In this article I'm going to explain the reasons behind why I phrase my goals personally, positively and in the present-tense.
I find that it's important to phrase my goal in a manner that resonates with my own personal style. You can use a template affirmation such as “I am so happy and thankful now that this loving world has graciously provided me with health, abundance and the body of my dreams” if you so choose. However, when I read a goal that’s phrased in this manner, It conjures up thoughts like “what is this pollyanna positive hippy bulls**t”. I don't speak like this, I don't think like this and despite the positive phrasing – I have a negative reaction to it. Ideally, when I read my goal I should experience some of the feelings I'm wanting to ultimately achieve. My goal should trigger thoughts and feelings such as excitement, joy and inspiration. When I read my goal in the morning, it should ignite my passion and keep me motivated for the rest of the day.
For the most part, goal setting is a means to impress precise and desirable instructions onto the unconscious mind. This process is always a lot more effective when mixing the instructions with a powerful emotional reaction. With this in mind, you can probably work out why writing a goal in your own vernacular is vital.
So to sum up why I write my goal in a personal manner.
I can indentify myself with the goal, I can believe it.
The words used are part of my everyday language, therefore have more meaning to me.
I can trigger a more significant and positive emotional response.
I don’t feel like I’m just going through the motions by reading a generic template.
Whenever I set a goal it MUST be phrased positively. In the context of goal setting, “positive” refers to stating exactly what you desire, as opposed to what you want to avoid or get rid of. For instance, “I am lean, defined and look fantastic for my upcoming holiday” is a positive statement that focuses on a desire; whereas “I’m sick of being fat, I wish I could lose weight for my holiday” is focusing the mind on a negative feeling, as well as the desire to get rid of something.
It's important to understand that the unconscious mind is entirely deductive by nature, it doesn’t think nor reason in the same way the conscious mind does. The unconscious mind is a little bit like a computer in as much as it follows commands without bias. If you give the unconscious mind vague instructions such as “I want to lose weight”, how is it supposed to know what kind of weight you want to lose (bodily fluids, fat, lean tissue, organs, limbs?), how is it supposed to know how much you want to lose and by when? Continuing with the computer analogy, a virus is simply a program created with a specific and typically malicious purpose, yet if you were to install a virus on your computer, the computer wouldn't care about the consequences – it's just running a program after being instructed to do so. This is because a computer – like the unconscious mind, does not differentiate between the subjectivity of good and bad, it follows commands. This is why it’s vital to become aware of the instructions you're feeding your unconscious mind.
If for example we take a person struggling with debt. There's a good chance that this person is stressed, worried and frustrated a good deal of the time. They may be thinking along the lines of “there never seems to be an end to this debt ” and “I’m always going to be in debt”. When coupled with strong emotions (in this case stress, worry and frustration), thoughts such as “I'm always going to be in debt” are sent as priority instructions to the unconscious mind. As with the aforementioned virus example, the unconscious doesn't care whether these thoughts are considered positive or negative, it simply acts on them. So we've got a person in debt with their unconscious mind looking for ways to make “I'm always going to be in debt” a reality. Regrettably, the unconscious mind is a lot more powerful than the reasoning faculties of the mind. So even if this person makes a conscious effort to change their situation, if they keep sending negative instructions to their unconscious, they will sabotage any positive actions they try and make.
Can you see how this scenario can affect people attempting to transform their body? If they consciously desire a lean physique, but focus on what they don’t want and how they hate being fat, any conscious attempt to get lean will be met with unconscious self-sabotage.
To sum up
Concentrate on what you want, not what you want to avoid or get rid of. This gives the unconscious something a lot more concise to focus on.
Essentially, goal setting is a means in which to aim the unconscious towards a desired target. Just make sure you’ve got the right target before pulling the trigger!
This topic is a bit of a double-edged sword, so before I start I want you to understand why I phrase my goals in the present-tense (so you don’t get too caught up in the process).
In very simplified terms, the unconscious mind only really understands the present-tense.
Also, as the unconscious operates deductively, in the present and without bias; there are some instructions that appear to be phrased positively, but will likely cause problems.
Here’s a list of examples
I’ll try / attempt
Let's take “I will” for example.
“in 30 days I will look lean, muscular and defined.”
Since the unconscious mind understands only the “here and now”, if you were to read this affirmation in February, the assumed deadline would be March. However, every time you read the affirmation, the unconscious would assume you wish to achieve the goal 30 days from whichever date you read it. Therefore, you’d be constantly “moving the goal posts”!
“I want to look lean, muscular and defined.”
If you look at these instructions from a deductive perspective – like the unconscious mind would. The instructions merely state that you WANT to look lean, muscular and defined. As a result, the unconscious will look for ways to make you WANT to look, muscular and defined. So the instructions imply that the end goal is only to WANT something that you already want on a conscious level. End result = you really really want something, but it seems forever out of reach.
“I'm going to try my best to look lean, muscular and defined.”
When words like try and attempt are used, there's a presupposition of failure built into the request. When you send instructions with words like “try” or “attempt” to your unconscious – along with the feeling that failure is likely, your actions will mirror the strength of your request. As the wise Yoda once said “Do or do not, there is no try.”
So the solution I’ve come to employ is to phrase my goals (unconscious instructions) as if they were already a reality. I tend to start my goals with “I am”, “I have” or “I feel great to be such and such”.
Phrasing a goal in the present tense (as if it has already been achieved) can take a bit of getting used to. It's natural at first to feel like you're lying to yourself, which from a certain perspective you are. Nevertheless, it's a necessary step because of the way the unconscious handles instructions. This is very similar to “fake it until you make it” – you think, act and talk as If your goal were already a reality. This can be uncomfortable at first, which is why I mentioned the double-edged sword. If writing your own goal in the present tense causes feelings and thoughts such as “who are you kidding”, “why lie” and so forth, then you need to learn how to counter these negative tendencies. I will cover this in more detail in the visualisation step. Just remember that thoughts / opinions typically have no factual basis (even your own). Regardless of your past, if you truly believe you can achieve something – you’re most of the way there already.
To sum up
I find it best to phrase my goals in the present tense, starting affirmations with “I am”, “I have”, “I feel great to be” and so forth (anything that implies my goal is already a reality).
Write your goal affirmation In a manner that allows you to BELIEVE the goal is achievable – or that it’s already part of your reality. If you have no faith in the materialization of your goal, those doubts will be sent as instructions to your unconscious, which in turn will cancel out the positive instructions you’re trying to set. It’s a little bit like saying “I am turning left” then saying “I don’t have what it takes to go left, I’m going to keep turning right”.
Excellent review, very well explained!