How Changing Your Perception Can Help You Achieve Your Goals Faster

How Changing Your Perception Can Help You Achieve Your Goals Faster

I spent a summer in college training in different warfare specialties as part of my Navy ROTC scholarship. One week during the training, my fellow cadets and I were invited to go out on one of the Navy’s crown jewels: an Aegis destroyer.

These extraordinary ships were the first of their kind. The technology of them is beyond the scope of my full understanding, but at the basic level, they work like this: When a missile fired from the ship neared its target, it was able to detect the scattered energy coming from that target and adjust both its trajectory and momentum based on this data.

This was called painting the target, and these ships could do it with incredible precision.

Why am I telling you this? Because painting the target is exactly what your brain must do anytime it wants to accomplish a goal.

Your brain is goal-oriented. When you set a goal, your mind subconsciously makes a number of assessments about how far away that goal is (proximity), how likely you are to achieve it (the size of the target), and the effort (thrust) it will take to get there. As you work toward the goal, your brain is constantly calculating and recalculating these three variables.

Creating more positive perceptions of our goals can dramatically increase our engagement, focus, productivity and motivation, and thus increase the speed by which we attain them. Here’s how you can start painting the target in your own life:

Strategy 1: Zoom in on the target (proximity).

Research has shown the closer people get to a target, the harder and faster they work. Write down all of the work you’ve done and all of the strides you’ve made so far. Reminding yourself of past successes will help your brain perceive that you are closer to the ultimate target.

Strategy 2: Magnify the target (likelihood of success).

The bigger a target appears, the more your brain believes you will hit it. Look at your current circumstances. Are there areas where you believe you could never hit a home run because the fences seem a mile away? Simply move the fences in so it seems easier.

Strategy 3: Recalculate thrust (energy required).

To achieve any goal, a certain level of energy is required. The lower the mental cost, the faster your speed toward success. Research has shown that by changing your perception of these costs, you can increase your speed toward your target by as much as 35 percent.

Content by Shawn Achor

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Mentally Strong Kids Have Parents Who Refuse to Do These 13 Things

By Amy Morin

All kids have the ability to develop mental muscle. We just have to teach them how to exercise their minds.

In my 15 years as a psychotherapist, I’ve seen how many of today’s common parenting habits are robbing kids of mental strength. Giving up those unhealthy habits takes strength on the part of the parents, but doing so gives kids opportunities to grow stronger and become better.

Based on my book 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do, here are 13 things to avoid if you want to raise a mentally strong child who is prepared to tackle life’s toughest challenges:

1. Condone a victim mentality.

Failing a math test or getting cut from the team doesn’t make a child a victim. Disappointment, failure and rejection are a part of life.

No matter how unjust or tough the circumstance, refuse to attend your kids’ pity parties. Teach them the importance of taking positive action rather than indulging in self-pity.

2. Parent out of guilt.

Backing down after you’ve said no or giving in because your child cries sends an unhealthy message to your kids that you’ll allow them to guilt you. They also learn that they have the power to manipulate you by preying on your emotions.

All good parents feel guilty sometimes. But it’s important to prevent those guilty feelings from impairing your parenting judgment. Hold firm in your choices, even when it causes you to wrestle with some guilt.

3. Make your kids the center of the universe.

While it’s important to make kids your top priority, making kids the center of the universe instills self-importance. And self-absorbed, entitled adults aren’t likely to lead rich and fulfilling lives.


Teach your kids that they’re important—but not the most important person in the world. They’ll grow up to become empathetic people who recognize the gifts they have to offer others.


4. Allow fear to dictate your choices.

Protecting your kids at all costs will spare you a lot of anxiety. But your kids will grow to believe they’re fragile.

If you want to raise brave kids, be a role model who encourages facing fears. Be a guide, but don’t become overprotective. Let your kids go out and experience the world firsthand.

5. Give your kids power over you.

Asking questions like, “Do you want water or ice water?” empowers kids. But asking whether the whole family should move across the country gives them too much power. Treating kids like an equal—or the boss—harms their development.

Show your kids that you value their opinions. But make it clear that you’re the leader. Establish a family hierarchy that gives your kids opportunities to practice taking orders and doing things they don’t want to do.

6. Expect perfection.

Kids will strive to meet your expectations as long as those expectations are reasonable. If you expect perfection, they’ll decide there’s no use in trying.

Teach your kids they don’t need to be the best at everything they do. Help them become a little better today than they were yesterday.

7. Let your kids avoid responsibility.

Countless studies show the importance of getting kids involved in household tasks. Yet, only 28 percent of children do chores.

If you want to raise kids who become responsible adults, give them plenty of responsibility. Let them pack their own lunches, assign daily chores, and expect them to take care of their own equipment for hobbies like sports or music.

8. Shield your kids from pain.

It can be tempting to shield kids from hurt feelings and hard times. But hardship is a part of life.

Kids need firsthand experience dealing with uncomfortable emotions like sadness, anxiety and embarrassment. With your support, they can gain confidence in themselves and trust that they can handle whatever difficulties life throws their way.

9. Feel responsible for your kids’ emotions.

Cheering your kids up when they’re sad, entertaining them when they’re bored and calming them down when they’re upset means you take responsibility for their feelings.

Teach your kids how to manage their moods on their own. They’ll grow up to become independent adults who don’t need other people to regulate their emotions for them.

10. Prevent your kids from making mistakes.

Whether you correct your kids’ homework or you double check their backpacks to make sure they haven’t forgotten something, preventing mistakes won’t do your kids any favors. Natural consequences are some of life’s greatest teachers.

Let them fail sometimes just so you can support them in bouncing back. Teach them that their mistakes are opportunities to grow wiser and become stronger.

11. Confuse discipline with punishment.

Punishment is meant to inflict suffering. Discipline, on the other hand, is about teaching kids to do better.

Don’t raise kids who fear “getting in trouble.” Use consequences that teach self-discipline so they’ll strive to make better choices.

12. Take shortcuts to avoid discomfort.

Although giving in when your child whines or doing your kids’ chores for them makes life easier right now, those shortcuts will backfire in the end.

Implement delayed gratification and show your children you’re strong enough to stay the course. You’ll teach them they’re strong enough to reach their long-term goals despite the temptations to take the easy way out.

13. Lose sight of your values.

Would you rather the teacher said your child was the smartest or the kindest kid in the class? It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the day-to-day chaos that you lose sight of what you value most.

Make sure your priorities accurately reflect your values. Instilling your values in your kids gives them the strength they need to live meaningful lives.

It’s important to build strong mental muscles as a family. Mentally strong kids have mentally strong parents. So be a good role model and exercise your mental muscles regularly. Establish healthy habits, like practicing mindfulness and gratitude. And give up the unhealthy habits that are holding you back. As a family, challenge one another to grow stronger and become better.

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It is fairly indisputable that we are living in anxious times. Who isn’t worried or concerned about something right now? Whether we realize it or not, so are our children. At a young age, children don’t have all the coping mechanisms needed to combat this level of anxiety. One great way you can help them overcome any level of anxiety they may be feeling is by improving their confidence. When a child, or anyone for that matter, is feeling good about themselves, they have an easier time being positive and seeing positive around them. There is several moments a day that present themselves as opportunities to build confidence in your child.

Be a good finder! When a gold miner goes into the mine, they are looking for gold, not dirt, however they will move tons of dirt before getting to the gold. Their focus remains the gold. Being a good finder with your child means pointing out the good they do, even when it is not perfect. One good way to do this is by utilizing the positive correction model of Praise-Challenge-Praise. Another great way to boost your child’s confidence and make them feel purposeful is to let them help out more. Often times children ask to do something that they see as helpful, but we as parents feel it is too difficult for them, or we fear it will create more work for us, so we say no. During these times, our children are hearing a lot of “no” – no you can’t go to school, no you can’t go to camp, no you can’t have a party. Try to find ways to say “yes” to letting them be more helpful.

An important thing to remember in regard to your child’s confidence and anxiety is that children are always watching and listening. It may not seem like it, but they are always taking in everything around them. It is often said when around children, “You cannot not teach!” During these times, when there are so many unknowns, children are supertuned to your cues. If you are having frustrations or struggles with a current situation such as working from home or home-schooling, this is a perfect time to model positive self-talk. While praising a child is a great way to make them feel good about themselves, be careful not to praise for everything. You want to praise for the things they control such as effort, progress, hard work, persistence and learning from a mistake. You do not want to praise for things that can be seen as being born with or have by luck such as talent, being smart, being gifted or not making mistakes.

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Working From Home with Kids

One new challenge that many parents are facing is navigating a new world of working from home, with a child home as well! Whether it is the inability to find a quiet place to work, or constant interruptions while working or maybe trying to find the time to work when there is so much to be done for your child, it is not an easy task! But work is important and needs to be done, so this challenge will be overcome. With some planning, scheduling and preparation you can avoid noise and interruptions and be focused and productive at your new work environment.

Consistency is key! Whenever possible, make your work from home time the same time every day. Teach your child that between these hours you are working and are unable to entertain them. While you want your child to know you are unavailable during the time you are working, you also want them to feel safe and know that you are available for emergencies. Just make sure to outline in advance what an emergency is, otherwise, you may find yourself with an interruption over a missing video game or lack of fruit snacks! In addition to feeling safe, you also want your child to feel important. Let them know that their needs are still being met, even though you are working. If possible, set them up with a planned activity during the time you are working, so they are busy independently and not feeling left out having “free time”. You can even make this time special for them with something such as a video game that they only get to play while you are working.

A great way to reinforce their behavior while you are working is to establish a reward system when you are done with work. For this to be most effective, the reward needs to be given immediately after you work time is complete. Do not honor the reward if your child interrupts your work for a non-emergency. One of the best, effective and free reward you can give your child is one-on-one time with you. For example, “I need to work from 9-2pm today. If you let me focus on work during that time, as soon as I am done at 2pm I will watch a movie of your choice with you.” Working from home is no easy feat, but not only is it possible, it is a great opportunity to model the focus, effort and positive attitude you would like your child to have during schoolwork! All it takes is a little bit of planning, preparation and a lot of

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Children Love To Help

Children naturally want to help. They love being included and feeling important. Chores are a great way to fulfill that need, boost their confidence, and help lessen your To-Do list at the same time! It may feel like you are at a constant battle to get your child to do what they are supposed to do, but when approached the right way they will be asking to do even more!

The key to having a child that wants to help more is by making them feel in control. Choices make children feel in control. The choice isn’t between doing the chore and not doing the chore. The choice you should be between two equal chores. I.e.: put the clean dishes away or vacuum the rugs.

Don’t be afraid to give them chores that will challenge them. Taking away challenges make chores “boring”. Children find challenges interesting and are a great way to boost their confidence. The prouder they feel of the chores they accomplish, they more they will want to do. This is especially true when it comes to allowing them to do a chore they ask to do, but you feel is too hard for them. If, for example, they want to cook supper for the family but are too young to handle a stove or knife safely, there are still ways to say “yes”. You can find a recipe that does not involve the stove or cutting. It may not be a meal you would normally make for supper and it may not be what everyone wants to eat, but for that day it makes your child proud and confident that they fed their family. You could also stick with your original meal plan and give them tasks that are safe. For instance, you cut up the ingredients beforehand and have your child add them to the pot or have them gather all the supplies and ingredients before you get started.

Be careful not to use chores as a punishment. This makes chores seem negative and not something they should “want” to do. Chores are something everyone in the house needs to do for the home to run smoothly, no something you need to do because you were “bad”. Be sure to praise and reward once the chore is completed. Related rewards work best: “Now that you put the dishes away, we can make cookies” or “Since you cleaned your room, your friend can sleep over.”

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Positive correction is a way of correcting a child while still boosting their confidence and keeping them motivated to keep trying. No one likes to make mistakes or be wrong. If a child feels like they are always wrong, they will want to stop trying. This can be the case for schoolwork, sports, or even chores at home.

An effective form of positive correction is Praise-Challenge-Praise. In this model, your first task is to find and point out something positive and correct your child did, before making the correction or “challenge”. This prevents the first thing a child hearing after trying something from being negative. If they hear something positive first, they will keep listening and be more willing to accept the correction you need to make.

The second step is to make the correction, in a challenge format. Using a challenge format means instead of pointing out something they need to change you point out a way you know they can improve. After the correction is made, praise them for accepting the challenge. It might look something like this: “You did a great job letting mom work from home undistracted this morning! I’m going to need you to clean up the mess you made while I was working and put all the toys away. Way to go! You let me work and picked up after yourself! You rock!” This will do wonders for their confidence and making them want to help and pick up after themselves as opposed to, “All I wanted was to work from home without and disruptions, and I finish work to find this mess! You were supposed to play without making a mess! Pick it up!”

Praise-Challenge-Praise not only helps the child by improving their confidence and motivation, but also helps the parents by using a positive frame and avoiding fighting and yelling.

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