Life teaches us through experiences – what feels good and what doesn’t; what we like, what we don’t; what we want to experience and what we never want to experience again.
Put your hand in a flame. Your mind screams, “Never do that again!” And you don’t. It’s easy.
Often, however, knowing what not to do is not enough to overcome a challenge. A student may know he never wants to fail a test again, without knowing how to pass the next one. A lover may know that she never wants to feel used again, without knowing how to feel valued. An entrepreneur may know that he never wants to unintentionally work for free again, without knowing how to get paid.
Life teaches us what we don’t want with the emotional and physical equivalence of megaphones and flashing lights. Life is not similarly vociferous about the inverse. Often, what we want and how to get it is heard only in the quiet contemplation of our minds or through thoughtful conversation.
That's why it's essential to visualize what you do want in order to eliminate what you don’t want. When you tell yourself what you want, your brain immediately visualizes it, and begins moving toward the objective.
The brain cannot visualize a negative. Try visualizing ‘not jumping rope.’ It is impossible. You will visualize jumping rope. When a student says, “I never want to fail a test again,” the brain necessarily visualizes taking a test in the same old way – and failing it.
Visualizing passing a test is a very difficult process. Now the person has to think about how he will go about doing it and what that would ‘look’ like. The process is no longer emotionally reactive. Now it is pro-active and solution-oriented.
To move toward what you want (and away from what you don’t want), begin contemplating the five steps below.
- Develop a vision about what you do want – the antithesis of what you don’t want.
- Strategize with respected others to come up with a realistic and empowered plan for getting what you want.
- Anticipate weaknesses (including the underpinning needs and fears) which routinely sabotage plans and progress.
- Build in procedural safe-guard s that will help keep you on track.
- Hold yourself accountable to the short-term objective and the long-term process.
Like exercise, the process is both very straightforward as well as very difficult. The help of a qualified professional may help you consistently achieve the best results.