By Yoga Nesadurai, partner at Supertrends Institute
Were there times when you did not know what you needed to get you from where you were to where you wanted to be? And then gave up? We have all been there. Let’s call that space the gap.
A hammer, a screwdriver, and screws are tools that we all need and have. They are not typically tools that we want.
Wouldn’t it be great to have cognitive tools that we could use as and when we needed them?
To have the cognitive equivalent of the hammer, screwdriver, and screw in our cognitive toolbox. A go-to set of tools that we can use to address our gaps. Because once we have clarity of what we want, what we need is usually a method to get there followed by good execution. For which we require a good set of tools.
However, the challenge is in the doing. We often know what we need to do but find it hard to get going and keep going. We procrastinate, find distractions, doubt ourselves, talk ourselves out of it, and more.
It is with this in mind that I created some go-to cognitive tools to address typical gaps that we encounter. They are based on neuroscience principles, and I use them myself.
Here are some of my favourite cognitive tools:
- Choice: cognitive hammer. As the saying goes, ‘if you only have a hammer, you tend to see everything as a nail’. A hammer is a powerful tool. It gets things done. It has the power to hammer a nail into position. But if done incorrectly, it requires rework. If done well, it holds the object together for a long time.
Make deliberate choices when addressing your gap.
- Your thinking state: cognitive screwdriver. Screwdrivers are important. It is hard to manage without one. And you need different heads for different screws. You need the right screwdriver for the right screw. You could use a flathead screwdriver on a Philips screw. It could work but would require EFFORT.
You can’t think about your next steps when you are stressed and anxious. You need to address the latter first. Your thinking state matters.
- Deliberate practice: cognitive screw. The screw has the power to join 2 objects and keep them in place. They keep things secure. They loosen over time depending on where they reside on the object and how often the object is used. Frequently used objects need their screws tightened intermittently.
When you find what you need to address your gap, it may require deliberate practice to get to where you want to go
- Future self: cognitive tuning fork. I am cheating a little here. But a similar device is a test light. A screwdriver with a light to check if there is current flowing in a circuit. If there is no light the circuit has a problem. Similarly, the tuning fork is to tune a musical instrument to the correct pitch.
Your future self is the ideal tool for tuning your resources to your needs to help you achieve what you want.
And most importantly we need a good toolbox to store all our tools. Each tool should have its place for quick and orderly access. Each tool should be stored clean, ready for its next use. Because your toolbox is your trusted “companion” when working on things that matter to you.
The cognitive equivalent is a ‘thinking toolbox’. Containing the tools to help you get the future outcomes you want. And your future self is an important tool because it impacts your thinking, choices, and actions that you make today.
This article is written by Yoga Nesadurai, Futures Guide, Mentor & Coach.