Insights from Dana
Hack Your Brain: Personal Practices to Help You Achieve Success

Your brain is the key to your success.

Your brain defines the way you see the world, how you show up in it, your values, and even what you believe is possible. 

The thing is, most of these thoughts and beliefs function as a background process, like the code that runs your computer. You can’t see the code; you aren’t consciously aware of it, but it creates the lens through which you perceive EVERYTHING – your self, relationships, business, and life as you know it. 

This massive job is fulfilled by your Reticular Activating System (RAS).

Think of your RAS as a filter built into the operating system that is your brain.

Ultimately, the goal of your RAS is to keep you safe and alive.

The problem is that, unless there is an imminent threat to your safety, your brain thinks that staying right where you are, doing and believing the same things you already do, is the best way to ensure your survival. 

Which makes it really hard to grow.

This is why understanding how your brain works is essential to your success.

Because if you have goals you want to achieve and ceilings you want to shatter, you need to update that filter in your operating system to enable those functions.

How to Update Your Internal Filter

Changing your mind is like a scientific hypothesis: you need to acquire evidence to prove to your brain that something else is possible.

Thankfully, you’re surrounded by evidence of countless possibilities every single day. The only problem is that your RAS filters out everything that doesn’t align with your existing beliefs, which means that your brain never receives proof that anything else is possible.

If you want to update that filter, you need to start shining a light on evidence that supports the beliefs that empower you to grow and achieve your goals.

As a high-strategy business coach with a background in neurobiology,  I use these two practices with my Catapult clients to shift their internal perspectives and unlock new possibilities. Now I’m sharing them with you to help you hack your brain and start training your RAS to support your goals and aspirations.

Hack Your Brain Practice #1: Notice with Intention

Your attention is an investment you can leverage to retrain your RAS. It’s as simple as noticing when you are succeeding at what you want to achieve. 

Carve out time at the end of your day to intentionally notice your wins, even if it’s only five or ten minutes before you head to bed.

If your goal is to elevate your leadership, make a note of the moments when you embodied what being a great leader means to you, even in small ways. Call out the decisive decisions you made, the clear expectations you set, the healthy boundaries you’ve drawn, and how you showed up to support your team.

The point of this practice is to focus your brain on evidence that what you want to achieve and the way you want to show up is really possible.

Consistency is key because your RAS isn’t interested in growth. It’s preoccupied with survival. If you want to see results, commit to noticing as a daily practice for the next month and see what shifts for you.

Hack Your Brain Practice #2: Visualize Success

Great leaders and achievers, from Mohammad Ali and Michael Phelps to Oprah Winfrey and even Einstein, have used visualization as a tool to empower their success.

Don’t let the name fool you.

Even if you aren’t a visually-oriented person, this somatic or body-based technique is about more than “seeing” what you want in your mind’s eye. It’s about imagining the reality you want to create and mentally putting yourself in that space.

Start by imagining the goal you want to achieve and the outcome or results you desire.

Now visualize, or imagine, how you want the process to play out. 

What steps, conversations, or experiences unfold along the way? 

What sounds, visuals, or other details come to mind?

How does your body respond? What sensations do you notice? Does it feel like a weight has dropped off your shoulders? Do you feel invigorated?

You may find visualization challenging at first, but that isn’t a bad thing, and it doesn’t mean that this technique won’t work for you. Remember that you’re building a new skill set, and there’s a learning curve whenever we try to do or learn something new. 

There’s also a great reason to keep practicing–your brain believes that the mental movie you’re creating is real. 

Visualization is effective because your brain doesn’t distinguish between what you perceive in your imagination and what you perceive in the real world.

This New York Times editorial by David Brooks does a great job of breaking down the why and how behind this mental phenomenon.

Practice Setting Yourself Up for Success

Both of these practices are potent tools for transformation. Combined, they empower you to shift your perspective, reframe your current reality, and bring your future vision for yourself and your business to life.

It really is all in your mind.

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