It’s so fascinating that whenever we start to think about something that we want to do, something that we want to accomplish, our brain goes into what I call, motivational triad triage.
Remember, your brain wants to seek pleasure, avoid pain and conserve energy.
Whatever “the thing” is that you want to do, will require you learn something new or change a habit. It will for sure require more energy and that’s not OK with your brain.
Your brain wants to do what is familiar, easy, and for sure always pleasurable. It likes your old habits, even if they are crappy ones that are bad for you.
I remember so vividly all of the thoughts that I had around showing Kit at the Western Dressage World Show for the first time in 2015 and how different my thoughts were leading up to the second show in 2016 and for sure the third show in 2017 was a stark contrast.
The first year my thoughts were, “Who do you think you are?” “You don’t know what you are doing.” You can’t possibly think you can do this, you are just getting your feet wet.” “You are just here to learn, no one is going to take you seriously.” “You have never done this before.” “Kit is just a racehorse.”
The second year my thoughts were, “Last year was beginners luck.” “What if you don’t do as well this year as you did last year?” “What will people say?” “People will find out you don’t know what you are doing.” “They will think you are an idiot.”
I failed ahead of time, not once but twice. Justifying, just in case I showed up crappy.
By the end of the second World Show, I knew I had to change my thoughts if I wanted to do a third World Show. I was running out of steam physically and mentally I was on empty. I was not disappointed with the outcomes at all, in fact I was incredibly proud but I still had thoughts that I could not shake and they were stealing the joy out of the experience.
That’s what negative thoughts do, they steal your joy!
The first thing I did was get very clear about what I wanted as an outcome. I wrote down exactly what success was going to look like. I wrote out how I would feel and what I would think, and dare I say, I wrote down that I wanted the dadgum buckle!
I didn’t want to just get my feet wet, or just have fun or just get experience. Sure I wanted those things, but success would like a buckle, and it would look like a mentally healthy horse and rider, a physically healthy horse and rider, it would look like every ride blew my own mind. Success looked like me showing up 100% knowing I belonged there. I was going to show up like I wanted the buckle. I was going to train like it and show up like it. That was my commitment to Kit and to me.
So instead of investing in the negative self-talk, I invested in all of the thoughts that said we could do this, that it was possible.
We always have a choice of looking at what is possible and investing in those thoughts, but our human default is to look at all of the ways that we can fail or what we have to lose and we get very attached to those thoughts. We hang on to those thoughts like they are our life line.
Whatever we spend the most time thinking about is what forms our core beliefs and our core beliefs create our habits and our habits create our outcomes
But the good news is that when we focus on what is possible, our brain starts working towards that. You intuition takes over and starts figuring things out, starts showing you the way. Your gut instinct kicks in and decisions are made that support your outcomes and your grit grows and you start taking massive action toward your intentional outcomes.
When it got too hot, my intuition said, “let’s change the schedule up.” When I was tired, my intuition said, “a break will do you both good.” When I would get frustrated my intuition would remind me to do my thought work. When self-doubt would creep in, I didn’t give it any authority and I managed my thoughts to support my habits and my habits supported my goals.
Sometimes, we humans think our goals should be easy, and comfortable, and that we won’t experience discomfort, and that all of our thoughts will be roses and sunshine with rainbows and unicorns. That’s not true.
If your goals don’t stretch you, they aren’t goals, they are tasks.
Goals should make you take steps out of your comfort zone, they should teach you things, they should energize you. They should make you grow, create impact in your life, evolve you.
To achieve your goals you are going to have to do things even when you really don’t want to. You might have to get up at 5 am because it’s too hot to ride at night. You might have to call 20 people today to make your sales goal when you would rather watch TV. You might have to do your long run today even though you would rather go shopping. You might have to eat healthy when everyone else is eating junk.
Your willingness to be uncomfortable is your currency to success. Growth is never without at least a little discomfort.
So how do we move from wanting and wishing to doing and pursing that thing?
- Be very clear about your goal. What does success look like? How will you know if you were successful? What does it feel like when you are successful? What are your emotions when you hit your goal? What are your thoughts about your success? Write it all out in detail. Read this daily.
- As you write out the detail of your goal, write down all of the thoughts and emotions that come up for you. What is the tone of voice that your inner critic is using? What are the words? What is the tone? What exactly is she trying to protect you from? What does the feeling feel like in our body?
- Write down all of the ways that you benefit on the journey of pursuing your goal? What all will you have to learn? How much knowledge will you acquire? Who will you become along the way? How will you grow? Financially? Physically? Mentally? Spiritually? Relationally?
- Who else benefits on your journey? Does your journey benefit anyone? Think about it. Do you have to buy anything, take lessons? Will your growth positively affect someone else?
- Do the “As long as”/ “Even if” exercise. I will commit to ______________ as long as it’s easy, as long as I look smart, as long as I win etc… I will commit to ______________even if it’s hard, even if I am tired, even if no one like it, even if I am scared, even if I fail. This will measure your commitment. Think of as many statements as possible. If you have more as long as statements, you may not have the commitment that you need right now, and that’s OK. This is not to beat yourself up but to enlighten you to what it is that you really, really want. I mean really, really, really want.
- Go back to #1, look at the emotion that you expect to feel when you hit your goal. Where in your life do you or have you felt that before? Look for evidence of those emotions and how you can access them today.
- The thoughts that you will think when you hit your goal are available to you today. In fact, you need to start practicing them now. Your thoughts become your core beliefs that create your habits that support your outcomes.
So, how did the 3rd World Show go? I didn’t win the buckle but I sure as dang sure made sure that I showed up like I wanted it. We ended up 3rd again this year and it was an incredible journey. This year (2017) success looked like this; my horse was happy and healthy going into the show and after the show, she was amazing and seemed to enjoy herself too. I was happy and healthy going into the show and after the show, I had enough mental and physical energy to continue with a few more shows and we even showed up a level. I felt like every ride blew my mind with how connected we were and in the end, the score wasn’t the most important measure of success, it was my thoughts.
Listen, I know this stuff is not easy and blogs tend to way over simplify things. Don’t hesitate to ping me if you want to talk about your goals. It’s my favorite subject!
Now go be a goal setting, goal getting, goal digging, goal getter!!!
Photo credit goes to Camille Fuller who captures the most amazing moments. Thanks Camille!