Making Associations

Make Link Break Link

Making Associations

In an earlier blog, entitled, “Breaking Associations,” I encouraged us to challenge unhelpful links that we’d allowed to define us negatively. The blog post was originally published on Moodscope.  In response, “Hopeful One” said, “There seems to be an underlining assumption that being defined in this way is always negative. In my opinion it’s not so much the definition or the associations but the internal judgements we make that do the damage.”

We are in agreement, Hopeful One!

Associations have their own associations! We can make them mean what we want them to.

For example, we can change the context. One of my favourite film clips is from a rather violent thriller called, “Face Off!” In it, Nicholas Cage and John Travolta swap roles as goody and baddy. In my chosen scene, Judy Garland’s version of, “Somewhere, Over the Rainbow,” plays serenely while a S.W.A.T. team destroys the flat our hero is sheltering in. The association is ‘wrong’ – it shouldn’t work. It works perfectly.

So the flip side of breaking bad associations is to make good associations – deliberately. An association is simply, “This means that,” or “This links to that.”

Naturally occurring associations include hearing a song when you’re having a good time. The song and the feeling of feeling good become linked automatically. The next time you hear the song, you feel good because the two files are linked in the library of your brain! Even more powerful is scent. You may associate an after-shave or perfume with a person. Smell the scent, remember the person.

These links happen naturally and unconsciously. In fact, all the sense data you were receiving at the time becomes linked in your mind to the event. Famous Canadian Neurosurgeon, Wilder Penfield, demonstrated the physical nature of memory by stimulating areas of patients’ brains. The memories that were triggered enabled the patients to relive experiences – along with all the senses recorded at the same moments in time.

This is good news because we can create this process consciously as well as unconsciously. You and I can choose to link a song, a scent, even an object to an emotional feeling. When we sense we are beginning to feel great, we can choose to pop on our “Feel Great” Playlist… and turn up the volume! The brain doesn’t care what comes first, the chicken or the egg! It simply splices the memories together. Do the procedure often enough and you will discover that your “Feel Great” Playlist will remind your mind what it is like to feel great… et voila! You will feel better.

Right, I’m off to find a magic feather… heard some flying elephant dropped one near here.

Living Goals [POWERFUL Goal-Setting pt.8]

So Let It Be Written; So Let It Be Done!

So Let It Be Written; So Let It Be Done!

Living Goals [POWERFUL Goal-Setting pt.8]

Well, as I come to the end of my 8-part series on how to create goals you’re likely to achieve, I arrive at my rest with my favourite criterion. This is that our goals need to be “Living”.

At first, this may sound strange but its meaning is simply that goals must come “alive” to us on a daily basis. We are strange creatures. Our awareness of time is strongly focused on today, with a span reaching with some clarity to yesterday and tomorrow but not much further! It is as if a python had swallowed an elephant – there’s a big bulge in the middle of our timeline! The returns diminish as we get further and further away from the central focus that is “today”!

It is almost as if our system really does reboot after every period of significant sleep, bringing a new locus of focus.

When I first began to realise the power of goal-setting, I went to town. I had a gorgeous binder full of fantastic images of what I’d like to have, be or do. The problem was that when I shut the cover on the folder, I shut the contents off from my mind. I closed the book.

Far better to re-energise your goals on a daily basis. And to do this, you just need a humble notebook. There is something visceral about jotting down a reminder of your key and core goals – great and small. We know that the memory traces are already in position, we just need to remind our consciousness that these are the destinations we wish to head towards, right here, right now. This strengthens the neural pathway to that dream, and makes it ever more a path of least resistance.

Then, instead of being “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” – the dreams will stay “insight, in-mind” – and you’ll find that this is one way that dreams become reality.

So let it be written (daily), so let it be done (daily). [With a pencil…??? They are so tactile!]

A Summary of Our Journey Towards Realising Our Dreams

Whilst mnemonics may not be everyone’s cup-of-tea, they do help me with this particular checklist-for-transformation. So here is a summary of our POWERFUL journey together over 8 posts.

P was for ‘Positive’ – framing our desires in terms of what we want rather than what we don’t want.

O was for ‘Own-Control’ – choosing goals that we had the power to influence.

W was for the ‘Win-Win’ – making sure there was a big enough ‘win’ to motivate us to persevere.

E was for the ‘Evidence’ – the sensory signs that would let us know we were on or off track.

R was for ‘Resource’ but also for ‘Resourcefulness’ – that ‘Resilience’ that works with the ‘win’ to keep us going.

F was for ‘Faith’ – requiring an occasional jump when a humble step would seem far safer.

U was for ‘Unique’ – keeping our goals simple and single – the KISS principle.

L was for ‘Living’ – breathing life into our goals every day by taking the simple action of (re)writing them down on a humble note-pad.

May all your good dreams come true x

A KISS is Unique (POWERFUL Goal-Setting pt.7)

One-Thought-At-A-Time

I am grateful to my three sons for teaching me so much about success. Each one of them is unique. When they were small, they were so cute, engaging and witty – individually! But stick them together and a different chemistry began. To use street language, they “did my head in!”

Balancing the often conflicting needs of three young children in the same time-space was too much for my mind and my attention. Confusion and chaos followed rapidly!

When trying to befriend our brains, the same is true. Sometimes our goals are like three children going in different directions. This makes life confusing and too complex. Your brain will thank you for presenting one idea or demand on its attention at a time. Yes, I know female wired brains can cope with more, but the preference still remains for one-thought-at-a-time.

Some people confuse their dreams and goals by blending two or more ideas together. For example, if your desire is to be fit and healthy, it’s easy to think about those two discrete goals in the same sentence. Like my sons, they are similar and belong to the same ‘family’ of ideas. However, “fit” is not quite the same as “healthy”. Is it possible to be fit but not healthy? Is it possible to be healthy but not fit? I look forward to your comments!

Just imagine expanding those two desired states into the steps it would take to create them. A fitness regime is a lot about exercise. Being healthy includes exercise but it is frequently more about diet. And, yes, I do realise they overlap. My point, however, is that the brain works on each of them far more effectively if they are treated as unique goals.

When they are given their own unique time and attention, they will respond just like my lovely sons did when they were little: they will thrive!

Keep It Short and Simple!

KISS Me Quick!

Faith – the Final Frontier (POWERFUL Goal-Setting pt.6)

Daniel_Ilabaca“Daniel Ilabaca” by Jon Lucas. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Daniel_Ilabaca.jpg#/media/File:Daniel_Ilabaca.jpg

Faith – The Final Frontier

If you’re going to take a leap of faith, you need to leap boldly. It may be argued that climbing has been transformed by bold people like Sébastien Foucan who is famous for Parkour and Free Running. These disciplines combine as much momentum as possible to get from A to B as efficiently as they can. This may mean seeming to ‘run’ up a cliff-face.

The difference from traditional climbing is stark. Safe climbing demands keeping one foot and one hand in position at any time. You scale whatever challenge you’re facing in a lizard-like movement. Not so with free running. With Parkour and Free Running the momentum and the jumps are key parts of getting you to the summit. Mindset, according to Daniel Ilabaca, another star of the discipline, is also vital. If you think you’ll fall, you’re more likely to fall.

It seems then that this revolution in climbing to the summit requires a leap or two of faith. Faith is a sure and certain expectation to do with the future and the unseen. Like free running, I think it is a tough discipline. It requires a revolutionary kind of commitment – a commitment to propelling oneself towards a future that is just that little bit out of reach.

Fear, on the other hand (and foot) is a sure and certain understanding to do with the present and the seen. It helps us cling safely to where we are. And that’s its purpose – keeping us safe. I’m not down on fear – fear is good when it serves a survival purpose. It keeps us safely in the comfort zone.

But creating an extraordinary future requires change, momentum, a positive mindset and faith. It requires courage and daring, and, dare I say it, a little bit of craziness?

If we keep on doing what we’ve always been doing, we will continue to get what we’ve always been getting. If you and I want something different, something more, something better, we need to do something different. Is it time for a leap of faith?

If it is, you’ll need to fuel your faith. Those who engage in Parkour and Free Running do a lot of practice. Developing faith takes practice too. Faith comes from hearing words and stories of those who have successfully dared to cross a new frontier. If you surround yourself with naysayers – your faith will dissipate. If you surround yourself with accounts of the bold and courageous, you will find your courage and faith rising.

OK, I’m off to play some Van Halen! Might as well…

POWERFUL Goals – The Three Rs in Hope! (POWERFUL Goal-Setting pt.5)

Boldness-has-Magic

 The Road from Hope

“Hope” is a magnificent state of mind. It reaches forward into the future and the unseen. Our task, is to trace the route back from the future to our present position and to work out the simple first steps. This can be a long journey, but it is rarely, if ever, a passive journey. We need to take action.

Today, I’d like to think about three “R”s that will most influence the effectiveness of our actions. They are “Resources”, “Resourcefulness” and “Resilience”. Most goal-setting guides talk about the importance of resources. To achieve goals we are likely to need the resources of time, money, people and the right skills. This much is rather obvious. But the key resource is resourcefulness.

I grew up as one of the “Blue Peter” generations. On every programme, there was guidance on how to create amazing gifts with little more than a washing-up liquid bottle, some tubes from toilet rolls and the ubiquitous “sticky back plastic”. Of course, the key ingredient was imagination! The programme encouraged us to take what we had to hand and create something amazing with it. What a great lesson for life.

Rather than focus on what we don’t have, perhaps it is time to look around and become more resourceful with what we do have.

And then there’s resilience. The attitude that keeps us going when we want to quit. Resilience is a fruit of hope and faith. If we have a compelling vision of where we want to get to, we can often find the strength to keep going. If we believe that what we seek is good or meaningful or worthwhile, we can often tap into those inner resources that give use the strength to persevere.

So, as is so often the case, the question is, “where is our focus?” If our focus is on the problems (as I understand it needs to be sometimes), the result after a while is draining. If our focus is on the end result – what we hope for – our brain can often work on the unseen in the unseen! Magic can happen.

Let me close with words often attributed to the great Author, Goethe…

Then indecision brings its own delays,

And days are lost lamenting over lost days.

Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute;

What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it;

Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

[Author’s Note.  This is part of a series on how to be the architect of goals that really can be achieved.  The points so far have been: P for Positive, O for under your Own Control, W for Win, E for Evidence, and now, R for Resources, Resourceful and Resilience.]

A POWERFUL Approach to Goal Setting – Evidence ((POWERFUL Goal-Setting pt.4)

Harbour Lights

Many safe harbours around the World actually have challenges with accessing them. The channel into the harbour may be ‘safe’ only during certain tides, and the path is rarely straight. That sounds like many of my experiences of life’s ‘potential’! I know there’s good stuff to reach – my safe harbour – but gaining safe access on the journey is a question of wise navigation around the many hazards.

When pursuing the path to my goal (my safe harbour) it’s good to know about the Harbour Lights. Navigators have set up ‘signs’ to guide sailors along the best path. Sometimes this is a question of lining up three guide-lights to get the right bearing.

I have found this very helpful as a metaphor in life. For example, any matter, especially one affecting relationships, should be taken seriously only if three events seem to say the same thing. Otherwise it is too easy to misjudge people based on a single misunderstanding. If you think someone is being rude to you, three experiences of them being rude is a good foundation for this conclusion – one, isn’t.

Achieving one’s dreams also benefits from the support of threes. When you set yourself on a path to something, you need guidance that you’re on the right track. Your most present guides are your five senses. Take the goal of deciding whether something is dangerous? Does it look dangerous? (Like a Tiger and its claws!) Does it sound dangerous? (Like a Tiger and its roar!!) Does it feel dangerous? (Like a Tiger getting too close!!!) If you get, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” it probably is dangerous!

In a more positive way, you can set yourself up for success by asking yourself, “What will I see, hear, feel, smell or taste that will give me evidence I am on the right path?” The more sensory sign-posts you can think of, the more your journey will make sense! Psychologically, just thinking about the signs that will suggest you are getting what you desire ‘sets’ your brain to take more notice of them. You get more of what you pay attention to. Want a new car from a certain brand? I can guarantee you’ll notice them ‘everywhere’!

If your goal is to avoid a downer – the same principles apply. You’ll have signs that you are beginning to progress down that path. Learning to define the signs and then read the signs can help you make better choices at the next junction.

 

Author’s Note.

This is part of a blog series on how to set POWERFUL Goals – one’s that have a high likelihood of being achieved.

The letters so far are:

  • Positive – frame your goal in terms of what you want, not what you don’t want
  • Own Control – set goals that are under your own control rather than those that depend upon others for their success
  • Win-Win – have a HUGE Win associated with the goal so that it becomes motivating
  • Evidence – define the evidence your senses will need to experience to confirm you’re on the right track.

A POWERFUL Approach to Goal-Setting – Win Win (POWERFUL Goal-Setting pt.3)

Means, Opportunity, Motive

…so is the suggested trinity for any crime. I think the three points are also really valuable for understanding why goals go often unfulfilled. Yes, we can be positive – making sure we focus on what we really want. Again, we can make sure that the goal is really something we can influence – that it is under our own-control. But sometimes it still doesn’t happen.

I believe we live in an age where many have the means and the opportunities to make a difference. The whole process falls down when we don’t have a strong enough motive. This, for me, is having a big enough “Win”.

I’d love to learn the piano. My excuses are impressive. Usually around time. However, I have a beautiful piano and I have as much time as the next person. So the next excuse becomes learning to read music. It seems like a barrier.

I know this is an illusion. I learned to touch-type, and this has been one of the most valuable skills in my life. I know I can learn to play piano, and I can learn to read music – even at my age. So what stops me? Simply that the “Win” is not big enough yet.

So here is today’s useful question: “What would this do for me?”

Learning to read music would open a new world to me – a new world where music is the language and learning to read music would be to open the libraries of wonderful tunes recorded there throughout the ages. Learning to play the piano would help me relax. I could compose – which I love doing on the guitar. I could entertain my nearest and dearest…

Already, I’m seeing a bigger win!

I’m sure you’re just like thousands of other people with frustrated ambitions. Perhaps this one simple question will move you towards a big enough win to add “motive” to your “opportunity” and your “means”!

What would achieving this goal do for you?  What’s the big win?