I’ve got good news for you: Goals don’t have to be as mystical and elusive as we seem to make them.
As creatives and entertainers, we are no strangers to the stars in our eyes. Many of us have spent our lives daydreaming of awards ceremonies, gala premiers and if you’re anything like me, the financial security to actually be able to put organic and nutrient-rich food in our fridge.
The question is…how do we actually GET there?
Let’s take a look at some practical and actionable tools and approaches you can start utilizing today to bring yourself that much closer to accomplishing everything you’ve ever dreamed up.
Allow Me To Introduce You To Your RAS
In order to understand why the tools we’re gonna talk about are effective in helping you get to where you wanna be, we need to touch on some of the fundamentals of the Reticular Activating System.
The Reticular Activating System (or RAS) is a bundle of nerves at the base of the brainstem that allows the brain to filter in what info is important to us based on our goals, needs, interests, and desires and allows us to filter out whatever isn’t important.
It’s the reason you can tune out the drone of a crowd of thousands of people at a music festival but immediately snap to attention the moment somebody says your name.
Have you ever had that experience where a friend gets a new car with a make and model you’ve never heard of before? Then suddenly, everywhere you look, the roads are swarming with them?
That’s your RAS at work.
Now that we understand what the RAS is and how it works, let’s discuss the ways you can “train” or leverage it in getting to your goals.
Start With “Why”
When it comes to reaching goals, most people want to dive right into the “HOW” of it.
- What steps to take
- What tools to use
In all honesty? That approaching couldn’t be more backwards.
(Where my Chandler Bing fans at?)
It’s easy to get bogged down in all of the logistics on your way to achieving your goals. There are almost always setbacks along the way that can leave you feeling defeated and questioning whether or not the pursuit is really worth it.
This is where your “WHY’ comes in.
“Why” you want to accomplish something is a helluva lot more compelling than whatever the thing happens to be. You need to have a big, freaking audacious “WHY” that can bring things back into focus when it gets hard and you’re tempted to quit.
There’s a common misconception that your “WHY” has to be “bigger than you”, which is a beautiful sentiment, but not entirely true.
Your “WHY” doesn’t have to be altruistic in nature.
It just needs to be something that genuinely motivates YOU to take action.
Maybe you’re a performer who’s got a side hustle business so you can provide greater financial stability for your family.
Maybe you’ve been daydreaming your entire life of strutting across the stage to accept your first Tony Award.
There are no wrong answers here.
My “WHY” for creating this blog and business is twofold:
- I’ve had some vocal and physical injuries over the years that have left me out of commission at times. As a full-time performer, when my voice or body are out of commission, it means I’m not collecting a paycheck. I am growing a business to create financial stability around my gigs that will give me greater freedom to only have to say “yes” to the gigs that really light me up and to create a lifestyle where my quality of life isn’t something I’m having to sacrifice all the time by being “on the road”. (Well, at sea, but you get what I’m saying.)
- I realized that if I was struggling in these areas as a professional entertainer, it meant there were OTHER entertainers that were aching for greater financial stability and freedom in their own lives. I want to pay it forward and help other performers understand that we don’t have to be “starving artists” anymore. That we are just as deserving of things like financial stability, security, peace of mind and a rich home and family life as people in any other profession. I want to blaze a trail and show our community what’s possible to inspire them to take the same kind of action and reap the same kinds of benefits.
Yeesh….. tangent. Thanks for hanging in there with me.
Author and influencer Simon Sinek’s famous TedTalk illustrates the magnitude and importance of the “WHY” perfectly.
You can also check out his awesome book on the subject here.
Once you’ve identified your “WHY” it’s time to start working with that RAS to accelerate the process of reaching your goals.
If you are a person who is very visual, you might consider creating a vision board.
Cut pictures out of magazines or print them off of the interwebs of things that inspire you. Things that you’d like your life to look like. It’s a fun project to do with friends too. You might consider throwing a Vision Board Party and break out the vino to get those feel-good vibes going all the more.
Another great way to bring your goals about is to WRITE. THEM. DOWN.
Writing down your goals literally brings them into existence. It takes them from being an idea, to being a tangible, tactile thing that exists in this realm.
It makes them real.
A great exercise is to write yourself a letter expressing how grateful you are for all the wonderful things you’ve accomplished and how amazing your life feels a as result. Write it as though you are 1, 5 or 10 years in the future (whatever your goal timeline) and read it often.
If you’re more auditory in nature, you might even consider taking that letter and recording yourself reading it aloud in a voice memo in your phone and listen to it often. Sit with your eyes closed and visualize all of the wonderful things you are hearing your own voice describing. Maybe try listening to it as you’re falling asleep at night to allow it to seep into your subconscious mind all the more.
A great standby to magnify the intentions you’ve set is to use affirmations.
Affirmations should always be written in present tense and should evoke the positive feeling you will experience once they come to fruition in your life. Examples include:
- I am an acclaimed award winning actress making a fabulous 6-figure salary.
- I am celebrating the release of my first album with my incredibly supportive and loving partner.
- I am feeling confident and joyful in my physical body.
These emotionally charged statements (and all of the above tools we’ve discussed) cause your RAS to start noticing all of the ways to help you achieve your goal. So, for example, if money is your goal, your RAS will begin to notice investment and income opportunities. If it’s starting a band, you’ll start to notice all of the incredible musicians around you.
The other way affirmations work is that they create a dynamic tension in our beings. If what I am saying is at a higher vibration that what I perceive the truth to be, the dynamic tension is uncomfortable.
For instance, if I am saying “I am joyfully and healthfully at my ideal weight” when in actuality I am 10, 20, 30+ pounds above my ideal weight, there’s a painful disconnect between what I perceive the truth to be and what I am saying. Since this is uncomfortable, we want to rid ourselves of the tension. There are only two ways to do that: one is to stop saying the affirmation; the other is to raise the bar on reality by making the affirmation and reality match.
So now that we understand some tools to assist us in reaching our goals, let’s discuss how we actually get there.
A great starting point is to look for people who have already accomplished what you’d like to do and model your actions and behavior after them. This modeling or patterning gives you a template and keeps you from having to reinvent the wheel.
The other way to get to where you want to go is to work backwards.
Reverse-engineering your goals is super effective because it starts with the end in mind. If you know where you’re going, it’s easy to break down the steps you need to take in order to get there.
When you work backwards, the process becomes very simple:
- Identify the end point/desired outcome
- Identify the consistent actions you need to be taking in order to reach your goal
- Take consistent action
(Insert dramatic ballet curtsy ::here::)
So what are you waiting for?
Get to work on your “WHY” and start experimenting with these tools and strategies to get from where you are to where you want and deserve to be.
Are you somebody who has already identified your “WHY?” I’d love for you to share it in the comments below. (After all, I showed you mine, right?)