Our Simple Minds: Mind Tricks
Sorry that I’m struggling to shake the simplicity theme that underpinned the Play/ Game posts earlier in the
week. I feel this will be a recurring theme throughout my exploration of conscious vs. other-than-consciousness as it is at the heart of our self-management.
The whole idea about tricking or ‘blatantly’ nudging yourself into change is a strange one when you consider the supposed power of the intellectual conscious. Back to the ‘remembering to take something to work’ example that I have mentioned before and that David Allen uses so well: how could such an intelligent human animal really rely on leaving something by the front door in order to remember to take it into work the next day. Why is NLP and hypnotherapy so effective in enabling self-change when analysed, it is clearly so simple: all about beliefs and mental associations.
I was struck this morning how we can trick ourselves into working. How we can fool ourselves into addressing challenging tasks just by being a bit dumb about it.
Put simply: if we remove the conscious barriers or layers between identification of the need for the action, and the action itself, then it appears that we get more done with less resistance. I sometimes think that Forest Gump is an ideal role model for all busy people who want to achieve more in their lives.
As Forest says:
Drill Sergeant: Gump! What’s your sole purpose in this army?
Forrest Gump: To do whatever you tell me, drill sergeant!
Drill Sergeant: God damn it, Gump! You’re a god damn genius! This is the most outstanding answer I have ever heard. You must have a goddamn I.Q. of 160. You are goddamn gifted, Private Gump. Listen up, people…
Forrest Gump: [narrates] Now for some reason I fit in the army like one of them round pegs. It’s not really hard. You just make your bed real neat and remember to stand up straight and always answer every question with “Yes, drill sergeant.”
Drill Sergeant: …Is that clear?
Forrest Gump: Yes, drill sergeant!
If we remove the conscious resistance to the task and just do, then we’re focusing on our own drill sergeant of task completion. I would argue that you need a trusted system (like GTD) and a relaxed ability to prioritise for your time and energies. But otherwise: just listen to the drill sergeant.
What does this mean in reality? It means tipping yourself into change by the simplest means. It means putting your trainers on as soon as you think about not going for the run you’d scheduled. It means picking up the phone and starting to dial the very second you start to feel the slight fogginess of ‘but what’s more important/ I’ve got all these things to do..etc. etc. repeat….). By the time you’ve finished consciously battling with yourself you’d have made the call and ticked something off your list.
I’ve been trying a ‘Switching’ technique: take two items that you know you should absolutely do. Spend a couple of minutes thinking about what’s involved in doing one of the things….
…and then immediately start to do the other.
It’s probably just me, but I seem to get the task done so much quicker because I’m so used to not doing what I should be doing. Yes it sounds dumb, but is there a logic to it?