Write down your goals – longhand. Formulate SMART goals, and write them down. New research shows that the physical act of writing – using pen and paper – helps to form new neural pathways in the brain, which in turn helps to cement knowledge and improves the effectiveness of the brain. Dr. David Sortino writes, “According to author, Mathew Geiger, ‘as our brains learn to connect our inner worlds to the external universe, we begin to recognize abstract ideas like awareness of others and perception.’” In other words, the mere act of writing our goals may tend to connect our abstract dreams, ideas, and wishes to a more concrete reality, and move us closer to achieving them.
Visualize the achievements. “Creative visualization” is using your imagination to visualize specific behaviors or events you want to have happen in your life. Use all of your senses: What does achieving your goal look and sound like? What does it smell and taste like? What does it feel like? Dwell on the mental images for a bit. If you need to adjust your SMART goals, do it – again, longhand, in pen on paper. Sketch, doodle, journal the meaning and consequences of success until, in your mind’s eye, you can see yourself as having achieved it.
Relax, believe, and trust. Fear, negativity, and worry are not at all conducive to success. Or to creativity and innovation. Life is full of risk; nothing is learned or achieved without failure. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” If the answer is, “Someone could die,” then take a step back and think things through. Plan, prepare, and practice with a safety net. Some mistakes, as I tell my kids, you cannot afford to make.
On the other hand, you can get hurt by holding on too tight, as this scene from Top Gun so memorably illustrates:
My unwillingness to simply fall off a horse could’ve gotten me killed, years ago. My instructor called me aside, one day, and said, “When you throw your arms around the horse’s neck and hang on for dear life, do you realize what you’re doing?” He pointed to another student in the ring. “When you fall off – and you will still fall off – where do you think you’ll end up?” Suddenly, I had a vision of myself swinging around to face the horse for a split second before slipping to the ground to be trampled under all four hooves.
“Oh.” That’s what Cougar’s talking about, here – holding on too tight. It can get you killed. So sometimes, it’s better to relax, let go, and fly.