Let’s be honest, the world of entrepreneurship is a ROLLERCOASTER! From wearing a ridiculous number of hats and managing social media, to placing immense pressure on yourself to deliver results and never being able to shut your brain off at bedtime, as a business owner, stress inevitably compounds—especially leading into the holidays, the biggest quarter of the year for so many.
But, what if you had accessible tactics to help not only manage stress, but allow you to actually optimize brain function under demand?
Back in September, one of the Academy at the Farm’s brilliant keynote speakers, Jamie Wood, the CEO and Founder of Autonomic, addressed this very question through the lens of brain performance. She took us on a neuroscientific journey and inspired us to learn about how our brains work, what drives motivation, how the brain operates under fatigue, how to set effective goals and what gets in the way of achieving them.
Jamie outlined six key factors that work in tandem with the brain to optimize your performance and, essentially, live your best life! By understanding the WHY behind these linkages to the brain, you can empower yourself to make mindful, positive changes in both your personal and professional worlds.
We encourage you to carve out time to reflect on the elements listed below—either by journaling or taking quiet time to consider how to make small adjustments that could potentially yield big results!
1. Optimizing brain function
Any minor to major physical, mental or emotional effort releases a little noradrenaline into the brain/body. When noradrenaline levels get too high, the brain questions its ability to perform ‘feels like’ too much. Engaging in activities that lower noradrenaline throughout the day, such as meditation, walking, yoga, deep breathing and journaling, will help you move towards your goals.
2. Willpower and the brain
Willpower is the ability to resist short-term temptations and desires to achieve long-term goals. Two things have been shown to train the brain’s ability to enhance willpower capabilities: meditation and physical activity. Are there ways you can integrate some more mindful moments into your routine? Downloading a meditation app, scheduling 15 minutes of non-negotiable yoga first things in the morning, and signing up for a group workout class, to name a few.
3. Goal setting and the brain
Goal setting changes the way the brain functions by changing the structure of your brain, so it is optimized to achieve that goal. The goal that makes the most dramatic change to brain structure are the ones that you are highly emotionally attached to.
Setting ambitious or challenging goals activates the amygdala and frontal lobe of the brain. Ambitious goals keep you focused and working towards situations and behaviours to achieve that goal.
In the Jilly Academy, goal setting is one of the first things we do in Course One. It’s providing specific, end destinations for the journey that is entrepreneurship. Looking ahead to 2023, are there new goals you’d like to achieve?
4. Sleep and Brain Function
Even getting less than six hours of sleep a night is a form of chronic stress that impairs how the brain and body use energy. Any sleep towards improved quantity and quality of sleep will boost self-control. This can be one of the most challenging factors at play, but are there ways that you can set up your sleep routine for success ahead of time? Is it having more order to your room? Diffusing essential oils? Starting your bedtime routine half an hour earlier? Doing an evening meditation?
5. Keystone Habits
In neuroscience, a small win is called a keystone habit. Small wins have enormous power and influence disproportionate to the accomplishments and victories themselves. The behaviour you repeat the most are literally etched into your neural pathways. Instead of trying to change everything, focus on one thing you can commit to every day. This will be the foundation of shifting your performance behaviour – it can be as simple as drinking a glass of water before your morning coffee, or going for a walk at the end of the day.
6. Visualization and the Brain
Vividly describing and writing down goals increases the chance of achieving them 1.2 – 1.4 times. You are seeing the end result already occur in your mind’s eye. When you think about your goals, do you take it that step further in actually picturing yourself obtaining them? So goes the quote, “visualizing is daydreaming on purpose” and one surefire way to feel GOOD!