If you want to reach your goals, eventually your brain will have to get out of the way.
Long story (below) short, your brain is great for lists, reasons, and plans, but it’s not the home of the unknown. To reach a goal is to go after something you don’t already have, which means crossing through uncharted territory – which is the job of the heart.
When your brain gets in the way of your goals, it’s usually:
- talking you out of your goals, or of taking steps toward them
- distracting you with unnecessary questions and ideas
- reminding you of the times when you’ve tried before and not succeeded
- comparing you to others
All of these activities are destructive and demotivating, but just saying “don’t do those things” isn’t very helpful. We have to find new things to do instead, which is why we need….
Your heart is going to make sure you reach your goals because it:
- knows how you will feel when you reach your goal, which is the ultimate motivation
- knows how you don’t want to feel anymore, which can be a good reminder to keep going when you want to quit
- can help use your vision and imagination to figure out the steps you really need to take next to keep making progress
Your heart doesn’t need to know every step of the way in order to get up and get going. Staying connected to how you will feel when you reach your goal will help you find your path from step to step. (And we’re taking tiny steps toward our goals, right?)
A dialogue about goals between heart and brain:
Brain: It’s time for us to get in shape.
Heart: Yes! We will have so much more energy and sleep better when we’re exercising regularly. Let’s go for a walk.
Brain: Hang on, I have to research All l The Best cardio exercises before we start.
Heart: I’m going for a walk because I can do that right this minute! We can look for new informaton when we need it.
Brain: Actually, this article says we should be strength training.
Heart: It will feel great to be strong. And I might really like how this shirt looks with a couple more muscles in there. Let’s do some push-ups when we get home.
Brain: PALEO. That’s right, I think my neighbor’s friend’s wife lost 673 pounds in half an hour by going paleo. I better see if she has a blog so she can tell me what to eat.
Brain: This is going to be way too hard. Let’s order a pizza for dinner.
Haven’t we all been there? Lost in the details, overanalyzing until we’re numb and willing to abandon the goals and dreams that make getting out of bed everyday worthwhile,? (And yes, taking care of yourself definitely deserves to be on that list!)
Let your heart connect with the best you that you know you already are inside! And get your brain out of the way to release that best life. Hold on tight to how you will feel when you reach your goals and reach for them one step at a time.
Really, write down how you will feel when you have reached your goal – whether that is to run a faster mile, lose weight, lose inches, or tame a unicorn. If you don’t feel anything when you think about your goal, you might be covering up the things that you really want to work toward…and you might want to rewrite your goal to reflect that.
Things my clients have said, directly or indirectly, they will feel when they reach their goals:
- confident enough to wear certain clothes, improve their dating life, or go for a promotion at work
- stronger and faster enough to compete in various races and events
- healthier and more energetic in everyday life
- less worried (or not worried at all) to work with their doctors on their health
- happier and more comfortable
Pro Tip: The Finish Line Isn’t Where You Think It Is
Peek back up at that list of feelings – for every single one of those feelings, my client didn’t have to reach their initial goal to get to that feeling they wanted! Just making concrete progress toward it was enough to bring out that confidence, happiness, strength, and so much more…and usually a brand new goal.
What Definitely Doesn’t Work
Just in case you need to know some anti-strategies, here are things that will definitely hold you back from progress, most of them courtesy of your brain.
Discounting all of your accomplishments (thanks, brain, but all of those tiny victories are actually what this big success will look like).
Shame (your brain doesn’t need to judge or compare you to others).
Guilt (ditto! the past is in the past and now you’re doing your best).
Cruelty (your heart would never be mean to you).
Doubt that makes you inconsistent (hello again, brain, asking too many questions and talking us out of goals!).
Not taking any steps toward your goals (why even).
Being vague (probably you, brain, looking for too many details).
(There’s lots of other stuff that doesn’t work, of course, but let’s connect with those feelings of accomplishment and keep inching toward the finish line!)