It is currently 5am in the morning. 5:02 to be a bit more precise. I’ve been up for nearly two hours now, and have made myself a coffee and got some reading done. I know that is shockingly early for someone to get up, but I have my reasons.
Over the summer holidays, while away from the university, I got a job at McDonalds. I work only the open shifts, which means I start at 4 o’clock 5 days per week. My regular waking time, therefore, shifted back to being very early, which I’m actually really grateful for.
Anyway, on with the article. As I left off the last one, I realised that I didn’t really have a true structure for goal setting. Clearly, this is a problem. I know a little bit about SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time frame), but not enough to feel confident pitting my entire future on.
I also think that rather than accepting someone else’s goal setting system is perfect, I would rather do the research and see if I draw the same conclusions at the experts. Given how much knowledge is out there, I want to take the best snippets of advice from the best experts. Only then will I rise above the crowd.
The Code of the Extraordinary Mind
I had never heard of Vishen Lakhiani before reading his book, The Code of the Extraordinary Mind. I stumbled across the book, read a few reviews and realised that this could add some detail to my goal setting system. I’ll be honest, I do think the book provided some fantastic information and I’m very pleased to have read it. Let me introduce you to the 10 unconventional laws to redefine your life and succeed on your own terms.
Transcend your Culturescape
I’m not a fan of airy fairy ideas, so when I read this as the first law I was tempted to put the book down and move on. Something told me to keep going, though. Thankfully, it wasn’t all about mysticism.
Vishen’s idea of transcending your culturescape is his way of saying that you don’t need to follow societies laid out roadmap. There are expectations placed on us that we are told we must follow if we want to achieve success. A prime example is the idea that we must do well academically to be awarded a place at a competitive higher education institution. We must then do well there to be awarded a good, stable job. Ahh, the dream of every child, a stable job.
Transcending your culturescape is identifying what your goals are, irrespective of what anyone else is doing and irrespective of what anyone else expects of you.
Societies rules for success certainly do not correspond with my ideals of success. Where I am told that a stable job and a steady income is successful, I see a lifetime of unimportant work and my own creativity stifled. Nonetheless, I am pushed towards a goal society has for me which creates a daily internal struggle.
Question the Bullshit Rules
Yet again, this law is about the restrictions placed on us by society. I am not talking about societies laws, as murder and stealing will never be ok. I am talking about the unwritten rules that keep us from progressing along our true paths.
These are the rules that tell us there is a certain way to behave and a certain way to live. They keep us bound within the behaviours of the social norm and restrict our expressions.
I desperately wanted to participate in the daily vlogging movement and have made several attempts over the years. I’ve always found myself stuck, though. Especially with regards to how society views what I’m attempting as wrong. When you’re walking along, pointing a camera at yourself and talking, society doesn’t like it.
These outdated rules keep people from trying anything new and stop the speed of human progression in its tracks. Why? Why do we need to follow these rules? No one is enforcing them. I don’t care that someone thinks I look foolish if I’m doing something important to better the life of myself and my family.
Anytime you stumble across an expectation that puts a barrier in your path, logically question it. Is the barrier there because it truly risks causing you harm? Or is it there because you’re attempting something new and society cannot handle change?
Another set of buzzwords. You’ll see them constantly cropping up within the book. If you can look past them it is a good read, I promise.
Consciousness engineering requires you to look at your mind as though it were a computer. It is made up of two constituent parts: the hardware and the software. This law suggests that we cannot make progression without first updating our systems.
The hardware is this case is your model of reality. It is comprised of your belief systems and how you view the world. Any belief you hold, whether about love or about politics (or about your love of politics) is encompassed within your minds hardware.
The software is your operating system and the apps that run on it. It is comprised of your systems for living, or more simply your daily habits. This part of your mind is concerned with how you interact with the world, and how your respond to each and every trigger.
I personally feel that the following two laws should be held beneath the consciousness engineering title, as it doesn’t add a great deal on its own. The next law is Rewrite your Models of Reality.
The essence of this law is that you need to embrace a mindset that is coherent with whatever your wish to achieve. If you want to achieve success in business, you need to have faith that you can achieve that success. You need a strong belief that you are a great strategic thinker, that you are a powerful negotiator, that you are a persuasive salesman… and the list goes on. You need to analyse what it takes to be a success in business, and then embody that within your businessman mindset.
The next law is about Upgrading your Systems of Living in 3 Steps.
When I initially read this law, I assumed that it was about eliminating bad habits and gaining good ones. On further reflection, I would take a punt and say that it is a bit narrower than that. It is a constant learning and reviewing process to ensure that each habit is optimal for your current situation and where you want to be. It is the idea that just because you have a positive habit in an area, you shouldn’t get complacent and assume your work is done.
The first step of this process is called Discover. The author skips over something I feel should be included in this section, which is the very beginning of the process. You need to discover what habits are deeply engrained within your daily routine and whether they add or detract value from your life.
Vishen states that you should read, talk to people and watch videos in order to discover new systems. By broadening your horizon, you’re able to see how else your could adapt your behaviour and you don’t make improving your habits into a guessing game.
The second step is to Refresh Old Systems. After discovering new systems, you need to decide whether your old systems are working for you. Are they pushing you toward your end goals? And are they getting you there along the most direct route? If not, it is time to update them with one of the new systems you have discovered.
The final step is to Measure How Effective your Systems Are. Obviously, your first time through this process, you’ll want to measure the effective of your systems before your refresh them. As this is a long-term process with constant revisions, it makes sense for measurements to be the final step. Only you can decide how to measure your goals, based one whatever the goal is.
I have a goal of achieving 100 daily readers of this blog. I realise that isn’t a good goal to have now, but I’m just going to use it as an example. I can measure this goal by analysing how many daily readers I have. Simple, right?
Ok, this step requires your to meditate really hard until you rip a hole in the space-time continuum. Upon jumping through this hole, all your wildest dreams will come true…
Actually, that’s not quite accurate. It would be cool, though.
Vishen’s motivation behind this law was to eliminate those of us dreamers who constantly live in the future and achieve very little in the present. I for one am so enthralled by the life that I could live, that I spend my time almost bragging about it to people, rather than working toward accomplishing it.
Bending reality is the practice of maintaining incredibly excited by the future, but forcing your happiness to remain in the present. I believe there are two ways of accomplishing this, and one of those is the following law. My thoughts first:
Practice visualisation. Visualisation is a fantastic tool to encourage you to work on your future, but is beyond the scope of this article. I am a believer that when visualising, you should not only visualise your perfect future, but you should also visualise yourself enjoying the work it takes to build it.
Now on with the seventh law, Blissipline. To remain happy in the present, you need to both remain grounded and to feel like you are accomplished. Too often, people look to what they haven’t yet achieved, which causing depression and a slump. Vishen recommends a technique from an entrepreneurial coach named Dan Sullivan called the Reverse Gap.
Rather than thinking about what you haven’t achieved, he encourages that you look to the past to admire yourself for all your accomplishments to date. He says that you need to express true gratitude daily, both for personal and work achievements, in order to be truly happy in the present moment.
Craft a Vision for your Future
In this law, Vishen teaches an important difference between the type of goals that people set. There are means goals and there are end goals. This is an area that I have definitely noticed my goals don’t adhere to.
Means goals are societies dictations. They are goals we think we have for ourselves but are actually goals others have told us to pursue. An example of this is the goal of getting a university degree. Not everyone needs a degree and it certainly isn’t a prerequisite to being successful. If getting a degree is one of your goals, you need to analyse why you desire it.
I do have the goal of getting my degree, and I also have the goal of achieving at least 80% in every exam and each piece of coursework. Thankfully this isn’t a means goal for me, as I have a bigger reason behind it. I study Biomedicine, and I want my degree so that I have the ability to pursue medical research later in life. I want to achieve the percentage scores in my assignments so that I have accomplished a true mastery of the material. My goal isn’t getting a degree for the sake of achieving a degree but is part of a much larger life plan that I will introduce at some point in the future.
End goals are goals that provide happiness and joy in and of themselves. They are goals that you’ve set because they themselves are important to you. Getting a degree for its own sake is a means goal, but getting a degree in psychology because you are fascinated by the human condition and have a deep desire to understand the intricate workings of the human mind isn’t. When there is true, personal meaning behind a goal then it is an end goal. And only with that passion can you easily achieve it.
I’m not joking here, this is one of his honest laws. It is actually a very important one as well, especially when planning your goals. It is the idea that nothing anyone says, or does, has the power to impact whether or not your achieve your goals. You are the decider of your future, and you alone can choose whether or not to let others dictate how successful you will be in life.
An important part of this in the planning process is to ensure that your goals are entirely independent of other people. Obviously, if you set a goal to be married to Angelina Jolie by the end of the year, there is a good chance you won’t succeed. That goal is heavily dependent on someone else, and they might not agree with your decision.
The take home point I see from this law is that your goals should be more focussed on process than on results. As contradictory as this may seem at first, it does make a lot of sense. Rather than my initial goal of have 100 daily readers of my blog by the end of the year, the goal should centre around the processes necessary to make that happen:
I will easily upload one blog post per day.
I will easily upload to social media once per day.
I will easily reach out to influencers in my field one per day.
I will easily add value to other relevant blogs once per day.
I will easily create podcasts and vlogs to correspond with my articles.
And so on. By breaking down my results oriented goal into its constituent process-oriented goals, I guarantee success. Assuming I put the work in to accomplish my process-oriented goals, the results will follow.
Embrace your Quest
Your quest is basically your life vision. Think of it like a structured video game for a moment (not open world). If you want to progress through the game, you need to complete quests for the non-player character. You cannot move any further around the world or through the game until you have completed the quest you’re on. Your sole focus in that moment is to follow the directions of the quest giver and successfully accomplish the mission.
Embracing your quest is no different. It is about embodying your goals so that they are the only things you’re thinking about. It is the idea of laughing at a work-life balance because working is a part of your life.
When you understand the passion and motivation behind your goals, nothing will be able to stop you accomplishing them.
I think I got a lot out of this book, so let me recap briefly on how this impacts my purpose (goal setting).
Identify which goals I have personally, and which have been sneakily pushed on to me by society.
Identify any social barriers that might bar the path of my success, and logically question whether they should have the power to hold me back.
Instil belief that I can easily accomplish my goals, and continually review my habits to ensure they are taking me in the right direction.
Be excited about the future, but remain happy about the present.
Ensure my goals are independent of others and are process oriented.
Fully embody and embrace my life quest.
This has given me a lot to think about, and will certainly allow me to analyse and reconstruct my goals. I can certainly see value in the idea of setting goals for the process, as that is the only thing I can truly control.