Want to Crush Your Goals? Activate Your RAS

a goal setting secret

John Nieuwenburg

John Nieuwenburg has been a professional business coach since 2004. Prior to becoming a coach, he held executive positions with Tip Top Tailors and BC Liquor Stores. In 2019, MacKay CEO Forums awarded him with Canada’s CEO Trusted Advisor Award in the Small Business category. Since becoming a coach, John has worked with over 350 clients, taking them through a systematic process that helps them feel organized, confident and in control of their businesses.

You’ve got big dreams. Goals that need crushing. But every time the excitement fades and is replaced by the thought of all the hard work yet to come, suddenly it’s like your brain clicks “off.”

You freeze. You feel unfocused, directionless, and distracted.

What’s going on?

It is possible that your reticular activating system (RAS) has not been programmed for success.

The good news is…this is an easy fix.

What is the Reticular Activating System?

The Reticular Activating System is the attention centre in the brain.

Physically speaking, it is a bundle of neurons located where the skull connects to the neck. It’s roughly the size of a golf ball.

The RAS is the key to “turning on your brain.”

You can deliberately program – or more accurately, train – your RAS by choosing the exact messages you send from your subconscious to conscious mind.

You can set goals, say affirmations, or visualize objectives.

Since the reticular activating system cannot distinguish between “real events” and “synthetic’ reality,” the brain tends to believe whatever message you give it.

Let’s look at some concrete examples.

Example 1: Giving a speech

Even the best public speakers still get nervous before giving an important speech. Especially if there are investors or stakeholders in the audience. Yikes!

Here’s what the pros do: activate the RAS.

By practicing a speech repeatedly and visualizing it in their mind, they can actually teach the brain.

This pretend practice improves the presenter’s speaking ability when they finally do it for real.

Example 2: Tuning out noisy distractions

Have you ever been at a party talking with an interesting person in a crowded room, fully engrossed and unaware of any specific sounds? But if someone across the room says your name, you will most likely hear it instantly.

This is your RAS at work again.

In response to an overwhelming number of stimuli (like sights, sounds, smells, etc.) the reticular activating system regulates conscious perception.

This is what allows us to focus on information that matters most.

At any given time, you might have a dozen different things demanding your attention all at once.

An activated RAS helps us concentrate on our goals – not the useless noise.

How to “hack” your RAS for business

Anyone can learn how to strengthen their RAS.

Here are some easy ideas:

  • Say your goals out loud
  • Imagine yourself achieving them
  • Disrupt negative thinking patterns
  • Look at images of what you want
  • Visualize each step towards the final objective

Setting a goal works, in part, because we program our RAS to pay attention to the things that will help us achieve our dreams.

Remember, your RAS is working to filter stimuli whether you have set it intentionally or not.

It only makes sense then to program your RAS to pay attention to the things you care about.

What goals have you set for yourself in 2022?

As we wrap up 2021, think about your own goals for the year ahead. Is your mind in the right headspace?

A free 15-minute consultation call could be your first step towards RAS activation!

The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Better Business Owner

become a better owner

If an owner wants a better business, first the business needs a better owner.

This post is part of my Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Better Business Owner. Visit the guide homepage to get my best advice and coaching exercises to help you with:

  • Mindset. Thinking like an owner and seeing the big picture of your business.
  • Planning. Deciding what you want, setting a goal, and making plans to get after it.
  • Habits. Changing your behaviours to help you get what you want.
  • Learning. Getting new information and developing new skills.
  • Growth. Facing your fears, stepping outside your comfort zone, and doing what it necessary to create the business of your dreams.