How My Brain Stops Me From Achieving My Goals (And How I’m Fighting Back)


This morning I was procrastinating over the Lifehaker article How Our Brains Stop Us From Achieving Our Goals (And How To Fight Back), when Ishould have been dealing with my workload or completing 1 of the 5 subjects of the Project Management Certificate I am studying.

Reading the first two sentences, ‘As wonderful and fascinating as the human brain is, its operation can be hard to fathom. In some circumstances, our brain’s natural reaction actually does more to sabotage than help.’  I stopped, realized how my brain does in fact sabotage my goals.

Your brain can hurt your goals by fantasising too much

I spend a lot of time fantasising, about finishing my Project Management Certificate, and not because I don’t like studying, I want to complete the certificate to enable me to continue other studies to help towards my goal of becoming a Manager or Project Officer in my career one day.  I’ve completed 10 of the 15 required subjects within 10 months. and had requested the final 5 subjects be sent to out a month ago…. I haven’t started one subject.   The moment the finish line appeared so close,  my brain decided there is no need to rush and complete the Certificate by the end of the 12 months.  My brain is telling me to take some time off, do something else, chill out….dude.

Why?  The brain has taken advantage of my positive fantasy, the anticipated success of completing the Project Management Certificate, it is allowing myself to fail to complete the certificate, because in my own mind, I’ve already received the reward and reached my goal.

I can relate this to running and triathlon training.  I have found 1 or 2 weeks before a major event, I begin to slack off, skip sessions, the brain justifies I have done the hard yards, cause I’ve already simulating my own achievement of the event.

I have become a great believer of establishing goals, visualizing them and giving yourself pats on the back each time you make a step closer to completing your goal.  Although I’ve proven to myself to be a goal completer, I now realise sometimes I should live in the here and now, and not so much in the distant future of completing the goals.

Your brain procrastinates on big projects by visualising the worst parts

Arh, Procrastination, my best friend in the workplace.  I’m not saying that my role isn’t busy, and that I haven’t got enough of a workload, actually doing the workload is followed by an hour or two of procrastination each morning, surfing the internet for interesting reading material, shoes, sporting goods, etc.

Relating to my Certificate, in the past I’ve normally requested 2 subjects at a time for me to complete, then request the next two.  This time I requested the Final 5 (BSG Term *giggles*) subjects.  My brain has envisioning the impending huge workload of 5 subjects, with 12 Activities, 30 Questions and Assessment Report that each subject includes.  It is focusing on the most difficult parts (the 30 Questions and Assessment Report), and now procrastination has set in, I’m avoiding the hard work, and I’m finding ways around it and trick myself into thinking I’m busy.

Realising I’ve allowed my brain to procrastinate for a month over starting the next subject, I’ve already completed 5 of the 12 activities section of the first subject I began today.  Just starting, my brain is already overcoming the first hurdle.  A small milestone in working towards my goal, it’s a start none-the-less.

Although the article goes on to discuss many other ways how our brains stop us from achieving our goals.  Those discussed have helped, since starting a subject, my brain can see it’s not as big a mountain as it initially imagined, and that the work involved in completing this task won’t be so terrifying after all.

Mars.