How to Use Your Subconscious for Success
This post shows you exactly how to use your subconscious for success. In fact, your subconscious will handle the most complex and difficult problems you face, whether creative or logical. It’s just awaiting a clear assignment.
Key points from this post
- There is a difference between the actively controlled part of your brain and the subconscious part.
- Inspiration is not random; it is a mechanism afforded to your body that can be managed and leveraged.
- Your subconscious works on problems while you’re not actively thinking about them. It often produces better results.
- Your subconscious requires clarity in order to perform. Visualization gives you clarity. The two go hand-in-hand.
- Want to learn more? Read the best book ever written on visualization and subconscious: Psycho Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz, M.D., F.I.C.S.
Getting started boosting your success
The mental “tricks” on this site and in me Best Selling book Leave the Grind Behind are designed to sharply define—to yourself—what you really want from life. These habits and exercises are all about intense mental focus. This is the sort of focus and obsession required to do something huge and achieve unusual levels of success.
“He must have a burning desire to solve the problem. But after he has defined the problem, sees in his imagination the desired end result, secured all the information and facts that he can, then additional struggling fretting and worrying over it does not help but seems to hinder the solution.”
― Maxwell Maltz, Psycho-Cybernetics, A New Way to Get More Living Out of Life
You’re steps away from driving the incredible potential within your brain toward your big life goals.
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Subconscious, goal achievement, and internal delegation
Most people will agree that both delegation and teamwork are key components of life, leadership, and success. A team of people is better than one person. You may excel at tracking your finances yet be in awe of another person’s ability to paint.
I probably don’t need to argue the benefits of delegating to and engaging with other people to solve problems. However, I’m certain most of us are not effectively reaping the benefits of internal delegation.
“It is well understood in psychology that the subconscious mind has the dominant influence on human decision making, and therefore the pivotal role of the subconscious, for you to achieve success, is inescapable.” -Kevin Michel
What if I told you that there is in fact someone available to you right now to work as your partner? Someone to whom you can delegate your biggest challenges and most important tasks. Someone who will transform you into a grinder. And they’ll do it for free. There is, in fact, just such an untapped resource right within you.
Introduction: Subconscious vs Conscious Effort
How many times have you stared at a computer screen for hours on end, frustrated and stuck? That darn blinking cursor staring back at you. Perhaps you were looking at a complex spreadsheet and couldn’t get the numbers to jive. Perhaps you were writing a paper or building a presentation.
We’ve all been there—we hit a mental wall and conscious effort seems to get us nowhere.
Personally, I’ve spent many hours over the years being actively stuck on problems, even insignificant ones. Giving into frustration, and assuming I was just tired, I’d give up for the day. The problem would be bugging me throughout the evening, and potentially even making it difficult for me to sleep at night.
Then I’d wake up the next day, or maybe later that week, and BAM! The breakthrough answer would invariably come to me while I was brushing my teeth or taking a shower—while my conscious mind was focused on something else entirely. Sound familiar?
“Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious” – Thomas Edison
In fact, many of my best plans “pop” into my head while I’m doing something else entirely.
Marketing experiments, product plans, and communications never materialized while I was actively working on them. Rather, once I stop working and switch to another activity—such as sleeping, showering, exercising, or playing—the magic seems to occur.
I talked to others about this phenomenon and thought about it myself but never really knew how to control it. It just seemed to be nothing more than random inspiration.
However, as I dug into the research and books on this subject, I learned this phenomenon is a result of a difference between the actively controlled part of my brain and the subconscious part. And most interesting, it was actually something I could direct and use to my benefit.
Indeed, this feeling of inspiration is not random; it is a mechanism afforded to your body that can be managed and leveraged.
“Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become reality.” –Earl Nightingale
Subconscious Likes it Simple
While others may define the subconscious in alternate ways, for the purposes of this article, think of it as the part of your brain that works on problems while you aren’t actively thinking about them.
In these terms, the subconscious is simple. It requires clear, concise direction from your active mind. And then it needs to be left alone.
As Dr. Maxwell Maltz characterizes it, think of your subconscious as a heat-seeking missile. You give your subconscious a target, and then it will blast off and scream toward hitting that target. Rather than manually steering the missile to its goal, you simply supply it a target. It will automatically make constant adjustments and course corrections. It will ultimately find its own best path.
How to Use Your Subconscious for Success
There are four very simple steps to using your subconscious. Before we begin, it’s good to apply the delegation analogy one more time.
Think about how you delegate to other intelligent people. You give them a clear picture of the desired outcome and then let them go to work. You let them fill in the blanks. You don’t micromanage, overwhelm, or constantly change what you want. With that in mind, here are the four steps I use to best leverage my subconscious as a valued delegate.
Step 1: Name and personalize your delegate.
This one may sound cheesy, but makes visualizing the handoff from your conscious mind to your subconscious easy. I named my subconscious “Grinder Jeeves.”
Jeeves is a classic servant/butler name—perfect for someone who will be there, devoted to supporting you. But for me, Jeeves brings to mind a stuffy person. I need a little more grit and edge. Naming him “Grinder Jeeves” adds the cool factor. He’s Jeeves with sunglasses. That’s how to make visualization easy and fun.
Pick a name for your subconscious. Once you have a name, build a complete visual of what this person looks like. Make this personification something you can delegate projects to with the utmost confidence.
You will give your Grinder Jeeves a task and then visualize him walking out the door and not coming back until the job is done with the best of skill. This step is about being able to “see” and relate to your subconscious as a person.
If you prefer to have a committee work on your problem, even better. Just ensure you’re able to visualize this team of Grinder Jeeves that goes to work for you.
“It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.” – John Steinbeck
Step 2: Pick 3-5 things you want to accomplish tomorrow.
You are now ready to choose what you want to delegate. There is a very simple way to come up with this list. At the end of your day, sit down and write out the 3 to 5 things that, if accomplished tomorrow, would make you feel completely satisfied with your productivity and output. Pick ones related to your GRINDER 3.
If you knock out 3–5 important things every day, you will accomplish a lot over time thanks to compounding. Consistently achieving this level of output can be challenging, but if you break your long-term goals down into immediate steps, you will be much more successful at them. Whereas a goal of driving across the country may be daunting, driving one mile at a time is not. So for your subconscious to deliver the most value, figure out what those 3–5 things are for tomorrow only.
There are certain key characteristics these high-value tasks should have:
- They should be important. These are your big-rock items—the things that your boss or customers will notice: things that will help you leave the grind behind; things that will impact your spouse, you, or other important people. Having an edge on these items will make the less-important tasks seem much more trivial and easy to deal with.
- They should span all aspects of your life: work, family, physical, community, personal, etc. Stay in balance.
- They should be things you’ve been putting off. This list will shrink in a few days). Have you been avoiding a particular phone call? Do you need to have a tough conversation with someone? Is there something big you simply need to start? What is nagging you? Add it to the list. You probably just need help to get it done. Let your subconscious help.
- They don’t need to be “completion” tasks. Perhaps you just need your subconscious to help you start something. Instead of saying “I’ll write a book tomorrow,” say “I’ll start writing my book tomorrow and complete at least 20 pages.” One of the best project managers I worked with lived and died by the phrase “kicking the ball down field.” There is a lot of power in this statement. I want you to accomplish a lot, but don’t expect to meet your big goals every day. Constantly moving forward is the best method I’ve found for maintaining exceptional productivity and momentum.
- They should be highly complex. I can consciously figure out what 2 + 3 is. But here’s the sort of problem your subconscious loves to take on: I have a highly detailed spreadsheet, with many external references, lookups, and complex pivot tables. I cannot figure out why an equation is giving me an unexpected result. I’ve actively thought about it and played with it for hours. My conscious mind is stumped and has given up. My subconscious responds, “Challenge accepted.” Think of your subconscious as the computer in your brain. If you give it space to do its thing, it will chug through numbers and permutations, over and over, until it comes back and delivers the answer or the guidance you need.
- The tasks can also be creative. Your subconscious has the enviable opportunity to work distraction free. This affords it the ability to not only chug away as an efficient data processor, but also allows it to pull together images and quotes that you’ve filed away over time. It will then deliver an inspirational package, ready to be turned into a work of art.
Step 3: You need to ask other people for help.
For each and every action, assign one primary person that is required to help complete the task. If you don’t think anyone is needed to help you with even the smallest tasks, you’re wrong. People are important in everything you do.
Who has the helpful information you need? Who is the person you’ve been dreading calling? Who will be happy you’ve completed a task? Who needs to give you time to complete it?
Visualization helps here. Visualize that person. See yourself being happy because you completed the item. See them being happy you completed it. Say thank you. See them smile in response.
By doing this, you are conditioning yourself to see that people want to help you. This will make you less afraid to ask for what you need. People like to help, but most of us don’t ask. We’re afraid to ask, afraid to sell. Let your subconscious get you over this nonsense.
For this step, I often pick people who have been difficult or intimidating in the past. I am often pleasantly surprised by how easy they are to deal with the next day. In reality, I’m getting my mind to abandon the pre-conception these people are difficult or intimidating. Thus, my approach to them is improved and so are the results.
Step 4: Let your subconscious go to work
You should put together your list before bed. Write the tasks down. Now, close your eyes and visualize handing off the description of the desired end-state for these tasks. You should then see your subconscious leaving the room. You should know and have confidence that your subconscious will return with the completed items.
Two final tips
1. Your requests must be end-state oriented.
That is where your subconscious excels—just like a great employee. Be able to see what you want. This is not fluff. This is your brain making the end-state so clear that you can actually see it. You can experience the feeling you’ll get when your subconscious hands you the completed work. You know exactly what you want. And now your subconscious does too. The alternative is a fuzzy request. Fuzzy requests will give fuzzy results; just like with actual delegation.
2. Avoid the how.
Again, just like with employee delegation, you provide a task and let them complete it. You don’t map out every step they should take. What is the domain of the conscious; how is the domain of the subconscious. Your conscious mind is too tied up in day-to-day nonsense to be able to see the bigger playing field and know the right moves to make. Letting go and trusting your subconscious to figure out the how is key to successfully delegating tasks to your Grinder Jeeves.
Now, as any good delegator, your job is done. Have faith in your subconscious. Know that you will receive results that surpass those your active mind could produce. Don’t micro-manage. Look forward to the results. Trusting the process becomes easier and easier as you see results over time.
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What’s your experience with using your subconscious for success?