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Rewire Your Brain To Build New Behaviours

Written by: Marina Jankovic, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Change is rarely easy. Sometimes we manage to reframe our beliefs, successfully build small habits, but still struggle to create a lasting behavioural change. Interestingly, no matter how difficult you might perceive developing new habits, the human brain loves the challenge. With the right approach, you can rewire your brain to enjoy the process of building new habits and create a lasting change.


Before I jump to some tips for starting this process, let me share a recent client’s story.

Silvia, a successful strategy consultant, said that for achieving her career aspiration, she had to be a confident speaker with a diverse audience presenting to the firm partners, her team, as well as new clients. She was invited to speak at the global annual firm conference, which was great recognition and an excellent exposure opportunity.


The problem was Silvia dreaded public speaking.


She knew that she didn’t lack competence because she could manage a smaller audience, still with wet palms and broken voices but just the thought of speaking to one thousand people took her breath away.


Silvia seriously considered declining this speaking invitation. She also knew how bad it would be perceived, and most importantly, she knew that declining would equal giving up. These reasons already made her goal attractive, but she didn't know how to jump from her current speaking anxiety to the conference stage.


So, what did Silvia do?


First and foremost, she addressed her unhelpful story, “I am a terribly nervous speaker,” even though previous presentations didn't always go the way she planned. Then, Silvia and I used several coaching techniques to help her reframe how she looked at the speaking opportunity. She changed her inner language to reflect her excitement instead of fear.


Secondly, Silvia made a four-week detailed action plan to prepare for her conference session. She structured her commitment by making time and space for practising her presentation, seeing every improvement as her new identity confirmation, which continued to motivate her to practice even harder. She relentlessly worked on developing her authenticity while embedding speaking best practices.


Lastly, Silvia now didn't have a goal to excel at the conference. Her goal was identity-driven rather than solely goal-driven. Silvia saw the alignment between unlocking her speaking potential and everything she dreamt of achieving in her career and life. It became much more for her than ticking a box on her career development journey, as she visualised the benefits to others who will get a chance to hear her stories.


Are you wondering what happened on the day of the conference? Silvia’s session was a huge success. Yes, she was nervous at the beginning, but she conveyed her message clearly. She made a positive difference as a conference speaker.


But interestingly, Silvia didn't stop there. She started making an even more courageous plan for expanding her influence through speaking at conferences and industry panels. Instead of waiting for speaking opportunities to come to her, she approached organisers proactively.


Silvia focused on the process, consciously taking every step of it while developing new identity-based habits. She even started to enjoy public speaking.


If you think that some skills and behaviours will be hard for you to develop:

  • Associate challenge with a positive experience. Sometimes a slight shift in language can make a significant change in how you perceive some activity. As Silvia did by changing her identity from, “I am terrified” to “I am excited to speak.”

  • Create a motivation ritual by doing something you enjoy immediately after a difficult step. Your brain will perceive this as an additional reward, which will make positive habits stick. Add a little bit of immediate pleasure to the new behaviours that pay off. This habit itself is part of being your own best friend and mentor instead of seeking validation externally.

  • Start with achieving smaller goals instead of desperately chasing big dreams. Celebrate incremental achievements, focus on the process, and continue to move towards your big dream. Again, if you wait for the ideal time to come for your confidence to grow and a significant breakthrough to happen, you might be waiting your whole life.

  • Find your optimal zone of challenge. The zone when you are working right on the edge of your current abilities. No matter how difficult you might perceive developing new behaviours, the human brain loves the challenge. Think about what an optimal zone of the challenge means to you and develop your own measure of success.

After you master one habit by taking deliberate practice, invest yourself in the process to build a new one, and another, and another. At some point, you will rewire your brain and start to enjoy the process


More career-related stories and practical tips in Marina’s book: Your time to shine.


Follow me on LinkedIn and visit my website for more info!


 

Marina Jankovic, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Marina Jankovic is a Master Coach and DE&I Leader with 17 years of international experience in Business Management, Learning & Development and Executive Education. She has managed a Global Talent and Diversity & Inclusion for a company operating in 180 markets and directly contributed to building a more diverse talent pipeline and inclusive culture.


Marina brings psychological depth and a multi-system perspective to her clients and has partnered with numerous private and public sector organisations, both in-house and as a consultant, helping them design and implement experiential learning programs and coaching culture.


Drawing from her own business and talent development experience, along with 3000+ executive coaching hours and hundreds of clients' stories, Marina identifies stepping stones towards creating a more significant impact in business and life.


She is the author of a best selling book Your Time To Shine, a pearl of practical wisdom for women – and men – to create the lives they want, by choosing courage, leading authentically, and contributing to a better world for the generations to come.

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