Happy New Year!  How many of you made a resolution this year? I know I did. How many of us will find ourselves abandoning these aspirations by next month? The research would suggest upwards of 80% of us will have relinquished our goals by January 31st. As usual, I am curious to understand why this happens with such consistency.

The reasons behind our lack of success are many. Some are straightforward, such as setting overly ambitious goals, lacking a concrete plan, or witnessing our vision fade as we return to the ‘real world’ of work, parenting and responsibilities. But I want to go deeper. Why do people abandon their resolutions even when they are armed with a plan, a vision and a support system?

The answer lies in the intricacies of our brain and how we have conditioned it. Have you ever heard a voice in your head that says ‘Don’t apply to that ad, you won’t be able to manage the responsibilities of that job anyway’ or ‘if you were self-employed, everything in the house would have to change’ or ‘the adjustment would be too much to expect from my family?’

We know of course that this familiar little voice is an ancient protector. The aim of ‘the voice’ is to keep us safe and comfortable in our lives. What ‘safe and comfortable’ actually mean are dependent upon our own individual experiences and genetics. Each of us carry patterns of fear, depression, anxiety or a negative belief system that are designed to protect us from conflict and vulnerability.

Throughout our lifetime, we have learned to shrink ourselves, to avoid conflict, or to sidestep feelings of overexposure or vulnerability. These protective patterns have wired and fired together to create neural pathways that seem nearly impervious to change. However, despite the challenge, re-wiring can be accomplished.

NeuroLinguistic Practitioners have a saying; the map is not the territory. This is the prefect analogy for our topic. Let’s start with a demonstration. We ask three sisters, who live in the same house, to draw a map of how to get to the nearest grocery store. Each map will reflect the sisters’ unique perspective and processing style.

The first sister processes kinaesthetically. Kinaesthetic learners are often referred to as hands-on, physical or tactile students. They learn through trying things out. They want to experience the process. So when drawing a map, the first sister might situate a compass on the corner of her map. This will help her to center herself within the space. She might also draw a map that outlines the neighbourhood in a 10-block radius. This will naturally include points of interest along the way, the high school, the hairdresser’s and the grocery store. Once she has established the content and context of her map, she might put footsteps on the map to show the reader the best route to the grocery store.

The second sister, who processes visually, might create her map using vivid colours. She would identify points of visual interest along the way. That large blue house on the corner of Main and Front Sts belongs to her best friend, Ginny. The yellow gas station is where her brother works. Typically, a person who processes visually will forego drawing a 10-block radius and simply outline the most direct route to the grocery store for the reader.

The third sister, an auditory processor, might identify the large oak tree along the route. This is where the robins roost in the spring and create beautiful bird-song. Or perhaps she would highlight the rapid rail line on Main St. The rail line draws her auditory attention as she hears the cars clickedly-clack every 30 minutes. She might also include the Church on Main and Front Sts whose bells ring out every Sunday for services. And finally, she highlights the local grocery store and draws musical notes on her map to indicate the Latin music coming out of the radio, that the owner always has playing.

While these maps differ, they also accurately represent each sister’s processing pattern. The phrase, ‘the map is not the territory’ emphasizes that even if we combine all three maps drawn by the sisters, we may still be left with an incomplete understanding of the ‘actual’ territory along the route.

In our brain we have each drawn our maps, based on our unique processing styles, our genetic code and our experiences. These pathways have been wired and fired together for a very long time. At one point, these connections may have offered the best route to get to our objectives.

However, as the environment around us has changed, our neural pathways are still running the old route. It may no longer be the best or most efficient for our purposes. To make a change on our map, we will have to rewire our neural connections.

Although this may sound daunting, rest assured that a few simple brain hacks, coupled with practice can replace old patterns with new, positive and empowering connections. These new pathways can guide us towards our desired destinations in life.

Remember you do not have to navigate this on your own! It takes a community to draw an accurate map. Certainly, it is important to know about the hazards ahead on our route. But as adults, we have many ways to circumvent roadblocks and still get to our destination. We simply have to be open to new possibilities.

My focus is all about empowering women to skyrocket their results by achieving breakthroughs in their personal and professional life. If you are looking for a better way forward, please call or use the link HERE to book a 30-minute call with Simone Usselman-Tod, Stress Management and Mindset Breakthrough Coach, Certified NeuroChange and NLP Master Practitioner and Coach.