Early this year I learned something that changed my life: counting 5 seconds backwards!!
I’m not even joking! Let me explain. Your brain contains two moods – the auto pilot and the drive. The auto pilot part of your brain is the part that executes a habit without even thinking about it. For example, when you pulled your pants on this morning, you either put your right leg or left leg in first. At this moment, you may have to think about which one was first. You probably don’t even remember, because you didn’t think about it when you were pulling your pants on.
The problem for most of us is that half of the day we’re checked out in our auto pilot mood.
The behavioral pattern you repeat can take over, by that I mean thinking patterns like over-thinking, procrastinating, self-doubt, worry, fear… those are all thinking patterns that are habits.
The other mood is the drive. You’re fully awake, you’re present, and you’re in charge of your thoughts. You’re in a drive mood and you are taking control of your actions! When you’re doing that, your prefrontal cortex is active; a part of your brain in charge of learning a new behavior, in charge of doing something difficult or uncertain, etc.
What I learned is that behavior patterns can be interrupted and replaced by using a simple trick. When you feel like you’re about to step outside of your comfort zone you feel yourself hesitate. You hesitate to make that cold call, to speak in a meeting, to close a deal, or to make an executive decision. When you feel that hesitation, start to count backward and launch like a rocket! To quote Nike, “just do it!” It may sound hokey but it allows you to switch up your brain. Counting backward interrupts that process by using the prefrontal cortex part of the brain, it snaps you out of your loop.
You may not be able to control how you feel or what triggers you, but you have it inside you to control how you think and how you behave. We spend so much time manipulating how we feel, often waiting for that right time, a time when we feel ready, or motivated, or courageous. But that time is just out of reach. We only change through ACTIONS. To grow in life, in business, in relationships, you need to take new challenges. There will be some fear, some ego checking, and some uncertainty, but you will grow. You will always feel those feelings, but it’s not about what you feel; it’s about what you think.
There is a 5 second window between the instincts, the shoulds, the urges, the inner wisdom, the things that can change your life if you listen to them. If you don’t move quickly like a rocket, your brain is design to kill whatever made you hesitate. 5 seconds is all you have. A moment’s hesitation and you start to pull back instead of leaning forward. Hesitation triggers your mind that something is up, therefore your mind will magnify it to protect you. But you’ll kill so many opportunities and chances in life if you don’t react quickly.
Looking back at my life now, most of the decisions I made were uncertain, scary, and I wasn’t ready, but if I didn’t make them I wouldn’t have been where I am. And it’s a really good place!