How to crush your goals in 2019. Take these techniques and run with them! Okay?
Goal setting is probably one of my favourite things in the entire world. Why? Setting goals moves us forward.
But… we are in February and I know some of you are wondering how to boost your motivation in February, as the new year new you vibes drop off.
The moment we set goals, we are deciding to design (and work towards) a better life for ourselves and our families. When I hear someone set a goal, I hear them taking ownership, and I hear them committing to self-mastery.
Today I have something new for you and it is about how intentionally crafting our past, can boost our motivation for the present.
It involves some time perspective theory so bear with me. I’ve seen great results in application of this subtle mindset change.
I’ve worked as a professional life coach with hundreds of clients, and I’ve noticed a theme come up again and again in my highly motivated go-getters who are happy and elevated.
In sharing you this piece from my coaching and goal setting toolbox, I hope you gain a new level of awareness around time and an appreciation of the control we can exert around our mindsets.
Feel more Motivated by Hacking Your Memories.
You see, we live in
At any moment in the day, we bounce between these different dimensions of time.
Our past time perspective serves an important role. It gives us reference experiences.
EVERY TIME you set a goal in 2019 for yourself or take an action toward that goal, that brain of yours will remove itself from the present and sort through your past.
It’s kind of like a librarian!
Let’s say you are going to sign up for a trail run race. As you contemplate the possibility, your brain (aka librarian) will go into the archives, search through any memory related to running and pull the reference books.
They can be past positive positive references (memories) or past negative references (memories.)
Before you take any action (signing up for the run or going out for a practice) there are subtle forces at work.
That librarian has just dropped a stack of books on the desk and is going through them.
The time negative past orientation.
Past negative time orientation is when one associates negativity or pain with memories. It could have been a good or bad event, but overall you frame things negatively. It’s very easy to get into this bad habit with day to day life.
Your inner reference librarian listens to that.
-“Here” the librarian says, “here is a reference book from your past. You hated running as a kid. It was painful. The kids made fun of you. See, if you do this you’ll risk people laughing at you again. Feel that pain.”
-The librarian gives you another past negative reference book. In this book? That you always give up on your goals and aren’t disciplined enough. It only sources one event in your past where you gave up, instead of the many other times you pushed through.
If you have a vast collection of negative past references and memories, or if you tend to don a negative lens, we call that a past negative time orientation.
The brain is VERY good at remembering and showing you anything that caused you pain because it doesn’t want you to do it again. Pain= bad.
But there’s a way to overcome this natural human tendency. You should work on this if you want to get out of the same old habits.
A negative past time orientation adds resistance to any goal we have. It reduces our effectiveness. If you want to manage your time better, be more motivated and dialled in, start practicing the art of creating a time positive orientation.
I see time positive orientations in people with high levels of self-mastery and high performers. I’ve experimented with this myself, and it has helped sustain motivation in reaching goals and ward of sabotaging behaviour.
The time positive past orientation.
The librarian (your brain) has been pulling reference books.
Now, there’a going to be some kind of positive memories associated with running or something around the general topic of setting your goal, because there was an interest in the first place. And if you’re already training, the brain is filing away how each run was, so that the next time you feel like running, you’re automatically going to reference the previous run.
If your memory of the last run was filed away as negative, instant motivation killer.
If your last memory of the run was great? Motivation booster.
You can control whether your internal library has net positive past memories or net negative past memories.
What you need to start doing to crush goals in 2019:
As you work toward a goal, consciously start a practice of creating positive memories and noticing positive moments. You’ll have to start scanning everything in your environment and mental landscape. You’ll get better, I promise.
No matter what you are doing, make it a habit of asking, “what is the one great thing from this experience today I can store in my memory bank?”
For example, with the winter high performance athletes I’ve worked with, they’ve mentioned taking time to notice the shades of pink sunlight on the mountains in the mornings of races or gruelling training.
By intentionally creating a positive past orientation in different domains of your life, you are creating a past positive reference library to fuel your motivation.
You may argue here “but Carina, there is nothing positive about my last race. I did not finish / got injured / hated it.”
That’s ok. Life is a bit shit sometimes. I’m not saying you won’t have pst negative orientations. They key though is to outweigh it with the positive.
For every moment that gets filed under negative, file two more under positive. You DNF’d that day? Focus on remembering the people who supported you that day. The sunrise. The energy of that event.
What are ways to make sure we lock down past positive orientations, and make sure it sticks in our long term memory?
Tell stories about a past event in a positive way or as a source of growth. To other people. Journal. Spin humour into it. Take photos of elements. A run? Take a photo of the great sunrise. Atop and notice things. Breathe and take a moment. Ask in every crucial step toward your goal,
What can I remember from this action I took today, that will fuel me toward my goal?
The first run after my first born baby was slow and painful (and humbling) but it is largely filed away in my past positive memory banks. Thinking about it makes me want to run again. I remember it being a suffer fest, but more than anything I remember the sunrise, the cool crisp air and sparkling snow, and feeling capable and strong again.
I could have chosen to be negative and remember hard / slow / cold / icy.
But we have choice.
We always have a choice in how we write our back story.
On that run, I took the time to ask myself what I’d remember, what memory would serve me better in my return to running.
I snapped a photo for my runkeeper log. I took the time to feel gratitude and focus on the whys. I returned to running 3 days later much more motivated holding this past positive orientation..
As you proceed into 2019 remember that every single moment, everything we are experiencing is moving from the present to the past.
Moments are fleeting, and the brain is scanning thousands of inputs, trying to decide what is worth saving for future reference the next time something similar happens.
As moments, people, experiences and events flow into your reference library, make sure that you frame them positively, so that when you wake up and take action, you pulled great references that motivate you, inspire you and move you forward.