Get your mind right to unlock your best performance.
Success is all in your head.
Your mental attitude could make the difference between hitting the winning shot in the game or clanking it, finally pumping out your bench press PR or failure, and nailing a new record time on the track or pulling up short of the finish line.
When it comes time for those big events, you can’t control every single circumstance. Even if you’ve trained hard and primed your body for the task, sometimes the unforeseeable happens and roadblocks can throw you off your plans. To take on these challenges, your head has to be in the game. Developing mental resilience to match your physical strength can be challenging, but it’s an important process for everyone, from Olympic athletes to weekend warriors.
That’s where people like sports psychologist Dr. Jim Afremow can help. Dr. Afremow has worked with everyone from top Olympic athletes and Major League Baseball players to regular gym goers, helping them to meet their goals. He’s the author of several books, including The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train and Thrive.
“The goal is to be in a winning state of mind every day.”
Afremow spoke to Menshealth.com about the importance of staying mentally fit and how to stay motivated to meet your fitness goals. He shared his five top tips you can put into practice, whether you’ve hit a roadblock in your training, you need to start from scratch, or you just need an extra edge when it comes time to put up or shut up. Training can be hard, but remember—it’s just as important to focus on mental strength as your physical performance.
Champions don’t just talk to themselves—they listen, too
Sometimes the best thing you can do to get out of a funk is to start paying attention to your feelings and respond accordingly. If you tend to doubt yourself, or think your efforts will result in a negative outcome, try to flip the script and say positive things to yourself.
“We can’t control all the thoughts we have, but we can control what we say to ourselves,” said Afremow. “You might have a thought such as ‘I’m not good enough,’ and the self-talk in response could be, ‘hey remember your success, let’s go!'”
Afremow is a believer in the power of the positive. “If you’re going after big things in life, you’re going to hit a lot of walls. Staying positive at one end is important, and at the other end we need to remain human natured,” he said.
It’s vital to give yourself encouragement to succeed and to try and achieve the goals you are after, but it also pays to be realistic. You don’t need to be a perfectionist and guarantee that you’ll ace every single challenge on the first go—but you need to believe in yourself no matter what.
Winning is an attitude
Sometimes it can be hard to stay upbeat when things aren’t going your way. Remember, winning is an attitude, and only you can control your outlook on the world. Having a positive outlook can help set the tone for your workout—and beyond.
“The goal is to be in a winning state of mind every day,” said Afremow. “We’re not always going to be one hundred percent, but we want to get one hundred percent out of whatever we do that day.”
Having the tools to possess a can-do-attitude is not as hard as you might think. Track your goal on paper to make it real, taking it out of your head or the less tangible world of your smartphone. Create a calendar or training plan and put it somewhere visible throughout your day to help reinforce the things you’re after. Posting motivational quotes or signals around your house, office, car, etc. can also help establish the positive tone you’re after. Once you expand your goals, you can keep yourself motivated in the long-term.
Remember, it’s not a one size fits all approach. It can be a process to find what works best for you.
Visualization is a superpower
Afremow is a big believer in visualizing your goals. Just imagine yourself finishing the race, or finishing that last rep—and it could become reality.
He calls the practice a superpower, and says it has helped many athletes reach a top level. Still, he doesn’t think the average person uses visualization nearly enough.
By spending a few minutes every day visualizing yourself performing up to your standards and the triumphant feeling you’ll have after accomplishing your goals, you can get yourself in a mindset primed for success. You’ll get a better sense of what you’re after, and your brain is already in the right headspace to get there. Success doesn’t come as a surprise, since you’ve already been there in your head.
As you go through these visualization exercises, bump your experience up a notch by throwing on a soundtrack. Listening to music that puts you in a winning state of mind while envisioning yourself accomplishing your goals makes you the star of your very own mini-movie—which you can emulate in the real world.
Recovery is mandatory
When you really want to achieve your goals, it’s easy to overtrain and not give yourself the recovery time you need. You might think taking some time off from training could throw you off track—but the truth is, it’s exactly what you need.
“Recovery is mandatory,” said Afremow. “A lot of times we have the opposite approach, where we over train and under recover, and then we burn out.”
Burning out physically is equally draining mentally, as your body doesn’t perform the way you know it can. Cut your body—and your brain—some slack, and be sure to schedule in some time out of the gym or off the road in the lead-up to a big event.
“Slow and steady really does win the long-term fitness race,” advised Afremow.
Focus and productivity are two things that can be hard to achieve nowadays. Why? Because we are constantly tested by so many technological temptations.
Moreover, one study found that the human mind only has a short span of attention . This means that we cannot be attentive to something for a long period of time. I often see this in my students. When the class lecture lasts more than an hour, the majority of them are not listening anymore.
Our mind is like a driftwood floating in the vast sea. It is constantly pulled by a current in all directions. This makes staying focus difficult.
But the problem is, when the focus is lost, productivity can be impossible. Given the current life situation, can we still achieve focus and become productive?
Fortunately, there are techniques you can apply to achieve focus. You can actually hack your mind to remain attentive. If you can exploit these amazing techniques, you’ll become more effective and productive even in the face of distractions.
Hack your brain with these simple steps:
Harvard experts have found techniques on how to hack your brain to be productive by maintaining focus. Amazingly, these techniques are simple and free.
1. The ABC rule.
Accordingly, there are three things you need to do to combat distraction. First, you need to be aware of the different options that you have. Second, after weighing your options, take a deep breath. Lastly, choose the best option and go on. These steps can make you back on track again.
2. Define your intentions.
Before starting your day, take a moment to reflect. What would be your priority for the whole day? Once you know your priority, focus your attention on those things. Set aside the things that are not meant to be doing. This process is important to make you more focused on one goal.
If things do not work as planned, do not focus on the intensity of the mistake. Rather, focus on possible ways to get out of the setback and move forward. Don’t spend time blaming others or yourself. Remember, your ability to get focused is so brittle. So guard your emotion.
3. Use technology to your advantage.
Technology is the biggest factor that can easily ruin your focus. A simple vibration, beep, and light from the computer’s monitor are enough to distract you. Why do you think you become always excited to read the notification pop-ups from your cell phone?
The reason being is that these “technological stimuli” trigger the brain to release dopamine , a neurotransmitter that causes addiction.
Fortunately, you can make these technological distractions to your advantage by automating them. Use free tools that can do the extra work. It saves you precious time and strength.
4. Avoid negative emotions.
When we feel bad, there are a lot of things happening in our brain. You need to guard your emotion. If you experience it, just take a break and do something that can bring back your happiness. Talk to your officemates, or call a friend. This can help divert your attention to something positive.
5. Make your own space and time.
Ed Batista, in Harvard Business Review, said that “Recent research indicates that meditating for just a few minutes a day, spending just one hour a week in nature or jotting down a few reflective notes in the evening has a noticeable impact on well-being.”
Most people don’t realize that what makes them unable to focus is their busy daily routine. In the world of haste, you need to find time to detach yourself from your world. You can stay outdoor on weekend and enjoy the beauty of nature.
Successful people love outdoor adventures, not because of coincidence. They do it because they know it is beneficial to their success.
We all get distracted easily. Our focus can be hard to sustain. But it must not be a reason for failure. There are a lot of options in which you can pursue – a lot of ways to gain focus.
These techniques can be a great help to hack your brain. In the coming days or weeks, your performance will be getting better and better. And ultimately, greater success awaits you along the way.
If you find this helpful, don’t forget to share.
Recently, my editor invited me to write an advice letter to my 17-year-old self. It was an opportunity to reflect on the many benefits of 50+ years life experience. Of course, the flip side was realizing lost benefits of youth. The mature brain may be wiser, but even my simple “senior moments” like loss of thinking speed and recall can be a bit unsettling (particularly to my wife.) Since I am a physically fit guy, and I’d like to make sure my brain stays as sharp as my body in my upcoming golden years, I did a little digging into the subject of brain fitness.
YPO member Tej Tadi is a neuroscientist and now the founder and CEO of MindMaze. He has made it his life’s work to learn about the functioning of the brain, and his company is at the forefront of brain technology.
Working at the intersection of neuroscience and computing, MindMaze is building the next generation of mind/machine interactions designed to improve lives through healthcare products and beyond. Tadi thinks everyone should know about the ownership, maintenance, and care of their human brain. Here is where you can start.
- Every brain is wired in its own unique way.
That means you need to find methods that fit with how you personally learn. Tadi explains: “Everyone learns and communicates differently and each style uses different parts of the brain. For example, auditory learners use hearing to process information while visual learners rely on seeing to learn. If you want to get the most from a learning experience, find a strategy that offers more than the sum of single stimulation. The best bet is to find multimodal learning strategies.” The same is true for others around you–don’t assume they can benefit from the same modalities that are optimal for you.
- It’s never too late to learn.
“Neuroplasticity lasts throughout your life,” he insists, “so it is never too late to begin learning new things.” In fact, new knowledge builds on existing information in the brain, so the more you know the better you will be able to learn in the future. “The important thing to remember is that learning requires repeatable goal directed tasks. If you have a goal or specific target and can combine repeatable tasks, it will consolidate memory in your brain and improve executive function.” Leaders can put this to work for their own growth, and also for those they lead. Challenge others to take on new projects and opportunities, and lead by example.
- Physical activity benefits mental health.
According to Tadi, the brain needs chemicals like endorphins that are released through exercise. “Physical activity stimulates the release of growth factors–chemicals that affect the of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells. It changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills.” The easiest exercise regimen to stick to is the one you like best. Consistency is key, so find an activity you love and can enjoy throughout your life.
- The brain is the original social network.
Tadi describes the importance of mirror neurons, “brain cells that fire both when a person acts and that person observes the same action performed by another person.” The action, execution and observation system helps in fine tuning abilities like empathy and understanding. “If you can’t put yourself in another person’s shoes,” he says, “you’ll never be an . Make an effort to develop your self-awareness and empathy skills through active listening, reading, or looking at another person’s point of view. Get a coach if you just can’t seem to develop these on your own.”
- Every brain has emotional triggers.
While every brain is capable of reason, no brain makes every decision from a rational place. Emotions can have a strong impact, and can even overrule logical thought. Emotions also feed into reward and punishment systems. Positive feedback is a better long-term motivator than fear or embarrassment, but negative feedback can create aversions or avoidance that affect your performance (or your employees’). “In a new, difficult, or stressful situation,” Tadi suggests, “learn to listen and absorb questions first. Don’t be pushed into an immediate response, but learn to self-regulate your emotions first. It will put you in a better position to make decisions with a rational perspective.” If you learn to consider the impact of others’ emotions on their thought processes, you will also become better at convincing or motivating them.
Each week Kevin explores exclusive stories inside , the world’s premiere peer-to-peer organization for chief executives, eligible at age 45 or younger.
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
You might not have a money tree, but you can have the next best thing: a happiness tree. Happy people are more motivated and productive. Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin and Endorphins are the quartet responsible for your happiness. Many situations can trigger these neurotransmitters, but instead of being in the passenger seat, there are ways you can intentionally cause them to flow:
Dopamine motivates you to take action toward your goals and gives you a surge of reinforcing pleasure when achieving them. Procrastination, self-doubt, and lack of enthusiasm are linked with low levels of dopamine. Studies on rats showed those with low levels of dopamine always opted for an easier option, and less reward; those with higher levels of dopamine exerted the effort needed to receive double the amount of food.
Break big goals down into little pieces. Rather than only allowing your brain to celebrate when you’ve hit the big finish line, you can create a series of little finish-lines for frequent dopamine release. And it’s crucial to actually celebrate — buy a bottle of wine, or head to your favorite restaurant whenever you meet a small goal. And avoid the dopamine hangover — when you slump after a massive high.
Create new goals before achieving your current one. That ensures a consistent pattern for experiencing dopamine. As an employer and leader, recognize the accomplishments of your team. Sending your team an encouraging email or giving a small bonus is a “dopamine-hit” that will increase future motivation and productivity.
Serotonin flows when you feel significant or important. Loneliness and depression are present when serotonin is absent. Unhealthy attention-seeking behaviors are a cry for what serotonin provides. Princeton neuroscientist Barry Jacobs explains that most antidepressants focus on the production of serotonin.
Reflecting on your past achievements allows your brain to re-live the experience. Your brain has trouble telling the difference between what is real and what is imagined, so it produces serotonin in both cases. Gratitude practices are popular for this reason, they are reminders — mental pictures — of all the good things you’ve experienced. If you need a serotonin boost during a stressful day, take a few moments to reflect on your past achievements and victories. As a leader, you can boost your company morale by reflecting on past achievements during team meetings.
Another way to boost your serotonin levels is to have lunch or coffee outside and expose yourself to the sun for 20 minutes; your skin absorbs UV rays which promotes Vitamin-D and serotonin production. Although too much ultraviolet light isn’t good, some daily exposure is healthy for boosting your serotonin levels.
The release of oxytocin creates trust and strengthens relationships. It’s released by men and women during intimacy and orgasm and by mothers during childbirth and breastfeeding. Often referred to as “the cuddle hormone,” a simple way to keep oxytocin flowing is to give someone a hug. Of course, in a professional setting, you need to be wise and discern when this would be appropriate.
Dr. Paul Zak explains that inter-personal touch not only raises oxytocin, but reduces cardiovascular stress and improves the immune system. Rather than just a hand-shake, go in for the hug. Dr. Zak recommends eight hugs each day.
Giving someone a gift, will also cause their oxytocin levels rise. You can strengthen work and personal relationships through a simple birthday or anniversary gift.
Endorphins are released in response to pain and stress, and helps to alleviate anxiety. The surging “second wind” and euphoric “runners high” when running are a result of endorphins. Similar to morphine, it acts as an analgesic and sedative, diminishing your perception of pain.
Along with exercise, laughter is one of the easiest ways to induce endorphin release. Even the anticipation and expectation of laugher e.g. attending a comedy show, increases levels of endorphins. Taking your sense of humor to work, forwarding that funny email and finding several things to laugh at during the day is a great way to keep your endorphins flowing.
Aromatherapies, particularly the smell of vanilla and lavender has been linked with the production of endorphins. Studies have shown that dark chocolate and spicy foods will cause your brain to release endorphins. Keep some scented oils and dark chocolate at your desk for a quick endorphin boost.
Have you struggled with setting goals for yourself? Or maybe you have struggled with achieving your goals? Our conscious mind is one percent of our mind where our subconscious mind is 99 percent of our mind. To achieve whatever goals you set out to do, then you have to make sure that those two are aligned. The conscious goal could be, for example, “I am going to work out three days a week,” but the subconscious mind takes into account all of your past experiences with trying to work out either successfully or unsuccessfully, all of your thoughts, emotions, and day to day activities. We have to make sure that if your goal is to work out three days a week, that you are doing everything in your power to set yourself up for success so that you can achieve that goal. For example, if you do not necessarily block the time out, you don’t have enough time in your schedule, you don’t know where you’re going to work out, you don’t know what you’re going to work out with, or you don’t know what you’re going to do for your workout; then, the goal of working out three times a week will be highly unsuccessful. A good example of this is New Year’s resolutions. Many people set forth all of these New Year’s resolutions, and the majority are not successful because they are not aligning that subconscious mind with the conscious mind.
The second thing to consider when goal setting is using the different language of how you make your goals. “I would like to work out three times a week or more by January first or sooner is a good way to write your goal. That allows you to change the power of the subconscious mind. By changing how you set your goals and then also how you set yourself up for success to achieve your goals is a sure way to success.
I am 100 percent confident that you can achieve anything that you put your mind to, but make sure that you go through the process of setting a realistic goal, setting yourself up for success to achieve a goal, and then also using the right language and not limiting yourself by barriers or numbers. Instead, create an openness to do really amazing things.
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If you’re like most people, you likely find yourself frequently wishing there were more hours in the day to accomplish all the important things on your To-Do list. It seems like no matter what you do there’s always more and more in life that calls for your attention, while many of the truly important things get put on the back burner when we run out of time in the day.
Does any of this ring a bell?
If so, then I’d like to offer you a few of the most powerful ‘mind tricks’ I know that can help you dramatically increase your daily productivity and focus so you can get more done in less time.
Read the rest of this article only if you’d love to learn how to sharpen your focus, be more motivated, and blast through your daily tasks so you have more time available to do whatever else you enjoy in life.
Brain Hack #1 : Shrink Your Mental Deadlines
If you think something is going to take you an hour, give yourself 40 minutes instead. By shrinking your mental deadlines, you’ll be able to work much faster and with greater focus.
You should also schedule time on your calendar every week for focused, quiet concentrated “Golden Hours” or “Power Time” where you only work on your most important activities for a designated amount of time. To do this effectively, it’s important to close your email, silence your phone, and unplug from social media during these timeframes. That is, unless your most productive task happens to include any one of those mediums.
Brain Hack #2 : Create a “Stop Doing” List
A “Stop Doing” list is as important as a “To Do” list. We use a To Do list to help us gets things done, but how many counter-productive habits, rituals and routines are we allowing in our lives to continue robbing us of the results and lifestyle we truly desire?
By creating a “Stop Doing” list, and committing to it, we can systematically purge out negative habits and replace them with better, more productive ones.
An easy way to do this is to get out a piece of paper and make a list of any/all the habits, routines or people in your life that are actually making you less productive and taking you farther away from your intended goals or desired quality of life.
Now, this requires you to be totally honest, truthful and transparent with yourself about what’s in your life that could be holding you back or stealing happiness in some way. But when you’re willing to step back and look at your own life and situation objectively, it becomes much easier to see the reality of our situation and be able to make rational decisions about what needs to be done in light of the bigger picture. Thus progress can be made where it otherwise couldn’t.
Brain Hack #3 : Review Your Productivity at the End of the Day
Try this: Every night before going to bed, take the time to write down the top 3-5 highest priority items that you resolve to complete the following day. These should be tasks that directly move you or your business closer to your goals.
Then at the end of each day, before you create your new list for the next day, take some time to review your list from the current day and ask yourself what went well and what you could’ve done better. Celebrate in your mind what you did accomplish, but also apply a little constructive criticism to yourself for anything you may have slacked on. Then just rollover your uncompleted tasks to the next day’s list.
The most difficult aspect of being ultra-productive is you driving your day instead of your day driving you. Start your day by looking through your tasks each morning and making a conscious decision to allocate your time and focus on the most important and highly leveraged tasks before anything else. Then review your progress at the end of the day and make adjustments where necessary.
Brain Hack #4 : Avoid Multitasking
Don’t multitask. Multitasking is something we all do these days. The problem though is that our brains just aren’t cut out for it. When you multitask, you’re actually interfering with your brain’s ability to perform at it’s full-capacity.
Yeah sure, we can all walk and chew gum at the same time. We can can fold laundry while talking to a friend on the phone. Clowns can also ride a unicycle while juggling brightly colored balls.
These are all role tasks that don’t demand a lot of brain power. But in most cases where brainpower and creativity are critical, multitasking is really lesstasking. When you make shifts in your activity from one context to another, you risk dropping things from your short-term memory. You also disrupt the mental flow needed to perform at top-efficiency.
Do one thing at a time, minimize context shifts, maximize brain power!
Brain Hack #5 : Use “Brainwave Entrainment” Audios To Increase Focus & Productivity
Brainwave entrainment is a 100+ year old science that uses special tones and sounds to influence a person’s brainwave patterns, which have been proven scientifically to help change one’s state of mind, such as how focused they are.
Let’s briefly explore how it works.
Your brainwave patterns show what’s going on inside your head. Different brainwave frequencies show that you’re in different states of mind. For example, they may show that you are sleeping, or relaxed, or intently focused.
Brainwave entrainment can be used to tap into the frequencies associated with heightened focus and increased productivity, and brings your brain waves into harmony with them. The result is more clarity, more creativity, enhanced focus, and increased personal output.
You simply put on your headphones and play a special MP3 audio based on what kind of mindset you want to entrain. You can even do this while you’re working, writing, reading, doing chores, etc
We enroll every resource at our disposal in the pursuit of success, why wouldn’t we fully utilize the engine behind it all–the human brain? Our brains have the power to sidetrack us from success or adopt a mindset that unlocks it.
Recently, neurosurgeon, journalist, and professor at Emory’s School of Medicine, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, appeared on Deepak Chopra’s? Infinite Potential podcast to discuss how to get our brain back on track to enabling success if it’s gone astray. The two experts explained a process of rewiring the brain, or training it to think in a way to set you up for success.
The word “rewiring” isn’t chosen lightly. As Chopra explained on CNBC’s Make It: “The rewiring of your brain is a result of neuroplasticity, which includes two things: Neurogenesis (the growth of new neurons) and synaptogeneis (new connections between neurons). You can enhance the growth of those two things.”
Chopra cited a fascinating study that showed that the human brain can’t always discern between a memory and a vision of the future, so, when you clearly envision something you want to happen in the future, it will help you “lock it in place” for you to draw upon for inspiration until you eventually make it a reality.
Chopra says that to rewire your brain for the long term, it takes practicing visualization five-10 minutes a day for six weeks.
Visualization works for me and it can work for you, too.
Athletes have long been known to leverage the power of visualization by picturing getting that winning hit, excelling in front of a crowd of 50,000, or imagining the football sailing through the uprights on a crucial kick.
I started visualizing when I became an entrepreneur, mostly because there was so much uncharted territory in front of me. I regularly visualized getting a book offer, and then I got one (and then another). I still visualize nailing a keynote in front of thousands, and have realized the vision each time. I’ve visualized filming courses in a home video studio I’d have to build, despite being technologically inept (and then I achieved it).
You get the idea. It’s not just that visualizing what it is that you want to accomplish simply makes it so. There’s a crucial intermediate step that occurs.
When I picture the outcome I’m working towards, it immediately evaporates the unknown, and the fear that comes with it. Once you visualize success on something specific, and then it happens, you start to believe that if you can realistically imagine it, it can be so. You have a picture of what good looks like to work towards.
When you leave no room for visualizing failure, you spend no time thinking about it. Race car legend Mario Andretti once said his secret to racing success was to never look at the walls that surrounded the race course, because you tend to steer right into what you’re looking at. No visual of failure, no failure. Visualize the end goal, you’ll successfully cross the finish line.
It’s the confidence and clarity that comes with visualizing that’s the key. It allows you to relax and focus on the hard work of what it will actually take to make your vision a reality. You spend your time creating muscle memory to thrive when the moment comes, not creating false memories of something bad that hasn’t actually happened yet.
So practice visualizing who you want to be or what you want to accomplish–then make it so.
DJ Khaled, the one-man internet meme, is known for warning his tens of millions of social media followers about a group of villains he calls “they.”
“They don’t want you motivated. They don’t want you inspired,” he blares on camera. “They don’t want you to win,” he warns. On Ellen DeGeneres’s talk show, Khaled urged the host, “Please, Ellen, stay away from them!”
The “they” Khaled invokes are clearly a sinister force. But who are they? Khaled offered clues when he told DeGeneres, “They are the people who don’t believe in you. They is the person that told you you would never have an Ellen show.”
Although Khaled’s claims may seem outlandish, he is in fact leveraging a powerful psychological hack: scapegoating. The practice of imagining a villain that’s conspiring against us, scapegoating can be an effective way to motivate ourselves and change our behaviors. Of course, as history has shown, terrible things can happen when people act on baseless conspiracy theories. But sometimes the antidote is in the venom.
Khaled isn’t the first to use the technique. In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield uses an entity he calls “Resistance” to describe the force conspiring against creative output. “Most of us have two lives,” Pressfield writes. “The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.” Throughout his book Pressfield reminds readers, “Resistance is always plotting against you.”
The author and game designer Jane McGonigal described a similar conspiracy of bad guys in her book SuperBetter. McGonigal blames villains like “Mrs. Volcano” and “Snuff the Tragic Dragon” when she loses her temper with her kids or feels self-pity.
Khaled, Pressfield, and McGonigal know that “they,” “Resistance,” and the “bad guys” don’t actually exist. For Khaled, that’s the joke that powers the meme. If Khaled were to point a finger at a real group of people intent on sabotaging him, such as an ethnic group or a particular corporate entity, his scapegoating wouldn’t be funny — it would be malicious.
In order for productive scapegoating to work, it’s important not to assign blame to something or someone too specific; if we do so, we’ll shirk our responsibilities to change our own actions.
Instead, we need to find the underlying causes of our bad behaviors, which requires asking difficult questions — especially since our intuition is frequently wrong. Maybe we don’t binge on junk food or YouTube videos because of the pleasure in what we’re consuming, but because of deeper problems consuming us. Perhaps the true reason we allow our phones to interrupt dinner is not that we’re addicted to our phones, but that we’re addicted to work.
Once we’ve identified our own self-defeating behaviors, the next challenge is to implement a change, which can be difficult if we think what’s happening to us is beyond our control. In these situations it’s easy to feel powerless and to give up. It’s here that scapegoating can be used to our advantage. By directing our anger and anxieties at an invisible they, the forces working against us seem more tangible, so we feel like we have more power to fight them.
Powerless if You Think You Are
Several recent studies have observed a strong connection between the way we think about our ability to act and our follow-through. For example, to determine how in control people feel regarding their cravings for cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol, researchers administer a standard survey called the Craving Beliefs Questionnaire (CBQ). The assessment is modified for the participant’s drug of choice and presents statements like “Once the craving starts. I have no control over my behavior” and the cravings “are stronger than my willpower.” How people rate these statements tells researchers how powerful or powerless they feel in the face of temptation. Lower scores reveal that subjects believe they are more in control, while higher scores correlate with people who believe the drugs control them.
A study of methamphetamine users that appeared in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment in 2010 concluded that people with low CBQ scores were more likely to stay sober and that participants whose scores decreased over time — indicating that they felt more powerful as time passed — had increased odds of abstinence. A study of cigarette smokers published in 2014 found similar results: The smokers most likely to fall off the wagon after quitting were the ones who believed they were powerless to resist.
Though the logic isn’t surprising — if we believe we’re powerless, we don’t even try not to fail — the extent of the effect is remarkable. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that individuals who believed they were powerless to fight their cravings were much more likely to drink again. In fact, beliefs of powerlessness determined whether someone would relapse after treatment as much as the level of physical dependency itself did.
Embracing the Enemy
Besides making us feel more powerful, scapegoating can harness our instincts to resist threats to our freedom and autonomy, a phenomenon that psychologists call “reactance.” For example, when your boss micromanages you and tells you what to do in a patronizing way, you may feel crummy and decide to do the opposite, to “stick it to the man.” Scapegoating uses the power of reactance toward productive ends. If we feel that someone or something is conspiring against us, we’re more likely to work harder to prove them wrong.
Eliciting reactance has been used successfully in public health efforts, such as the antismoking Truth campaign, which tried to appeal to rebellious high schoolers (who feel reactance toward just about everyone). Instead of showcasing far-off consequences like emphysema and black lungs, the Truth campaign did away with the gore and instead painted the tobacco industry as a bunch of scheming jerks. In one ad activists attempt to deliver a case marked “lie detector” to the headquarters of a tobacco company and are promptly kicked out. In another spot, cartoon characters interrupt smokers at a party by shouting “It’s a trap!”
We can apply the same methods to use careful scapegoating to increase our own motivation. If we imagine a force working against us, we’re more likely to get fired up, resist our temptations, and work harder to achieve our goals.
Of course, it’s actually just us against ourselves. But for the times when we don’t want to admit that, providing a clear enemy to rebel against — a “they” who doesn’t want you to leave that extra cookie on the plate or get back to writing that blog post — can help us summon the tenacity we need to succeed. Even if, in reality, that “they” resides in each of us.
Do you have big goals and dreams that you can’t seem to reach? Want to make more money but, for some reason, can’t get out of your current tax bracket?
If so, we’ve got the neuroscience news that’ll help you train your brain to achieve success in this lifetime.
Your amazing brain has something like 100 billion neurons (a.k.a. brain cells), which all have connections that create neural patterns and pathways. And for the first time in our lives, thanks to the latest neuroscience research, we’re able to understand a little more about how the brain works.
Exciting, isn’t it?
And the best part is that we, as humans, have the ability to build new neural pathways and connections to help us accomplish our goals and dreams.
In this training video with John Assaraf that aired earlier this week on YouTube Live, you’ll learn all about neuropsychology and the neuroscience of goal achievement. You’ll discover science-backed methods to train your brain for success.
Ready for some tips, tricks, tools, and techniques to help you reach personal success? Watch the video with John Assaraf!
Don’t have time to watch the video right now? Keep reading to discover 4 tactics you can implement today to help you reach ultimate success.
One of the first things you must do if you want to achieve ultimate success is reinforce neural patterns that activate the visual area of the brain.
How do you use your mind’s eye to bring your vision to fruition?
1. Practice creative visualization to get started on your path toward goal achievement.
The first thing you must do when you set out on your journey to success is to make your goals clear and concise as can be. Write down what you want to achieve.
What does your personal and professional success look like? Be very detailed in your description, so that if someone read it, they would know exactly who you are and what you do on the daily.
When you practice this technique, you activate your visual cortex and your prefrontal cortex, which is also known as the CEO of your brain.
Get creative! Dream big!
The best way to impress your vision to your subconscious mind is by practicing creative visualization.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Here’s an Innercise on visualization to get you started.)
2. Understand WHY you want to achieve your goals and share your reason(s) with someone i.e., a loved one, mentor, or success coach.
Ask yourself why you want to achieve your goals. Do you want to be an entrepreneur, business magnate, philanthropist, and super success like Charles Branson?
Do you want to make sure you live your life to the fullest doing the things you love with the people you love the most?
Name your big WHY by going within to explore your core values. You don’t want to regret the things you didn’t do, right?
Furthermore, when you understand why you want to achieve your goals, you turn off the fear circuits and turn on the motivation part of your brain.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Here’s an Innercise on how to maintain your motivation for goal achievement.)
3. Train your brain to achieve success by developing an empowering belief system and healthy habits.
In order to move further along the path toward goal achievement, you must retrain your brain to have positive and empowering thoughts because, as we all know, negativity gets us nowhere.
Transform your limiting beliefs and start believing in yourself. You, and only you, have the ability to fire the inner critic that keeps telling you lies. Release the thoughts that believe you’re not good enough, smart enough, or worthy.
There are so many common limiting beliefs circulating in the world that have been programmed into our minds as the truth. But your negative self-talk isn’t true!
That’s right, the system of limiting beliefs you’ve been carrying around is just a load of nonsense and neural dissonance.
And did you know that illusory fear is the main reason you procrastinate and push aside what’s most important to you?
The good news? You can change the pattern of thinking that’s keeping you stuck in the comfort zone (and far away from reaching your goals and dreams) by retraining your brain. And with practice, you’ll be able to finally silence the voice that falsely accuses you of not having the right skills, time, or money to break free . . .
4. Innercise daily to reinforce your positive neural pathways for success.
Close your eyes, take some deep breaths, and see yourself celebrating at the finish line.
Visualize what you and your life looks like after you achieve your biggest goals . . . and bring your emotions into the mix. If there’s an obstacle in your way, see yourself overcoming it and notice how that feels.
Emotionalize your creative visualization practice to stimulate the release of “feel-good” hormones like serotonin and dopamine into your brain.
When you repeat Innercises like the ones above, you reinforce positive patterns for success. And with the repetition, your new neural pathways will override your old habits, beliefs, and behaviors . . .
With practice and time, you’ll align your conscious and subconscious mind. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
A re you ready for what’s next? Continue your journey and momentum toward goal achievement and ultimate success by joining the NeuroGym Masterclass Series with John Assaraf, Mary Morrissey, Dr. Srini Pillay, and other leading experts in the field of neuroscience and the science of success.
We’d love to hear from you!
Please let us know what you’d like to accomplish in your lifetime. What’s your vision? Why is it important to you? What action steps will you take today so that you can reach your goals and dreams?
We’d love to know, so please use the comment section below. And share this valuable, scientific knowledge with your friends, family, community, tribe, crew, team, squad, etc.
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.
I’m sure there are new skills and knowledge you need to learn, no matter what you’re trying to achieve at this current moment. Knowing how to learn faster will help you achieve your goals faster.
It’s what makes one person’s blog profitable in their first year and another’s in…maybe never. It’s all about knowing how to learn what you need to, fast.
These 5 brain hacks are all methods I’ve used since I was young and they’ve never failed me yet.
It has helped me pass with flying colours in 4 different education systems, graduate with honours at a Russel Group, Red Brick University and of course, helped create my various streams of passive income online.
Learn how to learn, and anything you want can be yours.
Learn in the morning
Doing anything in the morning, is always more effective. It’s been scientifically proven that the best time to learn something is between the hours of 10am – 2pm.
You should be fully awake and alert during these hours and evolution has made it our most active hours in the day, which makes our brain the most receptive to new information.
I always use the morning to do big tasks for the day and that includes anything I need to learn in a short period of time.
But don’t think you can learn from 10am – 2pm straight, that’s 4 hours. The average person’s ability to focus on a single task at a high level is around 30 – 45 mins.
Which means, if you’re learning anything news, keep it to an hour at most and do it in the morning before lunch. If you’re really tight on time, then you can give yourself 15min breaks in-between learning sessions.
This brain hack to learn faster is something you can’t deny unless your body clock is a bit offbeat compared to everyone else.
Teach it to someone else
Teach someone else what you’re learning and you’ll improve your level of understanding as well as speed of learning. This is something I stumbled upon when I was really young when people asked me for help. Each time I taught someone something, I gained a deeper understanding of it which allowed me to learn even more.
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The more you’re forced to actively think about something, the more you understand and learn about it.
This is a simple brain hack to learn faster that works with almost anything. Find people that are learning the same thing as you and start helping them.
Answer their questions and start presenting information to others. You’ll be amazed how much faster you learn this way.
Use what you learn
This brain hack to learn faster is simple. It’s all about repetition to engrain whatever you just learnt into your brain. The more you do something, the easier it becomes and the more natural it’ll feel.
Many of the things we learn later in life are things we will naturally have to use in our day to day life. Such as, paying your bills, or filing your taxes. But skills that aren’t so obviously useful in our daily lives, such as negotiation, e-mail marketing, image editing etc etc.
These skills require you to actively create opportunities for yourself to practice.
Learning most skills is super easy, and it normally doesn’t take longer than a quick Youtube video tutorial or Google search. The only problem is, you’re most likely going to forget what you just learnt if you don’t use it frequently enough.
I purposely use my new skills and knowledge as frequently as possible when I learn something new. It helps me transfer all that new knowledge into my long-term memory, which makes future use of it, effortless.
Write it out
This is another scientifically proven brain hack to learn faster. The act of writing things out and not just typing it into your phone or on your computer, can help you learn faster.
Taping buttons on a keyboards compared to moving your entire hand to write makes the process faster, but it’s because of this increase of speed that makes learning more difficult.
This sounds a little counter intuitive since this post is all about brain hacks to learn faster, but it’s true. The faster it takes to get a message from your brain to the outside world, the less you are actively thinking. This slows down your learning overall.
While the slower it takes to get a message from your brain to the outside world, the more your brain is actively thinking about it. This makes your learning more effective and thus faster.
Create notes or instructions for yourself and write them out. Start with initial rough notes that might not make sense and keep making better versions of these notes. You’re essentially organising your thinking process and helping yourself remember it.
The same thing in different ways
This brain hack is all about getting your brain to do new things for the same reason. It’s been proven that the more methods you use to learn the easier it becomes to comprehend what you’re learning.
For example, if I was learning a language, I could learn by listening to music, watching TV, going on holiday, reading books, making friends etc. All of these are different methods and ways of using the same skill.
This accelerates your learning by ten folds compared to only using one method of learning because you’re forcing your brain to interact with the new information or skill in many different ways. It’s like training at the gym. You can’t simply do the same exercise forever to improve. You need change your workout from time to time to keep seeing results.
It’s the same thing for your brain. You can’t learn the same way forever and expect to keep seeing the same results. You need to change it up from time to time.