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Kick Start Your Productivity When All You Want To Do is Resist!

Kick Start Your Productivity When All You Want To Do is Resist!

We all know how awful it feels when we are unproductive; demotivated, and just plain lazy! How often do you feel like that? Would you love to know exactly how to change that around? You will come across thousands of tips and tricks to beat procrastination and start acting; but unfortunately, even with all the advice out there; not many people do!

Working as a productivity coach, my job is to get my clients to take massive action aligned with their goals. Sounds simple, right? NO! You can’t imagine how much resistance people come up with when they start to change; and if it isn’t managed well; it can throw somebody straight off their path and they might just give up completely.

Don’t let this be your story! It isn’t easy to change; that is true; but it is easier than you think if you have the right tools and support in place. Here is what you can do to kick start your productivity when all you want to do is resist.

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Knowing the two parts of your brain

You need to balance your ‘thinking brain’ and ‘your pleasure seeking part’ of the brain. The very first thing you need to know is that you have two sides fighting inside of you, you know, the one side which wants to procrastinate and the other side that wants to change.  Put simply, your Limbic system or ‘pleasure seeking part’ of the brain is so strong, it is always working and all it wants to do is anything pleasurable, from having fun, to eating, to sleeping, to relaxing, etc

The Prefontal cortex is the ‘thinking part’, which allows us to plan, to set goals, strategize, etc. Unfortunately for us, this part of the brain is not on automatic and it gets tired very quickly and easily! That is why you find it easier to ‘give in’ to the pleasure rather than take action ‘on what you want’, at a very basic level. You need to understand how your body influences your desires to change. So now that you know that…what does it mean?

3 things you must do to break resistance.

1. You need the right energy

This might sound obvious, but it is one of those ‘what seems like common sense’ isn’t ‘common practice’ things. There are two parts to managing your energy. The first part is your physical energy – you need to be full of energy to perform your best. We all have peaks throughout the day, but do you know how much your energy impacts productivity? Something as simple as 1% dehydration reduces your ability to focus, concentrate, and think clearly. Don’t expect to eat unhealthy and feel productive – it’s crazy!

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The second part is that you must never plan to do tasks at times that you know you might be feeling tired, interrupted or not up for it. You should plan around your energy cycles, when is the best time to complete this? If you plan a task when you are not at your highest energy, you will find yourself resisting.

2. You need the right intentions

To create change; the best way is to connect what you are doing to your values; making it important for you. If we don’t see the value in something, we resist doing it immediately. Ask yourself, why is this so important for me? What will it mean if I achieve this? What will it mean if I don’t?

The point is that: many people take action on ‘should’ and ‘need to’ but not ‘want to’. This alone creates resistance. You might have all the best intention to go the gym, let’s say you really should and you need to, but do you really want to? It is your job to identify what you really want and only set tasks that will bring you to your future goals.

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Too many people try to take action on things that in fact, maybe they don’t want or are for someone else, and they wonder why it’s not so easy. You need the right intentions.

3. You need commitment to carry out your challenges

You can have all the intention in the world to do something, but you also need commitment to carry out these intentions. Sometimes motivation alone won’t cut it! As you know, you need to build your discipline muscle to take action, this is when you listen to your ‘thinking’ part of the brain. Every time you listen to the ‘weaker’ part of you, that voice becomes louder. And every time you listen to the stronger side of you, that voice becomes louder.

I’m going to be direct with you, sometimes you will need to do things you don’t want to do, and you will need to get out of your comfort zone to get different results. No one else is going to create them for you, so get disciplined in creating what you want. Do what you don’t want to do now, so you can have what you want later in life.

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The simple fact is, most people want more in life, but they want it to be easier and it isn’t, so they give up. People who have created the lives that they love and who have the results that they wanted, deserve it, because they know that results are on the other side of comfort. They know that challenge is growth and growth is success.

If you want to beat resistance, make sure you feel great, you can clearly see how important this is for you and then just do it. Quit the excuses, stop listening to the weaker side, and if you are serious about living a better life, then work for it. Your reward? Your dreams come true – is that not worth it?

Featured photo credit: Juliette Leuffke via unsplash.com

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Kirstin O´Donovan

Certified Life and Productivity Coach, Founder and CEO of TopResultsCoaching

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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