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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Drawing Your Vision or Goals: Helping Your Brain Commit Them To Memory

Setting goals is a magnificent, inspiring, iterative practice.  Not just a quarterly or annual process, it can be an effective daily practice when you want to make change stick.  I was recently researching the neuroscience of memory and what helps us to keep our focus on achieving what we want; those sometimes slippery goals.

There are three types of memory - sense memory, which is what you experience on a sensory level; short-term memory (sometimes called working memory) which is what's happening right now in this present moment - for example you want something to eat so you go to the fridge and get it.  The third type of memory is long-term memory.  

Sense memory almost always automatically shifts into your short-term memory. Short-term memory can only hold information for about a few minutes, and its storage capacity is limited.  It can only take in about 5 items or elements before it short-circuits and starts dumping things off into the abyss. Long-term memory, however, can retain some information for life and it has an enormous capacity.  Long-term memory is key to goal achievement.
Think about it.  What's the use of goal setting if you can't remember what it is you are focusing on?  So it's a good idea to help your brain shift those new pictures of who and where you want to be a year from today out of that short-term and into the long-term memory.  

To make your thoughts into a roadmap for reality, you have to get a little loud and creative.  Your brain's short-term memory is so used to quickly sorting and screening out information that it often just simply deletes ideas and moves on to managing the car in traffic unless you tell it to stop and PAY ATTENTION. This is where using both words and images to capture your ideas and vision right when you are thinking about them is so critical.

Drawing, for those of you who are not artists, is a fantastic way to call something out with a big highlighter for your brain.  If you don't often draw, just the act of doing that "new thing" wakes your brain up and forges a new neural pathway.  Drawing also helps you relax, subsequently you are more likely to surface new ideas, increase your creativity, clarity and focus.  Doodling pictures or symbols helps imbed the concepts, ideas or vision with enough juice that your zippy short-term memory moves it into a more permanent place.  Both words and images combine to specify for your brain what and why something is important - a recipe for great goal-setting.

Next time you are reviewing where you are and where you want to be, why not draw it out on a piece of paper to see if you get any different results.  Remember combine words and images to thoroughly up your creative genius and lock in those goals you want to focus on to increase your success.



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