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Setting Goals: The Power of Visualization to Create the Life You Want

If you don't believe that your thoughts are creating the life you're living and that you're the principal author of your own destiny, writing your own story every day, you will remain a helpless audience member watching your life go by.
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As a financial advisor, I often tell my clients that the most important investment they can ever make is that of their energy and attention in their future, as I've seen firsthand what happens when people learn to consciously direct their thoughts toward the future they want to create. When I give seminars, I'll often ask people, "What are you going to do differently this year than you did last year?" And often, I get a kind of blank look in response: "I'm going to make more money than I did last year," or, "I'm going to see more people than I did last year." But when I ask them what they will do differently, they say, "What do you mean?"

There is a well-known definition of insanity, which is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. And when I say doing the same thing, I mean at the most fundamental level -- how we spend our attention and energy. The human mind is like a bio-computer that is continually processing input and output, so whatever you put in is understandably what you'll get out. Put in junk and you'll get junk. But put in good programs and you'll get good results.

A metaphor I like to use is that of my car and its built-in navigation system. If I want to go to the city to meet a new client, I can enter the address and the system guides me -- turn right, turn left, drive straight ahead for three miles. This has certainly made driving much easier over the last several years, but I still have to program the navigation system with a destination in order to get where I want to go.

In a way, our subconscious mind is a like a navigation system. It's constantly giving us directions, but if we haven't plugged in the right address with our conscious mind, then we're going to be going in circles.

The good news is that visualizing and learning to redirect our future is not as difficult as some people might think. The first step is to create a two-minute movie in your head of you in the future, being the person that you always wanted to be, and imagining that money is not an obstacle in any way. The second step then requires five minutes a night, before you go to bed. Spend a minute or two in meditation and/or doing some type of relaxation technique -- anything that will best help you focus. Then, once you feel centered and grounded, play your movie in your head.

There's an old saying, "Act as if." Or, as we often say, "Fake it till you make it." Your movie has to be a snapshot of a day in the life of you playing bigger in the world: where and what you do at work, the relationships you have, the house you live in, the car you drive, etc. What does that vision look like three to five years out in a perfect day in the life of you? And then give it up to the universe, because in all likelihood that vision, while it may come true, will find reasons to change and grow as you make it bigger and better. We need to give our energy a direction to move in. It's critical that we do that. Otherwise, we flounder. It's like getting in our car without a navigation system and driving around with no idea where we're going.

Go from morning to night and make it as sensory as possible. Add as much detail as you can -- objectively and subjectively. Whatever it is, it should be you living your fullest expression -- and filled with happiness as you do what you love to do.

Then play your movie every night for 30 days, because this is how long many people believe it takes for a new habit to form in the subconscious mind. For example, if you smoke once, it probably won't become a habit, but if you smoke for 30 days, you're very possibly hooked.

I can't stress this point enough: if you don't believe that your thoughts are creating the life you're living and that you're the principal author of your own destiny, writing your own story every day, you will remain a helpless audience member watching your life go by. The visualization process gives you something far more useful to focus on than the old counterproductive messages of your mind. Over time, you'll be amazed how quickly your outer world will begin to change once you've learned how to rewrite your script.

This piece is adapted from "Beyond Success: Redefining the Meaning of Prosperity" © 2009 Jeffrey L. Gitterman. All rights reserved. Published by AMACOM Books (www.amacombooks.org), a division of the American Management Association.