“Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dreams.” – Lao Tsu
Blind spots, in the context of us humans, refers to those aspects of ourselves that we are not fully conscious of. Whether we admit it or not, we all have blind spots. Some of which affect those of us pursuing dreams. These blind spots could be qualities like our personality traits, values, actions, habits, feelings, thoughts, etc. Some are just because we are human. It’s due to how we process information and how we see the world around us.
Why is it important for people who are pursing their dreams to know their blind spots? Because it is a necessary part of their personal growth.
Identifying the blind spots and understanding them heightens a person’s level of self-awareness. When they develop a greater self-awareness, it puts them in greater alignment with themselves. The result is a speedier progression toward achieving their dreams.
Here are 10 common blind spots that people pursuing their dreams are unaware they have.
1. They Forget To Live A Great Life In The Now
Dreams are about the future and reaching a destination. When people are chasing their dreams they tend to lose sight of where they are in the here and now. They are often pursuing the dream to fulfill their own desires. Many people lose perspective when they are in the pursuit of happiness.
Many believe that by achieving their dreams they will gain happiness. This is not so. Happiness is experienced within a person and within their present life. If a person can not appreciate the things in their life that make them happy now, there is no guarantee that happiness will come to them in the future.Advertising
Happiness is a high energy vibration. When people take care of the good things in their life (that they already have now), their dreams will follow.
2. They Fail To Recognize The Importance Of Self Reflection
Focus and commitment are key when one is pursuing a dream. Without the practice of self reflection, focus and commitment soon die away.
Self refection is a technique that fuels energy. It is this energy that drives one’s focus, commitment, and motivation towards their dreams.
Reflecting allows a person to learn from his or her own mistakes and past situations.Without the process of actively thinking about those experiences and questioning ourselves, learning doesn’t happen.
To maintain motivation and commitment to pursuing the dream, one needs to practice the technique of self reflection. A person’s life significantly improves by asking simple questions such as: “What did I do well in that situation”, “What didn’t go so well for me?”, and “What would I do differently?” These questions ultimately provide more energy to follow the dream.
3. They Ignore The Importance Of Their Emotional and Physical Health And Well-Being
Pursuing a dream takes time and energy. It is a challenging journey. People who are so focused on chasing the dream often ignore the importance of looking after their emotional health and physical well-being. Looking after one’s health and well-being is the key to building a person’s strength: physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is also a key ingredient to people living a resilient life and an important trait to have when pursuing the dream.
4. They Don’t Realise The Importance Of Asking For Help
Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. There is no way a person can pursue their dreams alone. It is essential to seek support, advice, and encouragement from others, especially when times are tough.Advertising
In fact, asking for help is a critical factor in the success of the journey. When chasing the dream, people need learn to value the input of others, along with their wisdom and energy. Others can help them overcome adversity or solve the problems they are facing.
5. They Forget To Keep Learning
Pursing dreams takes up a huge amount of time and energy. Who has the time to read books, search out information, and gain more knowledge? Often people think that once they have achieved the dreams, then they will have all the time in the world. This does not happen.
Information and knowledge empowers a person to take action. As a result, they are able to make decisions that are effective. Little knowledge and small bits of information do not help make the kind of decisions one needs to make when pursuing their dreams.
6. They Believe They Don’t Have The Time To Serve Others, Or Practise Appreciation And Gratitude Daily
Life tends to become very insular for people while they chase the dream. They don’t have much free time to do much else but pursue their dream.Their passion is usually wrapped up tightly into their dream. Life; however, is not just about them. They need to remember that happiness in life is very much about how they can help and support others.
Helping others, practicing appreciation, and gratitude strengthens a person’s emotional resilience. This strategy is another source of energy that fuels the commitment and motivation for people to continue chasing their dreams.
7. They Fail To Seek Feedback and Ignore Opposing Views
Confirmation bias is a tendency of a person to search for instances that confirm their beliefs rather than search for evidence that challenges their beliefs. For the most part, people are not aware of the many times they use confirmation bias.
This bias causes people to think selectively. However, the real trouble begins when confirmation bias distorts a person’s active pursuit of facts, how they gather information, and how they makes decisions. Bad decisions are often made when confirmation bias is operating. People can place too much faith in their own knowledge and opinions. They believe their contribution to a decision is more valuable than it actually is. When this happens, people fail to spot their limits of their knowledge, thus perceiving less risk.Advertising
Some will succeed in achieving their dreams, but most won’t because they have not considered the risks or have made decisions based on hunches and potentially unreliable information. The best strategy to ensure a person’s confirmation bias is to constantly seek feedback from others and be open to considering opposing view points and information. By seeking feedback and considering opposing viewpoints, a person will know that they are making decisions that are based on fact and analysis, rather than thinking which has been influenced by confirmation bias.
A person pursuing their dreams will be faced with many challenges, problems, and issues along the way. Keeping an open mind and knowing how to make informed decisions will enable them to to stay on task. They will be more focused and confident that they are on the right path to achieving their dreams.
8. They Forget That Small Changes Can Make A Big Difference
Dreaming big and chasing your dreams is a fantastic quality. It is courageous and hugely rewarding. However; on the flip side, it is also scary, challenging, and overwhelming. The dream can be so big that many people will become tangled up in the web of activities that focus on chasing the big dream. They forget that by making small changes and taking small steps every day is how one really achieves their dreams.
9. They Fail To Prepare For The Unexpected
When people are pursing their dreams they often forget to expect the unexpected. When they are not prepared for the unexpected and it happens, these events bring their world to a crashing halt.
Preparing for the unexpected is the best they can manage, when it comes to pursuing their dreams or any other life goals that they set. By preparing for the unexpected, they are more likely not to give up on their dreams.
There are 3 key steps to prepare for the unexpected:
Step 1: Acknowledge the unexpectedAdvertising
Step 2: Prepare for the unexpected by making an Action Plan. The Action Plan needs to consider these two questions: How would you deal with this obstacle when it comes up? And, What steps would you put in action to overcome this hurdle?
Step 3: Move on toward achieving your dreams
10. They believe That Celebrating And Having Fun Comes When You Achieve The Dream
Having lots of fun, being positive, optimistic, and consistently celebrating successes creates an energy that is upbeat and positive. This energy creates momentum to keep chasing the dream. It also attracts positive experiences into a person’s life.
People are attracted to another person’s enthusiasm, energy, optimism, and hope. These are contagious qualities. The more supportive and life-loving people that a person has around them, the more chance that person has in successfully achieving their dream.
Many people rush into chasing their dreams without being fully prepared. The end result for many of them is that they never achieve their dreams. They often end up disillusioned, hugely disappointed, and full of regret. By identifying and acknowledging these blind spots, the pursuer’s chances of achieving their dreams increases by 100 percent.
“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.” – T. E. Lawrence
Last Updated on July 17, 2019
The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)
What happens in our heads when we set goals?
Apparently a lot more than you’d think.
Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.
According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.
Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.
Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.
Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams
The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.
Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.
So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.
Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.
One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.
Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.
Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.
The Neurology of Ownership
Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.
In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs!
But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.
This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).
Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.
The Upshot for Goal-Setters
So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?
On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.
It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.
On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!
But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!
More About Goals Setting
- How to Set Goals and Achieve Them Successfully
- How to Set SMART Goal to Make Lasting Changes in Life
- How Setting Personal Goals Makes You a Greater Achiever
Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com
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