It’s time to stop beating yourself up at the end of the day for not doing enough or being enough. You can win your day when you start focusing on what you are good at.
I know, you’ve been thinking for a long time that everything comes easy to your coworker, or your sibling, or your BFF. You wonder why you can’t do things as fast, why you can’t remember things, get organized, or stay focused like they do.
The answer is simple.
You are NOT them!
STOP WORKING AGAINST YOUR BRAIN
You make your life hard when you insist on doing things that go against your brain.
Here’s what I mean.
We all use a group of special abilities AKA our Executive Functions using our pre-frontal cortex (the area right behind your forehead) that help us make decisions, solve problems, and stay organized in our daily lives.
Imagine your brain is like a control center, and the executive functions are the boss in charge of all the important stuff. They work together to help you do things like paying attention in class, remembering to pay the bills, organizing your thoughts, time and environment, and breaking down tasks, to name a few.
Thomas Brown’s model of executive functions includes six components. Here are the official definitions of each:
- Activation: Activation refers to the ability to start tasks or activities independently, without procrastination or unnecessary delay. It involves initiating actions and getting started on things without being overly impulsive or hesitant.
- Focus: Focus is the capacity to sustain attention on a particular task, goal, or activity over time. It involves resisting distractions and maintaining concentration on what’s important.
- Effort: Effort refers to the ability to regulate one’s level of alertness and invest mental energy to complete tasks or achieve goals. It includes being able to put in consistent, appropriate levels of effort, and not becoming excessively under-aroused or over-aroused.
- Emotion: Emotion regulation is the ability to manage and control emotions effectively. This includes coping with stress, frustration, and maintaining emotional stability, even during challenging situations.
- Memory: Memory involves working memory, which is the capacity to hold and manipulate information temporarily in our minds while performing cognitive tasks. It also includes long-term memory, which is the ability to store and retrieve information over extended periods.
- Action: Action is the ability to organize, plan, and execute tasks effectively. It involves the coordination of multiple steps in a sequence to accomplish a goal or complete a complex activity.
These executive functions work together as a team in your brain to help you manage your daily activities, problem-solve and achieve your goals.
We all have executive functions that we struggle with. And we all have those that come naturally to us.
The secret is to tap into your natural abilities.
It’s about the way you approach your every day – the humdrum tasks, the big projects, your relationships, your emotional and physical health, your mindset.
If you want to win your day, you gotta tap into YOUR best way of doing things. This means leveraging your strongest executive functioning skills in creative ways.
Here are five examples of how you can use one executive function you are strong in to compensate for struggling in another executive function, that will show you how you can win your day.
Example 1 – Strong in Activation, Struggling in Focus:
- Sarah has strong Activation skills, which means she can get started on tasks quickly and is enthusiastic about new things. However, she struggles with Focus, finding it hard to stay on track during long assignments. To compensate, Sarah can use her Activation strength to break the task into smaller, more manageable parts. She can set small goals and take short breaks in between to keep herself motivated and engaged.
Example 2 – Strong in Focus, Struggling in Effort:
- Alex is excellent at staying focused and paying attention to details, but he finds it challenging to sustain Effort over extended periods. To compensate, Alex can use his strong Focus skills to concentrate on completing a task step-by-step. He can create a checklist or a visual chart to track his progress, which helps him stay motivated and keeps his Effort going.
Example 3 – Strong in Effort, Struggling in Emotion:
- Emily is a hard worker and can put in a lot of Effort into her schoolwork, but she often struggles to manage her Emotions when things get tough or stressful. To compensate, Emily can use her strong Effort skills to practice mindfulness techniques or take short breaks when she feels overwhelmed. By refocusing her energy on her work after calming herself, she can maintain productivity despite emotional challenges.
Example 4 – Strong in Emotion, Struggling in Memory:
- Michael is emotionally resilient and can handle stress well, but he has difficulty with Memory, often forgetting important details or instructions. To compensate, Michael can use his strong Emotion skills to maintain a positive attitude even when he forgets something. This positive outlook can help reduce frustration, and he can use tools like writing things down or using reminder apps to improve his Memory.
Example 5 – Strong in Memory, Struggling in Action:
- Lisa has an excellent Memory and can recall information easily, but she often struggles with initiating Action, finding it hard to start tasks on time. To compensate, Lisa can use her strong Memory skills to create detailed to-do lists and set reminders. By reminding herself of what needs to be done and breaking tasks into smaller steps, she can overcome her hesitation to take Action.
When you stop doing it everyone else’s way and start leveraging your own executive function strengths you will reap the benefits, my friend, like:
- Enhanced Confidence and Motivation: Building on strengths boosts confidence and motivation, as you feel more competent and capable in areas where you excel.
- Efficient Problem-Solving: Leveraging strengths allows you to find efficient and creative solutions to challenges, as you use your natural abilities to navigate through difficulties.
- Better Time Management: By capitalizing on strengths, you can complete tasks faster and with greater ease, leading to improved time management and productivity.
- Reduced Stress and Frustration: Focusing on strengths reduces the frustration and stress that can arise when trying to improve weak executive functions, which may take more time and effort.
- Improved Self-Awareness: Recognizing and working with your strengths helps you develop a deeper understanding of your abilities and how to use them effectively.
- Positive Mindset and Resilience: Emphasizing strengths cultivates a positive mindset and resilience, encouraging you to tackle challenges with optimism and determination.
- Better Relationships: Emphasizing strengths can lead to better social interactions and relationships, as you feel more confident in your communication and problem-solving abilities.
Wrapping it Up
Everyone’s brain is different. What works for someone else doesn’t work for you. And that is normal. It is okay to tap into YOUR strengths. Use what comes easy to you.
This isn’t to say that you don’t want to work on improving areas that are challenging, but if you can get to the same result by coming at it from a different direction, with ease and confidence, why wouldn’t you?
Be you! Get to the finish line and win your day, YOUR best way.