H2H – Look for the POSSIBILITIES (and the buter-baiter)
As we say in Scots, Happy Ne’erday and Lang may yer Lum reek! (Happy New Year and Long may your chimney smoke meaning I wish you a long and healthy life for those less fluent).
Welcome to 2021 and month three of H2H where we talk about POSSIBILITIES.
I’m sure some of you will have already made, and possibly broken, your New Year’s resolutions. Let’s be real, how did that go for you? Are you motivated by your new goals or feeling hampered?
When setting a new goal, there’s some things you need to know to give yourself the best opportunity to succeed. Till now, we’ve been looking back to help you understand the CAUSE of what’s been holding you back and the IMPACT that old thoughts, behaviours and habits are having on your life today.
Now like the New Year, we look forward to what’s possible when you choose to do things differently. What possibilities are there?
Let’s talk about goals
There’s much chat about goals this time of year but they do help if used well. Ask yourself, if there were no obstacles in my way, what would I want to achieve this year?
When answering, you probably state a goal but quickly follow up with a series of buts, right? This is typically what we do. The ‘buter-baiter’, as I call it, is the inner critic that you have trained so well to hold you back. It has no idea it’s getting in your way; it’s doing its job and reminding you of what you’ve taught it over the years but it doesn’t have to continue this way.
You have the possibility to teach it something different. Think of your brain like a heat-seeking missile and your goal is the target. The brain will direct itself towards what you give it, and just like any missile, it needs direction from you. If you don’t give it focus, thoughts will fly around aimlessly. If your thoughts focus on why you can’t do the things you want, that’s what your brain will remind you of.
So, go back to that answer you had before the buter-baiter kicked in. Try the below steps to start visualising your goal:
- Have a good, strong idea of what you want and what you want to achieve.
- It might not be easy – you need to want the new situation where you achieve this goal more than your current. Ask how much you want your goal and what you’re prepared to do to get it. Rate both parts out of 10 – if the answer to the second question isn’t as high as the first, you will probably struggle with your goal.
- Create a good feeling about achieving what you want, regardless of how small or big the goal is – the thought of reaching the goal must give you a good feeling to drive you.
- But, if you create a fear around your goal, it can get in your way – especially when things get tough.
As an athlete, I used visualisation often, especially at my major championships. I had a very detailed and thorough plan leading to a specific goal. I practised visualising this over and over but it didn’t work. Every time I visualised my goal, I got nervous and doubtful. I associated this negative feeling with the event and reinforced what I didn’t want. So, every time I went, I got incredibly nervous. When I started to create a new positive feeling around the event, the impact was massive – I started looking forward to competing and working to my goal. You can too.
Embrace the journey to happiness
Perhaps your goal is to become happier. Firstly, you need to remind yourself of what happiness feels like to you. You can do this by choosing a memory that makes you feel happy.
You also must allow yourself to feel happy by choosing to be happy. Just like you choose to be unhappy! Banish the negativity inside that keeps you doing the same thing you’ve always done (feeding that buter-baiter). You decide how you want to feel. You have the power to control how you allow yourself to feel.
This was the discovery step we covered together in months one and two. Do you recognise that inner voice as an old habit, a learned behaviour that no longer serves you? Now you recognise the impact it’s having on your life and if you are ready for something different, challenge what that inner voice is saying. Allow yourself to feel better.
Sometimes people say they want to feel differently, for instance, happier, and when you ask them to picture or imagine what happiness would be like, they say they can’t or don’t know how. Sound familiar? I have a few questions I want you to think over:
- If you don’t know how you want to feel, how do you expect to get there?
- If you don’t know what happiness is, how do you know you aren’t already happy? Most likely because you felt something before that tells you how you feel now is not what you want.
Most importantly, you need to accept that whatever your goal, it’s not going to be easy – if it was you would have done it by now, right? Know it will feel unfamiliar and uncomfortable at times – accept this, embrace it, use it but don’t allow it to become an excuse not to do it!
These are some of common mistakes I’ve seen people make on their journey to achieving happiness – bear these in mind as you embark on your own goal:
- Don’t want it enough, give themselves easy excuses – go back to the questions I asked above and make sure you want your goal enough to work for it even when it’s tough.
- Want it to be easy and instant – spoiler, it isn’t.
- Don’t want to put in the work and commitment – so use old excuses and stay stuck in the old behaviours that don’t work for you.
- Don’t set up a good enough reward or feedback system – it’s important to celebrate your progress, even the small wins. It’s not about perfection.
- Don’t learn from the setbacks but use them as excuses to validate old behaviour (the easier option, or so you think).
- Don’t keep themselves accountable – are you working towards your goal or just pretending you are?
Next month, we’ll cover more on how you put this visualisation into real action, because having a goal isn’t enough, you need to take actions towards it. For now, let’s focus on creating the right possibilities for 2021. Picture it, something better – your happiness.
Let’s dae this!
See ye there, Mary.