Retrain your brain with some new go get 'em tactics to get what you've always wanted – and a little bit of inner peace, to boot.
Wanna know how to embrace challenges and follow your dreams? The formula goes something like this: Have clear goals… and a healthy dose of self doubt. According to executive coach and author Kate Tojeiro, we’re deadly at pushing ourselves – but usually only to a certain point. “It’s a very natural, normal thing to do – humans don’t like risk or change,” she points out.
In her book, The Art Of Possible, Kate explains how your greatest ambitions and aspirations are – despite your fears – actually very much achievable. Get practising with Kate’s exercises to expand your muscle of potential and you’ll quickly realise that, hey, more IS actually possible.
“Give your brain a statement, like ‘I’m going to be a nurse in five years time’, then ask it, ‘what do I need to do today in order to achieve that in the future?’,” suggests Kate. The next steps should be baby steps – the big goal is just lots of component parts. “Start with the simplest things; Google colleges that offer the course. Next, you’re looking at how to get there, how much it costs, are there scholarships available, what’s the commute.” Breaking it down into practical parts makes the most complex scenario conceivable.
We’re all familiar with the ‘feel the fear’ mantra, but let’s give this terrifying feeling a make-under. “The trick is to treat fear like a minor hindrance. Understand that it’s okay to feel terrified but know that you can overpower it too,” she says. Encouraging our brains to think in a calm way, instead of that all too familiar fight or flight response, reduces the power of fear to control our decisions. “Usually, it’s not the task itself that causes fear, it’s the anticipated consequences.”
Presenting to your boss (and her boss) and want the ground to swallow you up? Good, you’re on the right path. “It’s just the brain’s reaction to something new and different,” soothes Kate. “The more we can expose ourselves to the things that make us feel uncomfortable, the more comfortable we’ll become.” Our brain actually grows with each new experience because it has to work harder. And the take home? Toe curling cringe fest now equals catwalk stomping confidence later.
The voices in our head can be hella loud and very persuasive – ‘you’re not good enough’, ‘you tried that before and failed… seriously gurl, sheesh’. But Kate has a very practical counter to those taunts, “Don’t forget about the real voices around us – the people who love and support us. Listen to what those cheerleaders are saying.” It’s true, we’re quick to forget our successes, but our family and friends, not so much. Allow them to remind you that you rock.
Need another season to get your sweat on? “It’s really important to exercise,” Kate reminds us. “It’d be so nice if it wasn’t, but it is! Those who workout have a bigger hippocampus – that’s the centre of emotion and memory in the brain.” Even something like a brisk walk allows the brain to freewheel, make connections and file away all that information you’ve amassed during the day.
During times of stress, it’s essential to take a time out, but we rarely allow ourselves time to contemplate. “Give yourself a few minutes just to be, to observe, to listen to what’s going on around you,” Kate advises. Watching the clouds in the sky glide by or observing the rhythm of your colleague’s typing are the very moments brilliant ideas will pop into your head, when you least expect them,because you’re pondering, rather than pressurising the brain.
Procrastination is an action (or non action) that gets a lot of bad press – Kate, however, is a big fan. “Rather than see it as a negative, we should acknowledge procrastination as merely the result of our brain requiring more information in order to proceed.” Self-analysis is the key – think back to a time when you were working on, or planning something, that was going well. Ask yourself, ‘why wasn’t I stalling or delaying my decisions back then, what’s changed?’.
“From running a team, to stacking the dishwasher, we all have patterns of habits,” explains Kate. “I think it was Einstein who said, ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got’.” As we travel towards our end goal, new habits will ultimately arise. They can be anything from getting up earlier in the morning, to learning a new language. “Developing new habits makes the brain think differently and that means we’re open to more opportunity.” And that’s a win-win.
Psst! This article first appeared in STELLAR’s November 2015. Our January/February issue is on shelves now!
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