You’ll make countless decisions this year. Each one of them ranging from the nebulous to the nitty gritty to reach your goals. Yet, what happens right before we land on one? Just moments before we make a choice? Believe it or not, we’re blissfully unaware of a lapse in time – 10 seconds to be exact.
In this brief space, a lot happens according to some researchers. They claim that there’s a five to nine second interval where our brain has already deliberated and made up its mind. But, we have yet to realize it. The late neurophysiologist, Benjamin Libet, studied the regions of the brain responsible for movement. He asserted these regions reacted a few hundred milliseconds before a conscious decision is made.
Think of it this way – a package is delivered to your home. Once it has arrived, the item is unloaded from the truck to your front stoop. Naturally, you’re not responsive to the activity unfolding in your yard… just yet.
Then, the doorbell rings. Your brain’s message center lights up and says, “There’s something or someone waiting at the door.” This lag time is normal, akin to a slow-motion sequence in an action movie. But if you sped up each frame, it actually takes less than 150 milliseconds to generate and act on a thought.
So, if we’re hard wired pretty much the same, what makes someone an avid gym goer and others not? How do they bypass the 10 second bell curve and hit the ground running, literally? What’s the difference between “us” and “them”?
Like any Oscar award-winning plot, there’s a cinematic twist. Ready for it?
We Analyze and Agonize Over Decisions… A Lot. It’s no Wonder our Motivation Fades and Old Habits Die Hard.
When we’re not certain nor motivated to do something, we just become a cog in the wheel. We ruminate on our thoughts until we’re mentally maxed out. So, what do we do? We revert to our comfort zone and veg out… most likely on the couch.
“Our habits are so ingrained… it’s very likely that harmful ones are sneaking in and detracting from our success,” according to Elle Kaplan, a self-made entrepreneur and Huffington Post contributor. “That’s why the exceptionally successful know what you don’t do is just as important as your actions.”
Science seems to agree. The National Sleep Foundation says individuals who don’t make their bed feel less rested than those who do. The Journal of Psychological Science also reveals we’re up to two times more likely to reach for a cookie, instead of an apple, if our office space is unkempt and cluttered.
Don’t Grapple with the Apple. Take a Bite Sized Approach to Goal Setting.
If you really want to incite change, start a 10 second revolution around your self-talk. Here’s how:
- Be a disrupter of your thoughts (time: 5 seconds).
According to Mel Robbins, author of the Five Second Rule, we need to skyrocket forward like a NASA space missile. This means if we have an impulse to act on a goal, we must physically move (take action) within five seconds or our brain will nuke the idea. This heads off any cognitive backlash like the “I don’t want to” or “I don’t feel like it” epitaphs, in favor of carrying out our mission. Hello, treadmill!
- Alert your body to a shift (time: 2 seconds).
The brain can’t differentiate between a fake smile or laugh. It simply reacts to the positioning of our facial muscles, known as Facial Feedback Hypothesis. When we smile, happy chemicals called endorphins are released into the body. This immediately reduces stress and elevates our mood. Hello, healthy diet!
- Buddy up and tell your circle (time: 3 seconds).
If you have a goal and you’re serious about achieving it, don’t go it alone. Invite accountability and tell someone. If you’re feeling brave, share a post on Facebook. Making something public puts a stake in the ground where we don’t want to disappoint others – especially ourselves. And telling just one trusted friend will have the same effect. Hello, commitment!
Next time, nix the low hanging fruit. Instead, reframe your brain by turning over the apple cart. It’s time to say “Hello” to the goal getter in you.
P.S. Did you know that we speak approximately 860.3 million words over a lifetime? Make each syllable meaningful, purposeful, and even profitable. In 2018, our team of coaches want to be your accountability partner. We’ll help you enhance your communications at home and at work.
How about them apples?