In last week’s first column of Mind Gym, we talked about how our energy fields affect our ability to reach our New Year goals. This week, we’ll talk about the first step towards change: becoming aware of our current state, and how to turn this into lasting change.

At the beginning of a yoga class, we often begin with a child pose. We surrender ourselves onto the mat, slow down and deepen our breathing, relax and feel the stiff parts of our body. We become aware of the imbalance within our body, and that awareness provokes the desire to make changes and improve how our body feels.

This simple practice of bringing knowledge of the present moment into our consciousness, which takes only a couple of minutes, sets the tone and intention of the class. If you have ever compared classes with this practice and those when you jumped right into the asanas, you would have noticed the difference in terms of effectiveness, your energy and endurance throughout the class.

Begin with a five-minute awareness exercise

ripple effect of becoming more aware
© John Peters via Unsplash

Not much of a yogi? Let’s try a quick body scanning exercise to increase awareness.

Have you seen skincare or a makeup advertisement that only works on half the model’s face? The demonstrator applies beauty products on one side to highlight the dramatic transformation their products can bring. Now, I would like to invite you to do something very similar. Take a few minutes for yourself. Find a quiet place for self-analysis and self-observation.

Close your eyes, choose one side of your body and scan it from head to toe, becoming aware of the present reality. Meditate on the question, is there anything you don’t like about yourself that you would like to change? Reduce the fine lines around your eyes? Turn the fat under your biceps into muscles? Get a protruding belly to finally become flat? Get those legs become leaner and stronger? Then, go deep beneath the skin and see how are the organs doing underneath. Are the body cells healthy and happy? Now take a step back and look at the aura around you. What kind of energy does it emit? Do you see any colours around that side of your body? Are they cheerful colours? Or dark and grim?

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After doing all this, now close your eyes, and imagine the other side of your body. Imagine how you want your body to look like from head to toe. Would you like to see all your internal organs be optimally functioning? And every single cell inside your body with a smiley face? How about the energy field emitting from within and expanding beyond it? I would love mine to emit golden, sparkling pink lights with strands of green…

Why you can’t set your intentions casually

dartboard with holes all over it
© Engin Akyurt via Unsplash

Many people set their resolutions or goals lightly, keeping them in their subconscious and thinking they will “try” to achieve or reach them. They adopt the kind of “try and see” attitude, which never works because casualness causes casualties. If you do not set your goals with the right intention and determination, they can hardly manifest. Just like the vehicle can’t move without fuel, unclearly determined resolutions and goals lead nowhere, resulting in failure, disappointment, frustrations, and that’s why people often get angry with themselves.

Set your internal GPS: where are you now? And where would you like to be?

We all know how Google Maps and GPS systems work. We set our origin and destination, and let the system run the best route for us. Goal setting for life is not much different; all we need to do is to understand where we are and where we want to be.

And if a goal doesn’t seem to be getting more attainable, change the plan, not the goal.

Why is changing the plan and not the goal so important? Because it doesn’t matter when there are roadblocks or we accidentally enter a wrong lane. The destination we preset at the GPS would help us to “reroute” and head to the goal we want to get to.

Our body and mind have been designed to work for us, not the other way round.

Understanding the law of attraction in goal setting

the brain selectively pays attention to what we already accept is true
© Fakurian Design via Unsplash

Our brain selectively pays attention relevant to our goal and information that we agree with. In science, this is called our Reticular Activating System, which helps to avoid a neurological system overload and a possible explosion of our head.

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A simple analogy is advertisements we see when we surf the internet or social media. Our preferences and interests are collected, and similar contents reappear repeatedly. The more we search or pay attention to certain advertisements or events, the more of them pop up on our screen.

Similarly, if we have certain negative beliefs or our attention fall onto something we do NOT wish to happen in our life, the more we think about them, the more we seem to manifest the negativity. This is because the Reticular Activating System in our brain will filter and allow in those events and experiences that you have been feeding by giving them your attention. This is a basis of the law of attraction, which stipulates that like attracts like. Positive thinking brings positive results and negative thoughts bring negative results.

Use writing, visualization and positive emotions

progress journal for intentional goal setting
© Daria Nepriakhina via Unsplash

The first dimension is a Word.

Like making a movie, we first need a script. Have you ever heard the saying, “Whatever you write down will come true”? This is because our brain works in three dimensions, where the first dimension is a WORD. So yes, have a beautiful notebook and write down the goals or things you want to have or happen in the next 12 months. This writing technique is very effective. The point is that when you write your thoughts, desires and goals down on paper, you focus and keep your attention on it. And where there is attention, there is energy, and therefore, the goal fulfilment.

The second dimension is Visualisation.

Once a movie has a script, the screenplay is turned into different scenes. Imagine you are the director of this life movie of yours. Visualize how the pictures come up in each scene. You can have many re-takes in your mind until the scene is as perfect as you want it to be. On the way to any goal, there are always obstacles and difficulties. The secret of visualization lies in inspiration. But the visualization will become your additional incentive and motivation if you suddenly lose heart. 

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The third dimension is Emotion.

What makes a movie successful is its emotional connection with the audience. Emotion also plays the most important role in delivering our life movie onto the big screen and becoming true. Picture the scene in your mind and FEEL the emotions. The law of attraction, if you will: if you picture yourself in that perfect shape you want to be in, with the vitality you want to have, with the right person in your life, this picture, this emotion, and this energy in motion will fuel this roll of film into a movie.

The emotions are chemicals fired within our neurological network that rewires our Reticular Activating System. Setting the outcome, we visualize with such emotions into Default Mode. That is why it is so important to use visualization to picture the desired outcome; it generates the positive emotions (optimism, excitement and joy) in our mind that fuels the GPS within us to get there. Then, our brain will constantly look for events, experiences and evidence that agree with such images.

Within the next six days and before our next article, I would like you to review your life movie and rewrite it.

💡 Read more advice from Shirley Johnson on mental fitness 💡

shirley johnson life coach hong kong

Shirley Johnson is a certified transformational life coach and award-winning inspirational author. Her qualifications in yoga, pre and postnatal wellness, neurolinguistic programming, hypnotherapy and Reiki allow her to guide people in healing their past and building the future they truly desire.

With a background in luxury retailing, Shirley has a “thing” for beauty and aesthetics, which led her to a career in designing eco-friendly fashion accessories. A dedicated mother of two, her son’s brain cancer journey has taught her that the right mindset can conquer all. She shares her learnings to help others turn adversities into opportunities, and suffering into healing.

Learn more about Shirley Johnson at or contact her at

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of The HK HUB.

Header image credits: Holly Mandarich via Unsplash

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