Hypnosis can be used to train the brain in the mental habits associated with success.
“I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.”
– G. K. Chesterton
I was click baited yesterday into reading a story about a man, Andrew Michael, who stole £30,000 from his mother “to make millions”.1 Well, with a headline like that, why wouldn’t you click through?
Michael had spent £30,000 on his mother’s credit card when he was 17 to start a business. He eventually sold this business for £61.5m (and by then had presumably remunerated his good old mom handsomely). Now I’m not suggesting you should steal money or max out other people’s credit cards to kickstart success. Not at all.
But Michael’s daring (with his mum’s money!), sheer belief in his startup puts me in mind of that famous quote often attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:
“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
Certainly, and not surprisingly, doing rather than just dreaming increases your chances of achieving goals. This sounds so basic it might seem not worth mentioning, but you might be surprised how much success is wasted in the world through want of a little boldness to just begin it.
But how do you find that boldness?
Find motivation through the magnetism of your dreams
Looking back on how he expanded his first business, Fasthosts, the now wildly successful Mr Michael said “I was laser focused” and “nothing else mattered.” You’d hope so, if he was willing to risk so much of his mother’s money! But this tells us something really interesting about successful endeavours.
When you are on the path to success you feel pulled inexorably towards it, almost as if a giant magnet were pulling you towards your future success. This is the polar opposite of trying to force yourself to feel motivated enough to take the steps towards creating success.
Imagine for a moment feeling as though you have no choice but to do everything possible to attain your goals. Fears, doubts, negative ‘well wishes’, none of that matters – your impulse to succeed will pull you through all that.
When we use hypnosis to help people become successful, in whatever way they frame success, we help create goal magnetism in their mind. Fear and self-doubt falls away as the individual becomes singularly focused on serving their goal.
And this idea of serving the goal is vital.
Success is a byproduct, not a destination
When Andrew Michael sold his first business at the age of 26, banking all those millions, he had expected to feel happy. But strangely, he said, he felt deflated as all that cash was deposited into his account.1 Why?
Well, perhaps because he’d assumed that the destination was more important than the journey. When he realized was that it was the striving and the challenge that lit his fuse, not simply the fulfilment of it, he began a new venture (which would become even more successful than the first!).
Michael’s reaction to banking millions at 26 tells us something important: Lack of material problems should never be confused with happiness (although it can help us get there).
Why be disappointed by success?
It seems that Mr Michael wasn’t aiming to get rich, although that was a pleasant ripple effect. He was simply trying to create a successful business. He likes to make things work. He’s motivated by making things work.
And what happens when you’ve made things work? There is little left to make work – and therefore little motivation. This is really important to remember.
The other important lesson we can draw from Michael’s story, I think, is that he seemed to me to be serving his goals, striving to make them work, but not trying to be successful for the sake of ‘being a success’.
If we focus on the goal, then the trappings of success, whether recognition from others, money, status, or simply a sense of achievement, will take care of themselves. But if we focus instead on the trappings themselves, the ‘treasures’ of success, then the goal itself may be neglected. It’s almost as though we have to forget about the ‘candy’ when striving to achieve what might be possible for us.
When training to do a marathon, say, losing weight may not be the primary motivation – but you could call it a signal of success. We don’t have to pursue success signals when pursuing goals – we can let them take care of themselves.
Trying to become successful isn’t the same as serving your goal, and splitting your focus between the two may take you further away from both.
Focus on your specific goals rather than ‘being a success’.
And when you think about becoming successful, whatever that may mean to you (and it may have nothing to do with money), I want you to ask yourself one key question.
To what extent will your success sustainably meet your primal emotional needs?
Having, say, an absence of material worries, or even a short-lived sense of satisfaction in what you have achieved, shouldn’t be confused with sustainable happiness, especially if you are the kind of person who strives to achieve your goals. The shine of having achieved what you set out to do may wear off fast as you ‘habituate’ to success.
You and I have an array of emotional needs which include a strong need for meaning and purpose, intimacy, attention, connection to a wider community, and challenge and creativity. Ask yourself – to what extent would achieving your success either sustainably meet your needs or enable you to more easily meet them (perhaps because you’ll free up time and money)?
If you unconsciously assume that all your emotional needs will suddenly and permanently be met through, say, becoming rich, you’re setting yourself up for disillusionment.
Yes, you should strive to meet your goals – but you should also be aware of your needs and work to meet them in sustainable ways without unconsciously assuming the completion of one goal will meet all your needs for all time. You might even choose to make sure you are meeting your needs in areas separate from your success goals so you can fully focus on what you want to achieve.
And all this begs another question. What exactly should you be striving for?
The ‘anyone can do anything’ fallacy
You have certain potentials within you which may be currently blocked through fears, self-doubt, or inertia. I have certain potentials too – so does everyone. But our potentials may differ because of what we are naturally suited to. That diversity of potential is a good thing. But it also means none of us has the potential to do anything and everything.
Just believing that I am going to become a quantum physicist, or the world’s greatest electrical engineer, isn’t going to suddenly make me hugely interested or talented in these fields.
We need to find our own path towards goal fulfilment, which might not be identical, or even similar, to anyone else’s path towards – or even definition of – success.
Successfully copying someone else may mean failing yourself. The first step towards a more authentic kind of success is to come to really know yourself. What am I like? What do I like? And what am I naturally suited to?
Looking at ourselves as calmly and objectively as possible and seeing what we are like, not what we ‘should’ be like, is often the first step to success. Of course, this doesn’t mean we can’t learn all kinds of new skills.
So how do we use the immense power of hypnosis to help feel more magnetized towards our goals? The answer may surprise, even shock you.
3 steps to using hypnosis for success
Over the years I’ve trained many people in hypnosis and ways to apply positive and solution-focused techniques. And I’ve discovered three universal truths when it comes to helping people towards their success.
In order to help someone succeed, we need to:
- Help them discover what areas they want to become successful in. What does ‘success’ mean to them? To what extent will it meet their emotional needs?
- Help clear away any blocks to success, whether it be anxiety, low self-belief, or paralyzing procrastination or perfectionism (or often all three at once), which diminishes and prevents enjoyment of any successes.
- Envisage not only successful outcomes but also, very strongly, the steps along the road towards success.
This last one often surprises people. People may assume that success hypnosis is all about sitting down and hypnotically experiencing future success. But such an approach would conflict with science and common sense.
Don’t chase success away
Why would fantasizing about your wonderful future success actually cause success to flee from you like a rabbit caught in the headlights?
Research has shown that strongly imagining success without envisaging yourself actually doing what’s needed to get to that success may make you much less likely to achieve your dreams.2
This point is really worth considering.
The researchers assessed expectations and fantasies among various cohorts pursuing different goals, from trying to get a new partner or job to passing an academic test. They then assessed effort and performance among those individuals weeks to months later.
They found that those who spent the most time positively fantasizing about their desired result did worse. For example, among those looking for a job, participants who spent most time fantasizing about getting a great job actually had lower paid and less fulfilled jobs two years later than those who didn’t fantasize so much!
The problem with positive fantasies is that they give us the feelings of success in the present time – and yes, that might feel like a good thing at first. But they don’t help us anticipate the work and setbacks we may need to overcome. They can give us a false sense of already having reached our goal! And if you’re already there, why bother with the actual journey?
According to the researchers, “[p]ositive expectations (judging a desired future as likely) predicted high effort and successful performance, but the reverse was true for positive fantasies.”
So the secret, it seems, to harder work and a greater likelihood of success is to have positive expectations but without indulging too many fantasies of future success.
So how do we use hypnosis to get people to take their path to success?
Seeing the journey makes it compelling
When we help people hypnotically envisage their goals, we do so by helping them envisage not just the destination but the journey towards success. As you become magnetized towards your goal you need more than simply ‘passion’ or a one-off hit of excitement to get there. Why? Because excitement, like a sugar high, is short lived unless it is renewed often.
Yes, you need to be excited by your goals. But you also need to honour them in ways that don’t require you to be constantly whipped up in a frenzy of passion. You may not be passionate about cleaning your teeth every day, but you still do it.
Other research has found that visualizing yourself from a third-person position carrying out desired success-oriented behaviours makes you much more likely to carry out those behaviours for real.3
Mind you, often there is a special moment that plants the seed of success so deep that it just has to grow. Self-imposed or external blocks? You’ll surmount them. Negativity from others? You’ll listen for any truth, but if it’s just negativity it will be as water off a success-seeking duck’s back! Sometimes it takes just one person to believe in you to create a turning point.
I had a turning point moment like that many years ago.
Why limit yourself?
Why indeed. These words float to me often from back through the decades. They came from the lips of an old client. A man in his late eighties whom I’d helped to hypnotically control his blood pressure and sleep better. He’d shown a great deal of interest in my fledgling therapy practice.
I asked him what he meant. He repeated.
“Why limit yourself! Think big, Mark! Why only see eight people a week when you can teach a hundred, a thousand others to do what you do. Those thousand others might see eight troubled souls a week. You would then be helping, indirectly, not just eight people a week but eight thousand!”
I’ll never forget his words. It was the seed that germinated into a shoot of flowering possibility and action. Twenty-five years on, my business partner and I have trained thousands face-to-face and reached millions online.
Sometimes it takes just one person to believe in you – and that one person might as well be you!
So when it comes to success, think big, and always ask: “Why limit myself?”
I’ve created a course using a workbook and hypnosis for success here: 10 Steps to a Stellar Success Mindset.