If you’re going to achieve everything you can, then you need to learn to focus and to stay motivated. It is too easy for us to think of far-reaching goals and to work toward them, only to be distracted by cat videos on YouTube or by cake in the cupboard.
The problem is that the body is designed to keep us alive first and foremost. The attention network in our brain turns our attention to immediate threats and potential rewards such as food and sweets. It is much more interested in keeping us alive as opposed to helping us write a book or run a business.
So how do you take back control?
The key is to remind your body why the things you want to do matter and to find the emotional drive that comes from that.
Work is boring and it is hard for the brain to care about. But what is not boring is having a beautiful house and all the food you could possibly want. Being popular with the opposite sex and accomplishing a feeling of status and accomplishment.
You need to connect the work to the accomplishment and the sex.
And the way you do this is with visualization.
One of the best ways to think of the brain is as a simulation machine. Our understanding of the world is based on our experiences in it and our physical sensations. We move towards things that make us feel good and away from things that make us feel bad.
But then we evolved to realize that sometimes it makes sense to move towards something that makes us feel bad – so that we can feel good later. To accomplish this, the brain creates a representation of that reality in our brain and simulates the future in order to help us work toward a distant goal.
And when you visualize that future and simulate what you expect to happen, you use areas in your brain just the same as though you were really experiencing that thing. Picture yourself eating a cake and you will almost taste the cake as the relevant areas in your brain light up.
That imagined cake is therefore just as motivating as the real cake.
The problem is that when we are writing or entering data, the divide between the action and the goal is huge. It’s hard to connect the two.
So picture in your mind why you are doing this. Connect the dots and focus on the outcome. This will create an emotional hook and it will ensure that your mind and body are unified in their objectives.