Train Your Brain… Forget Resolutions

Train your brain to get what you want in the New Year.

I hate New Year’s Resolutions.

The minute I resolve to lose weight or save more money, it seems like my brain starts to work against me. Suddenly, I’m seeing luscious chocolate desserts everywhere. Every store has phenomenal sales on items I would just love to own.

What’s with that?

It turns out that my brain is pretty normal. David DiSalvo wrote an article in Lifehacker that explained it in simple terms:

Our brains are reward-seeking organs, and targeting rewards (tangible and intangible) is part of their stock and trade. The problem is, the brain isn’t equipped with an especially keen sense of selectivity about which reward is best to pursue at any given time, and this results in mental conflict about how to direct our energy.

What to do: Be aware that your brain is tuned to seek rewards, but you have to impose a degree of control on the what, why and when of any pursuit. In other words, turn off autopilot and grab the controls.

So I have come up with a way to get my brain trained to cooperate with me. Instead of making a list of resolutions for the New Year, I visualize a picture about myself.

The picture describes in detail what my life will look like at the end of the next year. I imagine myself having robust health, surrounded by happy family and friends, enjoying a wonderful dinner in my home. We are laughing and talking about the wonderful times we all have had during the year.

Every time my brain brings up an automatic thought (like having an extra glass of wine), I stop and compare it with my end of year picture. If I act on the thought, does it bring me closer to my desired picture? If not, I toss it out.

Then, it becomes a game. My brain sends thoughts and I accept or reject them based on my end of year picture. I’m training my brain to give me the thoughts that will bring me closer to the results in my story.

Does it work?

Yes! You do need to take the time to develop your mental picture and stay focused on it when your brain sends wayward thoughts.

Having trouble creating that mental picture? Use Pinterest to create a vision or dream board. Clare Diaz-Ortiz has a great example of a Pinterest Dream Board. You don’t even need to leave Facebook to set up a Dream Board. Here’s a Facebook app you can use to share your Vision with your friends or keep private.

I believe that it is important to keep my vision to myself until it happens. You might find that sharing a dream with a close friend can help. Do what works for you.

Do you train your brain?

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