Being successful is about more than doing the right thing at the right time. It’s also about adopting a holistic, success-minded approach that helps your subconscious think of innovative ideas – even when you’re not working.
There are exercises and tips you can follow to prepare your mind, putting you in the best possible state for consistent success. Let’s take a closer look at seven actions you can take to help program your subconscious mind for success.
First things first – get the right amount of sleep
There’s no special tip or trick here. Getting the right amount of sleep won’t, in and of itself, act like some magical shortcut to untold wealth and success.
But valuing sleep can put your subconscious mind in the best position possible to come up with creative ideas and solutions. Getting enough sleep puts you at an extreme advantage. It should be one of your top priorities, as a well-rested mind can help fuel inspiration and creativity – and the health effects of not getting enough sleep are startling.
There’s a lot of science available about sleep. Everyone’s schedule varies, and you may have to experiment to find out what practices help put your mind in the mode of optimal productivity. But there are a few best practices everyone should implement:
- Stay away from screens. Blue light can have harmful effects on your sleep patterns, so stay away from blue light for 2-3 hours before bedtime.
- Go to bed at the same time every night, keeping a consistent schedule. Also, try to get out of bed at the same time every morning.
- Sleep for 7-9 hours each night.
Placing the correct value on the quantity and quality of sleep gives your subconscious the rest and relief it needs to come up with complex solutions to complicated problems.
Adopt a routine
There’s always debate over when during your day you should do specific types of work. Some research shows that mornings are the best time for doing work. Other people view themselves as “night owls” and tend to work better in the evening.
Sometimes, it helps to just set a routine and stick to it, figuring out what works best for you specifically. You then get your subconscious accustomed to doing one activity at one type of day. For example, you may want to schedule creative work early in the mornings, before you’re inundated with distractions. Then you can schedule a block of time in the afternoon – for more mundane tasks such as responding to emails.
The important thing is to always stick to your routine, no matter how you feel about doing the work. Never wait for inspiration to strike, as it won’t always hit you when you’re working. Train your mind to do the work, and inspiration will follow. As author John Updike once said, “The pleasures of not writing are so great that if you ever start indulging them you will never write again.”
Carry a notepad with you at all times
Your subconscious mind can be tricky. It may come up with ideas at inopportune times. You must act as a servant to your own creativity, however, always acquiescing to its needs no matter how inconvenient it may seem. Carry a notepad with you at all times for when you get hit with a great idea unexpectedly. Keep it close to your bed as well in case it hits you overnight.
Doing this has the added effect of training your brain to come up with ideas more often as well. If you know you have the notepad available, your mind will think more creatively, even if you’re focused on something else. You’ll create a successful mindset in which you expect yourself to come up with great ideas regularly.
Writing down your goals can be a powerful practice. Cartoonist Scott Adams has one of the longest-running and most successful cartoon strips of all time, Dilbert. Adams has long championed the practice of writing daily affirmations. Here’s what Adams does to help ensure success:
- Pick an outcome you’d like to envision.
- Write it down 15 times a day.
That’s it. As Adams notes, there’s no magic to this, and it won’t necessarily guarantee success. But it helps you subconsciously focus on completing the task. It also serves as a daily reminder of what you truly desire. It reaffirms your subconscious’s commitment to the mission.
Along the same lines of documenting your desired outcomes, visualizing those outcomes is also a powerful trick for your subconscious. Picture yourself, in your mind, achieving success. You can also use physical cues to help you envision this success. For example, movie star and comedian Jim Carrey was once a struggling actor. He wrote himself a check for $10 million, knowing that one day he’d be able to cash it if he believed in himself.
You can do the same thing. Create a vision board with visual suggestions for your future success. It will make it easier to create that as your reality, helping you adopt a growth mindset.
There are many forms of meditation. There’s transcendental meditation, championed by success-minded high performers such as Jerry Seinfeld or Oprah Winfrey. There are numerous meditation apps that help you relax and focus your energy. There are formal and informal approaches to meditation, all with the same goal: clearing your head.
Practicing some form of meditation allows your subconscious to rest, refocus, and re-energize itself. It helps eliminate distractions. The next time you sit down to work on a project, try meditating first. If you don’t have any type of training, simply sit in a quiet room, set a timer for 20 minutes, and focus on nothing but your breathing. Every time your thoughts begin to drift, simply guide yourself back to focusing on your breathing.
Sometimes, when a computer isn’t working right, the fix is as simple as restarting it. Look at meditation as a form of rebooting your subconscious. Practice it daily.
As important as relaxation is to your subconscious, occasionally placing an external stressor on it can help trigger your mind for success. Think of it like shaking a tree for fruit. Tactics like the Pomodoro Technique – setting a timer then committing to work for a distraction-free short burst of time – can help you focus on a problem and come up with solutions you didn’t know you had in you.
Your subconscious is a powerful tool for your success. If you program it correctly, you can optimize the amount of knowledge and value you get out of it while you’re hard at work. You can even get value out of it when you’re doing something else entirely.