Mostly, in the last quarter of the year, companies that operate the calendar year system start evaluating performances against the targets that had been set in the preceding year. Based on this, there may be appraisals and bonuses paid where appropriate. These are the regular features of corporate and business settings. If the company has a global presence, the head office abroad would have assessed the overall performance by appraising every individual in their respective areas of strength and weaknesses. Subsequently, the new direction of the organisation is shared and cascaded from the head office right down to the personnel units, in terms of expectation and contribution to the overall goals set for the future.

At the personal level, many people asses themselves at the end of the year – though the timing is problematic, people join the bandwagon in anticipation of the New Year. The evaluation of our lives throughout the year either produces joy when goals were achieved, or fear, guilt or sadness when goals were not achieved. New Year resolutions violate all goal setting principles and conditions; that is probably why they do not go past the 4th week into the year. These are some general causes of non-performance of goals.

  1. Pain & Gain People are mainly motivated by two things: gain or pain – a simple case of the carrot and stick concept in people management. People motivated by pain identify anything that may cause them pain and try to avoid it. For such people, they are driven to avoid pain because of an aversion to discomfort. Once they get comfortable, they do not pursue their goals. Such people will only achieve set goals when they are presented as an opportunity to experience pain. People motivated by gain define a specific target and work towards it. They are quick to mobilise all their resources to achieve their goals. What is the source of your motivation? – “Gain when there is Pain and those who Pain when there is Gain.”
  2. Important Goals Versus Unimportant Goals Anyone will be able to produce a list of all set goals that were either achieved or not achieved. Should this list be assessed, you will most likely discover that: achieved goals are things that are very important to the achiever and the unachieved goals are not that significant. When your mind perceives a goal as important, it releases all resources required to achieve it. Considering your mind cannot make a distinction between planning for supper and planning to buy a car, you will have to give it a clue that a particular goal is more important than other goals. Once that is done, your unconscious mind finds solutions to obstacles in the way of the important goal. You can tell when something is important, when we think and speak about it more than other things.
  3. Zone of activity: Comfort Zone versus Growth Zone Whether or not you operate from your comfort zone or your growth zone determines how you respond to set goals. A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there. People operating in this zone are happy with the status quo and are not willing to change for fear of rocking the boat. They resist any change that may cause discomfort and movement out of that zone.

A growth (productivity) zone lies outside the comfort zone and is a place of challenge that releases potential for achievement. The only place growth is achieved is: outside the comfort zone. The difference is this: there is no growth in the comfort zone, and there is no comfort in the growth zone. When you set a compelling goal, you are moving out of your comfort zone and that is where growth and productivity is.

  • The Horse & the Rider (Conscious and Unconscious Minds) According to psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud (Austrian neurologist), the Conscious Mind: Contains all of the thoughts, memories, feelings, and wishes we are aware of at any given moment. This is the aspect of our mental processing that we can think and talk about rationally. The Unconscious Mind is a reservoir of feelings, thoughts, urges, and memories that are outside of our conscious awareness. Most of the contents of the unconscious are unacceptable or unpleasant, such as feelings of pain, anxiety, or conflict.

The conscious mind (the rider) is supposed to direct and provide leadership to the unconscious mind (the horse). If that is not done, the horse will decide to move in its own direction. Many do not know how to work effectively with the unconscious mind to deliver needed results. Goals, as well as your behaviour are heavily hinged on habits that are formed through your unconscious mind. Therefore, understanding the dynamics of the unconscious mind will help you understand yourself and why your goals are not achieved.

Characteristics of the unconscious mind;

  • It is very simple and cannot process complex information. (Set specific/detailed goals)
  •  It does not process negative instructions. Instead of “I don’t want to be poor”, tell yourself “I want to be rich”
  • It understands symbols and signs. In goal setting, give your mind a sign on when the goal is achieved. (a feeling or state of being)
  • It requires repetition to get things done. Keep repeating your goals and have them written on a vision board.
  • The unconscious mind is responsible for energy in your body and directs it to where it is needed most.
  • Your unconscious mind stores all memories and uses them as a motivation / guide in pursuing current goals.
  • Your unconscious mind does not differentiate between what is imagined and what is real. To increase the chances of your goals being achieved, you will have to make the goal as vivid as possible.
  • Reticular Activating System (RAS) RAS is a bundle of nerves at our brainstem that filters out unnecessary information, so that only the important stuff gets through. I could even be reading a book and all of a sudden, the bulb will light on an idea or phrase that answers a bugging question. That is RAS in action and it is so important in goal setting that when activated, it will support and attract the needed resource for the achievement of your goals.

Our Unconscious Mind can process about two milion bits of information per second, while your conscious mind can only process 134 bits (the equivalent of seven plus two (7±2) chunks of information per second. Because the information directed at your unconscious mind is huge, the RAS determine what should be deleted, distorted and generalised.

When you set a goal and write it down, your RAS begins to be activated, telling your Unconscious Mind what to focus on. When you start visualising, affirming, and repeating your goal, you are actually sending the strong signal to the Unconscious Mind; therefore, your mind will begin to be alert to opportunities and resources that will help the goals to be achieved. You begin to attract all your resources towards your goals.

  • Belief Belief is what one holds to be true for every situation. It is actually a generalisation of cause and effect and the meaning we attach to things. Beliefs can be empowering or limiting. An empowering belief opens doors and opportunities, and provides the binding glue that attracts what you really desire. Belief can also be limiting, when it is negative and will serve as a barrier for any worthwhile achievement. Limiting beliefs will in turn manifest in three different ways;
  1. It is Impossible – defining a limitation about the possibility of something happening. Impossibility connotes hopelessness and sees the future as bleak. When someone operates this kind of limiting belief, it invariably affects the person’s ability to appreciate their goals being accomplished.
  2. I am not Able – Defines the goal setter’s inability. They may acknowledge that there could be a possibility because someone might have achieved that goal before, but does not believe it is within his ability to reach.
  3. I don’t deserve – Although there is a belief of an overall possibility of the goal being achieved and even the presence of the goal setter’s ability to achieve it, there is still the belief that they are undeserving of it. People like that have lost the drive to live and to make their lives count.

With the help of these points you can evaluate how you have been setting goals and pursuing them. If you are not achieving your goals consistently then you probably are not setting goals in the right and effective way. Don’t wait for the end of the year to work on it. Start now!

By: Rev Patrick Atieku Boadu

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