A topic that’s been on my mind a lot recently is consistency. See, it’s all very well and good to get all excited at the prospect of an idea, or even the first few days of action, but how do you keep going? When that initial ‘honeymoon’ period of motivation is over, how do you stick with it?
I am a creative type . I have lots of ideas, and my mind is constantly buzzing with them. However, I find it difficult to be consistent. When the initial enthusiasm burns out, I’m already onto the next grandiose plan. This makes me feel scattered, ungrounded and, quite honestly, rather flakey. I don’t feel stable or like I have a plan or anything to work towards.
I know I’m not alone with this! Buddhism refers to this condition as having a ‘monkey mind’, with a dozen drunken monkeys all mentally clamouring for your attention. In Hinduism / yoga the term ‘vritti’, literally meaning ‘whirlpool’, is interpreted as ‘fluctuations in the mind field’ – your untamed thoughts and emotions creating a vortex in your mind, distracting you from what’s really important.
These vrittis (or drunken monkeys if you prefer!) or lack of focus can come up in a million and one different ways. Maybe you spend too much time distracting and entertaining your mind by endlessly scrolling through social media feeds. Maybe you suffer from anxiety because of your untrained mind running through a thousand ideas at a time. Or maybe your lack of focus means that your next diet is always starting on Monday but you are unable to ‘stick’ with it long enough to see results.
Recently my mantra word has been focus. When I meditate this is what I focus (ha ha) on. When I feel like I’m getting stressed or overly-excited about a 5 second wonder, I remember this word. This helps ground me again and allows me to assess if this is just my mind craving drama, or if this idea is really something that can benefit me long term. It can be difficult to admit that what you think you want right now (whether it’s chocolate even though you know it will make you feel ill, or a new handbag even if your wardrobe is full of them etc) actually isn’t conducive long term. The mind can be very stubborn! I like to think of mine as a spoilt child, arms crossed and sulky expression, saying ‘but, I want it NOW!’
If it doesn’t serve your long-term vision, let it go.
I regularly spend time visualising about what I want my life to be like and how I want to get there. But what is this prices, and how do you cultivate this concept of goal creation, without letting it be egoistic or materialistic? And how do you work towards the future without losing sight of the present?
Here’s my ritual for goal-setting and visualising.
- Dedicate half an hour of your time
Commit ~30 minutes to working towards your future. Put it in your diary and stick to it!
- Set the scene
Nice stationary, a yummy candle – whatever will emphasise the nourishing ritual this really is. Find a nice space in your home (or at a cute cafe!), just make sure it feels like a supportive environment.
You can close your eyes (or keep them open if you’re in that cafe!) and spend a few minutes thinking about how you want your future to be,10 years from now. Write down any thoughts or emotions that come up – and don’t censor or change them!
How does it feel? Find 3-5 words that sum up your dream life.
How do you look and feel? Think about the emotions you want to experience – whether it’s feeling calm or strong, confident or content. What are you wearing? Has your appearance changed in any way?
Where are you? Where do you live? Is it in a city or in a rural area? Are you near a beach or closer to mountains?
What is your dream career? Do you live a life of abundance? Where do you work?
Who do you live with? Whether you’re solo, with a partner and/or kids or pets, write it all down.
Finally, how does all of this make you feel? Write down any emotions this process is bringing up for you.
- Goal setting
Now that you hopefully have a list or moodboard of where you want to be heading, it’s time to start moving in that direction!
For particular elements of your life, such as career, I find it useful to always be thinking 3 steps ahead. Sure, you may not walk into that top job role which has always been your dream, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create stepping stones that will get you there. Maybe undertaking further study, or moving into a slightly different role which will still give you relevant experience, will get you closer to your dream.
For every word or sentence you wrote down in your visualisation, come up with a 1 year, 3 year and 5 year goal. 99.9% of the time, you will need to break down your dreams into manageable chunks. Rome wasn’t built in a day! Also, by creating smaller goals to fit into the big picture, you make it a lot easier to achieve your vision.
Say you want to come off your medication as part of your 10 year vision – by saying “I want to reduce it slightly within 1 year under medical supervision, and again in 5 years” means that you are a lot more likely to achieve it. By shortening the goal posts (10 years is a long time away and it’s easy to get complacent!) and breaking the goal down, it becomes a lot more manageable.
- Be precise
Don’t just write “I want to meditate”. How often? How long for? Do you want to start off with 5 mins a day and work up to a daily hour-long practice? Do your research – what styles of meditation would suit you, or what tools would help you on your way? Of course, these are things you will figure out as you progress, but having an initial idea in mind will make it a lot easier to start.
- Be mindful
Be sure you’re not just writing down a list of materialistic aims. Will they really make you happy and fulfilled in the future? And make sure your dreams all about you and what you want – don’t let anyone ever compromise your vision!
Repeat this process as often as you feel necessary – I like to do a quarterly check in to make sure what I’m doing is still aligned with where I want to end up in 10 years!
Do you have trouble being consistent with your goals? Have you ever dedicated time to visualise or write down your plans for the future? Share your answers in the comments below!