A bucket list does not work as well as a REAL to-do-list

compliment yourself to motivate your brainI start everyday with a to-do-list. Do you ?

Unfortunately my days have a tendency to end ………. as “BAD” days. The reason, my definition of a “GOOD DAY” versus a “BAD DAY”, hinges around exactly how many items are actually crossed off the to-do list.

Not sure if you do this, but if you do………. your “motivation” system is not BRAIN FRIENDLY. In fact, you’re stacking things in such a way that you end up sabotaging your success. Be honest, only superwomen on steroids would actually be able to TICK OFF every item on that list.

This weeks Neurotechnology Tip, suggests reframing your to-do-list, to make it a little more brain friendly.

Your brain loves to receive compliments

Any time your brain receives a compliment it sits up and takes notice.

A compliment, preferably from someone else, but even one from you, is actually able to buy a ticket into your body’s own special Fun Faire, the Nuclear Accumbens Theme Park.

Think how eating a chocolate makes you feel. Chocolate is a relatively safe and easy way to buy Theme Park tickets.

And “Buying” tickets, is what make life worth living.

But “buying” tickets can be quite pricey. And can sometimes cause a great deal of trouble – think drugs, sex and rock and roll.

So finding low cost ways of “buying” tickets is going to be helpful ……..

Complimenting a brain improves performance

A team of Japanese researchers, confirmed complimenting your brain, buys tickets and this leads to improved performance.

The Japanese team discovered this, when they experimented with handing out compliments to adult volunteers, performing a tricky finger exercise.

When the volunteers received a compliment – they upped their game and performed the exercise, better the next day. Volunteers who were not really acknowledged for their masterful effort, performed much the same the next day.

Is your to-do-list complimentary ?

If it is a bucket list, instead of a real to-do-list, then it is probably not complimentary.

What is the difference ?

A real to-do-list , is a list of things you REALLY plan on doing during the course of the day, the week, the month or year – whatever.

A bucket list is all the things YOU SHOULD DO.

Granted some of these items you will NEED to do, like take out the garbage, but many of them you’re NEVER going to do, like clean out the garage. Okay, NEVER say NEVER, but you’re not going to do them any time soon.

A critical look

A bucket list will leave you with a very long list of things you did not do.

Viewing a list like this, leads you to focus on all the things you did not do, barely noticing the things you did do.

Pointing out to your brain your failings and short comings is CRITICIZING, not COMPLIMENTING.

Criticizing never feels good and is seldom MOTIVATING.

Compliment yourself for what you did do

You want to compliment yourself on what you have done, even if it boils down to having written the item on your REAL to-do-list, this shows you’re committed. (Well done !)

So this year, try doing things a little bit different. Ditch the bucket list, and create a REAL to-do-list.

Then….. when it comes to looking at your list ….

  • Do not focus on what has not been done – IGNORE IT.
  • Focus on what has been done, even if it is a baby step – tell yourself how fabulous you are.

Don’t be shy, your brain will really appreciate the sentiment and reward you….with a little bit more effort.

A little bit more effort each day, will translate to better days, better weeks and a better year.

Happy New Year, wishing you all a FABULOUS 2013.

Social Rewards Enhance Offline Improvements in Motor Skill. PLoS ONE (2012) 7 (11): e48174.  Sho K. Sugawara, Satoshi Tanaka, Shuntaro Okazaki, Katsumi Watanabe, Norihiro Sadato.

To wire up your brain a little each week ………………..

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Further reading

brain munching on a carrot a sweet tying up the stress hormone test taking reward
To motivate your brain nibble on chocolate covered carrots Why you should keep a spoonful of sugar in your brief case Now rewards the ticket to the good life

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

balance eicosanoids rein in insulin dial down stress sleep vitamin D microflora think
Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

Hire Dr Sandy from a Spoonful of Science to be the keynote speaker at your next event.

Did you learn something new or do you have a different perspective ? I’d love to hear from you so post me a comment below

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