Have you ever noticed that when you begin to set your goals, you struggle with setting ones that seem unattainable or impossible? Have you ever wondered why your brain tells you that setting a goal that seems out of reach is a terrible idea?
The good news is that your brain is just doing its job. Our primal brain is wired to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and be efficient. It stands to reason that when you think of a goal that seems impossible your brain is going to scream “NO, you can’t do it, you will die.” It basically thinks it needs to protect you from anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. What generally happens at this point is we tell ourselves, “We should be realistic” about our goals, so we come up with something we think is more reasonable. As soon as we do this, our brain calms down, and we don’t feel uncomfortable anymore.
I am happy to share that I have discovered a way to hack your brain so you can set a goal that might seem unattainable, and keep your brain from freaking out. This is not intuitive, but one way to hack your brain is to set an impossible goal. When you state the obvious, your brain already knows it’s impossible, and that you are going to fail, so it stops arguing with you. You are basically bypassing the part of your brain that would stop you from finding evidence of why it is impossible, since you have already “notified” your brain it is impossible.
Think of it this way – there are two ways to fail:
- Fail by trying and not achieving the goal.
- Fail ahead of time, which means you don’t try at all.
Let’s examine each of these. When we fail by trying to achieve an impossible goal, we get the benefit of strategic byproducts. This means that when we set a goal and go for it with a willingness to fail, we will gain enormous wisdom, experience, understanding and self-knowledge as a byproduct. I call this a worthy fail because you took action, but you didn’t get the exact result that you wanted. For example, if your goal is to learn how to recruit or hire better people for your business, then the hour you spend interviewing someone who is not a good fit would be a worthy fail.
When we fail by not trying, I call this an escape fail. You fail ahead of time in order to escape the discomfort. The irony about this is not only do we not experience any of the strategic byproducts of going after a big goal, we still feel the discomfort of not trying at some point. Essentially, we are trading one type of discomfort for another, and not gaining anything in the process. When you fail ahead of time, you get nowhere. This is why you get stuck, stagnant, and trapped, wondering why your business isn’t growing or why you aren’t achieving your life’s purpose.
What is counter-intuitive is that when you open yourself up to doing the impossible and are willing to fail, your life becomes bigger and you gain the confidence to keep striving toward your impossible goal and the next impossible goal. Think about it this way—what is possible as the person you are today, and who do you need to become to achieve your goal?
What’s even better is this silver lining—the worst thing that can happen as you work to accomplish your impossible goal is a negative feeling. Think about it—what do you really have to lose? If you try to accomplish something impossible you will get further than you are now, and the only downside is the negative emotion that we might feel.
This has been one of the most important concepts I’ve learned. I learned that if I wanted to achieve great things with my life and business, discomfort and negative emotion are part of the growth experience. Then I realized that I can easily sit with a negative emotion – it is simply a vibration in the body. What this has done for me is helped me continue to take action even when it feels icky. I talk about this extensively in my blog Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway.
If you are ready to consider setting an impossible goal for 2020, in next week’s blog, I will share the steps you can utilize to get started.
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