Throughout the workday, project professionals are bombarded by an overwhelming number of stimuli. And yet we can only take notice of a very small number of things.
The majority of what we encounter simply has to be ignored. At a subconscious level, our brains constantly sift through all of the inputs, deciding what can be ignored and what warrants consideration at a conscious level. This process is managed by the Reticular Activating System (RAS).
When we learn a new word, for example, the RAS sensitizes the unconscious mind to that word. When we encounter the same word again (which we had ignored in the past), we will immediately take notice.
We can take advantage of this sensitization process to help us advance our project management careers by setting an explicit career goal.
In the same way that the “new” word we learned existed before we learned it, there are things taking place in our lives that could be enormously helpful to us in our careers — but we are ignoring them. Setting a goal sensitizes the mind such that we will take notice of things that we would previously have ignored and we will assign meaning to things that were previously meaningless.
Simply setting the goal mentally does a lot to sensitize the mind to events that can help us achieve the goal. Articulating the goal in writing sensitizes it even further. Reviewing the goal periodically sensitizes the mind further still.
Know what you want to achieve in your career. Write it down. Review it periodically. These three steps will make you consciously aware of your goal and give new meaning to the same old stuff that has been happening all around you.
This “new” conscious awareness will further sensitize the mind to related and useful things. As you then pursue possibilities with such heightened awareness, the process accelerates. All of the sudden, everything seems to become aligned to your purpose.
It was all along. You just weren’t paying attention!
Do you have any examples of how goal setting has heightened your awareness of events that have helped you fulfill your goals?