Some time ago, I wrote a piece about goal setting and I mentioned that we and the wild animals are goal setters. The literal guard lambasted me for this, asking how I could even assume that animals set goals?
Look, I know that we’re the Alpha predators on this blue little marble, hurtling through space, and while we deem ourselves to be more special than the animals, we’re meant to be peacefully inhabiting this planet alongside, there are some functions, which no matter how we would claim them as our God-given own, actually, in the end, boil down to our animalistic programming.
The idea of goal setting conjures up the image of a monocled waist-coat wearing academic in the 1800s scribbling the lyrics of a sonnet with a feather quill, surrounded by paper balls of his imagined stammering. – But what of the lioness who rises, because she has pups to feed and the gnawing in her own stomach to quell?! She has a goal too… Food. Both the academic and the lioness have one thing in common which may surprise you. They stare into space before setting to their tasks. This is not a Hollywood conspiracy in which Walt Disney (Think Lion King) seems to have plagiarised the stare from William Butler Yeats. – There’s something biological and etherial going on at the same time. You see, our brains are either producing Dopamine or Serotonin. When we focus on those things which are in our peripheral control ie in our immediate circle of influence, then a surge of calming serotonin floods the corridors of our minds. However, – think of the distant stare of the gunslinger at high noon… focusing on a point outside his extra personal space, coiled like a snake, ready to explode into action.
The act of focusing on a point that is not within your reach increases pressure in parts of your brain and begs the release of dopamine, the activation energy needed to advance towards the goal. We toggle between that which is in our immediate control and that which is outside our immediate sphere.
If you sometimes lack the motivation to get your ass off the TV couch, I want to share a trick that I learned from the lion king. Close your eyes, think of something that you wish to achieve, a goal. Now hold that image in your mind, whilst focusing on a point that is outside your periphery of reach. Hold that thought, as they say…. Half a minute should do it and you’ll find yourself on auto-pilot, heading there, the activation energy stemming from the dopamine produced in your brain.
I have found this to be helpful when squeezing out those last 2 reps in the gym. I focus on a point and see my goal completed… I guess you could call it Beast Mode… Allowing physiology to prevail, and turn it into our psychological advantage. One thing is for sure… this simple little practice of toggling between spaces helps overcome inertia and moves you closer to your goals, be they to eat, complete that rep, or lavish your sweetheart with a love-smitten sonnet. Dopamine toggle your brain into beast mode and you’ll get there.