from really pursuing your goals by secreting those pesky neurotransmitters to “scare” you into submission.
I like to think of it as the evil “devil” on your shoulder whispering in your ear every time you are about to move beyond your comfort zone for your greater good, and convinces you to return to your old patterns of behavior. Rationalizing is its favorite game, and as John Assaraf says, rationalize means “rational lies”. Here are some examples of “rational lies” it might whisper in your ear:
- Boy, some chips and salsa sound real good right now. Forget those carrots and celery, how fun is that? Don’t you prefer that salty crispy fatty taste?
- That couch and remote look awful comfy right now. Isn’t there a game on? How about a Sex in the City rerun? Who cares if you’ve seen it before!
- Why go to the gym when you might have to ‘sweat’? Yuck! Too much effort; stay home! It’s safer here!
- You say you want to do a what?? A triathlon? You might get hurt, or worse, might have to give up some of that tv time! Better to not bother afterall.
- Ask her out?? What if you say something dumb, like you always do?
- Whaddaya mean you want to take on more responsibilities at work? Don’t you know people don’t like you much? What if you screw up like last time?
- They told you if you make more sales calls you’ll make more money?? That means you have to talk to people – ah man! Why do that, when you can search the internet for cool Youtube videos instead!
- $40,000 a year doesn’t look so bad afterall…you might have to actually do some work if you want to make that $100,000 this year. Too scary! I got better things to tell you to do.
- Spend more time with family? That means you’ll have to actually listen to your mother-in-law! No way. Let’s think of an excuse not to go…