Have you ever started a project, full of fire and excitement, only to watch it slowly peter out a few weeks in?
This happens to all of us. But why does it happen?
The latest research reveals that our behavior is controlled by brain circuits that often operate without our conscious awareness.
Neuroscience researcher and coach, Mark Waldman, explains three reasons that your brain may be keeping you back from the finish line. Then, he suggests some tips and tricks that you can use to make sure you get there.
1. Lack of Neurological Motivation
The brain's motivation circuit is based on pleasure. Your goal/desire must bring a real reward, that will cause the release of the neurotransmitter, dopamine. This increases your conscious ability to create strategies to help you achieve that goal.
If you haven’t associated your goal with pleasure, then your brain isn’t going to be interested in helping you achieve it. ~ CLICK TO TWEET ~
Let's put it this way when you think about your goals, do you dread all of the painful, annoying tasks you'll encounter along the way? Or do you instead focus on the benefits you're about to receive?
If you find your energy waning as you complete a project, visualize the real benefits you'll gain if you complete it. Also, give yourself a daily (even hourly) reward as you move toward completion.
The more you associate your goals and dreams with positive emotions, the less you'll have to "force yourself" to get the work done.
2. Unconscious Negative Self-Talk
Perhaps you talk yourself out of trying. You may be unconsciously listening to the negative chatter that's actually a normal part of right prefrontal lobe functioning. If you think that could be the case, try this:
Write down every reason you don't want to complete your project, and make a second list of every reason you do. Mindfully observe both lists and listen to your intuitive voice. Ask yourself: "What do I really want to do? Do I really want to complete this project? Will it enhance my life if I complete it? Ask yourself: "Are these negative thoughts and feelings valid?"
I think you'll find that most of the time, they are not. Having negative thoughts on a piece of paper gives them less power over your brain. When you aren't ruminating on negative thoughts, your brain is free to pursue goals that promise useful valuable rewards and outcomes.
Remember, anytime you feel an intangible dark cloud above you, check in with your thoughts. If you find negativity brewing, let it out on paper and let it go.
3. Lack of Discipline and Commitment
If you're not committed to achieving your goals than forget it. To finish what you started, you must maintain a constant willingness to persist and persevere. Some people believe that just visualizing a goal makes it happen, but that's magical thinking (probably driven by unconscious negative beliefs).
Although it's important to visualize your goals, it's also important to take action.
You need a written "business" plan to achieve any major goal (thinking is not enough to motivate your lazy brain). You need to write down any REAL obstacles that stop you from completing a project and then visualize and write down simple strategies to overcome that obstacle.
If you have an accountability partner your odds of completion increase from 50% to 70%, so make a committed deadline to a friend or colleague. You can also reward your brain every day after you write down 3 small successes you achieve on a daily basis.
Was any of this helpful? Let us know in the comments below! We'd love to hear from you.
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About The Author
NeuroGym Team: NeuroGym’s Team of experts consists of neuroscientists, researchers, and staff who are enthusiasts in their fields. The team is committed to making a difference in the lives of others by sharing the latest scientific findings to help you change your life by understanding and using the mindset, skill set and action set to change your brain.