Part 3 – Three Big Blunders most people make with their New Year’s Resolutions – (Or setting any Goal)
PART 3 – Blunder # 1 – The Laundry List
In Part 2 we saw that the RAS is a part of the brain that acts as a pattern recognition system and filter, only allowing through to the conscious mind those things that it deems important. We also saw that, unlike our reptilian ancestors, whose RAS was predominantly hard wired to respond only to a certain set of patterns, humans have the ability to “program” their RAS to a wider set of patterns. This programming is an imaginative function and depends upon what we choose to focus on. This gives us the method by which we can program our RAS to be more help to us in achieving our New Year’s resolutions.
The first Big Blunder most people make with their New Year’s Resolutions is that they create a laundry or shopping list of all the things they think they would like to accomplish over the next year. Creating a long list of resolutions sends a confusing message to the unconscious mind and affects how you are programing your RAS. What actually is the most important item on your list? Is it the first item? If you focus on the first item on the list, you will program your RAS to look for things that match that. When you switch your focus to the ninth item on the list you will then program your RAS to look for things that match that and stop looking for things that match the first item you focused on.
If your focus bounces around frequently it is quite likely you will not be effectively programing your RAS and it will not devote any resources to looking for things that can help you with them. In fact, your RAS will likely be programmed to ignore those things and focus on other things it “thinks” are more important to you. Exactly what you are programming your RAS to “think” is more important than your resolutions may not be immediately obvious as it the product of your internal “self-talk” which you are not consciously aware of. This process of programing, through internal self-talk that we are not aware, of can often be described as self-sabotage.
There is another problem with having a long list of New Year’s resolutions. The unconscious mind/RAS will only devote resources to the top three or four items on your list. If your New Year’s Resolution list is the only list operating in your unconscious mind then there would not be a problem. However, you have a whole lot of other lists about things that are important to you such as life, health, family, work or business and a host of others. You have built up these list unconsciously and the unconscious mind and your RAS are devoting resources to help you attain what you have unconsciously programmed as your wants and needs.
So assuming that you have unconsciously programmed your RAS with other items as well what is the chance that any of your New Year’s Resolutions are in the unconscious mind’s top three or four? A laundry list of New Year’s resolutions without focus or skipping around your list of resolutions almost certainly guarantees that your unconscious mind/RAS won’t be paying any attention to them on your behalf.
The solution for this blunder is simple.
First. Ditch your laundry list of resolutions. Ask yourself which one of your resolutions, which if you achieved it over the next year, would have the biggest positive impact on your life. Write that one down in BIG BOLD LETTERS and put it somewhere where you can see it and other people can see it! This doesn’t mean that the other things on your old list weren’t important. Most certainly they are. It is just a recognition that you can’t work on everything at once and that you will get to them in due course.
Second. Take a couple of minutes quiet time to reflect on your one big resolutions, what it means to you and what it will be like when you have achieved it. Ask yourself what you will be doing, seeing hearing and feeling that is different when you have achieved your goal. This is you actively programming your RAS with the importance and details of your resolution. You may need to repeat this programming from time to time.
Next Part 4 – Big Blunder 2