You will have long-term DO’s and short-term DO’s – the important thing is to ensure that your short-term DO’s are aligned with your longer-term DO’s. Take action daily to improve yourself. You don’t need to take massive action or make radical moves in order to change your life for the better. Small daily improvements are the key to staggering long-term results.

I find that the analogy of a hot-air balloon works well for me, and for a lot of my clients. Picture if you will, your long-term DO as a hot-air balloon, and anchor it over on the horizon. Up close, the balloon is enormous, it occupies all of your focus and attention, and obscures your view – you simply can’t see around it. But over there on the horizon, it doesn’t seem quite so daunting now, does it? It’s still there, you can still see it, and work towards it, but it’s not quite as overwhelming as when it was right in front of you. You can now also see what’s around you, what’s between you and the balloon – not just the path that you’ve revealed towards it, but the obstacles and barriers along the path, that you must overcome in order to reach it. You have a much greater sense of perspective.

Focus on the daily steps, watch your footing, and be aware of your surroundings – all the while keeping the balloon – your DO – on your horizon, in the knowledge that each step you take is another step closer. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao Tzu.

Now set a realistic timescale within which to achieve your DO – your DO is now a dream with a date. Be realistic, but remember, challenge complacency – step out of your comfort zone. Revisit what you wrote down earlier, and now add the date to the original DO.

Now phrase your DO in the present tense, such as “I am” or “I have.” Let’s take the previous example of “losing weight”…

Framing your DO in the positive, “losing weight” became “I want to reach my target weight of…” Now that we also have a date, and framing the DO in the present tense, the DO now becomes “It is January, 2017, and I am now my target weight of …” for example. To your subliminal overprotective brain, the statement of “I am now” is far easier to work towards, compared with “I will be” and again, the positive affirmation is far more powerful. The brain – rather than leading you towards a hypothetical result of which it has no recollection, or tangible reference point – is now leading you directly towards your target weight of … something the brain can process with the greatest of ease.

Try a little exercise if you will – try saying these two differently phrased DO’s out loud. Not such a great idea if you’re reading this on the commute in to work, but it’s important that you do read it out loud to gain the full benefit of the exercise. (Neuroscience suggests that 43% of people aren’t aware of what they’re thinking, until they hear it out loud.) It can wait until you get home…

“In January, 2017, I will have lost 10 pounds,” or

“It is January, 2017, and I now weigh 70.2 kilograms (woman), or 83.6 kilograms (man)” (According to the Office for National Statics, the average woman in the UK weighs 70.2kg, and the average man 83.6kg.)

Which one sounded better to you? Which of the two did you believe?

In summary, GREAT DO’s should be positive, personal, framed in the present, and most of all, be possible for you to achieve – albeit challenging. The best DO’s should both excite you and scare you at the same time. You should be excited at the prospect of what realising your DO will bring you, but also somewhat naturally apprehensive, or scared, as your mind hasn’t yet got the answers, and will always look for a point of reference, or reassurance.

Neuroscience supports the suggestion that your brain is hard-wired to protect you. Your reptilian brain is responsible for the primary “fight or flight” response – either aiding your swift escape (flight) from whatever the perceived danger may be, or preparing your attack (fight) – “offense being the best form of defense.” The brain sees the fact that you are comfortable as your ultimate protection – put simply, if you are comfortable, then you are not threatened – you are “safe” – wrapped in cotton wool. As far as your brain is concerned, keeping you in your respective comfort zone is simply “mission accomplished.”

The brain is also designed to conserve energy, and is constantly looking for shortcuts – it takes a lot less energy to perform a routine – or predictable – task, which is we we develop habits, and paradigms. (A paradigm after all, is essentially just a collection of habits.) Your mind is constantly looking to “fill in the gaps” with regards to predictability. Allow me to demonstrate…

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Allegedly, only 55 people in every 100 will be able to read – and make sense of – the paragraph, but, to be honest, I have not yet encountered someone who could not read it…

According to Maxwell Maltz’s “Psycho Cybernetics”, our mind is like a thermostat – a cybernetic control mechanism. Just as a thermostat regulates the pre-determined temperature of a room, for example, so our thoughts regulate, or control, our results. Our habits – our paradigms – are results of our “thermostat” setting. Or, from a different perspective, take the example of an aeroplane’s auto-pilot. As the ‘plane is buffeted slightly off course, the cybernetics “kick in” and the plane’s route is re-calibrated to adjust for the slight deviation. Our comfort zone – our “here and now” – is our current calibration, it’s where our mind constantly returns us. It’s our point of reference, our yardstick, for how we live our lives. You might even think of it as our flight path.

Think about it for a second, why do you keep doing what you’re currently doing, even if you’re not happy with the results? As Tony Robbins says “If do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” Einstein agrees – his definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and over again, and expecting different results.” At The Proctor Gallagher Institute, we term this the “knowing-doing gap” – you know what you want, or you’re not happy with your results, but you continue with the same behaviour and mindset (thermostat?) and therefore continue to return the same results. There is a chasm of difference between knowing what you want, and doing what is necessary to change your “pyscho cybernetics.”

The good news is that you can change your results – you can change your “thermostat”. You can re-calibrate your cybernetics. If you’re not happy with your results, you need to change your behaviour, and your thoughts determine your behaviour.

Change your thinking, change your life!

It won’t be an overnight transformation, though – your new habits and new paradigms need to be bedded in and nurtured so that they grow and develop, and as they develop and strengthen, so will the “old” habits and paradigms diminish and weaken, and your new habits will then become your new cybernetic calibration – your revised thermostat setting. It’s never too late to start to live the life of your dreams – to plant the seed. You just need to know how…

There’s a Chinese proverb that says “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time to plant a tree is now.” Plant the seed – take control of your life – take charge of your thermostat! Don’t live your life on auto-pilot!

With your DO in your mind, and in your heart, start to take action. Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity – “take imperfect action towards your goals and dreams.”Bill Baren. Take the first step today, sow the seed, and start the momentum – remember, small daily improvements are the key to staggering long-term results…