mindset resetDON’T DO IT! Do not make any New Year’s Resolutions for 2017!!! RESIST THE URGE!

Who wants to make a bunch of resolutions knowing statistically you will only keep about 25% of them?

You don’t need no stinking resolutions! What you need is a Mindset Reset.

What is that? It is the act of giving the software system in your brain a reboot. When your computer freezes, you can hard-boot it by turning the entire system off and then turning it on again. Sounds like fun…getting turned on again. YES! That’s exactly it! Your mind is going to get TURNED ON AGAIN!

Think back to this time last year. You sat down after the December holiday feasts with a blank page and a pencil, and started to make New Year’s Resolutions. You felt pretty good about yourself: lose 25 lbs., get a better paying job, go to the gym, eat only vegetables, gain 3 more big clients, etc, etc. And by about February you had not lost any weight, you lost your job, and you tore up your New Year’s Resolutions.

The Mindset that created your Resolutions was outdated. Like your computer system, your Mindset had not been updated in maybe years. You thought the Resolutions WERE the reboot. But no, my friend: you were creating Resolutions with your old habits of writing down what you WISHED would happen. You have been trying to RE-SOLVE the same old stuff.

changeWith a Mindset Reset, the old habits that keep your mind from accomplishing those stale resolutions is now going to be replaced with a habit that will add flexibility to how your mind thinks about making the change…and then acting the change.

Now this is dangerous territory: Changing your Mind.

Don’t worry. You can’t. No, really; you can’t. You can, however, alter your behavior – maybe about 2% which, in turn, creates a more flexible brain.

At the moment, here you are: You need a Mindset Reset and you will accomplish this by changing your mind, which you can’t because you can only alter your behaviors about 2%, and those behaviors are actually habits curated by your mind over time which are kind of inflexible and what you really want is a flexible brain, which you already have – you just got used to its inflexibility – so you can create new habits which, in time, will get stale until you….yes, on and on.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle is credited with saying these 15 famous words, though they’re actually an interpretation of a passage from Aristotle’s writings by historian Will Durant. So, if a Mindset Reset = Altering Old Behaviors to Make New Ones, what’s the trick?

Here’s the fun part: pick up three juggling balls and let’s get some new thinking going. I’m going to combine my own research with Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz, a practicing neuropsychiatrist affiliated with UCLA, and author of a book called Brainlock. His following four solutions to re-wiring the brain fit nicely with the 43 years I have been researching juggling and the affect it has on the brain:

  1. Relabel Thoughts: Put two balls in the hand your write with, and one ball in the other hand. Start with the hand that has two balls in it; toss one ball from it over to the other hand in an arching pattern. As the first ball passes the middle of your head (slightly over the top of your head) toss the single ball in your second hand in the opposite direction of the first ball in the opposite arching pattern. Just as the second ball passes over the top of your head, toss the third ball in the same pattern as the first ball, and repeat this patterning ad infinitum.
    • Chances are you dropped the second ball and never let go of the third. Chances are even better that you put one ball down and started tossing the two balls in a circular pattern, which is what you have thought juggling to be all these years. You are doing that because it is comfortable to you.
    • You say to yourself (or out loud), “But I am juggling.” No, you are not yet juggling. You are tossing balls in a pattern not yielding the desired result: the X pattern. Your thought persists: “But I am juggling.” Contrary to the evidence, you are not juggling in the X pattern. You are not yet acting sufficiently different in your behavior to accomplish the desired result: juggling in the X pattern.
    • Solution: say out loud, “X pattern, X pattern” – now start the process again of tossing balls in opposition to each other (the X pattern). It is crazy goofy when this works, and it works every time.
    • It works every time because you have relabeled your thought from ‘O’ pattern to ‘X’ pattern and that one in language produces a major shift in your behavior. Combining this shift in behavior with the action of tossing the balls in the X pattern, you have now created a new neural pathway in your brain.
  2. Reattribute Thoughts:
    • Let’s say you have just accomplished the X pattern one time with two balls. “But I am not juggling,” you say. Using the definition of keeping more balls in the air than you have hands, you are close to juggling. In the case of changing a habit, close is good enough. What you accomplished was not tossing the balls in a circle, so you are 2/3 of the way toward juggling.
    • Giving your self credit for accomplishment breaks old messages in the brain through your actions and words. In neuroscience, this repetition of a statement contrary to evidence is called a ‘false message’. The false message is the brain misfiring information because it is habitually stuck.
    • As we say in juggling, ‘If you say you can’t, you won’t; if you say you can, you will.’ All your brain wants/needs is a different command…a reattribution of a thought: I can.
  3. Refocus: Neuroscience has pointed out to us that while you are focused on an activity, the importance of that activity skyrockets in your priority system. An activity, like juggling, requires problems to be solved. While focused on juggling, your mind will search out solutions to these problems and become actively engaged in the search. The newness of this new focus will change the habit of your mind to accept status quo, because you have experienced these particular problems before. If you want to juggle three balls, those solutions are vital to your success. (seeing parallels to your life yet?)
  4. Revalue: Now that you are actively refocused on acquiring the skill of juggling, you will be repeating many, many tosses of balls into the air: sometimes catching, sometimes dropping. If, in your new state of behavior-altering, you find it very important to get the third ball up in the air by any means possible, you have just revalued the process of solving the problem of getting the third ball up in the air. Your brain will now accept the revaluation, and voila, you have a new habit.

This is what I meant in the beginning about your mind being TURNED ON AGAIN. With a new shift in behavior, you have just lit up a part of your brain that was inactive, or rather, active but only in its old way.

So What, you say? “It’s only juggling,” you say? It’s much more than that. Do you really want to sit down again and write our those resolutions that you didn’t accomplish again? Or do you want to do something different with your brain this year?

In order to act differently you have to think differently by creating a matrix of new behaviors. Turn on your brain this year and the solutions to your quests will become apparent.

Carlo Pellegrini is a keynote speaker at conferences, meetings and special events. He created The Juggling MATRIX 19 years ago as an advertising executive. That story will be told later. He lives in Nyack, NY, with his wife, an aerialist in the circus. He teaches private classes at her circus arts school in Westchester County for children, teens, and adults who want to defy gravity and soar to success. Carlo can be reached at jugglingmatrix@gmail.com.