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A Lifestyle Blueprint: Achieve Your Dreams In 3 Easy Steps

A Lifestyle Blueprint: Achieve Your Dreams In 3 Easy Steps

Making the necessary changes in your life so that you can achieve your dreams is a daunting task, but something many of us, deep down, really want or need to do. So, what’s stopping you?

What is it that separates the successful entrepreneurs from the rest? Is it guts and courage? Is it working harder than everyone else? Is it luck? In my opinion, it’s none of these. Success isn’t about working harder, it’s about knowing what actions to take and when to take them. It’s not the volume of action, it’s the right action at the right time that makes the difference.

That brings me to strategy. Something as massive as building a new life for yourself or starting out as an entrepreneur needs a proper process, a proper plan, a Lifestyle Blueprint!

Remember, “A goal without a plan is just a wish!”

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Building the lifestyle you desire requires a proper foundation, just like building a house. Strong foundations make a sturdy house that will withstand varying intense conditions, such as a tropical storms, the “big bad wolf,” etc. Building your new life or business is no different.

So, you’ve made a decision, you’ve decided enough is enough, that there’s more to life than your 9-to-5 job and you’re going to make a change. That’s fantastic, but think about this first:

According to Bloomberg Business, around 80% of first-time entrepreneurs fail because they don’t follow a proven business plan.

Success is never a guarantee but failure is certain if you don’t establish a solid foundation and do the work required for success.

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Visualize your dreams, make a commitment to success and ask yourself:

  1. Are you willing to persist?
  2. Are you ready to be disciplined and strategic with your time, energy, and resources?
  3. Do you want this badly enough? Have you discovered your why?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. “Change your thoughts and change your life.” Make the decision and don’t be afraid, be positive. Positive thoughts and behaviors bring about a positive outcome — your exterior reality is a reflection of your interior reality. Fear and negativity will only hold you back. So here we go, the Lifestyle Blueprint:

Step 1: Define the outcome you desire

Anyone who is successful knows exactly what they are working towards at all times. Their goal is perfectly clear in their minds. If you’re unclear about your goals, how will you ever get what you want? How will you ever make the right choices and take the right actions? Specific goals drive specific actions to achieve those goals. It’s not good enough just to know what you don’t want! You must define what you want, be specific, be ambitious. Ensure your outcome generates a fire in your belly that burns so bright you know you will stop at nothing until you achieve it — this is your why.

Step 2: Create an action plan

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. We’ve all heard that cliche before, but it’s true. You are only as good as your plan. Successful outcomes are driven by solid plans. Examples of this are all around us; sport, battles, business, etc. But most people don’t have a proper plan as they aren’t actually clear on what they want out of life.

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Once a goal has been clearly defined, you can form a specific plan of action to achieve the outcome you desire. But the plan must be specific. For example, knowing you need to set aside time to develop your business is not enough. Specifically stating how many hours you will work, on which days, and at what time is more specific and definitely more likely to help you achieve your goals. Brush up on your action planning skills here.

Step 3: Take consistent action

Consistency is key! You need to take consistent action towards your goals, every day. Even if it’s something small, just be consistent. Small steps every day keep us making progress and eventually build momentum.

But, what makes us keep taking action? We need a goal that inspires us. A goal that inspires a burning desire within us. A goal we will get done, no matter what. For me, it was creating the freedom in life so that I could dedicate time to my wife and children. What’s yours? How will you achieve it? What’s your why?

I’ll say it again! Consistent action, along with a plan to guide you, taken every day towards that ultimate goal, is what will get you there. Visualization is key. Create a vision board, meditate on it, talk about it regularly with those dear to you, post about it online — whatever it takes, just keep that vision in mind and the law of attraction along with the law of action will make it possible. By the law of action, I mean working diligently to make it happen.

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Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I would spend the first four sharpening the axe!”

By thinking and acting in this way — being proactive, not reactive — you hold yourself responsible for reaching your goals and being successful.

Good luck!

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

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.

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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.[1]

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.

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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![2]

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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.

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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!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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