Have you ever wondered about your purpose in life? Have you given any thought to your true identity? Who are you really? What is your full potential? Why are you here? The dreams you dream, are they just being fantasy, or is there any possibility of living the life of your dreams? How do you know whether or not you are just building castles in the sky, or are you really capable of making your dream a reality?
There is no shortage on articles and books on the subject of setting goals and self-development. There are some real quality books and articles out there. But then you also just get a lot of hype.
If you have ever thought that goal setting is just writing down some dreams on a piece of paper, and then things start happening for you, think again. Yes, we need to write down our goals, but that is only the beginning.
Goal setting is not just positive thinking. It is not about repeating some positive affirmations and thinking that now your life is going to change. Goal setting is about creating a roadmap for your journey to success. It is making a conscious decision about whom and what you want to be, what you want to achieve and have in life.
Creating a Picture
Visualization is a very important aspect of goal setting. Forming a mental image of yourself achieving whatever your goal might be is essential. You need to create such a realistic mental image, that you can actually see it, feel it and even smell it.
There is a saying that if you cannot see it in your mind, you won’t be able to achieve it. What this means is that you need to believe that your goal is realistic and achievable. That is why it is important to start with smaller goals and then gradually start setting bigger goals as your faith and your confidence becomes stronger.
If your bank account is empty, and you set a goal of having a million dollars in your bank account within the next month, I don’t care how many affirmations you use and how many times you try to visualize it, it won’t work. It is not realistic and it won’t be believable. That is called day-dreaming.
This is why I disagree with the popular idea of just taking a couple of minutes every day, visualizing your dream life-style, repeating some positive affirmations and then thinking that things are just going to start happening for you as if by some magic. You first need to start working on what is realistic to you and what you are able to believe.
This principle (just visualizing and repeating positive affirmations) is based on the idea that your sub-conscious cannot distinguish between true or false. The idea is that your sub-conscious just absorbs whatever you put into it, and it magically starts creating the circumstances you desire by leading you to take certain actions.
To a degree, there is truth in this idea, but it is only half the picture. It is true that the sub-conscious doesn’t know the difference between right or wrong, true or false, which is why you need to make conscious decisions as to what your moral standards are etc. It is also true that your subconscious influence your actions.
But what you believe (in your subconscious mind) and act upon, are formed by your dominating thoughts over a period of time and by meditating on it.
What you are constantly saying, what you are thinking about and meditating on, determines what you believe. Your belief system is being developed from childhood. Based on your way of thinking, you tend to always expect a positive outcome, or you always expect something negative to happen.
It starts with words. As a child, you believe what you hear and that starts forming a belief system in the sub-conscious mind. If you continuously hear encouragement and words that motivates and inspires you, you start forming positive thinking habits because you believe those words. On the contrary, if you continually hear negative words, such as “don’t do this or that, you are only going to hurt yourself”, or “that will never work”, or “why can’t you do as well as Johnny?”…..you will believe that negative input and start forming negative thinking habits, even ending up with a low self-esteem.
That is why just repeating positive affirmations, without working on what you believe first, become empty words and will seldom have the effect you want it to have, especially over a short period of time.
It’s Time To Change
But this can be changed. It will take some time, effort and perseverance though, but it can be done. Contrary to the belief that the brain forms certain thinking patterns and that once it is formed, it cannot be changed, it has been proven that the mind can change the brain. In other words, if you consciously decide that you are going to change your way of thinking, you are more than capable of doing so.
The first step you need to take is to observe what is happening in the world around you. One of the most obvious observations will be that you find unsuccessful people in the world around you. These can be people who are total failures. It seems like they are just failing at everything they touch.
Secondly you will find the people who settle for mediocrity. It’s not that they are particularly failing at everything, but they lead an average lifestyle, believing that they don’t have the means, (mentally, financially or both) to achieve a level of excellence.
Thirdly you will find some extremely successful people. It doesn’t matter what they do, it seems to turn into success.
What is the difference between these groups of people? Besides the fact that the first group might have absolutely nothing to their name, the second group might have some savings in the bank, own their own home, a car or two (usually being in debt, owing money on at least one or all of these items).
The third group is usually the people who seem to have all the money in the world. They either have their own businesses or huge corporations. They can afford whatever they want. It seems like they can do what they want whenever they want to and all the people in both the other two groups end up working for the people in this group. The third group of people is also by far the smallest group of people – approximately 3% of the total human population.
What we need to realize from the outset – especially about the third group of people- is that this is only what we physically observe on the surface. What you don’t see, is all the hard work that is going on behind the scenes that you don’t always know about. You don’t see all the failures along the way. Everybody is so impressed and absorbed by the huge successes of these people that the failures aren’t even noticed.
The fact is that physically there is no physical difference (besides material possessions) between these people and the first two groups. The real difference can be found in the way they think and what they believe. We all breathe the same air, we all have the same 24 hours in each day and we all have the capacity to think and make decisions.
It has nothing to do with your family background either, whether you are coming from a poor family or a wealthy family or whether you have inherited a fortune or not. It is about what you think, what you say and what you believe.
It also has very little to do with what happens to you, but it has a lot to do with how you respond to what happens to you. It all starts with a decision.
It is important to realize the impact the words you say have on your brain and how it can be an obstacle to you, or how you can utilize it to your benefit. It’s your choice.
If you have a lifetime history of negative thinking, repeating a dozen of positive affirmations for a month is not going to make any difference. You need to believe what you are saying and develop faith in it. But to achieve this you will need to persevere. To quit is not an option.
It is possible to change your thinking though. When you understand the impact that words have on you and that you can take control of your thoughts, you can learn how to improve the quality of your life.
It has also been proven that the more of your senses you use simultaneously, the more impact it has on your subconscious. When you physically read an article while listening to an audio recording of the same article, you will absorb much more information and be able to recall much more of the information at a later stage with ease.
The act of writing down your goals also has a huge impact on the sub-conscious mind, due to the fact that besides thinking about these goals, you are adding a physical activity by writing them down where it becomes visible and easier to commit to these goals. Reading it out loud, you now add the sense of hearing as well and make it even more powerful. By adding deadlines to these goals, they now become extremely powerful.
I have to add though, that even if you write them down, it will be of little to no value if you are not committed and never look at them again.
When you decide to start setting goals, the first thing you need to do, is to ask yourself why you want or need to achieve this goal. You must have a specific purpose for achieving the goal. Without a burning desire, it becomes very hard to achieve any goal.
There are several reasons that can motivate you to achieve a certain goal. You might be desperate for additional income due to financial pressure. It might be the fulfillment of finding your purpose in serving the community and providing much needed services to needy people. It might be the pleasure and sensation from driving your dream car. It might be the sensation of waking up in the morning with a spectacular view over the ocean from your dream house.
Whatever your reason, you must know why, and you must have a burning desire to achieve it.
Currently you might be dreaming about helping the needy or about your dream house……..or even about that million dollar business. But that is why they are called dreams. Because that is exactly what you are doing……if you haven’t committed them to writing and haven’t taken any action, you are just dreaming.
Once you start writing those dreams down, and you start committing yourself by creating action plans with deadlines, those dreams turn into goals and those goals turn into reality.
Be Prepared to Meet With Resistance
You need to know beforehand that everybody is not going to be equally enthusiastic about your goals.
Firstly you will have the ‘doom prophets’. You know…..those who are going to tell you how unrealistic you are. They will scoff at you and start referring to you as a dreamer. They will tell you about everything that can go wrong and how it’s never going to work.
Secondly you’ll have to deal with those who are (unconsciously) afraid of being left behind. They will ask you things like… “Who do you think you are to aim so high?” They will tell you that certain things are just meant for “rich people” or even “other people” and you just have to accept who you are. They might even make a mockery of your goals.
Well…..in my opinion….by achieving your goals, you will actually become who and what you really are supposed to be. Nobody has to the right to label you, or to decide what your identity should be. As a human being you have the freedom to live your dream and that is a God-given gift which nobody has the right to take away from you.
You will often find that as you start progressing and achieve your goals one by one, becoming more and more successful, people’s attitude towards you will start to change. Some will start making nasty remarks about you, saying that you think you have become better than them. They might start making sarcastic remarks about you ‘living the good life’, and that ‘they aren’t good enough for you anymore’.
Yet, the truth might be that you still have no problem associating with them. You still love them just the same as before. The difference is that they either became jealous of your success while they got stuck in their ways or they might simply feel inferior.
Either way, it once again comes back to the thinking habits of each individual.
The irony I find in this kind of scenario is the following. You would often hear or read in many self-improvement programs or books that you need to change the company you keep.
There is much truth in that statement. You become the product of the company you keep. There is another factor though and I feel that needs to be addressed as well. If you currently find yourself in the company of ‘unsuccessful’ people, whether these are friends or family, they might be honest, sincere, well-meaning people. If these people are willing to support you and share in the joy of your success, why would you turn your back on them and start avoiding them? Why not take them with you on the journey to a better life.
This is where I find the irony; it will often not be you that turn your back on these people. They are the ones who choose to stay behind, while they could have shared in your joy. And if only they were willing to follow your lead, they might have even created their own breakthroughs as well.
The tough part in such a situation is; who is going to decide what? Are they going to decide to support you and join in on your journey? Or are you going to decide to rather let go of your dreams (your true identity) and just remain where you are?
Who Are You and What Are Your Dreams?
Don’t allow the world to intimidate you any longer. Don’t believe the lie that you are merely on this planet to take up some space. You have a purpose. You have a destiny.
Don’t know what your purpose in life is? Have you forgotten your identity? Would you like to discover your purpose in life? Then start dreaming again. Recall those dreams you had as a child.
I’m not talking about having obsessions. I’m not talking about an obsession to have a million dollars in the bank and then living in fear of losing it, just wanting to keep it all for your-self for the rest of your life. That is why you should know why you want to achieve your goal. Once you have a million dollars, what purpose will it serve?
You will always find that in some way, your dreams will also benefit other people. So re-visit your childhood if necessary. But find those dreams again and develop a burning desire for achieving them. That will turn those dreams into goals and those goals will soon start manifesting in reality. That is who you really are….that is your purpose in life.
Over to You.
Have you given up on your dreams?
What is your biggest obstacle to start dreaming again?
What advice can you give to those who struggle to find their purpose in life?