It is now a few months into the New Year and a good time to evaluate your progress on your goals and intentions. Are you seeing the results you desire? Are you sustaining top of mind focus on your goals and intentions? Are you still feeling inspired and motivated to accomplish what you identified as important to you? If you are like most people you answered no to each of these questions because you stopped pursuing your goals within the first 30 days.
In our last newsletter we revealed neuroscience breakthroughs that demonstrate the vast ability of your brain to change or rewire itself. Given the proper environment and the right strategies you can change anything you desire. In fact you are doing it all of the time. Most people however are unaware of how this process works and unconsciously keep recycling the past over and over. Our clients often ask us: How do I actually make changes that last?
Mind, Brain, Body Connection
The answers can be found in the dynamic connection between your mind, brain and body. Your mind is the driving force of your will or mental energy directing your brain and body. It is what allows you to be consciously aware of your world and your perceptual experience of it. This is the conscious part of you that is aware of what you are feeling and thinking right now. To expand on this further, it is the part of you that is aware that you are aware of your thoughts and feelings. Your brain is the organ that receives perceptual input from your mind as well as input from your 5 senses and transmits this information to the appropriate part of your body for action. It is primarily responding to directives from your conscious and subconscious mind. Through your mind’s willful effort or focused attention you strengthen the neural pathways in your brain associated with whatever you are focusing on. This is the process of forming new habits. Eventually through repetition and emotional intensity your habits run on auto-pilot. If you are not willfully or consciously directing your mind’s attention onto your new goal, your strongest patterns will run unconsciously on auto-pilot. Your existing and often undesired automatic habits will drive your brain, body and behavior. It has been said that most people live on auto-pilot most of the time. The strength of your existing habits and lack of focus are two primary reasons why it is so challenging to make changes that last.
Are You On Auto-Pilot?
The relationship between your mind, brain and body is vital to understand when it comes to following through on your goals. You can’t be on auto-pilot and create what you want. You are going to keep recreating the very circumstances you want to change. It takes focus and attention to create new habits. You might be successful in the beginning couple of weeks but the stress of adding something new into your existing lifestyle without making key changes first sets you up for lack of focus, follow through, disappointment and frustration. Many people get discouraged easily when they don’t follow through. Yet in actuality they are simply not applying the strategy to work with their mind to direct their brain and body to do what they want. They are attempting to change without actually setting the proper foundation for change to occur. This might look like running a marathon without training for it. You will likely make it a few miles but not much further without a high cost to your physical, mental and emotional well-being. When you understand how to work with the mind, brain and body connection it doesn’t have to be this hard. Perhaps you have heard of the saying, if you keep doing what you have always done you will keep getting what you have always gotten. Successful follow through requires changing key aspects of the way you have been doing things in order to ensure focus and motivation. This sounds simple and perhaps obvious however it is commonly missed.
For example, if you set the goal to exercise regularly and you are not consciously focused on following through on your goal you clearly won’t be successful. Your conditioned habits of not exercising regularly and instead sleeping in, watching TV or avoiding it in some way will be stronger and easily override your desired intention. Change occurs at the level of conscious willful effort and it takes considerable attention or top of mind focus to create what you want.
5 Elements of Change
In our last newsletter we shared that success in your goals and intentions results from rewiring your brain to form new habits. The strategy for rewiring occurs when you engage the 5 elements of change; thoughts, feelings, images, perceptions and actions. If, like most people, you only engage one or two of these elements you are unlikely going to experience lasting change. The prerequisite for engaging any of these elements is focus. You have to be able to focus your mind if you want to consciously align the 5 elements with your desired goal. The question you may be asking right now is, “How do I increase my ability to focus?”
Counseling and Coaching
Hilary Stokes Ph.D. and Kim Ward Ph.D. have been a team for 20 years, specializing in mind, body, spirit psychology. They are the authors of the bestselling books The Happy Map: Your roadmap to the habit of happiness and Manifesting Mindset: The 6-step formula for attracting your goals and dreams and founders of Authenticity Associates Coaching and Counseling. They are passionate about combining the best of holistic and traditional approaches to health and happiness. If you are interested in learning the answers to the most frequently asked questions on how to decrease stress and increase happiness sign up for their free video series.