Saturday, October 19, 2013

Beliefs & Goals

Beliefs. They can be funny things.We all have them. Whether we know it or not.

Some beliefs work in our favour. Others get in the way of achieving all that we can. Beliefs can get in the way of achieving all that we want.

Most people are not conscious of the vast majority of things they believe. But what they believe is present in opinions they form about things, in decisions they make about what they buy or what they do. They are present in the choices not made and decisions not taken.

When it comes to setting goals, it is useful to understand our underlying beliefs.  Setting goals that allow us to achieve those results that are most meaningful and of high value to us should be an easy choice. But we know that isn't the case, since so many goals are never carried out.

Every time we make a decision we make a choice based at some level on a belief.  When there is a decision to be made, doing nothing is a decision. And there's a good chance that there is a belief behind that too.

Let's look at an example.

Sandy wants to "stop procrastinating and become more productive".

But when Sandy sets goals, they don't happen. Instead of taking the actions that will mean that the goal can be reached, Sandy is off being distracted by anything and everything instead of applying the time and attention to those activities that will lead to their goal being completed.

It would be easy to blame procrastination as the culprit.  In reality, procrastination is an activity. We do it.  We do it. Procrastination isn't some being that jumps on us and drags us away.  It is a choice that we make to not do those things that we have to do.

In this case I'd be inclined to think that Sandy has set goals that are not meaningful and it could be that the goals are not really goals, but actions on a to-do list that are not getting done.

An item on a to-do list is not a goal.
It is an item.

It may be an item that needs an action and a good way to approach items that need action is to have  a good strategy for writing these down in specific language with time frames. You can find more on time management on my blog here

A goal, if it is to be useful, should be something important. Not just some vague thing you want to do. It should have some purpose that is worthwhile to you and lead you to a better place than you are now. You can find more on setting goals you can achieve here 

When we set half-assed goals and don't achieve them, we prime ourselves to believe things like:

"Goals don't work."
"I can't do it."
"I'm not as good as others who can make their goals happen"
"Other people get what they want because they are lucky"
"I'm not lucky"
or even
"I don't deserve it"

We can then retreat and find other things to blame for why our life is not the way we would prefer. Blaming other factors is always easier than the uncomfortable feeling that may happen when we consider what our own part in not achieving our goals might be.

When we set goals that we don't do any work to achieve, we may have a secondary payoff. We don't have to do anything different. We don't challenge ourselves, therefor we don't risk trying and then not make it.

Trying and failing, is just trying and failing. It is not failure.

For some, "not trying", means "not failing".

Of course, this is a fallacy.

The truth is, not trying ensures automatic failure. That which we don't even attempt, we cannot complete.

A more healthy and useful approach might be, to do this instead... If it doesn't work exactly the way you want the first time, then you try again. You build on your capacity and you keep trying until you get to where you want to be.  Every attempt brings you closer.  Every bit you learn along the way, brings you a better understanding and a knowledge that you didn't have when you started.

This is the nature of building good habits.

This is also how you build better beliefs. Beliefs that support you and allow you to grow as a person and increase your resilience and your life skills.

Getting to the bottom of our beliefs can be tricky.  Getting help to identify these deeply-held yet invisible beliefs can really expedite matters.


Grab some paper and spend some time considering your beliefs in these areas. Write them down. Don't censor them, just write down the things that come to mind when you think about these topics.

This is what I believe about goals:____________________________

This is what I believe about eating::___________________________

This is what I believe about health:___________________________

This is what I believe about money:___________________________

This is what I believe about family:____________________________

This is what I believe about relationships:_______________________

This is what I believe about me:______________________________

If you'd like to talk to me about what you learn, I'm interested in your feedback.

Related articles on Goals

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Brain Plasticity - Use It Or Lose It


Some cool brain facts and myths! Read here 

I just caught up with a friend I've not seen in many many years and he's recently lived through his son being involved in a car smash that's left him with a brain injury. Lately it seems I'm seeing many people whose lives have been touched by brain injury. Assaults, road crashes. We hear about the deaths on the road but rarely consider how many survive motor vehicle accidents and assaults, who live  but whose life and the lives of their family members is never the same again.

This video on brain plasticity reminds us to never give up. We can improve even bad situations, but it takes a lot of effort to stick with it.  

A recent video from ABC TV Fora brings us a piece by Norman Doidge with the good news that aging doesn't need to mean an inevitable slide into loss of our mental faculties.

Good news!

Norman Doidge On The Brain That Changes Itself -, 18 September 2009 10:00

The cliche that you can't teach an old dog new tricks may soon be obsolete. The more we learn about the human brain, the more we understand the potential that it has to change, adapt and grow. Traditionally the brain was seen as being like a machine, its neural pathways set in stone from childhood. But new studies have shown that the brain can be trained to recover from strokes or paralysis, lifelong habits can be broken, and aging brains be rejuvenated. Through new experiences and brain exercises we can alter our brain's anatomy to improve cognition, perception, memory and intelligence. In this enlightening session at the Sydney Writers Festival, Norman Doidge talks about the remarkable plasticity of the brain, and shares some examples of how we can open it up to new realms of possibilities.

Norman Doidge is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. He is on the research faculty at Columbia University's Centre for Psychoanalytic Training and Research and his recent book, "The Brain That Changes Itself"

Have you thought about learning new skills and disciplines to keep your brain active?

Love to see your ideas on what you might choose. Perhaps a language and music would be a good way to go.

What do you think?