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A Bulletproof Way To Never Again Forget a Million Dollar Idea

A Bulletproof Way To Never Again Forget a Million Dollar Idea

Have you ever thought about how many million dollar ideas you have forgotten?!

I’m absolutely sure that at least a couple of times in your life you’ve had a brilliant idea but somehow it slipped your mind. You were on the crowded bus and you simply couldn’t write it down. Or maybe you were walking down the street but your mobile went flat or you didn’t have a pen.

And then a few months later you hear news on TV that some guy used YOUR idea and became a millionaire. We all know the feeling. I bet you can feel the surge of frustration this very moment!

So why did it happen?

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DISADVANTAGES OF TYPICAL NOTE-TAKING

  • It’s not always possible to write something down due to conditions and the nature of “eureka” moments. Usually the best ideas strike us in the conditions which make typical note taking impossible: under shower, while running, right before you fall asleep. No wonder. Usually that’s the moment when your brain is relaxed and produces alpha brain waves (Niedermeyer E.(1997). Alpha rhythms as physiological and abnormal phenomena).
  • You might not have proper tools to help you capture your ideas (e.g. pen, mobile phone, etc.)
  • It might be weird. Another fairly typical situation in which new ideas are created is when you have a conversation with somebody and then, out of nowhere, your beautiful brains crash to produce some inspiring idea. The problem is that you don’t always know some person well enough to put a conversation on hold in order to write your ideas down.

The point being – technology is great but it won’t always be there to save the day.Most of us are afraid of being dependent on other people. But do you really think that being dependent on a battery or a pen is more noble? (Sure, they won’t judge you but that’s about the only difference). Who will keep data for you when we run out of trees?!

So what can you do to prevent it from happening?

USE YOUR IMAGINATION TO PLAN IN YOUR MIND!

To make sure that you never ever forget another brilliant idea, you have to use the power of your imagination. So what’s the secret?

Mnemonics!

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One of the methods with proven record of effectiveness is the method of loci (Bellezza, F. S., 1996, Mnemonic methods to enhance storage and retrieval). This technique, as fancy as it sounds, was already known to the ancient Greeks and Romans.

The general idea behind this method is to create associations between the elements which are well-known to you and new pieces of information (ideas in our case).

To do this, we should:

  1. choose the layout of some building / flat / house which we are familiar with.
  2. select some distinctive loci within the place of our choice
  3. specify key words characterizing your idea
  4. create some vivid, abstract (or just plain absurd) associations between the loci and key words.
  5. finally, take a mental walk, once you’re home, to retrieve the precious idea

Let’s go through an example to show how straightforward and bulletproof this method is.

EXAMPLE

It’s a safe bet that you know exactly how your flat / house looks like and probably at least a few places of your friends, and family members. And that gives us a lot of potential places you can use.

I’ll use my own room as an example (distinctive loci) as I seem to spend there unhealthy amount of time. Let’s say that I have an idea to create a comic book about a dysfunctional super hero, called the Incredible Incompetento. His only super-power is being able to ruin every company’s project.

Through my mind’s eye I see him as a clumsy, white-collar worker with glasses (key word). Next, I’ll picture him entering my room and spilling a cup of coffee all over my sketches (association) and burning my hands in the process

 

Forget about forgetting and embrace your regret-free life. Never again will your brilliant ideas sink into oblivion! And if it ever happens that you become a millionaire, don’t forget to drop me a thank you message.

Has it ever happened to you that you’ve forgotten some important idea? Let me know in the comments!

Featured photo credit: soultga via rgbstock.com

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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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