This is a story about a mistake I made because I did not know what I really wanted and so I was unclear in my request. Now, this particular mistake had to do with a watch but the point of the story is really that if we aren’t crystal clear about our goals and wants in life, the subconscious mind is going to give us murky results. I’m still living with it and damn, it reminds me every … single … day…

A few years ago, I really wanted a smartwatch of a particular brand (think ancient rocks with patterns) because I couldn’t justify the cost of the “fruit” smartwatch variety.  It was prettier than some of the more fitness-based smartwatches and it still tracked activity, so I thought it was a great option (i.e. compromise).  After all, tracking activity was a big reason for me wanting to purchase it, as I was on a health kick and needed something to replace my old device that was no longer working (take note here: tracking was important).  My objective was 1) pretty and 2) fitness/health tracker (WTF? I thought I just said tracking was important).

So, after much consideration and contemplation about the cost, I bought the “ancient rock” variety and I justified it because it was cheaper than the “fruit” brand.  Big mistake! (Did you see it coming?)  After I started using it, I realized it didn’t sync with my food tracking app.  Then it was a bit tricky to get other options to work with my iPhone (curious…I don’t get iMessages on this thing).  The worst though, was that I got about 12-13 hours of battery life – not even enough to get through the day – and I barely used any features.  So, I accomplished #1 objective but failed miserably at #2. 

But this story isn’t about my regrettable watch purchase.  (Obviously I’m not bitter.) It IS about me not being crystal clear on my wants and ending up with the second-best (questionable in this case) option.  I took the quick fix, the easy route if you will.  Impulse took over and my conscious brain said, “It’ll be great!  It’s so pretty!  Get it now!”  Funny though, just the previous month my conscious brain was saying, “That fruit watch will be awesome!  It will track all these awesome stats for me!  It’s so pretty!”

After living with this watch now for 2 years, it got me thinking.  Did I really get clear on my objectives?  Did I really know what I wanted out of this purchase?  At the time I thought I did, but when I think back, the answer is a clear NO because I really wanted it to be able to track all my meta-data.  I was trying to embark on a healthier lifestyle, and I wanted to keep track of my progress.  My previous tool to do so had quit, so I needed another.  Sadly, I was dazzled by the pretty option.  Somehow I had mixed up objective #1 and #2. I wasn’t clear about my wants and I got a watch that didn’t function in the way that I wanted it to.  My subconscious directed me to a smartwatch alright, but it wasn’t the one that I was looking for.  Valuable lesson learned.

“Garbage in equals garbage out!” they say.  And if you are confused about what this has to do with watches, it doesn’t, but the point I’m trying to make is that if you are unclear about what you REALLY want (garbage in) then you are not going to achieve or obtain what you do want in a way that makes you happy (garbage out). 

Goals and achievements – heck! even tangible objects – require very clear objectives. 

Your subconscious mind is very literal and doesn’t understand wishy-washy. 

Pretend for a moment that your goal is to lose a few pounds.  Your conscious brain has decided now is the time and has the whole plan figured out.  However, so far this is all in your conscious brain; there are no new programs or neural pathways running a new “healthier” you program.  As far as your subconscious goes, everything is status quo.  It might dialogue like this:

“I hear an upgrade to our programming is coming.  Our new objective is to lose weight.”

“Wait…what does she mean by lose weight?  What kind of change to the programming do we need here?”

“I didn’t hear a timeline, so I guess we’re going to take this real sloooooooow, because I am programmed to eat delicious ice cream in front of the TV every night.” 

“How much weight are we talking here?  I didn’t hear a goal, so we’ll just keep running this program until I get more clear instructions.”

In the meantime, your conscious brain goes along with its plan.  You make some healthier eating choices but every night you can’t get rid of this craving for ice cream when you sit down in front of the TV.  You resist though because it isn’t part of your conscious plan (see a pattern developing here?). And you keep resisting, but the program still runs every night: 

Subconscious: “Don’t you want some ice cream tonight?”

Conscious: “No!  Resist.”

Subconscious: “Don’t you want some ice cream tonight?”

Conscious: “No!  Didn’t you hear me last night?”

Subconscious: “Don’t you want some ice cream tonight?”

Conscious: “No!  That’s not part of my eating plan!”

Subconscious: “Don’t you want some ice cream tonight?”

Conscious (after a bad day): “Well, one bowl won’t hurt.  I’ve been so good.”

Subconscious: “Don’t you want some ice cream tonight?”

Conscious: “Yes.  I sure do!”

(This conversation is how it would go down in my head.  I know that once I submit, I’m done.  There is no further conversation.  Autopilot takes over from here.) 

Herein lies the problem:  you didn’t give your subconscious clear instructions (garbage in) so it’s not clear how to implement the plan; therefore, you get mediocre results (garbage out).  Maybe your willpower (conscious brain) keeps triumphing and you eventually reach your goals, but <sigh> some days IT IS SO DAMN HARD.

So how do we change that statement to be “Gold in and gold out”?  It may sound cliché to use the SMART acronym but frankly, that’s what your subconscious NEEDS to hear in order to attempt to take you to where you want to go.  It needs to know how much weight you want to lose and by when; therefore, a better goal statement to give to yourself would be something like, “I am going to reduce my body weight by 10 pounds before January 30th and I will know I’ve reached it when the scale says “X”.”  You always want to state this in a positive manner.  Your subconscious doesn’t understand negatives.

Specific: You know exactly what you want.

Measurable: You know how to tell when you’ve succeeded.  You said when you reached “X” goal.

Attainable: Make sure the date you chose is reasonable.  Of course, if you wrote this statement on January 20th, this would not be an attainable goal.

Relevant: This statement was chosen by you thus it is obviously relevant to you, unless you are being told to lose weight by someone else.

Timebound: You just gave your subconscious brain a deadline with that statement.  It only does what you tell it to do.

Now with clear instructions, your subconscious mind goes to work!  However, the bad news is that you are still running the old program in the background too – the one that controls your current eating habits.  Consequently, you have two programs running and one is much more established.  It has seniority and isn’t afraid to use it when you aren’t on guard (like when you have a bad day and say yes to the ice cream).

At this point, in my opinion, you have two choices: 1) Keep fighting the willpower battle, conscious vs. subconscious and hope that you are successful; or 2) you have a session or two of hypnosis and reprogram that subconscious at the source.  You ditch that old program and focus on the new one.  Somehow, it doesn’t seem to run the show anymore; you’ve completely forgotten about it and it no longer has control.  Eventually, that old program doesn’t have a neural pathway in the brain anymore because you didn’t repeat the behaviour (eating ice cream each night in this case).  It’s gone.  It’s like the path through the forest grew over with disuse.

Now go ahead and ask yourself, “What do you really want?”  Are you prepared to take some time to really get clear on your objective, whatever the objective may be? Whether it’s a tangible object, a goal or an achievement, or even something to overcome, you need to get specific and write a new program.  If your program isn’t clear, you may end up with something you don’t want.  Hypnosis or not, your subconscious mind has your back and will work diligently to bring you what you want if you give it SMART instructions.  Don’t leave it to chance!  Be clear and avoid disappointment.  If you really want the fruit watch, then make a SMART plan and stick to it.  I wish I did.

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