The human brain is designed for ensuring your survival at all times. Given that most of us – especially those who live in democracies are generally safe – the brain does actually does not need to do too much for survival. But because that’s the inherent design, things can’t be changed.
Which means that the brain will pushback on all kinds of new things that you think of doing, because it inherently means that it will need to work more. If it works more it will consume more energy, which in turn is a risk if there’s a sudden need for survival issues.
I have been trying to analyse everyday – sometimes successfully and sometimes without success – at which points did I face resistance or pushback, which caused me to procrastinate. There’s actually an interesting podcast which Dean Jackson and Dan Sullivan used to do called The Joy of Procrastination. They had an interesting take, that you should actually plan your day based on the procrastination points that you face everyday.
Once you realise that the pushback or resistance or procrastination or fear means that the brain is thinking that new work is involved, it could actually be good for you. So thinking in these terms, I am working now each day on trying to identify one point of resistance and then actually do that thing. Sometimes it has been writing an email to a prospect, sometimes its a difficult conversation with a colleague.
I am not sure if all the activities that I have done are actually becoming successful but there’s a great sense of relief after I do the thing, where I was facing push back.
While I am working on that aspect I am also trying to figure out, how I can make the Domino effect come into play, when I am doing these things which are giving me a pushback. I will keep you posted if I can build an “algorithm” which can help me make me geometrically more productive because of these activities.
Till next time then.
Yesterday I wrote about one intersection which I think that exists between the book Tiny Habits by B. J. Fogg and The Art of Impossible by Steven Kotler. Like I have said multiple times earlier, I find the work of both the authors, amazing to say the least. I have read more books by Steven Kotler (SK) , than by B. J. Fogg (BJF).
Now one of the things BJF talks about to make something a habit is that after doing the habit you reward yourself by pushing a fist in the air or anything else which gives you a feeling of accomplishment. that happiness feeling caused by the feeling of achievement causes the feeling to become permanent over a period of time.
I think SK looks at the neurological aspects and says something similar. When we feel good various chemicals like dopamine (he’s listed another 5-6 of them like oxytocin, serotonin etc. ) get released. These chemicals make you feel good and while you are feeling good you tend to achieve more. So when you do a tiny habit like BJF says and then do a happiness gesture, the mind catches it and it makes you feel good and the brain remembers the feeling.
What BJF is doing is however having a prompt to do an action – a very small action at that – the tiny habit forming action – and making the process more mechanical and therefore repeatable so there’s no chance for the brain to scuttle your plans and make you procrastinate.
I would love to take the best of both the books and see how I can profit from it. I consistently want to figure more and better ways to improve my performance levels, so let me see how combining the 2 methods from these two authors can help me tame my brain to perform even better feats.
Till next time then.
I have written earlier about the book Tiny Habits by B. J. Fogg PhD. This is one classic book and it eliminates the ideas of doing heroic things to achieve Peak Performance. I have been deeply impressed with the book and the results it has helped me get.
The logic of the book is very simple, yet profound. Actually most profound things have simple explanations. Here the simple explanation is that if there’s something which requires a lot of ability (also known as hard work for the brain) then chances are, that if motivation is not high, then it won’t happen. So you may have the best intentions, but your brain won’t let you achieve it. This is what I was talking about yesterday .
As I mentioned in my post yesterday, the brain has only 2% of the mass of the body but consumes about 25% of the energy, so its always trying to conserve energy as per Steven Kotter in his book The Art of Impossible.
As per Steven to achieve the impossible one of the key ingredients is motivation. He also looks at the various chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin etc., which when layered give the brain the power of feeling good and hence the motivation to perform at peak.
Where I think the intersection takes place is that if you make something into a habit, then the brain does not use so much energy and you don’t procrastinate even for tasks where the motivation is low and the amount of ability needed is high.
On the other hand when your motivation levels are high and you’re at your creative best, you can get into a “flow” state and achieve massive outcomes.
I would think you should read both the books because both can help you grow your abilities to perform at your peak.
Till next time then.
Your brain occupies about 2% of body mass but uses upto 25% of the energy. Nothing new here. These facts are more or less known for a very long time. What was new to me when I was reading Steven Kotler’s book The Art of Impossible was the fact that the brain tries to conserve energy, so it tries to do tasks which require less energy and creates a resistance to anything new, novel, unknown etc.
I have been a big procrastinator all my life. And till now I used to feel the biggest reason for me to be like this was that I was scared, I had a fear – of just about anything. I have tried a lot of things to get out of this habit of procrastination and over the years have improved tremendously. One of the best things that I learnt was identifying the task which can have the most impact on my day and then finishing that one task, before moving to anything else.
When you have a team and you also have to coordinate with peers, you may not be able to close all things that you plan in advance.However for that I use my electronic calendar and shift the dates to follow-up with my colleagues and they remain on my calendar till completely closed. So in that sense I have become more action oriented, but there are still a huge amount of areas where I can be many times better, except for my procrastination.
Dan Sullivan has different take on procrastination, and he and Dean Jackson have a podcast called the “joyofprocrastination”. where they talk extensively about how procrastination is actually your friend. I have used some of their concepts also in my journey to improve my productivity.
However after I read the above facts in Steven’s book, it kind of made an “aha” situation for me. My brain resists my doing something new or unknown because it will have to spend more energy. Since the new or novel thing could also hurt me, it will have to do even more work to protect me.The more work it has to do, the more energy it will need to spend. Since the brain is also a pattern recognition system, it tries to keep predicting how things could shape up and therefore predicts the amount of energy it may end up spending. So it suggests avoiding the task altogether as an easy way out to conserve energy.
So now I know, I won’t blame myself for my procrastination habit. I will blame it on my brain for playing games with me. You could also check out and see if this logic holds good for you as well.
Till next time then.