Want this to be the year you finally achieve some of your biggest goals? It can be--if you get your subconscious mind on board. That advice comes from May McCarthy, serial entrepreneur, angel investor, and author of The Path to Wealth.
"Good leaders know that for a company to run successfully, managers must set specific, measurable goals and act on any opportunities presented to achieve them," McCarthy explains. "However, just setting the goals is not enough; holding regular planning sessions and reviewing goals is vital for success. The same is true for individual success. Attaining your goals requires identifying clear, specific, and tangible goals and consistently focusing our attention and intention on them."
Once you've established your goals, she says, it's just as important to schedule regular (she recommends daily) planning meetings with yourself. This helps you not only review your path toward your goals so far and plan next steps, it also implants those goals and plans in your subconscious mind, giving you a very powerful ally.
Ready to give it a try? Here's what to do:
1. Put yourself on your calendar.
"Treat your morning meeting with your inner self seriously," McCarthy advises. Begin by choosing a space that's free of distractions. Make sure you have the materials you'll need: an uplifting book that describes others' successes achieving their goals, and a pen and notebook.
2. Read something that inspires you.
Spend the first five minutes of your "meeting" reading something that inspires you. "As you read about the success of others, your mind will look for ways to make those kinds of successes familiar and normal for you," McCarthy says.
3. Write a gratitude letter.
Spend the next 10 minutes writing a gratitude letter. "Be grateful for the good things already in your life, as well as the things you hope to have soon," McCarthy says. "Psychologists agree that gratitude and happiness help you be more focused and able to solve problems."
To get your subconscious mind on board, she says, "Express gratitude for what you have and also what you want as though you have already received it." Giving thanks for what you don't yet have creates cognitive dissonance. Your subconscious mind will seek to resolve that dissonance by looking for ways to make your goal come true, thus making your statement a reality.
4. Read your gratitude letter out loud.
This may seem awkward and embarrassing, even if you're by yourself, but give it a try anyway. "Studies have shown that when we read something out loud, we anchor it into our subconscious, which will help us to notice more possibilities to make our statements true," McCarthy says.
5. Visualize reaching your goals.
Spend up to five minutes with your eyes closed imagining your goals achieved. What will that look like and feel like? Who will be there with you?
"Olympic athletes use this technique as part of their training," McCarthy says. "They see themselves making the shot, winning the competition, celebrating with teammates and family. If you want to win and achieve your goals, see yourself doing so first."
6. Now, listen to your subconscious mind.
Finishing the above five steps should take between 20 and 25 minutes. Once you've done them, go ahead and start your day, McCarthy says. "Your subconscious mind will begin to do its job."
Often, that job will take the form of intuitions and hunches that you can't necessarily explain. Be on the lookout for those intuitions, and for unexpected leads and opportunities, McCarthy advises. That might mean calling someone whose name comes to mind out of the blue, or following a spontaneous urge to go somewhere that wasn't in your plans. Once, she says, she followed a gut instinct and drove 15 minutes out of her way. She wound up running into a potential customer, an encounter that later resulted in a contract worth more than $400,000.
"Some of these might not seem to make sense," she says. "But as Steve Jobs said, 'Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.'"