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Unleash Your Reticular Activating System

THAT NICE, warm shower which you took this morning, and the delicious meal you’ll enjoy this evening are both dependent upon a small, continuous flame called a pilot light. 

This seemingly insignificant stream of gas operates around the clock and is always ready to ignite your water heater, boiler, furnace or stove into action. It never takes a vacation, never makes an excuse, and is always ready to perform on demand. 

If the pilot light is not lit then the main burner will simply not work. It’s a safe bet to assume that you’ll be taking cold showers and most likely eating take-out until you get it to function properly. 

Your mind is blessed with a similar mechanism, a mental pilot light called The Reticular Activating System (RAS). 

Much like the pilot light in your place of residence, your RAS is always on call and ready to help you achieve any goal you desire.


The process begins with written goals that are specific and supported by an intense focus. 

You are well aware of the fact that written goals are catalysts, transforming agents for success and achievement. And, you also know that when you focus intensely on something you really want – you usually will get it. 

But have you ever taken the time to ask these three why, what and how questions: 

  • Why does goal setting and focus work?
  • What role does my mind play in the goal achievement process?
  • How can I tap into this process on demand to achieve any goal I desire? 

In this lesson, I’m going to provide you with some insights on the mechanism in the brain that causes goal setting to work. I’ll provide you with real life examples, along with a plan on how you can put your RAS to use to achieve any goal. 

Understanding the RAS 

The RAS is the attention center in the brain. By understanding and taking advantage of how your brain works, you can: 

  • Accelerate the goal achievement process.
  • Dramatically improve your performance.
  • Unlock your creative capacities.
  • Empower all five senses.
  • Boost recognition of opportunities.
  • Manifest uncommon levels of success.

The RAS is a uniquely complex collection of neurons. It’s the part of your brain where all outside stimulants (such as everything we see, hear, touch, smell, taste) converges with all our internal thoughts and feelings. 

It provides the neural connections that are needed for the processing and learning of information, along with the ability to focus on a goal and its associated activities. 

In plain language, the RAS can be viewed as the mental switch you must flip in order to “turn on your brain”. 

A Sophisticated Filter

The RAS is an ever-vigilant gatekeeper of our senses, it tells the conscious part of the brain how alert it should be and what specific information should be filtered and where it is to be filed.

Everything you see, hear, smell, feel and touch is a message entering your brain. The RAS filters through all these messages and decides which ones get front row treatment – that is, stimulate the brain, and which messages get relegated to the nosebleed section.

The RAS functions much the same way that any email software does. In essence, when you want to isolate mail from certain people or companies, whether it’s mail you really want to keep, or junk mail such as spam you really want to avoid, you go to the control panel and program exactly how you want the software to perform.

The RAS works in exactly the same fashion. By programming your mental pilot light with the goals you want to achieve you automatically position yourself for success.

It all comes down to clearly defined goals, commitment and intensity of focus.

Neglecting the RAS 

The RAS brings to us the people, places, and things that we focus upon. Consider the following examples: 

Buy a new car and you’ll suddenly start seeing more of the same car. 

A pregnant woman will start noticing other pregnant women. 

Comedians will find jokes in the most unusual of situations. 

Learn a new word and you’ll begin to hear it more often. 

Someone will say something in passing which is exactly what you needed to hear. 

While flipping through a magazine you suddenly find the answer to a problem. 

Entrepreneurs will find opportunity where everyone else sees chaos. 

Your baby’s slightest cough or cry will awaken you from a deep sleep. 

All of these things were there before, but because you did not activate your RAS through proper goal setting and focus you never paid much attention to them. 

As a result, your lack of goal clarity and inability to focus causes you to under-utilize your talents and miss out on so many wonderful opportunities. 

The obvious question is, how much of the world are we NOT seeing because our RAS has not been instructed to see it? 

How much of the abundance of this universe are we walking by every day because our brain has been filled with mundane or even limiting ideas and pictures?

Flipping the RAS Switch

Focusing on your goals triggers your mental pilot light, which in turn sends a powerful signal to your brain:

“Wake Up, Pay Attention, Don’t Miss This Detail!”

Once you write down a goal, your brain will be working overtime to see that you get it. It will alert you to the signs and signals that were there all along, but which you never noticed before.

To solve a problem or achieve an important goal, you must keep it at the top of your mind. Think about it, talk about it, write about it, dream about it, and imagine it as completed.

This is one of the reasons why affirmations work so well and why it is important to review your goals frequently.

Perhaps the most important aspect of igniting your RAS is that you begin by setting goals that you are passionate about and which you absolutely love to achieve. Passion is truly the path of least resistance as it is so much easier to remain focused on activities that we enjoy. 

Ask yourself this – If I could do anything at all and money, talent, education and time were not a factor – what would I want to do? What is it I’m passionate about?

Once you’re able to answer those questions, then you are ready to flip the RAS switch!

If you choose to focus on improving a specific key indicator of your business success, your RAS will pass through sights, sounds, people and ideas even remotely related to that point of focus. In other words, if you measure your progress visibly, frequently, and attentively, it will improve.

To ignite your mental pilot, simply identify an important goal or key business indicator. Be sure to write the goal in specific, measurable and time-bound language.

At every opportunity, talk to your family, employees or whoever is associated with the achievement of this goal.

Be sure to place pictures, charts and graphs of these goals or business indicators on a high visibility wall.

Make your interest in these goals be very active, visible, and most important, consistent.

Use your RAS to ignite your performance and results to new levels in the same way that your pilot light allows you to enjoy a nice, long, warm relaxing shower.

Remember this final thought as well: when someone asks you the secret to your success, tell them “I activated my Mental Pilot Light!”

Everything Counts!

Gary Ryan Blair

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