The brain is a wonderful servant but a terrible master. Case in point: Let's say you have a dream to open up your own business. Your imagination can work for you and help you visualize success and assist you in coming up with a game plan to bring the idea to fruition. Alternatively, your imagination, if left to its own devices, can throw negative pictures onto your internal screen of awareness and cause you to quit before you even start. With a little practice and determination, however, you can train yourself to anticipate success ahead of time - and then your unconscious mind, with the benefit of a dress rehearsal, can now serve as a powerful catalyst to make the dream happen. Take some time off your busy schedule and follow these steps one by one. Keep the Day Job As you begin to take concrete steps to actualize your plan, hold on to your current job or other source of steady income. While it's a great idea to think big and do your best to bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, remember that there is an electricity bill that you need to pay at the end of the month. Driving yourself into debt will make this process much more difficult. Do the math and calculate how much income you need to bring in before you can consider cutting down or eliminating your current source of funds. Belief If you believe you can create your own business, or if you are convinced that you can't start your own company, you are right. Action or inaction follows your belief and sets the stage for your future success or lack thereof. Self-Image Pay close attention to the messages you give yourself, via self-talk, or analyze the nature of your streams of consciousness. Of the 40,000 thoughts that race through our brains everyday, make an effort to filter out the self-defeating ones and gently replace them with uplifting and motivating thoughts. Vision As Steve Covey wrote in his book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People", begin with the end in mind. A critical step in starting your own business is to picture the final outcome. Do you envision a profitable company that will provide goods or services to the community at large and keep you and your family financial secure until retirement? Perhaps you visualize creating a legacy that will outlive you and stay in your family for generations. Be very clear what your ultimate goal is before doing anything such as selecting the drapes for the office. If you don't know what your vision of success looks like, you will never know if you have achieved it. The vision is the driving force of this process because it motivates us and leads us to action. Some people fail in starting their own company because they don't have a vision at all. Other people flounder, remain unemployed or continue working for someone else because they have a vision, but it has all of the excitement of a black and white documentary on dental hygiene. Mission Statement With your mental picture in full living color in your mind, commit it to paper by writing a powerful and emotional mission statement. This is the fuel that will keep you going even when you run into setbacks along the way. Business Plan Write a five-year business plan. You can have a friend or mentor look it over to get some feedback. You should consider issues such as start-up capital, partnerships, outside contractors, suppliers, and sales forecast. Written Goals After you have a document that is sound and practical, challenging yet realistic, you can then create yearly, quarterly, and monthly goals. These goals can be translated into daily tasks so you take continuous steps to achieve your goals and build your dream one day at a time. Make sure that your objectives are measurable, stated in the positive, and compelling. Assessment of Strengths and Weakness Take an honest look at your strengths and weaknesses as you execute the plan. Focus on what you are good at and look for someone to mentor you in the areas you haven't yet mastered. You may want to consider getting a business partner who shares your dream, or delegate some of the work to outside contractors. Debrief and Fine Tune Keep regular tabs on your progress, reward your achievements, and cut yourself some slack if you fail to meet some of your objectives on time. When your imagination runs wild in the proactive direction in which you consciously guide it, you will then have some tangible evidence that your brain is at your beck and call, and not dragging you around on a chain. As your new reality takes root, you can compare it to your original vision and see how you close you are to replicating the original image. You may just find that you have bridged the gap faster than you think. Imagine that. In addition to his personal coaching practice, Ben Goldfarb has led corporate training sessions at Philips Medical Systems, Israel Aircraft Industry, and Marvell Semiconductor. He is the founder and director of Paradigm Shift Communications. For more information, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, visit the PSC website at www.pdshiftcoaching.com, or call 972-(0)2-641-6673 or 0544-990-619 to arrange a complimentary phone consultation.