On Monday morning Mrs. Monkey and I woke from an 11 hour sleep. The long days and early starts had been backing up and after having put away a particularly fine bottle of Barolo for my birthday sleep swept over us. Deep, deep delicious sleep. I find this time of year messes with my head. None of this, “Oh, isn’t Autumn wonderful” nonsense for me. The lack of heat and sunlight brings me down with a bump and knowing that I’ve got several months of it doesn’t brighten my spirits. I wander around the house turning lights on and the heating up. My circadian rhythms get down and funky.
The urge to hibernate is strong and I have to make a conscious effort to set myself tasks and goals to ensure that this bear doesn’t sleep the winter through. If I could get in the mood this could really be a productive time. So I have determined to do more writing, drawing and guitar practice…and finish the electric that has been leaning against my workshop wall for 18 months.
But therein lies my dilemma. After a career of targets and pressures to deadlines such goal setting becomes natural, yet with so many opportunities to fall short am I already setting myself up to be disappointed if I haven’t added another 3 or 4 songs to my repertoire – or finished the electric – or completed the figure drawing course – or submitted more finished creative writing work. Possibly. I just need to crack on.
And that’s it, you see. I somehow have got to take control of my brain to focus on the goals I have set. Our brains prefer routine – it’s easier after all – and in order to create new routines to challenge the status quo it calls for some will power. Habits and goals are stored in different parts of the brain, apparently, as I found in an article on Psychology Today.
Goals are stored in the ordbitofrontal cortex which is responsible for converting goals into habits via neural messengers called endocannabinoids, which, as well as its proper job, modulates the effects of smoking weed, as it’s name suggests.
So, 1 – create new habits which work towards the goal.
2 – change your environment, use different stimulus
3 – make dopamine your friend. Break the big goal into smaller chunks and pat yourself on the back when it’s done. (See, endocannabinoids above – only joking.)
Psychology Today used a quote from Stephen King “Aaaahhhhh” (not that one – this one)
“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration – the rest of us just get up and go to work.”