The change of year is a time when a lot of people declare their life a battleground. People make goals. How successful are people at making these goals reality? Not very. Maybe for a few weeks. But why do people write off as a failure what they undoubtedly succeeded at for at least a few days? That should at least be seen as some kind of success. Or what if the goal is so big and intimidating that we fail because we measure ourselves in comparison to a finished product and feel hopeless? We are not merely products in stasis and we shouldn't underestimate the power of slow but consistent changes over a period of time. The tortoise wins the race...
If I say I have the goal of writing a book in the next year, most people find that a totally intimidating idea. How can we ever do great big things then if human psychology wimps out so easily? What's the secret? How do some people achieve success in their life? How come some people seem to be able to summon from deep within their will power the manifestation of their dreams into reality? How come some peoples' lives are so congruent with their dream world?
These questions are important if we want to make our dreams happen. If we want success. If we want to stay on the right path, the path we set before us. Rather than fall short of the full vision we have for ourselves.
I posit to you that it's not the goal that leads us to success but the process that guides our present actions on a daily basis.
If I want to write a book, I could have a process where I often write one page of text. Or two pages. I think it's important to be realistic though. If you're not good with consistency, I'm not so sure you should set out to do something every single day. Because you'll probably fail before long. Rather, you could look at it like an easy-medium-hard kind of game or expedition. I like the term 'expedition' because wrapped up in the definition of the word is the idea that there is some purpose to whatever it is you are setting out to do. So there is an aspect of 'goal' in the concept. But there is also an element of game or hunting or exploration involved such that you are looking for something; you are not just tossed around completely by external circumstance...you are exercising some will power...but you are also not completely sure what will happen. It's like if you go out into the woods and go hunting. If you get a smaller deer (or whatever type of animal you are hunting) than you are hoping for or have gotten before, you don't become discouraged and go home and ball your eyes out. If you don't even find a deer, you say "better luck next time" and go again in a couple weekends.
There are elements of our life story which we can change but we can't change everything all magic-like with ritual dark magick in our circle of candles in our basement. That isn't to say that rituals aren't important though. On the contrary...that's actually kind of the point of this article. Rituals, ie. maintaining a process that you can truly find delightful and joyful rather than some kind of heavy burden...that's your secret. That's the good news. That's the recognition that can take you from victim to victor.
To change our life requires will-power and experts say we only have a limited amount of will-power much like we only have so much we can pay attention to at any given moment of time. And we only have so much time. Changes are possible usually so long as we have the right kind of expectations and a healthy mindset.
But how do we MAKE these changes? Through goal-setting? No way. Goal setting might help us plan. But we can't completely accurately predict the future.
You have to make your process fun and enjoyable. You have to make it addictive. You have to build a habit that engages your attention...
Something as simple as a list of things to do in a word processor or Google Document which you paste checkmarks into after each complete task might be more compelling and engaging of your attention than some to-do app where you click a button. Maybe the feel of the click of the keys on the keyboard is more satisfying than the click of the mouse. Maybe you like the feeling of freedom when you use the word processor or Google document to track the things you want to do more than the perceived limitations in functionality of to-do apps. Maybe even interacting with to-do apps imposes a psychological perception of intimidation at the mere suggestion that you should be focused solely on producing and doing work, etc.
It seems weird but seriously research shows that our environment and what we interact with effects our brain and mindset in strange and sometimes subtle ways. A trigger for forgetting something on our mind can be something as simple as walking through a doorway from one room to another room. The reason seems to be that our brain organizes our memories based on what our location is and what the environmental conditions are like. We like to think that we are 'objective' and 'rational' whatever those are supposed to mean. We don't necessarily realize that our brains have a different idea of what is objective and rational. To our brains, it probably actually is rational and productive to be subtly effected by our environment.
Then there's the whole Dopamine aspect. What's the reward for making changes in our life? Change can be stressful. One thing we can do to reward ourselves is eat a small piece of chocolate after we do something that takes some effort on our part. Like writing a blog post :) Plus, I suspect that the simple action of tying together different kinds and instances of minor accomplishments in our life, via following the accomplishment with a small reward, ties certain neural pathways used to achieve each various minor task/accomplishment into a stronger related network in our brain which generally seeks out BEHAVIOR and REWARDS (OPPORTUNITIES & COSTS). I suspect this network pathway would make us more confident, successful, and have stronger more consistent will-power, etc. But you don't necessarily have to only use chocolate. And the beauty is that you don't have to even use chocolate every time. Once you do sometimes, your mind will automatically think of chocolate when you do something productive on a subconscious level. But you could additionally/alternatively use other means to reward yourself. You could read a chapter of a fiction book after you complete a task that you normally put off doing or find yourself frequently becoming distracted from. You could also play a game online or on your phone. A fun one I like is 'Bloons Tower Defense 5.' It can last a little bit longer than I'd sometimes like to spend on a game all in one sitting but once in awhile this is not at all such a bad thing. It's good to work hard but also to play hard.
Find a way to split up a task into a chunk just small/easy enough that you're confident you can probably achieve it without taking too much time (I'm thinking less than 45 min-1 hr.)
What you can take away from all this is that your work, your productivity, can and should be fun and exciting. Whether you have to spice it up by being creative and snacking on some highly pure antioxidant-rich chocolate or some other decadent treat or reading some fiction or using social media or playing a game or taking a nap...whatever...the important factor is the expedition, the journey, the process.
Your process needs to be designed for humans not for machines. You are a human, not a machine.
Be the change you want to see in the world. Your environment and your future are basically convoluted reflections of your inputs & outputs right now. The more that you can crystallize and focus on the vision of your desires/needs, the better this will be reflected in your actual outputs and your environment will be expressed by the deeds of your hands and the spoken words of your tongue. Let thy hands fulfill the deepest expectations of your mind. You gotta believe. Whatsoever you believe will become your reality. With few exceptions. You're one of the biggest influential players in the story of your life. If you don't enjoy the processes and rituals of your daily life, you're living in a system of massive resistance to your own creativity and your own capacity to effectively create the changes you desire. Be attentive to what you want and use each small step of fulfillment as fuel for further change-making. Your results are your reward. Don't like them? Morphogenesis that crap then.
Change the game. Change the process. Change the way you think about managing your life. The way that your body, mind, and entire life is instructed...or programmed...is not limited to only your conscious wishes or even your conscious awareness but by the deepest, most recessed aspects of your self, including your shadow self...the parts of you which you wished didn't exist. You can't continue to allow those parts to exist or to give those parts of yourself positive attention if you don't want them to rule your life. You need to purge yourself of those things which are doing you self-harm.
We can be our own worst enemies so often.
Nurture that part of yourself that is essential to your true success just as you would nurture the watermelon plant and cull the undesired weeds and toss them into the rotting pile to be restored to raw biomass potential.
Free yourself by removing the bonds of former patterns and reconnecting the aspects of yourself in other more productive configurations. This is the process that feeds itself with its own desires. Do you feed yourself the dung of beetles? I surely hope not... Mentally we need to feed ourselves and our own processes with that which will integrate us into a more deep union with ourself. This is called being self-consistent in systems terms. If we are not self-consistent, the results are horrible. We do that which we do not want to do and are double-minded like a bipolar person.
If we want the results that we want (to go meta), we need to see that the person who we are when we do not succeed at fulfilling our desires is the same person we are when we do succeed at our desires. Just different parts. And we have to prune back the parts of ourselves that are hurting us as a whole.
Seek those things which will give you lasting fulfillment. Those things which are sustainable. If what you say you seek is not sustainable or does not bring you fulfillment but you insist that it is better or best for your life, perhaps reconsider whether this is true to your inner purpose. Maybe this is not actually good for you, in other words. What is good for you?
Many times we have dreams and we immediately assume that they must be what we really want. As if the heart really always know what it wants. These thing we so often think of as truisms are more like mass delusions...
Just like the music you liked when you were a teen probably isn't the same as the music you like now...The heart changes. The heart doesn't know what it wants. Why does that matter for success? Success requires a strong consistency aspect. Search out your dreams and interpret them looking for flaws.
Before you change your life, change your goal. Before you change your goal, change your process. Before you change your process, change your attitude/mindset...your entire mode of awareness. Have gratitude. Be aware of negative valence emotions though. Look deep within you for that shadow self. That person you deep down know you are but wish you weren't. That psychological part of yourself that you project onto others but inwardly ignore in yourself and avoid admitting you have problems with.
We like to think we are better than average. Better drivers, better informed, better mannered, etc., etc. Doubtful. We judge the world. Others are so stupid, so ignorant, so lazy, so this or that... Yeah the world is ugly but we are not exempt from that ugliness.
You want change? WHO ARE YOU?
This article is meant to get you into a philosophical mode of thinking and really grapple/wrestle with what it means to be consciously aware of yourself. We humans like to pride ourselves with the idea that we are conscious but really I think we are far more blind to our inner workings than we would hope was the case.
Be Inwardly Aware. But don't over-think or flood your mind with worry and chatter.
I hope my thoughts on this matter fuels within you an urge to change your life circumstances for the better and maybe paints a better picture than the oft-recited memes about habit-change that give the illusion that life changes reliably snap into place like Lego bricks or K'nex rods.
Cheers to your bountiful success and to optimization!