I often start the day by drawing four circles on a blank piece of paper.The circles represent my day (today), my month, my year, and my life.Inside each circle I write down what I want. It can be a dollar figure, it can be anything, and the goals can change from day to day—it doesn’t matter. There is no way to get this process “wrong.”
But by writing the goals down, I am like an airline pilot who is consulting his or her map prior to takeoff. I am orienting my mind to what I am up to in life. I am reminding myself of what I really want.We wouldn’t think, before an airline flight, of poking our heads into the cabin and saying to the pilot, “Just take me anywhere!” Yet that’s how we live our days when we don’t check the map.
Sometimes in my seminars on motivation, people observe that they"don’t have time" for goal setting. But the four-circle system I described takes only four minutes!Once during a workshop on goal setting, I asked if anyone in the audience had any interesting experiences with visualization. We had been discussing sports psychologist Rob Gilbert’s observation that"losers visualize the penalties of failure, and winners visualize the rewards of success."
A young couple shared a story about how they had wanted for years to buy their own home but never got the money together to do it. Then one day, after reading about the practice of “treasure-mapping” (posting pictures of what you want in life somewhere in your office or home),they decided to put a picture on their refrigerator of a new house, the kind they dreamed of owning.
"In less than nine months, we’d made the down payment and moved in,"said the amazed husband. His wife added, “Alongside the photo of the house we eventually put a little thermometer that we filled in as our savings toward a down payment grew.”
I have heard many similar stories about how treasure mapping has worked for people. I have also read books and attended seminars that explain why. Most of them discuss what happens to the subconscious mind when you send it a picture of something you want. Because the subconscious mind only communicates with vividly imagined or real pictures, it will not seek to bring into your life anything you can’t picture.
Without advertising our goals to ourselves, we can lose sight of them altogether. It is possible to go an entire week, or two or three, without thinking about our main goals in life. We get caught up in reacting and responding to people and circumstances and we simply forget to think about our own purpose.
I have an example of how this practice worked in my life: Three years ago I was interested in giving more seminars on the subject of fund-raising. I had co-authored a book called RelationSHIFT:Revolutionary Fund-Raising with University of Arizona development director Michael Bass off. We had done some successful seminars on the subject, and I wanted to do more. So, on the wall of my bedroom I put up a white poster board, and on that board I put up a lot of pictures and index cards with my goals on them. I wanted to have all those goals in front of me when I woke up each morning, even though I only spent a minute or two looking at the board each day.
One of the index cards I had pinned to my goal board simply contained the bold-markered letters, “ASU.” It was almost lost among the hodgepodge of photos and goals I’d covered the board with, and I’m certain I only barely noticed it each morning as I got up. I put it up there because I thought it would be great if I could give seminars to ArizonaState University, especially now that I was living in the Phoenix area. I really thought nothing more of it.
One day at the offices of the corporate training company where I worked, I was asked to shake the hand of a new employee, Jerry. I asked Jerry to come in and sit down. We talked in my office for a few minutes about his joining the company. I asked him about his family and he casually mentioned that his parents were living in town, and that his mother worked at ASU.
Normally, that would have meant nothing. ASU is a very well-known and oft-mentioned presence in the Phoenix area. But something went off in my mind when he said that, and I know in hindsight that “something” was my daily view of my goal board.
My ears perked up when he said “ASU” and I asked him, “What does your mother do at ASU?” “She’s the chief administrative assistant to the development director at the ASU Foundation,” he said. “They’re in charge of all the fund-raising at the University.”
I really brightened at that point, and I told Jerry about my past work in fund-raising at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and how I’d always wanted to do similar work at ASU. He said he’d be delighted to introduce me to his mother and to the development director himself.Within a month, ASU fund-raisers were attending my seminar in"RelationSHIFT" and I had realized one of the goals on my board.
I honestly believe that if I had not had a goal board up in my bedroom,Jerry’s mention of ASU would have gone right past me.And this illustrates something important. We need to advertise our own goals to ourselves. Otherwise, our psychic energy is spread too thin across the spectrum of things that aren’t that important to us.