‘Acting as if’ to achieve our goals

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Graham Price explains how to change your behaviour to achieve your goals

The ways we think, feel and behave, and hence our personality, relationships and success in life, are primarily driven by our mind-set, the word we use to describe our unconscious programming and beliefs. If we want to create a more powerful or successful mind-set, our prime focus now should be on changing our behaviour.

Here are some suggestions about ways to achieve this:

  • Don’t let uncomfortable feelings or unproductive desires drive your behaviour. If we do allow this, we’ll simply re-inforce the existing unconscious beliefs (mind-set) driving those feelings or desires. To unwind unhelpful unconscious beliefs, we need to repeatedly do the opposite of whatever those feelings or desires are telling us to do. And to enable us to do this, we need to accept for now any feelings or desires that are telling us to behave unproductively (i.e. be willing for them to be there for now), while we act more powerfully. ‘Accept the feeling, choose the (opposite) action’.
  • Be willing to act outside your comfort zone. If you want to develop confidence, join Toastmasters. If you want to develop self-assurance in relationships, try internet dating. If you want to lose weight, join an accredited programme.
  • In a ‘determined’ world, what we’re thinking, feeling and doing is driven by ‘who we are’ (our mind-set) at each moment. We’re all on ‘auto-pilot’ most of the time (for many, all the time for their whole lives). This means we’re thinking, feeling and behaving in the only way we know how to think, feel and behave, and making choices in the only way we could be making them. The way to escape any limitations, and so take control of our lives, is to be aware of our auto-pilot (any current limiting patterns) and be willing to act more powerfully, or more productively, than it’s telling us to do.
  • Replace intentions with commitments (an unbreakable promise) whenever you’re confident you’ll keep them. If you’ve previously made new-year resolutions and not kept them (who hasn’t?), this year try making a commitment. Share it with others to further tie yourself in and to get support. Never make a commitment you might not keep. That would challenge your integrity (breaking an unbreakable promise) and discard forever this powerful tool. Better to make a commitment for a short time, then keep renewing it.
  • Stop playing ‘when-then games’. “When I’m more confident, then I’ll join Toastmasters”. “When I’ve lost some weight, then I’ll start exercising”. Start acting powerfully now.
  • Set goals, write them down, list the benefits, establish time targets and document how you plan to use the tools in this article to achieve each goal.

Here’s yet another tool for achieving goals: ‘Acting as if’. This can be used in two ways:

  1. Act as if you were someone you know, or are aware of, who’s done, or could easily do, whatever you want to achieve. If you find yourself hesitating, think what that other person would do in your situation. Then do it. If that generates fear or entails challenging any other unproductive feeling or desire, accept the feeling, choose the action.
  2. Act as if you already have the mind-set you’d like. Ask yourself what you’d be doing if you were super-confident and believed you could achieve anything. If that generates uncomfortable feelings, accept the feeling, choose the action. We won’t always succeed. Accept failures and keep pushing the boundaries. Your mind-set will just keep growing.

I recently helped a photographer whose business was failing. I asked him to name a well-known photographer overseas. I then asked him to list what he thought this person might do if he landed in a new country, not knowing anyone, and wanted to build a business. His list included things like giving talks, writing articles, contacting journalists and even appearing on TV. I asked him why he wasn’t doing these things. His answers came down to issues around fear and self-confidence. We talked about unwinding limiting unconscious beliefs by accepting feelings while taking powerful action. We talked about ‘acting as if’. He hasn’t yet managed to appear on TV, but he’s taken many other actions previously viewed as beyond his reach. His business is blossoming.

What would you need to do to challenge your boundaries and build a more successful life?

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About Author

Graham W Price

Graham W Price is a psychologist, personal and executive coach, development trainer and professional speaker. Chartered member of the British Psychological Society and BABCP accredited. Founder and CEO of Abicord, Abicord Consulting, The Association of Acceptance Action Coaching, Therapy and Training (www.aaactt.com) and the ‘Change a Billion Minds’ project (www.abicord.com/change-a-billion-minds). Developer of Acceptance Action Therapy (www.abicord.com/aat-review) and Acceptance Action Training. Executive Assistants can experience the training free at https://pj195.isrefer.com/go/org/a189. Others can access it at www.positive-mind-training.com. For more about Graham, see www.abicord.com/graham-price

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