Subconscious Goal Setting for the New Year 🧠
Learn how to set goals you will hit using your subconscious mind. (10mins Read)
Theme for 2023
Prioritize Your Goals into Your Top 3-5
Create Narrative Goals
Create a Ritual for Reviewing your Narrative Goals
I hope you had a Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!
It’s about this time every year that people start to think about what they accomplished this year, and what they would like to accomplish next year.
So, I wanted to take some time today to outline a process I go through with my clients to help them hit their goals by using their subconscious minds.
This is important because the subconscious governs 95% of what you think, feel & do every single day.
As you’re reading this, if you think of someone who’d benefit from this process, share this with them & ask them to be your accountability partner!
Having an accountability partner massively increases your OWN likelihood of achieving the goals you set out to achieve!
Alright, let’s dive in.
Step 1: Theme
The first step I suggest for people is to assign an overall theme for the new year that embodies what you’d like to accomplish this year.
Last year, my theme was “The Compound Effect”, which is the concept that consistent & repetitive action multiplied by time leads to breakthroughs & success.
What’s yours for this year?
Here are some ideas:
Anxious to Action
Health & Wealth
Step 2: Start, Stop, More of, Less of, Continue
Next, we need to start outlining your actual goals, we’ll make them sexier momentarily, for now, we just need the raw materials!
When I work with people I use our SSMLC Model (still working on the name…) to help them create basic goals.
This is a really easy way to set action-oriented goals from the git-go.
So, take a moment & outline things you’d like to Start doing, Stop doing, Do less of, Do more of, or Continue doing, I’ll put some examples below.
I want to start eating more vegetables
Start working out in the morning
Start marketing my business more consistently
Start having more fun
Start spending evenings with my kids
I want to stop smoking
Stop eating unhealthy
Stop drinking so much
Stop going to bed so late
Stop yelling at my kids
Stop leaving things to the last minute
I want to read more good books
I want to go on more date nights with my wife/husband
I want to hang out with friends more
I want to swim more
I want to laugh more
I want to watch less TV
I want to spend less time on social media
I want to feel less tired after lunch
I want to spend less time with that toxic group of people
I want to continue working out
I want to continue my pregame routine
I want to continue engaging on social media for my business
I want to continue having weekly team meetings
Take a moment to brain dump out all of the ideas under these categories you can think of!
Step 3: Prioritization
Awesome, now you have a Theme & a list of goals you’d like to accomplish using the SSMLC Model.
Next up, is prioritizing what you’ve written down.
This is an important step because the more goals you have, the less you will accomplish.
Go read that again.
Your brain only has so much focus power, so the less you try to accomplish, the more you will actually accomplish.
That being said, I generally suggest having 3 top goals you’d like to focus on.
The highest I’ll ever go, even with a goal-achieving pro is 5.
So, how do you narrow down the list? There are a few things I suggest, first, is going back to your Theme for the year.
Of the goals you have written down, which fit within your Theme the best?
Another framework I like is picking 1 goal of the following categories Health, Wealth & Relationships.
If you’re really struggling, you could even pull out an Eisenhauer Matrix to help you identify which of the goals you’ve written down are most important & urgent!
Step 4: Anti-Goals
Now that you’ve got your list of your Top 3-5 Goals & your Theme for this year, we’re going to ensure you fail at them.
Yep, you read that right, looking at your list, can you think of all of the ways you could ensure that you don’t accomplish them?
Charlie Munger (Warren Buffets biz partner) calls these Anti-Goals, and I love them!
He may not have understood the Neuroscience he was using when creating this method, but it’s genius nonetheless.
Our brains tend towards the negative, it’s an evolutionary habit we picked up over time to survive.
In today’s world were much safer, so this tendency can get in our way oftentimes, but it can be used as a powerful goal-setting tool as well.
The premise is pretty simple, you’ve got your Top 3-5 Goals written down, now imagine all of the things you’d have to do to make sure you didn’t accomplish them.
What excuses would you have to make? What other things in your life could get in your way? What would you need to make sure you did to fail at each of them?
For example, if your goal is to lose 10 lbs, an anti-goal could be to eat ice cream every night or never work out.
If your goal is to spend more quality time with your family, some anti-goals could be:
Work late every night
Don't set boundaries around your time at work
Never take a moment to plan out quality time & put it on your calendar.
You get the gist.
Once you have anti-goals for each of your Top 3-5 Goals, you have a roadmap of all of the things you need to do the opposite of to accomplish your goals this year!
This is a great way to get ahead of potential roadblocks and have an action plan for if they do come up.
Step 5: Narrative Goals
The final step of our goal-setting process is to write a story about them!
Stories are powerful tools humans have been using for centuries.
When we hear a story, our brains explode in activity!
A good story engages your emotions, provides context, and is much more memorable than basic facts (or goals).
Areas like the Hippocampus, Amygdala & Pre-Frontal Cortex (PFC) are all very active while we are listening to or reading a story.
These areas are the tools of our subconscious mind. The Hippocampus helps us encode and remember information for later.
The amygdala allows us to experience emotions, and the PFC helps us make sense of the events that are unfolding in the story.
Narrative goals use these neural mechanisms to sear your goals into your subconscious mind.
By creating a story or narrative about your goals, your Hippocampus encodes them into long-term memory better than a basic goals list.
The story also fires up your amygdala which marks the memories of the story with brain chemicals like dopamine & noradrenaline so they are easier to remember later.
These are also the chemicals that will make your Narrative goals feel more motivating & achievable.
And finally, your PFC helps you accomplish the goals inside the story because it can make sense of the story more effectively than just reading a list over & over.
The story helps your PFC project you into the future with more purpose, and once it has a target, it can work in your subconscious to lead you towards your goals daily.
Alright, enough science, here’s how to write a Narrative Goal.
By now you have a Theme for the year, a list of your Top 3-5 Goals, & lots of Anti-Goals for each of your Top 3-5 Goals.
These are all the ingredients that we will need to write this story!
You can either write 1 story for each goal, or 1 story large that includes all of the goals together.
I prefer to write 1 large story personally, but it’s up to you.
The first step in this process is to brain-dump something out.
It doesn’t need to be perfect, the only goal is to get your Theme, Goals & Anti-Goals into a form that isn’t a list & is starting to sound like a story!
Meaning it has a beginning, middle & end.
Fine Tuning Your Narrative Goals
After you’ve got a basic narrative written about your goals, there are a few keys to success to keep in mind to make sure you’re searing these stories into your subconscious.
Make sure your narratives are positively framed, meaning saying, I don’t want to be overweight anymore doesn’t count.
Saying, I am at a healthy weight & happy with my body is better!
Also, make sure your narratives are presently framed, meaning make sure you’re speaking as if it’s already happened in the future.
This may feel weird at first, so here’s an example:
"It is now July 29th, 2023, and I am at a healthy weight, I am happy with my body and ready for summer!”
Keep this language throughout the narrative. You don’t have to start every sentence with, “It is now”, but be sure to start every story that way!
Finally, use the acronyms SMART & DUMB as rubrics for your narratives.
Most people have heard of SMART goals before, but I will outline it for those who haven’t:
Less people have heard of DUMB goals, but I like them just as much, if not more than SMART Goals!
DUMB stands for:
Behavior-Based (can be broken down into smaller steps)
Use these as guidelines for your narratives as you write and as a rubric for when you finish your rough draft!
Go back through and scrutinize what you wrote through the lens of these two frameworks.
If you said, “I am healthier.” How could you use SMART & DUMB to improve this statement?
Maybe: “I have lost 15lbs, my core strength has improved, my lower back pain is completely gone, and I feel healthier than I did in my 20’s!”
“15lbs” is Specific, Measurable, Realistic & Attainable.
“My strength has improved” is Specific, Measurable, Realistic, Uplifting & Attainable
“My lower back pain is completely gone” is Specific, Measurable, Realistic, Uplifting, Dream Based & Attainable
“I feel healthier than I did in my 20s” is Uplifting, Specific, & Dream Based
If I were to continue to examine this statement, I might add in something to make it more Behavior Based, like, “I have been consistently hitting 3-4 workouts per week and I have lost…”
Not every single sentence needs to have every single one of these things, but the more that do, the more powerful the narrative will be for your subconscious mind!
Here is a short excerpt of a Narrative Goal from a previous client of mine:
"It is now July 29th, 2022, and I have just completed my Heroes Program. I have a Purpose that helps me wake up every day with energy and zest for life. I have created a quick exercise routine that I hit 4 out of the 7 days of the week that I can complete without much friction... etc."
As you can see, you don’t need to overcomplicate things, something that’s concise is just as powerful!
What To Do Now
Once you’ve got your Theme, Top 3-5 Goals & Narrative Goals, it’s time to create a ritual of reading this daily.
I suggest right before bed, and right when you wake up. During these parts of the day, your brain is in a Theta wave state.
This means your subconscious is very open to suggestions!
If you’ve done this correctly, these narratives should be like literal instruction manuals for your subconscious mind to follow.
Rereading your Narrative Goals will teach your mind & brain what actions you need to take to achieve the future you wrote about.
The only thing to do now is to take action toward these goals daily!
This is why ensuring you make your narratives SMART & DUMB is so important.
With very specific instructions, knowing which actions to take shouldn’t be too difficult.
If you would like me to review your Narrative Goals and send you my suggestions, email them to me!
Here’s my personal email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I will respond as fast as I can with my suggestions so that you can start reading them ASAP!
Happy New Year!
I hope this helps you create a 2023 for the record books! If you’d like to have an accountability buddy, make sure to share this with a friend.
Otherwise, I hope you have a great New Year this weekend, and I will see you next year… That joke never gets old… 😅
But seriously, until next time… Live Heroically! 🧠