The ancient saying “Be careful what you ask for, in case you get it” is a very wise one. Because your unconscious mind will do its best to give you what you ask for – no more, no less – you have to be very clear about what the goal is that you are setting.
Consider a businessman who very single-mindedly sets a SMART goal of owning a company with a turnover of a million in its first year.
A year later he has his company, it’s turned over a million, so he has achieved his goal. But – his health is shot due to working 19-hour days, he’s a hundred pounds overweight because he’s been living on junk food, his wife has left him because he’s never home, and he has no friends left because he has made deals with them that left him with a big profit and them with very little.
This is not where he wanted to be, but because he did not consider the consequences and knock-on effects, his unconscious mind gave him exactly what he asked for – and no more.
How could he have avoided this? As well as making the goal sensory-specific and putting a date on it, he also could have looked at the consequences of achieving the goal on every other area of his life:
- his health
- his family
- his friendships
- the wider community
If you don’t consider all the consequences of your goal, you may end up with something you don’t want. The smarter way to set goals is to take the consequences into account, allowing you to make changes to your goal and/or your route to achieving it. That way you stand a chance of getting the benefits of your goal while avoiding unwanted side effects.
Bonus tip: listen to your unconscious mind
The conscious mind can only track around seven “chunks” of information at a time (less on a bad day) so it’s easy to miss something vital when you are thinking your goal through.
Your unconscious mind, by contrast, is potentially aware of everything, and it can notice pitfalls that the conscious mind overlooks. Generally it communicates with the conscious mind by means of feelings. So – check how you feel when you think about your goal. Do you feel enthused and energized, or tired and discouraged?
If you feel less than 100% about your goal, that may indicate that your conscious mind has missed something about the consequences of achieving it, so check again.
Andy Smith is an Emotional Intelligence consultant and NLP Trainer based in the UK. His new book, “Achieve Your Goals: Strategies To Transform Your Life”, is published by Dorling Kindersley in summer 2006.
You can find more ideas and advice for changing your life at the Create The Life You Want web site at http://www.createthelifeyouwant.co.uk. Sign up for Andy’s “Create The Life You Want” newsletter by sending a blank email to: