Week One is in the bag! Congratulations! From where we squat…er…stand, it appears that time’s moving pretty quickly towards the conclusion of the 6-week Challenge. So our question to you is: are your goals clear?
Obviously you wouldn’t have started this Challenge if you didn’t already have a goal in mind. For some, the goal is a number on the scale. For others, it’s the ability to look or “feel” a certain way wearing a piece of clothing (or in nothing at all!) and there are numerous motivators in-between.
But regardless of you motivation, have you actually visualized what achieving your specific goal looks and feels like?
Before we dive into that, come stroll with me.…… through the airport. Imagine you’re walking through a massive terminal. There’s the bustling of people running to catch a flight, babies crying, toddlers screaming, people yammering away on their phones, security buzzers going off intermittently, announcements coming through the loud speaker; a whole lot of activity. Yet you’re capable of mentally “turning down the volume” on all the noise. In fact, the “turn down” happens automatically, with your attention only coming to sharp alert when information about your flight is randomly announced. Even while you were completely detached from the cacophony, something inside you vigilantly scanned the sensory clutter to pick up on personally relevant information. That something is your reticular activating system, or RAS.
Your RAS is your conscious mind’s filter, insuring that your senses aren’t overloaded by the massive amounts of data that is brought to your attention at any given second of the day; only the “important” stuff gets through. The relevance of your RAS is obvious: without it, you would be literally non-functioning due stimulus overload. But what’s not so obvious is the manner in which our RAS can be used to achieve goals, such as weight loss, enhanced athletic performance, happier relationships, healthy self-confidence, and so very much more.
When you focus on something….and I mean, really spend some solid time putting mental energy into an idea or goal, it gets embedded into your sub-conscious mind. When this occurs, you’re actually “setting your reticular” to enable your conscious mind to start scanning your reality for sensory input that supports your sub-conscious goals and ideas. Specifically, you will become sensitive to information and opportunities that present themselves into your field of perception that support the realization of any of your embedded goals and ideas.
It is thanks to this filtering function of RAS that you can hear info about your plane being delayed through the layers of sound at the airport: because you decided, through every thought and thought-born action that got you to the airport in the first place, that that particular flight was important to you. In this same way, through focusing on your Challenge goal (or any other goal) through conscientious and consistent visualizations, verbal affirmations (“I am strong” versus “I am overweight” for example) reading articles, or really any other form of input, you will be more available to perceive, and act on, data that will support your goal that wasn’t as readily visible before.
The good news is that you’re already “gettin’ your embed on” with the tools of the Challenge. The point system keeping you accountable, logging those points on the scoreboard, checking in with your Coach, and using your MyFitness Pal app are all effective goal “embedders”. But there are a number of other ways that we can consistently “set our RAS” for success. Some ideas are:
- Post a picture of your former “fittest” self in a prominent place. The fridge is a good spot.
- Post a picture of an athlete/personality you admire in a prominent place
- Hang an article of “goal clothing” out to see everyday (that sexy little black number that you haven’t been able to fit into for 2 years)
- Write something like “I am strong. I am in charge” or “I eat clean” on a Post-It, and tape that baby to your bathroom mirror. (Mine says “I drink water, not wine” but hey… you do you)
- Read Coach Betsy’s blog on nutrition prep, and other awesome stuff at her site.
It really doesn’t matter what little action you take, just so long as you take some sort of action on the daily to really get that RAS set.
There’s that old saying that “seeing is believing”, which always struck me as a bit cynical, as there are some very REAL things that we’ve all experienced that go beyond the scope of visual perception. RAS takes this adage and flips it, identifying the fact that what we perceive is actually determined by what we’ve deemed “important” as well as what we’ve come to believe about ourselves, our “realities” and our abilities. As such, it’s absolutely essential that we shrug off doubts, limiting beliefs, and negative self-criticisms, and replace these saboteurs with positive beliefs in our ability to change, achieve goals, and basically kick ass at life.
Even if we don’t believe in our bad-assery just yet, we can “fake it till we make it” by monitoring our thoughts, and supporting positive beliefs through visualizations, affirmations, and education. In so doing, we can set our RAS and start getting our brain to work for us, not against us. Before you know it, you actually WILL believe in your badass ability to crush your goals because your perceived reality will support that belief…..you will see it with your very own eyes.
So this week, in addition to logging those points, maybe you can create another tangible way to connect with your fittest goal. Get creative and maybe ask your Coach for some ideas. You’ve got nothing to lose, except an outdated RAS……….