How to get your brain to notice the right things

A few years ago my husband and I went to Rome for a minibreak.
I found this cool little food tour around the medieval Trastevere district and at one stop we were introduced to burrata, a pillowy white cheese made from mozzarella and cream. I had never heard of it before and it was delicious .
Back in London I saw it everywhere.
It was like London found Burrata the same week I did.
Except of course it didn’t, it had always been there on menus. I was subject to the frequency illusion.
My brain, not knowing what it was and probably driven by a hungry stomach, just filtered it out. Once aware and eager to eat more, my brain noticed it, even tucked behind a piece of Cornish Yarg at the butcher.
You need to let your brain know what is important so it can alert you when it finds something relevant, otherwise it will get sifted out.
Make it visual/visible
My quarterly business plan is colourful and up on the wall above my monitor, I look at it multiple times a day. It reminds me of where I want to focus. I find that at the end of the quarter I have achieved most of what I set out to, and often if something didn’t get done, it’s because it lost importance.
Make it meaningful
The goal setting I used to do as part of my annual performance review was dull and uninspiring. Here’s one from 2015
“Manage the delivery of a project to streamline internal processes to free team up to focus on delivery of high quality learning interventions”
Compare that with “Hannah 2.0”, a plan one of my Thinkers in IT came up with to imagine her ideal life. Short, snappy and meaningful to her, I can even remember most of what was in that plan so when I look at her life now I see she achieved most of it.
Ask yourself a question
The brain is a connection machine, it loves figuring out problems.
When I’m stuck I usually prime my brain with a “How might I…” question and go for a walk. I can’t not think about it, just like you can’t not think about an orange elephant once I’ve mentioned one and inevitably I get home with more options than I left with.

So over to you, give this a try and let me know how this goes. Next week I’m going to show you how to use this idea to set your goals for 2022 in under 10 minutes.

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