The Plastic Brain and Resolutions

2011’s New Year’s Day Op-Ep piece entitled “This Year, Change Your Mind” by Oliver Sacks concerns the ability of the brain to literally grow to handle new tasks throughout the life span. Dr. Sacks is the author of the book that inspired the Robin Williams film Awakenings. So a new year’s resolution regarding a new skill, job, hobby or adventure can actually stimulate the mind to grow and keep your mind agile and effective. Dr. Sacks uses some neurological patients as examples of the brains of adults reconfiguring themselves to demonstrate that learning a difficult new skill is not something that only children can do: mature brains can also be reshaped by new skills and talents. But ample evidence now exists that normal people can influence brain development throughout the many phases of life and work.

For years now I teach a coaching exercise regarding ONE BIG RESOLUTION. It’s hard enough to be successful at one important goal. So pick one thing you really want and make it happen. Start a new career; wake up energized in the morning; lose that ever-staying weight; do something completely out of the box! Do something new that you haven’t done before. Choose a big change in your life.

Here are some examples:

  1. Take dance lessons or learn a musical instrument. Dr. Sacks cites music as an important part of affecting the brain’s health, so try something rhythmic. Take up the drums!
  2. Start doing yoga. It’s not just trendy, it’s also fun and healthy; plus its mental components will help keep your mind limber.
  3. Start a business. There’s nothing more mentally stimulating than running your own business, even if it’s small at first. I have posted a number of blogs with resources for new business owners.
  4. Write a book. This will expand your mind in new and huge dimensions. A large project like writing a book will help keep your mind focused, organized, and productive.
  5. Volunteer for that organization you love and support. If you have wanted to volunteer, then it is time.

So pick a BIG resolution, and:

  1. Chart out an action plan to accomplish it.
  2. Then be sure to follow-up with your self to check that you maintain it over time.
  3. Consider that many people say that it takes about 3 weeks to form a new habit.

Remember, goals are set in definite strokes and missed in vague shades. Come up with your aspirations concretely and don’t let small slips poke holes in your dreams.

What are your big resolutions, and how will you accomplish them?


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