Goals Drive Attention

Having goals is essential to both making progress and recognising achievements.  Goals drive attention in the conscious and subconscious mind.  In this post, recognise goals at work and some tips to have goals drive attention.


Everyday Goals

Not all goals are thoroughly thought through and written down.  Take a moment to think about an average day, most people complete a whole list of goals without thinking about them.  Do you do any of these?

  • Go to Work
  • Buy Groceries
  • Make Dinner
  • Do Laundry

These don’t rank well for the life changing, ‘I’m going to climb Everest’ moment.  And while I hear there are people out there that enjoy Ironing, these are not guaranteed fun.  Regardless these four activities broadly fit most models for goal setting.


Goal Setting Model

It is rare to meet a goal setting virgin, most of us have had exposure to at least one style or system.  I stick with the much favoured SMART mnemonic; although perhaps with slightly different meanings.

S – Specific

Being specific is essential to knowing when you have achieved your goal.  Without clear definition you leave the door open play a trick on yourself, perhaps convincing yourself a near miss was an achievement.  Near misses are okay so long as they provide feedback; perhaps that the goal needs adjustment.  As a slave to spreadsheets (I love them really) I may set an answer in a box as being my goal.  To be specific I would need to define the result as a number or binary signal.  Take a look at my post Good Quality Visualisation for tips on being specific.

M – Measurable

Meaningful progress is important, stage the goal if this helps.  Being able to celebrate achievements helps keep us on track, a goal set too far out is going to become less relevant over time.

A – As If Now

The language we use both internally and in communication with others counts more than you may think.  As a quick example which of these work best for you?  “We mustn’t miss our flight” or “We must be on time for our flight”  When we set goals ‘as if now’ we build into the Specific and providing we have been realistic (spoiler alert, that comes next) sets them up as achievable.

R – Realistic

Would you turn up for a gun fight with a knife?  I regret to inform you that the scope of the saying “if you can conceive it you can achieve it” comes with a hefty list or caveats.  The kind of goals we may set ourselves after a little too much falling down juice are to be avoided.  An unrealistic goal is worse than no goal at all, it gives one of two outcomes.  Either demotivates us when success alludes, or tempts us to dismiss as, wait for it…. unrealistic.  Dismissing a goal you set, as unrealistic can be damaging; in letting yourself off the hook, you potentially chalk up a false success.

T – Time bound

A goal without a deadline is a dream.  Missing the deadline for a goal gives feedback, you can contrast the original goal with your progress and take another run at it; assuming the goal is still relevant.


Goals Drive Attention

A well formed goal with good quality visualisation makes a fantastic starting point.

Once you have taken some steps towards the goal your subconscious gives a helping hand.  The subconscious works away while you are consciously occupied on other tasks; this is akin to the Zeigarnik effect; discussed in my post How to Use the Zeigarnik effect.


Hypnotherapy and Goals

Hypnotherapy serves goal setting well and then adds another angle by aiding motivation.  See my page Serene Motivation for more information.

With regards to goal setting hypnotherapy creates space for getting specific.  It is understandable that when we apply our attention to pretty much anything we bring ourselves along; meaning we simply can’t clear our heads of related experiences.  By using hypnotherapy we can help to clear the mind, essentially occupy the conscious mind and allow the subconscious to bring the required detail to mind.

Not being specific about goals opens up another route for us to trick ourselves for better or worse; rarely getting us closer to the original goal.  I cover some information about this in my post Good Quality Visualisation.

For all the hypnotherapy work I do with clients we need to know the end game, the goal; even if it is a layer removed from the solution.  Being a layer removed can be considered as dealing with a cause rather than the symptom originally identified.