By: TSP Blog | @TSProckstars
We’ve all done it – set a goal, mentally promising ourselves that this time we will really do it. Depending on where you are in life, the ‘it’ may vary. It could be losing ten pounds, going to the gym weekly, saving more money or finally earning that promotion. Point is, we all set goals, only to abandon them later.
For example, studies have shown that less than 10 percent of us manage to actually keep our New Year’s resolutions and over 90 percent of us fail to keep the promises we made to ourselves! But why are bad habits so hard to break?
Most of us know that we would be healthier, happier and better off reaching our goals. We sincerely want to change, so why do we fail over and over? Is it a lack of willpower? Yes and no. Willpower and commitment to a goal are necessary components, but the reason you fail may be something simpler. You're not so much failing as being sabotaged. The saboteur is hiding in plain sight – your brain.
YOUR BRAIN WIRING IS LITERALLY CAUSING YOU TO FALL FLAT ON YOUR FACE
If you wanted to break up 6 foot of solid concrete, you're more likely to succeed with a jackhammer than a penknife. It is not that you didn’t try, but rather that you are going about the job in the wrong way. You can sweat and strain all day, but you probably won’t succeed without more powerful tools.
Nature has a very big jackhammer known as neuroplasticity. At one time, scientists thought that your brain was set in place, just like concrete. Now we know that the brain is more like a malleable plastic, which can be reshaped – provided you know how to harness it.
Abilities, talents, skills and even personalities are really not set for life. They seem like it because we tend to run on the mental rabbit trails. The paths become worn down by use, making them even easier to bolt down when we are stressed or tired. Once we set a goal, it takes at least 30 days to form the neural connections to make it a habit. It grows stronger over time because once a connection is made, it tends to stay. It also tends to grow, making even more connections with nearby neuron neighbors.
RETRAINING YOUR BRAIN
So how do you create new connections? First, figure out what is meaningful to you. You may have to drill down a bit to find out where your true passion is. Let’s use a personal example here. Why do you want to lose ten pounds? You may think the answer is obvious – to fit into a smaller size of jeans. While that is part of it, the real reason is probably more about how it makes you feel.
To be more realistic, try setting micro-goals. Instead of saying that you will run five miles on day one, plan on going for a five-minute walk. That may sound ineffective, but is it not. Simply reaching the one micro-goal alters the chemistry of your brain. You feel good about it because you did it!
Now you are free to add another minute, or three. If not, you still don’t feel guilty because you reached your goal. This reinforces happy chemicals and forges a new way of feeling about your goal. If you do this over a period of time, you change the connections and rewire your brain in the process.
Whether you are looking to reach a personal goal or a professional goal, retraining how your brain thinks may be the critical task in succeeding. To recap, follow these four steps:
- Define your specific goal
- Create a plan that plots a path from where you are to where you want to be
- Create a micro-goal plan that begins the process in a way that makes you feel better
- Rinse and repeat
In doing so, you may just change the way you think for good!