Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wooly Mammouths and Other News

Have you ever noticed how much energy people spend lamenting about what is wrong? Sometimes conditions are truly difficult, but more often people seek out something to complain about. I'm not talking about a death in the family or a major disaster, I'm talking about getting a teacher they don't like or encountering a long line at the checkout. I actually read a bit about it from the neuro-linguistic folks (you know, the ones who study brains). It turns out we are programmed for two things:

  1. to focus on short term conditions and
  2. to scan our environment for possible threats.
Apparently these instincts are both left over from our hunter-gatherer days. It also seems that these are not so helpful to people who might be receiving an e-mail newsletter in 2010. (Of course, if a woolly mammoth comes charging at me, I am certainly glad that my brain will know just what to do). On days that we are not attacked by prehistoric animals, however, our brains still default to the short term instead of the long term, and the negative instead of the positive. We are programmed to survive, not thrive. This explains why urgent tasks take precedent over important tasks, why short term pleasure overrides long term happiness, and why we cannot possibly reflect on our goals and dreams when we have deadlines and media and other things that demand our attention.

If this is not the way you want to live, overcome these instincts by developing habits for long-term success.
  • Establish a regular practice of quiet reflection
  • Notice the patterns you repeat through life and learn from them
  • Set long-term goals that tap into your purpose and passion
  • Leverage your natural instincts to create new habits
If you can do that on your own, great. Most people do better with a coach. That's where I come in: people who commit to coaching sessions set aside time to make a  change for the better. It takes more than a passing thought, it takes focus and motivation. Overcome your prehistoric brain and align with your long-term goals through coaching.
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