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Last Updated on November 5, 2019

11 Tactics on Increasing Brain Power, Memory, and Motivation

11 Tactics on Increasing Brain Power, Memory, and Motivation

How do you motivate yourself? We all want to maximize our time and do more of the things we love to do but sometimes we get stuck in the ‘getting ready’ process.

We want to live every day with a clear intention to get closer to achieving our goals and living a happy, successful life. We want to get better every day but we never actually jump off.

The most powerful form of motivation comes from self-motivation. You can light your own fire.

It is not enough simply to wait for inspiration to start you moving forward. It doesn’t have to be something that happens to you, it can be something that you create.

All progress and motivation starts with taking action. One action will lead to another. Action will create better outcomes and new experiences for you.

When my coaching clients are suffering from distraction, I simply get them to start taking action. To get fired up. To do something specific.

This may be getting up earlier, or committing to doing exercise daily. Even if it’s doing something for just 5 minutes, it’s often that little push that it enough to get them going.

If you focus on a small number of things to create the change you want, it can have a dramatic effect on your business and life.

Here are 11 things you can do right now to take that jump and in the process of increasing brain power, memory and motivation.

1. Simplify Your Life

By creatively planning your life, it allows you to simplify. Delegating and eliminating activities that don’t motivate or excite you ensures you maximise your time and focuses your energy on achieving your goals.

It’s really hard to stay motivated when your mind is confused and cluttered with all of the projects and tasks you need to do. But if you can simplify, if you can carve away the unnecessary, your life will become more focused. And more focus leads to more motivation.

What areas of your life could you simplify?

One way you could do it is to combine tasks. Think about two things you want to do and see how you could combine them into one activity.

The author Marilyn Vos Savant takes this one stage further in her book Brain Building in Just 12 Weeks. She recommends that we make a list of every small task that has to be done, say, over a day or a week-end and then do them all one after another.

Essentially, you are fusing lots of smaller tasks together into one task and completing them all together. So rather than doing one task on one day and another task on another day, it becomes a focused blitz to get lots of little things completed all together.

This frees us more time and gives you a sense of accomplishment, that increases motivation.

2. Focus on How Far You’ve Come

One of the things that stops us being motivated and causes procrastination is that we measure our success not from how far we’ve come, but how far away we are from our dreams and ideals.

If we can change our thinking and become more conscious of how our brain is working, we can set ourselves up for success.

We’re often at our happiest when we use our brains to problem solve, visualize, achieve and measure our progress.

If you talk in specifics rather than generalities, there is an opportunity to feel happier and more energized.

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One way to do this is to start training your brain to measure specifics, which grounds your feelings in reality and can boost motivation.

Rather than focusing on your ideal, think about what you’ve achieved from a specific starting point.

If your goal is to lose 14lbs in the next 6 months and you’ve lost 3 lbs in the first 3 months you have two choices. You could focus on the fact that you’re still 11lbs away from your goal or you could focus on the fact that you have lost 3lbs since you’ve started.

The second option will allow you to celebrate success and build motivation and refocus your mind to lost more weight whilst the first option may focus your mind on how far away you are from your goals.

Let your brain set your own goals and have your own experiences.

3. Set Measurable Goals

This follows on nicely from the previous point. When I work with coaching clients we always set specific, measurable 90 Day Goals.

This is great for motivation and training the brain to focus only on things that are specific and measurable.

When we are making real progress towards our goals, it makes us a lot happier. We are motivated and inspired.

We all sense where we are in the present moment. The past has gone and the future is well, the future.

In this present moment, we feel like we’re making progress, moving forward in the right direction or we’re not. We can’t stop time. We can only make better use of our time.

If you’re not happy with the progress you’re making, you may start comparing with others which can make you feel a lot worse and stop motivation in their tracks.

So, think about what goals you want to achieve for the next 90 Days. Ask yourself what is the meaning/purpose behind each of the goals.

Write the goals down. Put specific measurements against each goal and visualise what achieving the goals will mean to you in terms of your own personal progress.

4. Shift Your Motivation from Getting to Giving

Some people only focus on what they can get out of life and relationships. It’s all about me, me, me.

“When you change the way you look at things; the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

However, if you come from a position of serving and helping, and being more consciously awake to the world around you, your mindset can shift from merely receiving to giving.

And when you create this shift, coming from a space of giving, your brain starts coming up with more and more creative ways to spread more and more abundance.

It’s far more satisfying to focus on giving. If you really focus on this, it can become a true purpose and focus for you.

Rather than focusing on simple transactions, you focus on deepening relationships and doing things that will genuinely make people happy.

If you focus on giving and gratitude and surround yourself with people of a similar mindset your motivational energy will always be high.

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There are also additional benefits. When givers come together the results can be so much bigger than on an individual level as everything has the capacity to be multiplied.

When your motivation is to give your brain will think of more and more creative ways to do that. Random thoughts will pop into your head and you’ll find more creative ways to improve other people in both your business and personal life.

If you aren’t sure what truly motivates you, this will help:

What Motivates You And How to Always Stay Motivated

5. Create and Repeat a New Habit

Sometimes, the smallest shifts create the biggest results. When you start a new habit, whether that’s going to the gym, creating videos or improving your speaking the key is consistency and repetition.

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you create incremental improvements.

If you want to start a new morning routine, the key is repetition. If you want to start meditating, the key is to stay with it. If you’re gearing up to run a 5k, the key is to run every day and build that strength and stamina.

If you have a vision of yourself as someone who doesn’t complete projects, then you think of yourself as that person. But if you tell yourself every day you’re a world class ‘project completer,’ you’ll begin to think and act like that person.

If you’re procrastinating on a big project, just start small and do something to move it forward, even if only five minutes. The next day work on that project again.

The key is deciding what you want to improve and then working on that thing every day. A 1% improvement every day can produce big results in the end.

Bonus tip: Here’re How to Break a Habit and Hack the Habit Loop

6. Direct Your Subconscious Mind Before Sleep

Many successful people never go to sleep without a request to their subconscious mind.

“Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious” – Thomas Edison

Your brain is a fantastic problem solving tool. If there are decisions you are struggling with or a project you’re looking for answers on, just spend a few minutes before you go to sleep visualizing the challenges, ideas, questions and experiences.

You can follow a similar process with your goals. Visualize your goals every night and visualize what the achievement of those goals will look like.

Your subconscious mind will then go to work, creating different connections and ideas. When you wake up, write down everything that comes to mind and then put things into action.

You’ll be surprised how amazing your subconscious mind is: Why Sleeping on a Difficult Problem Helps You Get the Answer

7. Focus on Your Environment

The people who you spend time with will change your life in one way or another. Surround yourself with people and things that support you in your business and life.

Cynics can pull you down with them but supportive people will motivate you to becoming even more happy and successful.

Throughout every day, we have choices regarding what we spend our time on and who we are going to spend our time with.

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You can be with people who stifle and bring your energy down, or be with people who inspire your creativity and celebrate your success.

Spend more time with people who make you feel more alive and happier and see where that takes you.

8. Express More Gratitude

When you come from a place of expressing gratitude both to what you have and the people around you, the change can be immense.

If you express gratitude for what you have, you are less envious and fixated on what other people have.

When you express gratitude to the important people in your life, it changes how you perceive them and how they feel about you.

Gratitude increases your energy and your feelings of abundance. With gratitude, everything is appreciated.

Gratitude also makes you a lot more creative and deepens your motivation. Handwritten notes, more expressive feelings, instantaneous notes or calls to the people that matter most become commonplace.

The thing about gratitude, though, is that it requires an active pursuit in all areas of your business and life. It’s not about what that person has done for you. It’s about how you feel about them, and their value to you.

Here’s a quick exercise:

Think about the people that are most important to you.

Next, write down 5 things you are grateful for, or appreciate, about that person.

You could tell them the 5 things or just keep it to yourself and sense how you are with that person the next time you meet.

Another important focus for gratitude is yourself. What are you grateful for today?

Taking the time to look inwardly and appreciate what you have built momentum and motivation and makes you a lot happier.

If you want to learn more ways to practice gratitude, check out these 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

9. Increase Your Energy

Energy is a huge motivator. If we are fired up or excited about someone or something, we are usually very motivated.

Think about the last time you achieved something important. I’m guessing your energy and motivation was high?

If you’ve beaten your best time on the track, or lost the weight you wanted, or won a big piece of business, your energy will be sky high and you will want to dive back in again to improve your previous performance.

When we are excited and motivated about the things we are doing, we bring high levels of energy.

If you could spend more time doing the things that excite and motivate you, what would that mean for your business and life?

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High levels of energy produce continual growth and give you higher levels of confidence.

Try this:

Pick three things that give you high levels of excitement and motivation. Commit to spending at least one more hour on each of the things every month.

See what you can achieve. If it brings in the results you want, aim to spend more time on those 3 things and remove 3 things you want to spend less time on.

10. Visualize Your Ideal Future

If your motivation is lacking, try focusing on the purpose behind what you are doing or on how it plays into the larger goal of what you want to accomplish.

One great way to increase your brain power and motivation is to start thinking bigger and then challenge yourself to think bigger and bigger about your vision of your ideal future.

Where would you like to be in 3 years or 5 years’ time? What is your bigger purpose in your business and life? What would have to happen to make you happy with your progress?

Identifying and then focusing on your bigger vision gives you the feeling of working on something greater and being part of something bigger than yourself. It gives deeper meaning and purpose to your daily life.

If you are putting long hours into something or making a lot of sacrifices to achieve something, it will help put things into perspective and ensure your motivation stays strong.

Want to begin again with your life and live your ideal future, but you really don’t want to give up what you have now?

You don’t have to! Here’s the proof.

11. Take More Actions

If you’ve been resisting taking on a big project for a while, be that at home or at work, everything else in your life can begin to suffer.

Sometimes, you just have to face your resistance and fear and do what you’ve been avoiding. That one thing, could make a real difference to your life.

We all have lots to do and sometimes it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the tasks at hand.

The key is to prioritize so we make the best use of our time and make an internal commitment to just get started.

One of my clients was very close to finishing a new online course but there were some things she was avoiding and procrastinating over. It was very easy for her to fill her time with social media updates, shiny new things and check out the things her competitors were doing to avoid taking action. She knew she was neglecting something really important to her personal goals and putting off things that mattered to her.

I got her to focus just half an hour at the beginning each day for a week on this project. That amount of time grew as her excitement and motivation increased.

She felt more excited and motivated by just getting started again and doing the work. This newfound energy also impacted other aspects of her life.

She felt more in control and knew she would succeed. Just by taking one small step and getting started.

Conclusion

Here are some things for you to consider as you reflect upon this article:

  • What’s motivating you right now?
  • Are you as inspired as you want to be?
  • Are you open to new experiences?
  • Are you continually learning new and better ways to live?
  • Are you putting those into practice?
  • Do you want to be more motivated and inspired?

Hopefully this article has provided some insights and you can use some of these tactics to help you live every day with a clear intention to get closer to achieving your goals.

More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Pete Bellis via unsplash.com

More by this author

Mark Pettit

Mark Pettit is a Business Coach for ambitious entrepreneurs and business owners who want to achieve more by working less.

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Published on May 21, 2020

How Cognitive Bias Influences Our Decision Making

How Cognitive Bias Influences Our Decision Making

Cognitive biases are dangerous judgment errors that can devastate our health and wellbeing, our relationships, careers and businesses, and other areas of our lives.

To protect yourself against these mental blind spots, you need to know what they are, where they come from, and what you can do about them. That’s what this article is about.

Cognitive Biases on the Road

For an example of cognitive bias, imagine you are driving on autopilot, as we all do much of the time.

Let’s be clear, it’s a good idea to let your automatic response be in the driver’s seat when you are doing tasks that don’t require your full focus and attention. In ordinary driving situations – without inclement weather or start-and-stop traffic – you don’t need to use up your mental resources by turning your full focus on driving.

Now imagine that, as you are driving, the car in front of you unexpectedly cuts you off!

What do you do?

Well, you have to slam on your brakes to avoid a crash. Maybe you flash your lights or honk your horn. You feel scared and angry.

Your sympathetic nervous system activates, shooting cortisol throughout your body. Your heart beats faster, your palms start to sweat, a wave of heat goes through your body. [1]

What’s your gut feeling about the other driver? Probably your first impression is that the driver is rude and obnoxious.

Now imagine a different situation. You’re driving on autopilot, minding your own business, and you suddenly realize you need to turn right at the next intersection. You quickly switch lanes and suddenly hear someone behind you honking their horn.

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You now realize that there was someone in your blind spot but you forgot to check it in the rush to switch lanes, so you cut them off pretty badly.

Do you think that you are a rude driver? The vast majority of us would not. After all, we did not deliberately cut off the other driver; we just failed to see their car.

Let’s imagine another situation: your friend hurt herself and you’re rushing her to the emergency room. You’re driving aggressively and cutting in front of other cars.

Are you a rude driver? You’d probably say you are not; you’re merely doing the right thing for this situation.

Misattributing Blame Due to Cognitive Biases

Why do we give ourselves a pass while assigning an obnoxious status to other people? Why do our guts always make ourselves the good guys and other people the bad guys?

There is clearly a disconnect between our gut reactions and reality. This pattern is not a coincidence

Our immediate gut reaction attributes the behavior of other people to their personality and not to the situation in which the behavior occurs. The scientific name for this type of cognitive bias is the fundamental attribution error.[2]

This judgment error results in the following: if we see someone behaving rudely, we immediately and intuitively feel that this person is rude. We don’t stop to consider whether an unusual situation may cause the individual to act that way.

With the example of the driver, maybe the person who cut you off did not see you. Maybe they were driving their friend to the emergency room. But that’s not what our gut reaction tells us.

On the other hand, we attribute our own behavior to the situation, and not our personality. Much of the time we believe that we have valid and fully justifiable explanations for our actions.

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Are Cognitive Biases Really So Bad?

Don’t believe that such negative snap judgments about others can be harmful?

It may not seem very important whether you think wrongly that other drivers are jerks. Sorry to disappoint you, but this mental pattern posed a grave threat to your relationships.

As an example, what would you think of a potential business colleague if you saw her yelling at someone on her smartphone?

ou would probably have a negative reaction toward her and may not be likely to do business with her. Well, what if you found out she was yelling because she had her father on the other line who just misplaced his hearing aid and she was making plans to come to his house to help him look for it?

There can be many innocent explanations for someone yelling on the phone, but we are tempted to assume the worst.

In a related example, I was coaching a CEO of a company that had staff who worked from home due to COVID-19.

He told me about a recent incident with an employee who was having a heated Skype discussion over a conflict with an HR manager. The Skype call disconnected and the HR manager told the CEO the employee hung up on her. The CEO fired the employee on the spot.

Later, he learned that the employee thought the HR manager hung up on her. The call simply disconnected. Unfortunately, it was too late to take back the termination, even though the CEO regretted his heated decision.

This unfair firing situation really demoralized the rest of the staff, resulting in a growing disconnect between the CEO and other staff. It eventually contributed to the CEO leaving the organization.

Why Do We Suffer Cognitive Biases?

Intuitively, our mind feels like a cohesive whole. We perceive ourselves as intentional and rational thinkers. Yet cognitive science research shows that in reality, the intentional part of our mind is like a little rider on top of a huge elephant of emotions and intuitions.[3]

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Roughly speaking, we have two thinking systems, which neuroscientists call System 1 and 2. But it’s easier to think of them as the “autopilot system” and “intentional system.”

The autopilot system corresponds to our emotions and intuitions. Its cognitive processes take place mainly in the amygdala and other parts of the brain that developed early in our evolution.

This system guides our daily habits, helps us make snap decisions, and reacts instantly to dangerous life-and-death situations, like saber-toothed tigers through the freeze, fight, or flight stress response.

While helping our survival in the past, the fight-or-flight response is not a great fit for modern life. We have many small stresses that are not life-threatening, but the autopilot system treats them as tigers, producing an unnecessarily stressful everyday life experience that undermines our mental and physical wellbeing.

Moreover, while the snap judgments resulting from intuitions and emotions usually feel “true” because they are fast and powerful, they sometimes lead us wrongly in systemic and predictable ways.

The intentional system reflects our rational thinking and centers around the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain that evolved more recently.

This thinking system helps us handle more complex mental activities, such as managing individual and group relationships, logical reasoning, probabilistic thinking, and learning new information and patterns of thinking and behavior. It can also lead to occasional decision-making errors, but it’s right much more often than the autopilot system.[4]

Train Your Intentional System to Address Cognitive Biases

While the automatic system requires no conscious effort to function, the intentional system takes deliberate effort to turn on and is mentally tiring.

Fortunately, with enough motivation and appropriate training, the intentional system can turn on in situations where we are prone to making systematic decision-making errors. Scholars use the term “cognitive biases” to refer to these errors.

The autopilot system is like an elephant. It’s by far the more powerful and predominant of the two systems. Our emotions can often overwhelm our rational thinking.

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Moreover, our intuitions and habits determine the large majority of our life, which we spend in autopilot mode. And that’s not a bad thing at all – it would be mentally exhausting to think intentionally about our every action and decision.

The intentional system is like the elephant rider. It can guide the elephant deliberately to go in a direction that matches our actual goals.

Certainly, the elephant part of the brain is huge and unwieldy, slow to turn and change, and stampedes at threats. But we can train the elephant. Your rider can be an elephant whisperer.

Over time, you can use the intentional system to change your automatic thinking, feeling, and behavior patterns, and become much better at making the best decisions.

That’s why you should never go with your gut, and instead check with your head on any decision you don’t want to get wrong.[5]

Conclusion

Let’s go back to the fundamental attribution error. Now that we know what cognitive biases are and where they come from, how can we explain this cognitive bias?

From an evolutionary perspective, in the ancestral savanna, it was valuable for the survival of our ancestors to make quick decisions and to assume the worst, regardless of the accuracy of this assumption. Those who failed to do so did not survive to pass on their genes.

In the modern world where our survival is not immediately threatened by others and where we have long-term interactions with strangers, such judgments are dangerous for our long-term goals. We have to address this and other mental blindspots to make good decisions, whether about our relationships or other areas in our life.[6]

So, take a few minutes right now to think about where in recent weeks you might have misattributed blame. Given the stress associated with the pandemic, it’s easy to do.

Take the time to reach out to those you wrongly blamed and apologize. Doing so can be the start of your life-long journey to recognize and defeat cognitive biases and make the best decisions.

More on Cognitive Bias

Featured photo credit: Evan Dennis via unsplash.com

Reference

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