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Three Simple Steps to Your Best Year Yet

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Two weeks ago, we began the process of making 2009 your best year yet. If you are just joining us, you may find it useful to read two earlier posts where we introduced the Wheel of Life, and the role of imagination in creating significant improvement in your life experience.

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We asked you to rate your current level of satisfaction in each of the spokes of the wheel, and then to imagine what life would be like if two or three key areas of your wheel were to improve next year.

This week we will focus on what may seem frivolous to some, yet something that my experience shows is, in fact, the single most important step in making meaningful change happen.

In a bit of over simplification, there are three parts to the "secrets" of success:

1. Know where you are heading
2. Imagine getting there
3. Do the work necessary

Step One: Know where you are going

Step 1 has to do with gaining clarity about what you want and why you want it. One of my favorite bits of country wisdom: if you don't know where you are going, any road will do. Using the Wheel can help clarify your areas of focus, and it's not enough. A critical piece to consider is why you want whatever it is that you have chosen as your object of focus.

Step Two: Imagine getting there

We started Step Two last week. Now I want to share with you a way to translate the power of imagination into practical, real world results.

For the skeptic in you, please consider this as something of an experiment. It is a fairly safe experiment in that nothing is going to explode and you risk virtually nothing by trying this out. However, it may seem a bit weird to you at first. So, if you don't mind learning by experimenting and you're ok with a bit of weird, here goes.

I am going to ask you to create a private, imaginary little film, one that you can "watch" in your mind's eye. The film will be pretty short - just a minute or so - and you will be the "star." In the film, you will see yourself succeeding in those two or three areas of improvement that you chose for 2009.

Once you "create" the film in your mind, you will then "watch" the film at least twice a day, once in the morning as soon as you wake up, and once in the evening just before you fall asleep. You can rerun the film as many times a day as you like, but you need to watch it at least twice, once in the morning and once in the evening.

Why am I asking you to do something as lame as watch a make believe film in your mind? Great question! The answer has to do with how the brain works. As you entertain a thought in your mind on a consistent basis, you will find that you will begin to notice things that support your focus.

If you have ever purchased a new car or one that is new to you, then you probably know the phenomenon. As you become increasingly clear about the type of car you want, even before you buy it, you "suddenly" begin to notice those kinds of cars on the road. It seems as though they are now all over the place. Of course, they were there before and you just didn't notice. Now, however, as you hold the image in your mind of that kind of car, your brain sorts the images that you see against a new "filter" - the new car - and you start to notice that kind of car.

Let's say you are not as fit as you might like to be. Start by creating an image, a mini-film, in your mind, seeing yourself as fit, enjoying being fit, and perhaps hearing positive comments from friends and family about what great shape you seem to be in,

Put as many positive details into the image as possible, and be sure to see yourself as already fit and definitely enjoying being fit. You can pretend you are watching this film on a TV set in your mind, on a large movie screen, or just about any other creative way you can imagine watching this mini-film inside your mind. Create the film as though it were a documentary, showing you already in a state of well being.

You may even find it helpful to put something like subtitles on the film, a kind of commentary on the process, something that could even be an affirmation. One that I like a lot comes from French psychotherapist, Emile Coue who wrote: "Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better."

You can use this simple affirmation or create one of your own. All you need to do is watch the film a couple of times a day, see the affirmation running like a subtitle, and perhaps even say it to yourself from time to time as you go through the day. If you do this seemingly goofy little exercise every day for a couple of weeks, you will probably find yourself noticing little things that you can do that will make a difference in your level of fitness.

You will begin to notice little choices that are available to you every day, and some part of you will start to gravitate toward making choices that will help you improve your level of health and fitness. That could be anywhere from better food choices to bits of exercise.

Just be sure to repeat the visualization and affirmation at least twice a day, every day, for at least 3-4 weeks.

Nothing is going to dramatically change tomorrow (unless, of course, it does)! We will share more tips on how to translate a positive focus into positive actions creating positive results.

Step Three: Do the work necessary

Over the next few weeks, we will translate the process into more defined goals and plans that you can exercise. For now, build increased clarity about areas you would like to improve and begin to hold positive images in your mind of those improvements having already taken place. Stay tuned!

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You can find out more about Russell Bishop at http://www.lessonsinthekeyoflife.com. Contact Russell at: russell@lessonsinthekeyoflife.com
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The author of Lessons in the Key of Life, Russell is an Educational Psychologist, professional life coach and management consultant, based in Santa Barbara California.


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