Make Your Unconscious Work for You
Now that you know how cues in your environment can trigger the unconscious pursuit of goals, it’s time to take a good look around and see what your environment may be triggering. And even more important, take the time to figure out what is missing. If there are goals you want to pursue (losing weight, stopping smoking, remembering to call your mother, fixing up the house), are there triggers in your environment that will help your unconscious mind activate those goals? Remember that the triggers can be anything, so long as their meaning is clear to you. Leave healthy snacks out where you can see them.
Leave a fitness magazine lying on the counter in your kitchen. Keep a to-do list, in big letters, someplace where you see it every day. Put a nice, framed photo of your mom next to the phone. It doesn’t matter what kind of cues you use—as long as you fill your environment with them, you can count on your unconscious mind to start giving you a hand in reaching the goals you want to achieve.
Of course the same advice applies to times when you want someone else to
be more successful in pursuing a goal. Are there cues in your teenagers’ rooms that will help them remember to do their homework? (My parents gave me Einstein and Beethoven posters in high school. Very clever of them.) Are there cues in your employees’ workspace that will inspire them to work with
enthusiasm and efficiency? Are there cues in your home that will encourage your spouse to be more cooperative and supportive? When you think about the kinds of triggers you might add to these environments, remember that the same trigger may lead to very different goals, depending on the person. For example, being in a situation of holding power over others seems to unconsciously trigger socialresponsibility goals (like helping others or giving to charity) in people who strongly value community. The same situation triggers more self-interested goals (like getting ahead at work or obtaining financial rewards) in people who are more individualistic.
So tailor the cues you create to the person they are meant for—this may take
some creativity on your part, but it will be well worth the effort. Delegating
goal pursuit to the unconscious parts of the mind is a great way to free up mental space and energy for all the things that constantly require your attention. It’s a great way to keep yourself on track when temptations and distractions arise.
And just like when you find yourself pulling into your driveway at the end of a
long day, you may find yourself achieving goals without really knowing quite
how you got there.
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