Jun 28, 2007

Writing Down Your Goals

Over the past two weeks, I've been receiving several emails like this. The stories they tell are different, and yet a strikingly similar theme runs through:

Dear Mr Wang,

I have been reading your blog regularly. Your recent topics on 'mind over matter' struck a chord with recent events in my life and my personal experience as a whole.

My life undergone a drastic change 7 years ago from a struggling under-achiever to a reasonably successful professional. All I did was that I started writing my goals down and things began to change for the better. Most of my friends said I was lucky, but I think it was more than that. I always dreamt of an Ivy league education but was either too poor or not smart enough to attend one. In a span of 7 years, not only did I have a successful career, I went to INSEAD to do my MBA and my current company is sending me to Harvard for further education. I simply believe that I could do it and to me everything you want to achieve in life starts from having the right thoughts ....

.... It was like all the different pieces begin to fall into place and reading your blog makes it even clearer to me now. I always have this fear that if I share my 'secret' with friends, I will get ridicule and laugh at. So instead, I kept this to myself and believe that once I have made something with my life, it will be easier for me to talk about this with the right people at the right time. thank you for sharing this wonderful topic on your blog. Keep writing.

Yours sincerely, P

This reader provided his real name, but I'll just call him P because I'm not sure he wants to be named.

What is the strikingly similar theme I mentioned? Typically, the person starts off in average, mediocre or distinctly dismal circumstances. Then at some point in time, he starts experimenting with some particular "success technique" or mindhacking method.


Suddenly, his life begins to change. Drastically, and for the better. The success is startling even to the person himself. Eventually, compared to his previous circumstances, he becomes almost embarrassingly successful.

Then at some point, he develops an urge to want to share his wonderful secret with others. With his friends. With his family. But there is fear. There is hesitation. There is the worry that he will be perceived as superstitious, mad or delusional. And so he holds back. He doesn't tell.


I should know. I've been there.

There are lots of things that Mr Wang knows through personal experience, and he isn't even telling you. What he tells you on his blog is only the tip of the iceberg.

Same for P. Within his little email above resides a very big secret. Those who know, know. Those who don't, don't. Their loss.

Anyway, P's chosen success method, by his own account, was to write down his goals. To the uninitiated, mere writing may sound like an utterly ineffective method to achieve anything.

What may surprise you is that practically every self-improvement book emphasises the importance of writing down your goals. Furthermore the authors will devote many, many pages as to how exactly to go about this task. There are many little tips and tricks to make it work.

This is a simple yet formidable method which must never be underestimated. The real secret is to write such that the goals get impressed onto your unconscious mind.

And then something quite similar to the Rosenthal effect will happen again. Remember - the teachers don't actually know how to make the kids smart. But simply by believing that the kids are smart (even though this belief is objectively false), the teachers WILL end up making the kids smart, creating a clear, measurable jump in their IQ scores.

Similarly, you may not know exactly HOW to achieve your goals. Your conscious mind may not even accept that you could achieve such goals. But if you write the goals down such that they are impressed onto your unconscious mind, then your unconscious mind WILL make your goals come true, creating clear, measurable results.

Mr Wang would explain further, but why bother. Thoughts affect reality; your mind is the universe; the unconscious overpowers the conscious, Freud's iceberg model of human consciousness etc etc. Those are the details. Those who really want to know, will find out. Those who don't, won't.

If you know how to impress your goals onto your unconscious mind, then like P, you could write your goals all the way to Insead and Harvard. If those were the goals you chose.

Of course that's entirely up to you. You could choose entirely different things. Far more amazing things, and yes, most of them will come true.

36 comments:

scb said...

Think happiness everybody just for yourself and the World will follow, that's the POWER of your thoughts!

Jon said...

I actually have a very similar story too (but I am too shy/private to share it).

Well, I just want to say a BIG THANKS to Mr Wang! You really bake good karma!

persistently deluded said...

yes...we do know thought affect SOME reality. All all of us can more or less agree with that. (But to conclude it affects all reality is another thing altogether)

But, u still haven't answered the gambler and soccer fan question? How do you explain the contradiction? Does the gambler insidiously believe he won't win? Do soccer fans insidiously believe their favourite team won't win?

I really fear...without proper guidance and mindsets, this belief-create-your-reality belief thing could ultimately result in discrimination: "You are lame/poor/stupid/autistic/retarded simply because you are mentally weak. If you don't believe yourself, no one can help you. Period."

Piper said...

persistently deluded,

I really fear...without proper guidance and mindsets, this belief-create-your-reality belief thing could ultimately result in discrimination: "You are lame/poor/stupid/autistic/retarded simply because you are mentally weak. If you don't believe yourself, no one can help you. Period."

This is what perturbs me about the whole 'mindhacking' thing too.

Henry Leong said...

I agreed writing down goals is important, years ago I started to write down my goals one by one my wishes came true.

klim70 said...

Mr Wang,

Thoughts need to be backed up by affirmative action. Nothing ever gets done by merely thinking about. P would not have got into INSEAD if he didn't study for it or if he didn't fill in the application form.

Your analogy of quantum physics is also a common misconception. Quantum physics is only true if the subject matter you're dealing with extremities, which we in every day life will never experience. And its all theoretical. Meanwhile, let's all stick to Newtonian Physics while avoiding speeding cars. In this world, if you get hit and die, you stay dead.

klim70 said...

And one other thing regarding the Rosenthal Effect.

Were the teachers in the perceived 'smart' class working harder or more creatively, or were they just sitting around 'thinking'?

A child who's told he's bad all the time usually would turn out bad. Most of the time, it's just because he's living up to expectations. The reverse is usually consistent as well.

Thoughts do not affect results. Thoughts affect individual action. And it is through action that results are affected.

Sayiing otherwise just stinks of more 'feel good' talk. You can soon join Robert Kiyosaki giving seminars.

Mr Wang Says So said...

You are mistaken about the Rosenthal experiment.

Each class contains a mix of students. Students who are mistakenly believed to be "smart" as well as students believed to be "not smart" are all mixed in the same class.

The same teachers teach each class, conduct exactly the same lessons at the same time, give the same homework, use the same textbooks etc etc,

for the "believed-to-be-smart" as well as the "believed-to-be-not-smart" students.

In other words, all factors are controlled for. The only variable is the teacher's belief.

That leads to the sharp increase in IQ scores for the "believed-to-be-smart" students.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Quantum physics is only true if the subject matter you're dealing with extremities, which we in every day life will never experience.

You are mistaken. I could cite you experiments showing the effects of quantum physics at macro level. In fact, I already did. It is linked in one of the comments in one of the previous posts (the one with about 180+ comments).

chowahbeng said...

ah, but must have other people think same thing or not? so if think 4 number, weekend buy 4D, can tio or not? also if everybody think like that then who win?

Mr Wang Says So said...

As mentioned before, the topic is vast and you'll just have to be patient.

I have already written 24 posts this month as well as given extensive replies to many readers, in the comment sections. There will be few bloggers in Singapore as prolific as I have been this month.

As it is, I am already receiving more readers' emails than I am willing and able to reply to.

Frankly right now I am much more inclined to respond to (a) those readers with questions on how to use mindhacking, and (b) those readers with interesting theoretical or philosophical questions of not much practical use.

But will, in time, still respond to both categories of inquiries.

Mr Wang Says So said...

To explain the Rosenthal experiment a little better,

it is as if you take

some Normal Stream students, and some Gifted students,

and you put them all in the same class, and you give them the same teachers, and the same textbooks and the same homework etc, and teach them according to the same syllabus.

After eight months, the Gifted students, when tested, will produce Gifted standards. The Normal students, when tested, will produce Normal standards.

Of course, the thing is that the students were never really "Gifted" or "Normal", to begin with.

The students were just a random mix of varying ability levels.

The teachers were simply tricked into believing that some of the students were "Gifted" and some were "Normal".

Those students who were mistakenly believed to be "Gifted" indeed transformed, over eight months, into "Gifted" students.

Those students who were mistakenly believed to be "Normal" indeed transformed, over eight months, into "Normal" students.

The teachers do not know how they did that. It all follows automatically from their beliefs.

hunguptodry said...

i think writing down goals improves accountability. it allows u to realise what u have achieved.

i believe many have achieved just as much without writing down goals. but they often do not see their own achievements.

i once met a young chap in shenzhen running a successful business. he was tremendously driven and was quite unhappy that he was not one of china's super rich. when we got to talking i learned that only 15 years ago he was farming in one of the then rural shenzhen communes. it was a tremendous achievement for someone like him but he does not realise it.

hunguptodry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hunguptodry said...

i interpret the rosenthal experiment somewhat differently.

to me, it is all about community culture and little to do with the teacher.

in the gifted community, your worth is measured by your academic performance so you put your energies there.

in the normal community, your worth is measured by how cool u were. so these chaps focused their efforts in looking cool and other cool exploits. academic performance was certainly not it. getting a passing grade with minimal effort was the in-thing.

Mr Wang Says So said...

You do not understand the Rosenthal experiment.

The students themselves are not told that they are "Gifted" or "Normal".

All students are placed in the same community.

The teachers are secretly told that some students are "Gifted".

The teachers are told a lie.

The teachers believe the lie.

The lie becomes reality.

The students believed to be "Gifted" become gifted. The students believed to be "Normal" become normal.

"Community culture" is irrelevant because they are all in the same community culture.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"i believe many have achieved just as much without writing down goals."

Certainly. Whatever you think will become your reality. For example, if you are the kind of person who already thinks:

"I am successful"
"I have talent"
"I am lucky"
"There are great opportunities here"
"I have all the support I need"
"I can solve all kinds of problems"
"I am a successful [businessman]/[doctor]/[teacher]/[golfer]"

then those thoughts shape your reality. As a matter of fact, all your thoughts, positive or negative, go towards shaping your reality.

Writing down your goals is really a technique meant to help focus your mind in particular directions that you consciously choose - thereby driving your reality into those particular directions.

If you already strongly believe something to be true, you do not need to write it down.

Henry Leong said...

Mr Wang,
emphasis on having strong faith.

BTH said...
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Carl Hollywood said...

The creator of "Dilbert" does it too!

Here's what he wrote about affirmations.

hunguptodry said...

The teachers are told a lie.
.............................
now this lie may very well affect the behaviour of the teacher towards her students.

if this experiement is to be more believable, we need to find a way to give all the students the same educational experience.

therefore i propose the following change to the experiment.

1) do not tell the teacher the lie at the beginning of the 8-month experiment.

2) tell the teacher the lie the night before u test the students.

if this yields the same result, i'll become a believer.

zhixiang said...

***Then at some point, he develops an urge to want to share his wonderful secret with others. With his friends. With his family. But there is fear. There is hesitation. There is the worry that he will be perceived as superstitious, mad or delusional. And so he holds back. He doesn't tell.***

i love this part. gd job mr wang!!

Jimmy Mun said...

“Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformation of the atom is talking moonshine”

“If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment.”

“We haven't got the money, so we've got to think!”

-Ernest Rutherford, New Zealander born British Chemist who laid the groundwork for the development of nuclear physics by investigating radioactivity. Nobel Prize in 1908. 1871-1937


Perhaps Mr Wang is selling the idea the wrong way. Ultimately, we want money, success, growing back a limb etc etc because we believe they bring us the Holy Grail: happiness. Take a look at this:

Matthieu Ricard, a son of a philosopher and a PhD in molecular genetics, apparently can meditate himself into a state of happiness, as interpreted by an MRI machine.

He gave a talk recently at Google and you can see the video here. BTW, the person who introduced him is apparently the first Singaporean employed by Google. Unmistakable accent.

BTW, I still think I am mostly a Catholic, but such studies fascinate me.

PZ said...

zhixiang wrote:

***Then at some point, he develops an urge to want to share his wonderful secret with others. With his friends. With his family. But there is fear. There is hesitation. There is the worry that he will be perceived as superstitious, mad or delusional. And so he holds back. He doesn't tell.***

i love this part. gd job mr wang!!
_________________________

Ahhh, yes.

"Appeal to pity" yet another fallacy.

Schematically, Mr. Wang's theory resting on a mount of fallacies would look like this.

Theory - Mindhacking can make Universe deliver ANYthing
.........

"Post hoc, ergo, propter hoc"
"Hasty Generalisation"
"Appeal to Authority"
"False Analogy"
"Special Appeal"
"Appeal to Pity"

PZ

Christopher Ng Wai Chung said...

Mr. Wang,

Personally, I think that scientific community has been unduly harsh with your ideas.

Your ideas has merit in that it establishes the importance of belief in achieveing personal success.Beliefs do come first.

However, like your critics, I cannot accept that beliefs are enough to create success. Moltivational books ignore the need for skills, opportunities, talent and luck which can be equally important in getting somewhere in life.

The idea that beliefs can shape reality is an interesting one, I believe that you came under fire not because people perceive you to superstitious but because physics is simply not ready to prove/disprove what you are trying to assert. Case in point, reality can be affected by many things, chief of which actions arising from beliefs itself.

I can also emphathize with scientists on why they need to make a point to you. They are personally invested in their field and may not like it if they see someone misinterpreting it ( from their POV ). I can also imagine what a great career challenge it would be for any physicist to support your viewpoint too.

I get upset everyday reading about options classes which claim returns of over 2000% a day. It's hard to resist not challenging such claims too but at the end of the day, caveat emptor should also apply to people who crave for a philosophy in life.

Regards

PZ said...

Christopher Ng Wai Chung wrote:

"Personally, I think that scientific community has been unduly harsh with your ideas."
_____________________

Personally, I have no problems with Mr. Wang's ideas.

If he believes that the Universe CAN deliver ANYthing you want through some form of mystic dance that he has learned from an enchanted Fairy Princess on Mt Ophir, that's fine.

He isn't. Instead he deviously uses the language of Science, QM, Jahn, Wolf no less, as *seeming* evidence that lends credence to his theory.

This is being dishonest.

To say nothing of the numerous illogical leaps of pretzel logic that he employs in support of his theory.

Other than these I'll say

"Go for it Mr. Wang."

PZ

Christopher Ng Wai Chung said...

pz,

Mr. Wang does'nt have much money to make from sharing his ideas with us. In fact, he has much to lose from this new initiative he is driving for his blog. I would'nt use intellectual dishonesty to describe his attempts.

To be fair, the probabilistic nature of QM makes it easy picking for people to advance many new age ideas. Gary Zukav and Fritjof capra began this trend ages ago to link up spirituality with physics.

Whenever we skirt along the realms of the spirit, I doubt it's possible to be logical at all to explain all sorts of phenomena. To me, Mr. Wang is doing his best by attempting to interpret some of his personal experiences.

Maybe he should not have used physics at all. But I think QM is something that's "just asking for it".

Regards

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Matthieu Ricard, a son of a philosopher and a PhD in molecular genetics, apparently can meditate himself into a state of happiness, as interpreted by an MRI machine."

Jimmy, you'll be disappointed to know that this is extremely old news. I don't mean Matthieu - I mean the relationship between meditation and happiness.

1984 said...

Note to self: write down goal:

PAP to be voted out of office

zhixiang said...

***Ahhh, yes.

"Appeal to pity" yet another fallacy.

Schematically, Mr. Wang's theory resting on a mount of fallacies would look like this.

Theory - Mindhacking can make Universe deliver ANYthing***

to pz:

if u have constructive counters, do share with us. i love to see your viewpoint too.

blatant flamings are outright satisfaction to your vengeance.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Any method to show how you can use your now squashed brain, reactivate it back to cognitive consciousness and WILL your way back to another universe where you are still alive?"

Theoretically, you CANNOT prevent that process if you still have unexpended karma (that means most of us, and excludes those who have attained enlightenment). It's generally known as reincarnation.

It's a poorly understood area in science, but the main bulk of discoveries were done by Dr Ian Stevenson (who recently passed away himself).

His research work is not well-known to the general public, because Professor Stevenson published only for the scientific and academic community. He is not a "New Age" writer.

This basically means that his writings and research are subjected to much higher levels of academic scrutiny & rigour.

You can read more about Dr Ian Stevenson here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Stevenson

Mr Wang Says So said...

"... the need for skills, opportunities, talent and luck which can be equally important in getting somewhere in life."

---

Hi Chris:

"Skills". Yes, essentially a state of mind. Eg the difference between a skilled worker and a non-skilled worker is what lies in their respective heads.

"Talent". Yes, essentially a state of mind. Eg the difference between a talented artist and an untalented artist-wannabe is what lies in their respective heads.

And states of mind are, well, highly malleable, if you know how.

That leaves us, in your formulation, with "luck". Keep reading, Mr Wang has a lot more to tell you.

PZ said...

zhixiang wrote:

blatant flamings are outright satisfaction to your vengeance.
_____________________

Hi zhixiang,

Flaming is when you send hostile messages insulting someone.

How can it be blatant when it isn't even flaming?

I am merely deconstructing his argument and pointing out the fallacies as when he continues to make them.

You are blaming the messenger for the message.

I could add that you are now flaming me for speaking the truth but won't.

PZ

BTH said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
BTH said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
PZ said...

"Mr Wang wrote:

"LOL. Funny thing is, you people keep tripping up over yourselves, because you are so sure that yur understanding is right."
________________________

No, Mr Wang.

*Us* sensible and rational people do not have the evidence to make any definitive conclusion about your wild fantasies.

It is *you* who are so sure that you are right without any real evidence. Faith based beliefs suspend fact, logic and reason and are quite irrational.

And your continued posting in your Blog of yet more *evidence* in support of your fantasy reaffirms this conclusion.

When you will get it and move on to other topics?

PZ