For some reason it’s hard to find a good list like this by Googling.
The structure of this process comes from Brian Tracy and assumes you already have a written SMART goal that is personally meaningful to you. The main reason I’m typing these prompts up is so I can make an audio track out of them set to some ambient music from Hyper Light Drifter.
Step one, verbalize and affirm your desired outcome. For example, if you are wrestling with a problem involving someone else, you could say, calmly and confidently, “This situation is resolved happily with good for all concerned.” Your statement should be a clear description of your desired outcome or end state. Don’t get wrapped up in detail. Don’t worry about the process.-Brian Tracy, Maximum Achievement pg. 122
I don’t have prompts for this one, it’s just included for completeness.
Step two, visualize and clearly see the outcome you desire in this situation. See yourself, and everyone else involved, happy and at peace with the outcome. This will require effort and concentration.
- Where are you?
- What time of day is it?
- What objects are around you?
- What colors are they? (E.g. What color are the walls, floor, ceiling, or what color is the pavement, grass, etc. if you’re outside.)
- What are the smells? The sounds?
- Who else is there?
- What are they wearing?
- What are you wearing?
- What are the expressions on their faces? On your face?
- What do those expressions entail? (I.e. What feelings do they represent, which facial muscles do they use, etc.)
- What’s the progression of events just before, during, and after the moment your goal is completed?
The idea is to go through these daily and add one detail to the written description of the fateful day, until the goal is completed. In an ideal world, I’ll cut together a movie and slideshow I can continually add to with concrete images of the goals I’m trying to accomplish, like images and GoPro YouTube videos of the course and finish line for a particular triathlon I’m training for.
Step three, emotionalize your combined affirmation and visualization by creating “the feeling” that you will actually experience when everything is resolved happily. Imagine yourself already successful, the goal already attained.
- What are the names of the emotions you’re feeling?
- How does your body feel?
- How does your skin feel?
- How does your scalp feel? Is it tense? Hot? Is there a sense of wholeness? Longing?
- What taste is in your mouth?
- How do your hands feel?
- How does your upper back feel?
- What mental images can you summon that are most strongly associated with this feeling?
For an example answer to the last one, there are a couple of moments in My Hero Academia that make me feel powerful and awesome vicariously:
When I watch those I can feel tension in my back pulling my shoulder blades back, my cheeks flush with heat, and there’s a sense of longing and wholeness at the back of my scalp that’s saying “That’s what I was made for, that’s the person I want to be.”
It’s a little gay to expect to feel that way about getting a 4.0 in my stupid classes, but that’s something you just have to get over because winners do what works. Paraphrasing Brian Tracy and Robert Greene for a moment, if you have some autistic ambition it’s best to pursue it secretly because most people don’t respect the hustle and don’t want to see you sweat or hear about best practices. They want to think success is like getting caught up in a euphoric magical adventure like a roller-coaster custom-tailored for you by God himself, and you’ll never argue them out of that conviction.
The last set is a little different and the most often neglected because it’s counterintuitive:
Step four, and this is the catalyst in the process, release the situation completely. Let it go just as you would if someone you trusted said that he would take care of it and that you need not ever think about it again.
Here’s the sequence of statements that have worked best for me after a couple years of doing this:
“Being honest for a moment, this goal is not important. God loves you regardless. Imagine being before his throne and telling him this was how you spent your life. Think about how petty and insignificant your achievements feel in that context. If you got hit by a car tomorrow and this oh-so-important goal didn’t get done, it wouldn’t matter. A hundred years from now, nobody would miss it. The people who care about you most would miss you, but it would have nothing to do with this. It’s not about the goal, it’s about becoming the sort of man who accomplishes things like that. If you don’t make it, it’ll just have been training for the next thing, a stepping stone to becoming that man. Just write down what you learned, what you’ll do differently about it differently in the future, the silver linings, and then move on to that next goal. Don’t worry about it because it doesn’t actually matter.”