The wandering mind seems to be a pervasive trait of the human condition. Our insatiable appetite for information and entertainment initiates constant internal chatter and external sensory distractions that lead to a loss of focus—derailing attention, energy, motivation, and sometimes health.
It's no secret that living in sensory overload impedes us from being and manifesting our best. So, if you promised yourself that 2017 was going to be the year that you went after your dream, let's make it happen by tapping into the magic of your mind.
1. Tap into creativity.
I work with a lot of entrepreneurs, and I've noticed that many people assume they work nonstop. The truth is that entrepreneurs do work hard, but most of them also value balance. If you are looking to get the creative wheels turning, self-care is key. There is a link between creativity and solitary activities such as daydreaming, walking, or painting. If you are stagnant and in search of motivation or relaxation, take a shower. Research shows that 72 percent of people around the world reported having new ideas or insights in the shower. When we give ourselves the space and time to indulge in hobbies or pampering, our mind can reward us with unlocking the flow of ideas.
It may seem obvious to those who do it, but committing to a daily meditation practice can be transformative. Carve out the time, which can be just 10 minutes, and plan ahead. Meditation has been shown to increase compassion, decrease stress, and improve memory. By meditating regularly, we strengthen connections in the prefrontal lobe, our brain's reasoning center. As a result, we are better able to check in with our bodies and respond to outside stressors more rationally. When I'm stuck, I always do quick body scan to get in touch with my feelings.
You can do anything, but you can't do everything.
3. Don't multitask.
Many budding entrepreneurs I teach have a lot of good ideas and are excited about pursuing them. I tell them to adopt the mantra, you can do anything, but you can’t do everything. Set an intention to do one thing at a time with the knowledge that multitasking is a myth. When you multitask, you are actually context-switching, and your error rate goes up as much as 50 percent1.
However, management experts posit that the average American consumes 34 gigabytes of content and 100,000 words in a single day. And there is evidence suggesting that the average human attention span is eight seconds, which is shorter than a goldfish's. To get in the habit of focusing deeper, unplug and put the technology away. Building a healthier relationship with your email and cellphone will train you to be more present and bring your attention to the one thing that deserves your attention in that moment.
4. Use your vision.
Humans are visual creatures, so it should come as no surprise that in order to achieve success, you must visualize it. Research shows that if you hear something, you'll remember only 10 percent of it three days later. But if you hear something accompanied by a picture, you'll likely remember 65 percent in the days after.
Manifesting your dreams requires imagining yourself carrying them out. Picture yourself where you want to be in six weeks, six months, and six years from this moment. What do you want your life to look like? Start a vision board where you can share inspiration that fuels your dream.
5. Try new things.
Exploration leads to achievement. Trying new things and taking risks activates the neurotransmitter dopamine, which plays a significant role in motivation and learning. When we get out of comfort zone, we become more creative and flexible. Enjoy nature, break routine to try out a new schedule, and don't be afraid to make mistakes. (Social psychology research shows that setbacks actually make us more likable!) So, embrace inevitable shortcomings and connect with others over your pitfalls and successes.
Leigh Winters is a neuroscientist, psychologist and natural beauty expert. She received her M.S. in Neuroscience and her M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University. She is the founder and CEO of Leigh Winters Beauty, and has previously contributed to NBC News, Allure, Health, and Shape, and worked as a researcher at Columbia University’s Spirituality Mind Body Institute researching mindfulness and biobehavioral health.