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How to train your brain so you can harness your power and be who you want to be

A goal is a dream with a date on it

I am the greatest was one of Muhammad Ali’s mantras and he believed it and lived it; in fact, he said it before he even knew he was – a wonderful example of how powerful affirmations are and that the facts will eventually catch up! Ali was and still is considered one of the greatest boxers and that was his dream.

Children have big dreams – to be an astronaut, an explorer, to run the country or to save the planet. Sadly, the reality is that for far too many children, these dreams gradually diminish and disappear. This prompts the question – why? Is it the grown-ups telling children to be more realistic – to have more attainable goals? Maybe. When we’re young, for the most part, we listen to those adults around us as they can have so much influence. Maybe we don’t go for those dreams because we put our own obstacles in the way – because we do listen to the naysayers, maybe it’s inertia, perhaps we fear failure – maybe conversely, we fear success – will it change us? Maybe it’s lack of self-esteem. For whatever reason, as we grow into adults, we’re able to reach the maturity in our thoughts to know that glass-ceilings are self-imposed. Trouble is, very often, we perhaps ignore that knowledge and those glass ceilings remain, firmly intact.

Which side of the glass are you?

So, what can we do about this glass ceiling we seem to have constructed? How can we start seeing ourselves as living that dream life, attaining that sought-after goal, attaining that coveted job role? It’s about cranking up our Mental Thermostat. The Winning Edge concept Mental Thermostat refers to our ‘normal’ setting in life i.e. what you know and what you are familiar with such as your everyday behaviour, habits, responses etc. We call this setting ‘normal’ and with your Mental Thermostat, you too have a ‘normal’ setting that you operate at every day both consciously and subconsciously. However, how often do you challenge what your ‘normal’ is?

You may remember the lottery winner Michael Carroll who won £9.7 million in 2002 at the age of 19. His ‘normal’ was well and truly challenged and to be fair, he didn’t exactly have much time to crank up his Mental Thermostat. Living a fairly modest life at the time of his big win and working as a refuse collector, after winning the fortune, Carroll professed he wasn’t going to live an elaborate lifestyle and would put his criminal past and anti-social behaviour behind him. However, within months he was committing crimes and going through money like water, culminating in him being declared bankrupt within eight years.

There are numerous stories of lottery winners who very quickly squandered their money and the main reason being, they didn’t crank up their Mental Thermostat and think like a millionaire. Yes of course there are many millionaires who are born into money and there are those who have made their millions through hard graft, but in order to maintain the lifestyle they enjoy, these people tend to invest their money sensibly to counteract the luxurious purchases they may choose to make, but most importantly, their self-image allows them to enjoy their money and their lifestyle.

Be. Do. Have.

Michael Carroll had not been used to this amount of wealth and therefore, his self-image did not enable him to enjoy it long-term as he simply didn’t see himself as a millionaire. To be this, he needed to crank up his Mental Thermostat by changing the perception he had of himself, so he believed he deserved his new-found lifestyle and maintained it. If you don’t make these changes, your self-image cannot cope with new circumstances and very often ‘old habits’ take over to bring you back to the status quo or ‘normal setting’ you have previously been used to.

This behaviour can also apply to people who are promoted at work to a leadership role. If they have not altered their mindset to see themselves as a leader, they will not feel worthy of this new status and therefore will not behave accordingly.

How to change your ‘normal’ setting

So, if we want change in our life, or something has happened to change our circumstances, what can we do to ensure we’re embracing the ‘new’ normal?

Five key steps:

  • Change the way you think about what you want

How are you thinking about your dream? Do you feel it’s unobtainable and if so, why? Challenge the nature of your thoughts. Reframe them in a way that is more solution-orientated.

  • A dream is a goal with a date on it.

Most people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan and if you fall into this camp, your dream will remain just that – a dream. If you have a burning desire to achieve something, put a date on it and map out the steps to achieving it. You can then get an enormous sense of achievement when you tick those steps off one by one.

  • Visualisation is key to an expect success mindset

The subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between a real or a vividly imagined event and that’s why visualisation is key – we can build a mental movie, using all five of our senses – whereby we see ourselves achieving our goal. We then replay it again and again and that new level of successful will, overtime, feel completely normal to us.

  • Use assumptive affirmations

Assumptive affirmations are a vital piece of the jigsaw to our achievements. Twice-daily mantras repeated out loud – maybe after your teeth cleaning ritual – will programme your brain with the confidence and self-belief that your ambition is achievable. The affirmations should be assumptive because the brain doesn’t like cognitive dissonance so therefore, because it is teleologically-focused – i.e. it is end-goal orientated, the brain will do all it can to make what you have said, become your reality. It’s powerful stuff and keeps you on track.

  • Reinvent yourself for success and know you’re worthy of it

No matter what has gone before you in your life and no matter what people may have told you which has led to your self-limiting beliefs, you can reinvent ourselves for success. You can do this by using all of the above steps and by working on your self-esteem - knowing that you are worthy, that no one deserves it any more than you do. Note down your achievements in a Success Journal and read back through them should you have a shocker of a day – those journal entries serve to remind you what you’re capable of!

Changing our habits, changing our future

Muhammed Ali knew he was the greatest – he didn’t wait for the facts to catch up, he just knew it. Because of that utter self-belief, the facts did catch up. The same can be true for all of us.

The New Year is almost upon us. Give some thought as to how you’d like 2020 to pan out for you. Think about what you want and know that you are worthy of happiness and great things in your life. Start cranking up your Mental Thermostat today!

Wishing you and yours a fabulous festive season and a dazzling 2020!

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