- You don’t really know what you want (you don’t have clarity around your goals). This sounds so simple, yet can be so difficult to figure out on your own.
- You don’t know how to get it (you don’t have a well-thought out methodology or strategy). Again, this seems simple, but there are just so many options…
- There is something standing in the way (you haven’t figured out the ‘real blockage’). And more often than not, it’s you!
Funny how we can have the same goals month after month, year after year…and yet never feel like we are getting any closer. Or at least we can feel totally frustrated that we can’t achieve something that seems so simple on the face of it. As leaders (or really busy people), with so much going on in our lives, this overwhelm – and our apparent inability to deal with it well – has become endemic in 21st century western life and is, in itself, often the barrier to moving forward. Let’s look at what is going on in our brains. The Executive Function in our brain (the prefrontal cortex – PFC) is the part of our brain that makes us human, that separates us from animals. It is our thinking brain. It would make sense that this is the part of our brain that is used to solve our problems – but in fact, this part of the brain whilst very capable, has many limitations. One limitation is that it can only really work with one complex idea at a time without some loss of processing capacity. As each new idea or aspect of the problem is considered, the brain’s ability to resolve it lessens. The PFC is a linear processor, it has to consider one thing at a time in order to make sense of it. The part of our brain that holds the real processing power is our Basal Ganglia – or the automated brain. This is where our hardwired neural connections live – our habits – the behaviours and attitudes that our brain has automated due to the attention and repetition we have given them over time. This part of the brain is a non-linear processor and it can connect many ideas at a time in order to solve more complex issues for us. BUT, the processing that occurs in the Basal Ganglia is non-conscious. In other words we can’t MAKE it work like we can consciously do with the PFC. So how do we make the best use of our brain in order to get what we want, resolve our mental issues, and move forward? Firstly, there are usually one or all of the following three things that may be preventing your brain from moving forward: