WRITTEN BY CHRIS CAMPBELL
he turn of the New Year brings a fresh opportunity to identify your accomplishments and zero in on areas for further growth and progress. For professionals striving to reach peak performance in their careers while maintaining harmony in their personal life, maximizing success can be daunting. But by utilizing effective neuroscience strategies employed by top achievers around the world, this gap can be bridged effectively.
It is important, however, to understand how our minds work. Research shows that when we make decisions linked to our vision of success, our brains are wired to prioritize short-term gains over long-term objectives. To counter this tendency, it’s helpful to remember your ultimate vision and focus on strategies that will help you achieve success without sacrificing your values. Fortunately, there are proven data-backed techniques that will help!
Play Make Believe
One of the most effective and client-favourite neuroscience strategies is to use a secondary character, an alter ego, to stand in for yourself when necessary. An alter ego is an alternate version of you that can take the heat off when making difficult decisions. It’s a representation of your highest expectations, allowing you to make the tough calls without sacrificing values or integrity. Top celebrities like Kobe Bryant and Tyra Banks, along with iconic leaders including Martin Luther King Jr., all used alter egos to stay grounded under intense pressure.
Developing an alter ego allows you to make decisions independent of your own biases based on facts rather than feelings or opinions and leads you to greater objectivity and clarity. Additionally, alter egos don’t allow fear to block them. Build a habit of asking, “What would my alter-ego do?”
You will never regret creating this ultimate game of make-believe. It is a powerful way to short-term trick the brain into supporting you the way you want. In the long term, practice develops neural pathways for ongoing support.
Attack the Overwhelming To-Do List
Setting priorities is the second neuroscience strategy you need. Authors Burmeister and Tierney state in Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, a person typically has 150 different tasks on their to-do list. Research shows that the longer your list, the less likely you will get things done. Overwhelm, anxiety, and fear hit, and your brain feels like it’s spinning.
To counteract this, take time to prioritize what’s most important. When creating your list, focus on only three goals that will move the needle toward achieving your vision of success. Then make a plan for how you will accomplish those tasks in a realistic timeline and break them into smaller chunks if necessary. Each day focus on what must get done, trusting you will ultimately still accomplish all your goals.
Prioritizing develops mental toughness to stay focused and productive while moving towards success.
Track Your Brags
The third powerful tool is to remind yourself of past successes. Every day take a moment to reflect on how far you have come and how much you have achieved. Create a victory log and fill it with all the times you took risks, overcame failure, and achieved success. Start each day by reading an entry aloud to put yourself into a state of empowered motivation before tackling the day.
By regularly revisiting the victories of your past, you give yourself the energy and focus to make tough decisions, take risks, and be open to new opportunities in the present. This habit quickly develops into a productive mindset shift and builds trust in yourself.
Don’t Go It Alone
There is only one thing left to add that underpins each of the strategies we discussed. The speed you are able to implement these techniques, and your ultimate level of success will depend on the team around you. Evaluate the support you currently have in your life from your spouse or partner, the executive team at the office, close friends and family; knowing who you can depend on is invaluable.
Additionally, it is notable that the top 14% of executives and the top 8% of income earners retain a combination of therapist, mentor or coach. Working with a non-biased professional to identify deepest desires, mitigate obstacles, and customize strategies with you for success is priceless.
Undeniably, having a strong will and mental resilience, accompanied by the right support system, are critical to achieving success. By implementing neuroscience strategies such as adopting an alter ego, setting priorities, and reflecting on past achievements in your daily life, you can stay productive in times of stress and create life-changing habits that will set you ahead of the competition.
Here’s to you and 2023.
Chris Campbell is an international executive performance coach, bringing decades of valuable experience in sales and neuroscience-based leadership. He has developed his own frameworks for customizing professional coaching experiences with an understanding of what it takes to succeed as a leader at the c-suite level. Chris’ diverse background growing up in Toronto but living abroad gives him unique insight into how leaders from around the world operate – insights he employs when guiding clients through emotional mastery and authentic leadership development.
The best way to get in touch with Chris for executive performance coaching, corporate workshops or leadership speaking opportunities is by direct email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Baumeister, R. F., & Tierney, J. (2011). Willpower: Rediscovering the greatest human strength. Penguin Press.
Custers R., Aarts H. (2005). Positive affect as implicit motivator: On the nonconscious operation of behavioral goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 129-142.
Passmore, Jonathan. (2021) Global Coach Survey 2021. University of Reading. ISBN 978-1-912473-32-8
Anastasiya and Amir, On and Dhar, Ravi and Baumeister, Roy, Deciding Without Resources: Psychological Depletion and Choice in Context (January 1, 2007).