The average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000, or around the time the mobile revolution began, to eight seconds – a 33 percent drop. Goldfish, meanwhile, are believed to have an attention span of 9 seconds.
– The Telegraph (UK)
Ponder upon this question: Are you in control of your mind?
Think over it seriously. Don’t shrug the question and move forward. Contemplate on it for a minute at least.
The most obvious answers that can come out are non-serious. One thinks brain to be a mere part of their body, and therefore, they are in complete control of it.
But it’s not about that. Having control of your brain is so very different. Our brain is actually a kind of “autopilot.” Most of the times it does what it likes to do and many of the best neuroscientists of the world, agree to this fact.
Here are a couple of examples:
You decide to take up dieting and lose weight. You are determined and sure you want to do this. But the very next day you find yourself pulled to the most sinful cakes and pastries just like a moth is attracted to fire.
You have pledged to rid yourself of self-critical and negative thoughts, but your mind is full of them, even more than before.
These are just two common examples. The examples are meant only to suggest that we are full of thoughts that we don’t want to think about. These thoughts often make us do things which we don’t want, but nevertheless, we do them despite our better judgment.
Now, if you think about the question, you might answer both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Of course, we cannot deny as we do manage to do so many things and control ourselves from doing so many awful things. But, so many times we fail. We fall victim to the brain’s ‘autopilot’ ability.
But, why does it happen?
It is simple. The human brain is complex and is capable of recognizing behavioral patterns. It is lazy too. Once, it is capable of understanding what you would like to do the most in a particular environment it will act in the same manner. That is why when you develop a habit of something, for example, eating sweets whenever possible, you can’t just get over with the habit at once.
Your brain is conditioned to behave like that and it won’t work hard to do otherwise.
Unless you train your mind to strain itself to exercise control and behave differently, it loves to be in the autopilot mode for most of the activities.
Surprisingly retraining or reconditioning is not at all a big deal. You can ask yourself 4 basic questions and keep on asking them until you are able to enable yourself gain control of your brain.
You may ask yourself these four questions when you face indecision or a challenge or a problem.
1. WHAT IS MORE IMPORTANT?
Ann Hermann-Nehdi, CEO of Herrman International and guest speaker at multiple TED conferences, calls this the “payoff” question because we are programming at the conscious level why do we do something.
For example, often people decide to “exercise more”, but that is not very clear unless you have outlined a concrete reason why you want to exercise more. Do you do that to improve your appearance or lower cholesterol levels or there is a desire to be a role model as a fit and healthy person?
Whenever you find a desire for doing something which poses a challenge to you, it is important that you ask why exactly you want to do it. It is significant that you provide the substantive rationale for any challenge/decision/problem. Your mind would want to put off these questions because it’s lazy and prone to act in pre-conditioned manners. But, if you do you are more likely to completing the tasks.
2. HOW CAN I DO IT?
Whatever challenge we take up it is almost without a supportive plan. It is the most common thing that majority of people do. Going unplanned is the easiest way to fail and this happens because our brain is always looking to avoid responsibility.
For example, you want to change your job, and it sounds simple enough. But, in most cases, people are often found to be failing in this pursuit. Number 1 reason they never have a plan.
What is involved in “look for a different job?” Are you taking time out at least hour or two every Saturday? Are you researching companies that hiring in your area? Have you made efforts to connect with people on LinkedIn/Facebook/Twitter? Have you improved your resume? Have you created job alerts on multiple job platforms? Have you approached any recruiter headhunter?
3. WHO WILL BE AFFECTED BY MY DECISIONS?
It may be that there is no one who will be affected by your decisions, but you must think deeply if the consequences are likely to affect someone.
Usually, people tend to overlook the people who could be affected by the consequences of the challenge/problem/decision. This happens because our brain does not want to work and make efforts to think constructively. When you understand fully who are involved in making the decision or who could be affected by the consequences of your decision will help you to avoid complications at a later stage.
4. WHAT IF _____HAPPENED?
In most cases, it is almost always good to possess a contingency plan. Taking into consideration the earlier examples—-
“I want to “I want to exercise more.”
What if I got injured?
“First, I’d look for the exercises that I can continue to do even if I am injured. Second, if I cannot find anything, I would eat more healthy and avoid some types of foods.”
“I want to look for a different job.”
What if my spouse doesn’t like the idea?
“My spouse needs rational answers to clear the doubts and understand why I want to change my job. I’ll explain my reasons and resolve the concerns.”
Usually, it is not at all difficult for us to figure out the possible “obstacles” that come up in the form of people or situations. But, it will be of use only when we ready ourselves how to deal with those potential obstacles to achieve success.