Pacing Toward the Ultimate Want * Interview with Jack Fultz, 1976 Boston Marathon Winner

Have you ever wanted to achieve or attempt a sporting feat?  To challenge yourself or to prove something, to someone, or yourself?  Maybe you’ve wanted to raise money for charity or test your own physical ability.  Perhaps you’ve wanted to do something to lose weight, to stay fit, to continue a love of sport?  Or you might be the type that loves to feel the thrill of winning.

There are a number of studies that outline the benefit of Sport and exercise.  I'll be addressing these in the next Want Gap book, The Want Gap for Health.  But as I watch Wimbledon and the Tour-de-France, I find myself constantly curious as to how on earth these individuals find the “flow”.  Why do they want to win so bad?  

Why Are Athletes Different? 

There have been a lot of books written about success and goals and experiences from athletes in all genres and they all tend to be really great stories of perseverance, determination, and grit.  But, what’s the want in these athletes and the why?

To answer this question, I searched for a sports psychologist to help me understand the principles behind coaching, motivation, and self-discipline of those that want to achieve all the above.  An old friend introduced me to a former Boston Marathon winner, who’s also a professor of sports psychology.  Perfect huh.  I’m not only intrigued to talk to him, I’m excited and fascinated to find out the secret to being a winning athlete.


Meet Jack Fultz

Jack Fultz is the 1976 Boston Marathon winner and professor of sports psychology at Tufts University in Boston.  Jack won the ’76 Boston Marathon with a time of 2:20:19 when the course temperature, at the start, was 100 degrees F (or 40 Celsius)!  The race was called “The Run For the Hoses” as spectators along the 26.2 mile course used garden hoses to spray water on the runners to keep them cool.   So, how on earth does one accomplish this goal in such heat?  AND WIN IT??  I had to ask.

“Good question - and the answer is good pacing.” Jack says nonchalantly.  With his outward style and fabulous smile, Jack continues to give me a lesson in sports psychology that gets my head reeling.

We talk about having a partner, objective goals, expectations, and my favorite "intentionality".  All topics that I find fascinating when it comes to how our minds work.  And even more fascinating when you learn how to change your mind to work for you.  But for this post, I'm going to focus on Jack's core answer, pacing.

To start, good pacing is not just about getting through a marathon race in 100 degree heat.  Pacing is a motivational, psychological and flow approach that sports psychologists use to train their athletes.  And here I see “pacing” as a life approach.

Sports Psychology Secret

So, how do us everyday people apply this thinking to our lives to GET WHAT WE WANT?  Again, the answer comes thoughtfully from Jack.

“The principles of sports psychology are Universal actually - if the primary theme is to maximise one’s potential.  It’s when one attaches their sense of self-worth to the outcomes where problems arise.”  Read that quote again.

Did a light bulb go off for you?  It did for me.  A sense of self-worth needs to be aligned with endeavours or goals of the individual.  This is how we get what we want. Your “core values” need to be aligned with your “important" or ultimate goal, NOT the actual outcomes.

Jack then explains that the second principle of sports psychology is that “one must focus on the process, whereby a number of outcomes are achieved.”   

To make sure I understand this correctly, I ask, do you mean… “A person needs to focus, not on the outcome of the goal, but on the process in which the outcome is part of a bigger picture?”

He responds with a yes and “one [must] remain vigilant to not let an excessive focus on the outcome - achieving the individual goal itself - contaminate the process of the ultimate goal.”  I think we're all victims of this.  And I think that's why I never liked to compete.  The thought that I have to "beat" someone never sat well with me.  So, it's great to hear that it's this type of thinking that contaminates the process of achieving an outcome!

The Best In The World

I am watching tennis and I know that Roger Federer’s goal is to “be the best tennis player in the world.”  To be the best player, he doesn’t focus on being the best player but instead on how to become the best player, which in turn makes him the best player! 

Confusing but so spot on that I almost fall off my chair!  Roger is focusing his efforts on his process where his outcome is bigger than him.  He prepares for Wimbledon, and although winning Wimbledon is a great feat, he sees that as part of the journey to becoming the best player in the world.  How many Wimbledon championships has he won?  It’s just a part - not the whole.  The whole is bigger than he can imagine.  So he just works on the process, enjoys it, and watches each outcome add to the bigger picture. 

Right - this is all really big picture hard to comprehend stuff.  I start to ask myself, how does this relate to me and my life and getting what I want? 

Pacing Your Life

We come back to Jack’s simple, lightbulb concept of “pacing”.  To finish a marathon in heat or rain or freezing temperatures - no matter the conditions - it’s about pacing.  Living life, through heartbreak, excitement, joy, and pain, is about pacing.  Every part of life is a process and is part of a grander, bigger goal.  And here again, I have to stop. 

I don’t have a grander, bigger goal.  Oh, there are things I want, I want a house, a new car, to be happy.  But when I look at life through an athletes view, "pacing" is the only way to achieve the end goal.  The ultimate goal.  The big picture, whatever that may be... and I don't have one.

My Ah Ha Moment

As I go back and forth with all these concepts with Jack, I have two “ah ha” moments. 

The first is that I realise there’s no way I can go through this “process of life” without knowing what my bigger end goal is.  I don’t have an ultimate goal and I don’t know what I really want. I also don’t know what my outcome is.  WHAT AM I PACING TOWARDS? 

Then I think, well, I know who I am (I’ve done the work on finding my core values and my important, which is outlined in The Want Gap Book) but how do those link to the ultimate goal?  My ULTIMATE WANT? 

They’re huge questions and I can’t thank Jack enough for bringing them to light. 

You need an ultimate goal.  Why?  Because having an ultimate goal or want allows you to...

  • ..understand that, your accomplishments and disappointments in your life, are just a part of your life's bigger picture.
  • ...accept your accomplishments and disappointments and forgive yourself and others so that you can push forward and attribute those learnings to something bigger.  
  • ...feel every bit of reward and satisfaction in its fullest, but only when an accomplishment or disappointment is related and attached to who you are and what you’re meant to do. (your core values and your important). 

The Ultimate Want

I left our discussion for couple weeks to think.  What is my life “goal”, “purpose”, and “outcome”?  Now, don’t get me wrong, I want to be successful, to be happy, to be loved, respected, wealthy, (add in all the other adjectives here).  But none of it made sense until I figured out what my ultimate want was, my ultimate goal, my ultimate purpose, my ultimate objective - whatever you want to call it. 

Do you have an ultimate want? A life purpose? Are you pacing yourself towards the ultimate goal?

I am off to do the work to find out what this means to me and will post next time on the process I went through to find my ultimate want

Because as Jack says, “once you know the goal, the answer is... good pacing.”  I’m with you Jack!!!

Not getting what you want? Pick a Cognitive Bias to blame.

Not getting what you want?

Do you get frustrated, not getting what you want in life?  You didn't get the new job, the scales don't show the weight loss or your relationship isn't going in the right direction. Trying to find some sort of comfort and explanation can be difficult so hopefully, this will help.

From birth, our brains wire themselves with shortcuts to process information based on our experiences.  Those shortcuts help us get through life more efficiently and help us learn along the way.  And they turn into Cognitive biases, which ultimately make up who we are, our perceptions, and our expectations.

What are Cognitive Biases?

In psychological terms, as Wikipediaia explains, a cognitive bias:

"refers to the systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment, whereby inferences about other people and situations may be drawn in an illogical fashion. Individuals create their own "subjective social reality" from their perception of the input."

For example, you and a friend are discussing how to cook a cake.  You brain recalls quickly that a celebrity chef said to make sure the oven was on first.  That information came to your mind straight away and helped you in the discussion.  This is called the "availability heuristic".  During the discussion, the brain immediately recalled previously learned examples which helped to evaluate a particular subject, topic or discussion.  Your brain was being efficient, calling on available information it had previously captured.  However, this heuristic and other biases, although efficient, can, in this case, help you or they can be hindering if that situation was perceived differently.

Make Cognitive Biases Work For You

There are 188 Cognitive biases.  If you find yourself not getting what you want or getting frustrated, take a minute and see which psychological bias or effect is affecting your thoughts.

There's something comforting in knowing that there is a bias for everything.  We are all human.  No one is perfect.  We all process incoming stimuli with a number of different lenses.  What's fabulous is that you can choose to change it or you can accept it.

Courtesy of:

Visual Capitalist

Psychology and Neuroscience of Mental Health at Kings College London

Hooray!  I have completed my Post Graduate Certificate (PgC) in Psychology and Neuroscience from Kings College London.  Throughout 2017, I completed 4 modules, learning about psychological and physiological foundations of the brain and learning how neuroscience is giving us a better understanding of how our crazy minds work.  It was absolutely fascinating and I learned a great deal about how and why we want.

The most important take-away as I embark on this learning journey is how science views everything with an open mind.  Questioning whether a theory may be right or if there are other factors involved.  The brain is a complex organ, one which has sparked research around psychological theories of mind, physiological theories of it's inner workings and neurological discoveries through technology that are trying to link it all together.  All because we are curious and question the status quo.  And this should be the same for our individual selves as much as science. 

If you're curious about any topic check out Kings College London's site.  You may just find yourself doing something very important.






Summer Update


Summer Update

Here comes the heat.  It's time for the Want Gap Summer Update!  In March I began attaining a PGC in Psychology and Neuroscience in Mental Health.  And, while that's been going on, I've also been trying to write the book, keep up to date with industry news, and be a Mum to two children.  Not easy, but never dull.

Once the summer holidays are through and the kids are back in school, I'll be ready to get the book out the door and onto virtual and physical bookshelves.  Please sign up for the email updates as that's where you'll hear about the book first!

Book Update

The Want Gap is written and in its 7th edit. (It's probably closer to its 20th edition on my laptop!)   The first two chapters will be available in September to my email list, so make sure you sign up.  I have to say, it's been a fabulous learning experience - this whole writing a book thing!

Knowledge Update

As I mentioned, I've been busy getting stuck into my new life as a student. Going back to school has proven to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.  It's been a huge challenge but the new knowledge I'm acquiring is having a substantial impact on my understanding, giving me supporting facts, ideas and theories for The Want Gap and more importantly, a better understanding of the way our brains work.  This will certainly help me connect the dots between our lives and our brains to give you a better understanding on how we can fulfill the lives we want.


Get ready for two amazing interviews!  This summer I am meeting with some life changing individuals.  I will be sharing their insights and how they relate to getting what you want, with you in September.  If you know of anyone who has changed your thinking and can help others, feel free to contact me at any time.

If you know anyone who has changed your thinking, can offer unique insights to help people get what they want - feel free to contact me at any time. I would love to include them in our new The Want Gap podcasts coming in 2018.

Until September - ENJOY YOUR SUMMER!

The Want Gap Cycle Revealed


Do you know why you're not getting what you want?

If you don't then have a look here.  This is the backbone to what The Want Gap is all about.  Perhaps you've tried your hardest to get what you want and either achieved little, given up, or found yourself frustrated - then the Want Gap Cycle may help you understand why.  It's no surprise, there's a gap there.  And if you don't know what your Gap is, that's holding you back, then you'll never know how to change your thinking to get over it and move forward.

The Want Gap Cycle

Do you know what's holding you back?  Do you know what your GAP is and how to overcome it?


Wants are triggered by emotions.  Emotions both good and bad.  It's important to make sure you're in control and have a handle on your emotions to be able to get what you want.  The book explains emotions in more detail and how they affect your thoughts, actions and ultimately who you are.

When we want something, our brains try to answer the question of how to get it.  In The Want Gap book, you'll gain a deeper explanation on how wants are satiable and how our emotions, which created the want, play havoc on our actions and drive to get the want. But once you know how your brain works around this, you can change it to help in your favor - to gain a brain mentor.

Action & "Settle Comfort"

What you tend to do is go straight into action when you want something.  You don't think - you just do.  And that's when the gap hits us firmly in the face.  Look at the little footprints in the diagram.  When you feel a push back, you usually go back to the want and the emotion, to see how else you can satisfy the want and then create another plan to satisfy it or get it.

And it's here you either fall into what I call, "settle comfort", getting comfortable with NOT getting what you want - or you continue on the treadmill loop of never overcoming the gap and getting what you truly want.

The Answer?

As you can see in the diagram, not only is it about knowing your core values, but it's about aligning them with your purpose (YOUR important), who you are, and your emotions.


Sign up below for updates on the book launch and be first to learn how psychology and neuroscience as well as exercises can help you find the answers, so that you can create your own plan, to get what you want.

If you want to see how to take control of your own want cycle, sign up now for our monthly newsletter to receive free chapters of the book before it's published and be a part of The Want Gap launch team.

Your Brain is a Story Making Machine


A Story Making Machine

Your brain is busy.  And when I say busy, I mean busy.  It has to process visual images coming in from your eyes, auditory messages coming into your ears, and physical sensations through touch.  Then it has to attach meaning to everything and organize all that information in a way that makes sense.  THAT'S what those billions of neurons are doing up in your head.  They are not only firing away making meaning, but they're organizing all the stimuli, creating stories in your head for comprehension and understanding. Your brain is a story making machine!  And those stories make you who you are.

 The Importance of Core Values in Your Stories

Your core values, as you have read about in the two posts here and here are the guiding principals of who you are and all your stories.  Remember that time when Joey said you were ugly in the playground, back in 3rd grade?  Or the time when Sally said she didn't want to be your best friend in 6th grade?  Those memories and stories that you replay back to yourself hit you at the core.  They affected the way you decide to dress, how you behave and more importantly what you think of yourself.  So, why would you continue to replay those stories in your head if they make you feel bad or insecure?  It's important to make peace with all your stories.  To look at them from the eyes of who are you now and who you want to be.

Change The Story in Your Brain

I will never forget the day in middle school, when I was told I would never succeed because I was blonde.  Yup.  I know, something that shouldn't have bothered me and something I should've just let go, but it came from someone I THOUGHT was my friend.  I learned a valuable lesson that day.  That people can be mean.  But what I didn't learn was that when people are mean - it has nothing to do with me - it has everything to do with them.  Nevertheless, the comment stuck with me and hit me at my core.  Because one of my top core values is honesty, I took that comment as truth.  And at 13, that hurts.  But it wasn't until I 38 when I learned that, my brain doesn't need to hold onto that negative story. It doesn't DEFINE who I am now or who I want to be.   I don't HAVE TO associate myself with that story.  And so, I think back to that day, I accept it as someone else's opinion and say to myself - that's their story, not mine.

It's that simple

It's that simple!  You decide what stories to hold onto.  You decide what stories are important.  And you decide which stories are yours and why.

Exercise: Find Your Stories and Embrace The Book Of You

It's not difficult to recall the good, funny, feel good stories.  They are the ones you tell people all the time and they are the ones that usually align most with your core values.  Instead, let your brain do the work for you and rewrite those negative stories into positive ones.

  1.  Write down 3 strong negative memories.
  2.  Look at the first one - which of your core values did it hit?  Why did it affect you the way it did?  Who did it come from - and is it their story or yours?
  3. Then let your brain make new story meaning around your memory.  Ask yourself, does that story align with who you are today?  What's the importance of that story - and why did it affect you so?
  4. Repeat this process with the other two or more if you're on a roll.

In my example, I understand that maybe I shouldn't have taken the blonde comment so personally but I can see now how it affected my belief in fairness, respect, honesty, and happiness - my core values.

Now - replay your memory back in your mind.  See you as a little girl or boy and feel for him/her because that is who you WERE.  Make peace with the episode but then let your brain make new meaning around that story so you can accept, embrace, and be proud of who you are today and move forward to who you want to be.

How to Embrace Empathy


Embracing Empathy

I've been reading a lot about empathy recently, something I am ashamed to say I only really gained about 7 years ago. Growing up in a male dominated environment, being taught that work is a "game" that you have to "play" and being selfish so that I could be more successful than, well... anyone else, there wasn't much time to feel for other people, never mind myself.

I believe it's important to feel empathy, not just for others but for yourself, to be a whole human being. By feeling empathy, it will help you get over the accomplishment gap holding you back from getting what you want.  (Which I discuss in the book.)

Empathy in The Want Gap

I had a breakthrough with empathy back in 2010 during a group therapy setting.  Not only did I feel and understand my new baby but I learned how to feel empathy for myself.  That one session taught me empathy for my my experiences, my accomplishments and my being which overflows into empathy for others.

Here's an excerpt from the book of how meditation, which was run by a psychologist, allowed me to embrace empathy.

“Look in front of you and tell yourself what you see.” All I could see was a blank wall, which was the point.

“Let your arms dangle by your side. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in and out. Listen to your breathing.” I knew what we were doing. We were going to meditate. “Great. I got this. I know how to do this, just relax and keep still.” I said to myself. Which is exactly what I did.

We must’ve sat there for 20 minutes with nothing said, except for the psychologist repeating, “breathe in…. Breathe out.” And if I’m honest, I was on the verge of sleep - sleep is a precious commodity when you have a young baby, but out of the blue she changed her voice.

“Take your arms and wrap them around yourself. Give yourself a hug.” Two minutes went by. “Hold yourself.” I was completely in the zone. My mind was everywhere but it was as if thoughts were just coming and going. “Let them come” I heard the psychologist say, as if she were in my brain. And then something amazing happened.

Using Meditation to Feel Empathy

By taking the time to just sit and listen to my breathing, allowing my thoughts to come and go without having to address them, I was able to "feel" my emotions differently.  Here's what happened:

I had forgotten my arms but felt a warmth in my chest as if I were holding my son in his ergo carrier.  I knew I wasn’t but I was transported into his little world.  So, this is what it must’ve been like to be a baby, having no understanding of the world around me, having fear and uneasiness.  The tears rolled down my cheek as I started to slump forward down in my chair almost mimicking the fetal position. 

“It’s ok” said the psychologist.  “Drop your arms and come back.”  I did as she said and turned around to see that I wasn’t the only one crying. 

It took an exercise like this to teach me how to let go of thoughts.  To be above those thoughts and allow myself to let them go.  To allow my inner self to forgive myself and to feel empathy for the little 3 month old human being I created.  I found my empathy through meditation and visualization. 

Using Daily Mindfulness to be Empathetic

During that meditation, I knew, deep down, that I would need more empathy to be a good Mum.

I use the practice of mindfulness, daily, to bring back the awareness of empathy.  When my daughter drives me mad and is in a state of hysterics, the act of getting down to her level, taking a breath and looking directly in her eyes brings me back to that moment of empathy.  I arrive in the moment with her.  Let her cry and be there with her - I'm mindful of what is happening in the moment.  I see, hear, and feel everything she is feeling.  And when things calm down, while I'm watching and being WITH her, then we talk.

Mindfulness is not easy especially when you're in the heat of anger, fear and annoyance, but try it.  Try taking a minute to feel everything that is happening in that moment.  How do you feel?  Are you tense?  Are you running around crazy?  Can you listen?  Then stop, take a breath and try to be there with your little one.

3 Reasons Why Core Values are So Important


3 Reasons Why Core Values are So Important

As you know, I am a huge advocate for getting down to the heart of who you are.  This months posts have all been about outlining why core values are so important.  From core value awareness through exercises, developing your brand and realizing they function like a mentor. But if all those posts still didn't resonate with you, that's ok... hopefully this one will.

Here are three reasons why it's so important to identify your core values.

#1 - They help define decisions.

They help define decisions to get what we want.  For example, if you are in the market for a new sleep sofa, as I was earlier this month, you start by doing research.  My research began online and then I went to 4 furniture stores to have a look around.  I ended up going to Ikea to pick up a sofa that was comfortable, looked simple, and appealed to my budget.  Three things I value, comfort, simplicity in function, and saving money.  The whole process appealed to my "inquisitiveness" which is one of my core values as well as efficiency.  Efficiency in availability and delivery.  Think about the last time you went shopping, even if it's your weekly food shop.  Why did you come to your end decision?

#2 - They drive behavior.

They drive behavior or what we should do.  Another thing I did this week was get on into my bike shorts and hop on my stationary bike.  I am trying desperately to lose these last 10 pounds and I know that calories in has to equal calories out.  I am not one who likes exercise, but that's because I was doing the wrong exercise.  I absolutely love to get on my bike and rock out to my dance tunes!  My core values were again at the heart of this action.  Deciding to meet a friend for coffee this week was more important than sitting down and writing this post - why?  Getting up early, before the kids, happened twice this week, why?  My core values drove those behaviors and choices of actions. Think of all the other actions you took this week, why?

#3 - They define who we are.

Finally, they align us to what we feel is right, they spark enthusiasm and excitement, they define us or what we should be.  When I did the exercise to find my core values, I was amazed at how excited, motivated, and positive I was.  I just wanted to go!  I wanted to start my life!  I wanted to make a difference.  I wanted to do something important.  I wanted to help and not yesterday, but NOW!  My core values are who I am and it's really exciting to know that this inquisitive, honest, fun, efficient person can do anything.

Your turn, think about your core values.  Embrace them.  Be excited by them.  And then do and BE them.

Exercising Your Core Values = Brand YOU


Embracing Your Core Values

Last week Francesca taught us why it's so important to identify your core values.  So now we have to EMBRACE them.  (This shouldn't be difficult)  The only time it may get tricky is when you get into a sticky situation.  But isn't it great to know you have a personal mentor right there with you, all the time?   That's what embracing your core values is all about.  Being confident knowing you're doing the right thing, according to you.

Exercising Your Core Values

With confidence, the next step is to exercise your core values and what do I mean by that?

Live by them.  Whenever a difficult situation, decision, conversation, or question is hurled at you, your core values will guide you and show you the way to what you believe is right.  Listen to them.  Live by them.  They are your guide and your mentor.  And while you're at it, exercise them in every situation.

Then feel yourself let go of all the anxiety and worry.  It doesn't matter what other people think of you anymore.  You are now aligned to your core values.  The worry of other peoples ideals don't matter. Your mentor is with you all the time.  You're not alone.

Core Values Become Brand

Last night I watched President Obama live on TV give his last press conference.  What struck me was how he continually referenced the core of what America stood for, emphasizing America's values.

Quote from President Obama's Press Conference

"And it is important for the United States to stand up for the basic principal that big countries don’t go around and invade and bully smaller countries.  I’ve said before, I expect Russia and Ukraine to have a strong relationship. They are historically bound together in all sorts of cultural and social ways, but Ukraine is an independent country and this is a good example of the vital role that America has to continue to play, around the world, in preserving basic norms and values. Whether it’s advocating on behalf of human rights, advocating on behalf of women’s rights, advocating on behalf of freedom of the press.

You know, the United States has not always been perfect in this regard, there are times where we — by necessity are dealing with allies or friends or partners, who themselves are not meeting the standards that we would like to see met when it comes to international rules and norms.  But I can tell you that in every multilateral setting in the United Nations, in the G-20, in the G-7, the United States typically has been on the right side of these issues and it is important for us to continue to be on the right side of these issues because if we, the largest, strongest country and democracy in the world, are not willing to stand up on behalf of these values, then certainly China, Russia and others will not."  President Obama, 18 January, 2017

After shaking my head in agreement, partly because I'm American but partly because my core values include honesty and integrity, I came to another realization.  Not only was President Obama talking about core values and principals as guides, he was describing America the brand.

You Are Your Brand

And then it hit me.  If your decisions, your thoughts, and your beliefs are all aligned to your core values, then your actions will be aligned as well.  If you continually act according to your core values, then outwardly, others will perceive you, understand you, and identify you with those values.  Then your brand will be defined.  You don't have to do anything else...  just be yourself.

(Want to find your core values?  Click here for just one exercise to help you identify who you are.)

"The Difference Is Knowing Your Core Values" - Interview with Francesca Watson


Know Your Core Values

I met up with Francesca for coffee, as we do once a month, just to catch up.  As usual, we talked about our kids and our interests, but as she explained about the nutritional program she had just finished, she said, "the difference is knowing your core values".  My ears perked up as I had just started compiling research for this blog.

Francesca is the founder of the immensely popular Facebook group and Website, Sevenoaks Mums.  Two years ago, Francesca welcomed me to the area when I moved to England, immediately making me feel a part of the community.  She is a community builder at heart and like me, a very open, honest, and to-the-point Mum who loves a good chat.  I asked if I could interview her about her thoughts on knowing your core values and here's what she had to say.

Finding Your Drivers

How did you come to find your core values?

"I went on holiday to Portugal with some super confident friends and saw how one friend went from being overweight to exuding confidence by losing 2-3 stone.  This was a bit discouraging because I have been on every diet under the sun but couldn’t take off the weight.  About six months ago, I met Jennie Gough, a nutritionist who uses psychology to help you make sustainable change."

You can visit Jennie's site here:

"She taught me to understand the drivers behind Me.  I was brought up to be polite, don’t spoil the party, and keep up with the boys.  That's all fine until it affects your health.  I began to gain weight and the perception of myself changed.  I was not who I wanted to be."

Most Mums and/or women in their 40's can relate, I certainly did.  I asked her how she found and identified her core values.  She talked me through a very easy process, that anyone can try.

Finding Your Core Values Process

The exercise focused on four questions.

Write out one experience or memory from your personal life that made you really happy and one that made you unhappy. Then write down one from your work life that made you really happy and one that made you unhappy.

"You have to take the time to answer these questions truthfully.  To really think about those experiences and especially the feelings attached to the memories.  Once you have these written down, look at a list of core values and identify the top 7 that are aligned with the experiences.  Then narrow them down to your top four." (You can find a list here on my post How To Find Your Core Values)

Francesca outlined her values as:  Honesty, Trustworthy, Community Driven and Communication, Contribution

She told me the story of how in work reviews, she would be told that she “comes across as forthright”.  She can now see why as she considers honesty as a top value.  This identification gave her the confidence to never look at this trait as a negative.  It also gave her the language to now easily explain to people, well, this is who I am (like it or not).

"If you understand yourself, it helps you understand other people.  It takes away the anxiety of trying to be someone else.  You don’t try to battle people because you understand it’s not their thing - it’s not important."

New Motivation

The core values exercise shifted Francesca's motivation.  No longer is she trying to lose 2 stone.  Her motivation is now focused on the decisions she makes to be the person she wants to be.

"I want to be fit and healthy, for the sake of my children, in my old age and so I can climb Mount Kilimanjaro.  I've become much more self aware of what I'm doing, what goes into my mouth, and how I react to situations.  I'll ask myself, does this decision align with who I want to be?  Decisions have consequences and if I do X… X will happen.  All those decisions are the foundation to who I want to be and those are defined by my core values."

The Results

Francesca has taken her core values and realigned her professional goals.  She's expanded the Sevenoaks Mums community, knowing now that community is completely in line with her core values.

She is eating better and thinking about what foods go into her body, making her happier.  And she's sleeping better, giving her the energy she needs for her two kids and work.

"My brain is not muddled with unwanted anxiety and “thinking” stuff.  I now, concentrate on myself and know that it’ll trickle down to the family and to everyone else." 

Because Francesca spent the time to find her core values, she is reaping the benefits.

"When you fit your habits into who you are at your core, you stay true to them and make a difference.  This is how to get what you want."

Goals for 2017 - Don't Make Resolutions


Have you written down your goals for 2017?  Your new years resolutions?  An action plan to get what you want?

That's what we're supposed to do right?  At the start of a new year, we're supposed to set out goals to achieve that year.  Then at the end of the year or at the end of the month or at the end of the week, we shake our heads and say, ahh well - next year.  Yet another set of goals gets swept to the side, time goes by, and we don't get what we want. But not without some effort... so why didn't that effort amount to much or amount to anything?

It's because we don't have any idea what our WANT GAPS are, how to identify them or how to overcome them.

This year, don't make resolutions.

Don't make a list of goals.  Or create an action plan.  Not just yet.

First, learn your want gaps, identify them, access them and overcome them.  THEN you will be on the right path to fulfilling all your dreams.

Start here, on this blog, and see some of our initial articles, exercises and interviews - specifically:

(Article) What Are Our Basic Needs (or Wants)?

(Exercise) Finding your Core Values

(Interview) What it Means to Be Wanted with Susan Bratton, CEO, Personal Life Media 

Let's Get What You Want, Together

I welcome you to join me, Beth E Lee, discuss habits, brain activity, psychology, neuroscience, depression, dreams, goals, and everything in between as I move around my want circle and teach you how to do the same.

Through this blog, the launch of The Want Gap book later this year, and interviews with executives and creatives alike, I would like to bring to you a new way of looking at life.  One without gaps of any kind.

I look forward to learning about your insight, your thoughts, your arguments, your interests, and your wants. Because to take all those next steps (goal setting, action planning, motivational support, accountability) you have to know the best path to follow - one that is solely for you.

What you do WANT for Christmas?


All I want for Christmas is...

It's that time of year again when everyone asks the kids, "what do you want for Christmas?" or "What did you ask Father Christmas for?" And because no one has asked me what I want this Christmas, I put the question out on Facebook to see what my friends and family are thinking.

Peace, Love, Happiness, Harmony

These were the top answers. Not a new car or a new wardrobe. To me, it seemed like people were expressing their inner thoughts and their inner identities - their core values vs telling me what they wanted. These are things you want to satisfy at your core. So most people haven't satisfied their core values?

The thing with core values, is, they are you. They are the rules you live you life by and they are things you are looking to seek and satisfy first. But how many of us are actually living BY them and looking at all of their core values together as a team to make sure we are living the best life we can?

I got what I Wanted for Christmas

This year, I am even more grateful than usual.  My husband is no longer working in the middle east and has 'come home'.  The grandparents (my parents) are alive and well.  Both kids are healthy and happy.  But most importantly, I am finally on a path to becoming who I want to be.

This wasn't because I was given a "gift" to change my mindset. Or given anything in physical nature, for that matter.  Instead I was given words of comfort, appreciation, acknowledgement, and most importantly support to pursue what I believe is important.

Unexpected Connection

This holiday season, I finally had a chance to spend some quality time with a very special friend.  Someone who shares my values, my outlook, my interests.  She gave me so much inspiration that I my brain continually forges new synapses every time I think of our discussions.  I'll be writing more about her and our connection later on the blog.

What was amazing about our meet up, was not only our unexpected similar experiences, but our similar connections to the world.  She pointed me to a fun website, which took me a bit by surprise, called The 5 Love Languages.  To be honest, I was a bit skeptical even looking at the website!  But once I went, took the free test, and told her my outcome, I knew we had forged a friendship that would last a lifetime.  She and I have the same love language.

What's Your Love Language?

On the website, The 5 Love Languages, you'll learn how the languages are defined.

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Acts of Service
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Quality Time
  5. Physical Touch

Like many personality tests or psychology tests I find these a great resource for affirmation.   They are there to help make sure your outward thoughts and messages are reflective of your core values.  I would say that, as my two languages are Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch.

What I took away from this was not only my own affirmation, but knowing this can help you, help others. If you know someone else's language, you can offer help and support gently, almost subconsciously.

I can't tell you the number of times my friend put her hand on my knee when I was talking with her, providing that all important physical touch while offering words of affirmation.  She made me feel whole.  Try it with your loved one, your children or a close friend. It's very powerful.

A Reality Check - How Much Time Do You Have Left?


Try this simple positive reality check.

It's the end of 2016 and before we engage in that all-encompassing task of goal setting for 2017, here's a small reality check to see how much time you have left on earth.  This will help get your brain and your inner self motivated for the upcoming year.

I asked myself, "How much time do I have left on this earth?"

Of course it's a theoretical question because we don't know our fate but I like to think that I will be alive to see my kids grow up, to see them get married and have children of their own and live a full life.


Even though I am living with depression, I try my best to find the good in everything and the positive options available.  And believe it or not, figuring out how much time I have left on this earth was an exercise that helped me to do this.

"Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood." - Marie Curie, Physicist

Marie Curie was and is right.  Neuroscience today supports this by explaining how fear is something that is learned.  We may have a fear of heights because we experienced a "fear event", which locked that fear into our brains.

I remember being seven.  I missed the "exit" point off a ski lift and ended up jumping and falling off the chair.  Once down, I learned that the chair lift operator stops the chair lift, if you can't get off.  Excellent. Now that I understood how the chair lift worked, I wasn't nearly as afraid the next time around.

By understanding fear, we lose the "sense" of fear.  We begin to embrace our fears and approach them with reason, positivity and downright motivation.

And believe it or not, that's what this exercise did for me.

Exercise:  How Many Months Do You Have Left?

Let's assume you're going to live until 86.  (I just picked this number because while I was living in Singapore, I learned a lot about lucky numbers - and 8 and 6 are two of them.)

You pronounce the number 8 in Mandarin as "Baaa" (like a sheep).  This sounds like "Faaa", which is the word for Luck. So, 8 is a good luck number.

The number 6 in Mandarin is pronounced, short and fast "Leo".  This character (六) sounds similar to the character 流 (liú) which means "to flow".  So an 8 and a 6 together, "luck to flow".  I can die knowing that, although I plan to live to 108, if I'm lucky.  :)

Right - back to it.  This is a really simple exercise.  There are 12 months in a year.  If you're going to live to 86, then you will have lived 1032 months.  (12 x 86 = 1032)

Excellent - except I've lived through 44 of them.  That leaves 42 years left.  So 42 x 12 months is 504 more months to go.  I have 504 more months to live.

Doesn't sound like much.  But here comes the inspirational party.

I HAVE 504 MORE MONTHS!!!  Whoo hoo!!  

Some prefer to go a step further and work out how many days you have left, but I've already lived 1/2 my life so I need a sense of urgency.  Now the fun part, how do I fill those 504 months with fun, exciting, challenging activities that help others and make me a better person?  hmm...

How many months do you have left?  

AND more importantly how do you want to fill those months?

The Want Gap Book Update


Book Update

And it's off! The Want Gap Book is now with my editor.  Here's the book update. For the next three months, my editor and I will go back and forth to make The Want Gap book interesting, informative, instrumental and inspirational.

The book is a story of how a Mum overcame a horrible battle with post natal depression.  How she and her family moved to five countries in five years.  And frustrated not finding and getting what she wanted, identified her want gaps.

It's a book about psychology and neuroscience which will help explain why we can't get what we want.  Then it will help to identify our gaps and overcome them.

Packed with stories, exercises and insights from other executives, creatives and experts it is sure to be the guide to helping you move forward in your life.

Go from where you are now, to where you want to be - on your own terms, without any "have to's" or "musts".

What You Can Expect from The Want Gap

To whet your appetite, have a look at some of the chapter topics below.  You'll see that most chapters keep coming back to a main topic, your core values.  Please have a read of my post, finding your core values, so that you can understand the importance of this one step.  The entire book will focus on tools, techniques, information, and inspiration to get what you want.

Identifying and Defining Wants

The book will start by helping you learn what wants are and how they are defined.   You'll gain insight into how wants manifest themselves. Then, you'll identify your true wants that are aligned with your core values.

How to Use Self Talk for Change and Core Alignment

You'll learn the importance of self talk, positive want phrases, and how to align this talk to your values to get what you want.

Finding Your Important, not Your Passion

This is a huge topic in the book.  I can't stand it when someone asks, "are you passionate about it"?

I decided to focus on how finding your important is intrinsically linked to who you are.  You'll learn how to identify what is truly important to you and how to use this towards getting what you want.

Overcoming the Motivation Gap

Learn how the brain processes motivation and reward.  How CBT techniques can help you feel more motivated and rewarded and overcome the motivation gap.

Other chapters will include the benefits of stress, overcoming and welcoming fear, and how your decisions and thinking are never really right.

So, that's where it's at.  The book is with the editor for the fun process of getting it right.  Please fill out the form on the right if you're interested in receiving any chapter for free. We'll include you in our Want Gap Book VIP list.

Using Memories to Fulfill Future Wants


A simple photo has me WANTING my memories

I absolutely love autumn.  It's my favorite time of the year.  It's just cold enough where you need a jumper and a turtleneck but no jacket.  The smell of freshly cut grass, reminds me of my childhood spending every weekend at a local football game.  Driving down our lane in Kent, I smell a garden bon fire, burning all the summer overgrowth, and I would think back to my childhood home and how we'd have our wood fire lit in October because we didn't want to "put the heating on".

I remember those days, when I was a bit older, had nothing to do, where I would pack up the car and just drive the outskirts of Boston to "leaf peep" and admire the flaming reds, iridescent oranges, and shimmering yellows of the autumn leaves.  So it was no surprise that I ripped out pages 27, 28, and 29 in Novembers edition of Gardeners' World where Carol discusses trees.

What I really want... are my memories.

I want reminders, I want smells, I want the visually vibrant colours that amazed me when I was young.

Neuroscientists believe that memories are constantly rewritten and reinforced as we re-experience them reiterating the importance of stories, both those we tell and those we repeat. They also believe that the memories and stories we retell and play over again in our minds may be important in strengthening them. And this rewriting in the brain can lead to eventual transfer of information from one brain region to another, which is important in how we relate to the rest of the world.  So, it's not a funny thing to want trees.

No one can tell you what you want or what you don't want.  Your wants are yours and yours only.

I battled not only post-natal depression with my therapist but also homesickness (and a number of other issues that I will be writing about this later in the blog).  What my therapist helped me understand is to look at my "past" wants and why you want them.

What do I REALLY WANT from the want feeling?

Do I want to go back in time, which is impossible, do I want to be with those that I missed, do I want to relive a memory?

She'd ask where those wants are coming from and how they relate to my world NOW.

Once I took the time to think about what the want feeling was, I could either make peace with the memory, recreate the memory, hold the memory by retelling it to myself.  When I saw those trees in Gardeners World, I immediately recalled my memories, replayed them in my head, thought about the positive aspects of those memories and how they relate to my world now.

As I look at the photos of the burning amber leaves in the magazine, I want these for a time yet to come, which is a true WANT - in the future.  But what does one do with a future want that isn't achievable at the moment?  Make it achievable when the opportunity arrives.

Preparing for Future Wants

Step 1 - pull out the pages in the magazine and put them into my WANT folder/notebook.

Step 2 - put it in my want journey timeline and make it happen when it needs to happen. (Once I buy a house, I will then see if I can put the trees in my garden).

What future wants do you have?  Do you WANT summer?  Or Winter?

What are the physical senses of a season that you want to create in your life?

Feeling Your WANTS Into Purposeful Action - Interview: Dr. Tammie Matson


Have you ever wanted something SOOO MUCH, you would do absolutely anything to get it?tam-profile-eles-hwange

To be honest, I've never "felt" a want that great, which is why, I think I've felt lost for most of my life. So when I spoke with Dr. Tammie Matson, Zoologist, Speaker, Entrepreneur and all around Elephant guru; she opened my eyes to understanding that feeling your wants is the basis of life. Her story is truly inspiring and a tribute to living life with amazing feeling.

Tammie's Story starts here:

I was fifteen years old when my father took me on a life-changing safari in Zimbabwe.  It changed me forever.  The sense of adventure, big animals and indigenous cultures, and above all that raw sense of being truly alive that you get in Africa…  Africa captured my heart.   I gave up my plans to be a lawyer and decided instead to study zoology. ele-bull-and-herd-hwange-blog-size

Can you imagine being in your late teens knowing and wanting to quit law school to become a PhD in Zoology?

Never good in science or math, Tammie's "want" to be in Africa, to be a Zoologist, to feel truly alive was the greater force pushing her on toward her desire.

On the second trip to Africa after the first one on a safari with my dad, I went for 6 months, just after finishing high school.  I spent my time in Zim teaching at a local school, volunteering with the locals and feeling for the first time in my life a deep sense of purpose.  I was learning their language and completely entrenched in their lives.  I knew then, that I wanted to do whatever I could to go back and help the locals, because I got so much back from them.  I felt a sense of purpose.

Tackling Reverse Culture Shock

Once back in Australia, Tammie experienced "reverse culture shock."  Reverse Culture Shock is the unexpected difficulty of readjusting to your home culture and values after having been away for an significant amount of time. I could relate as I went through the same experience returning to the States after having lived abroad for 11 years.  I truly believe when you experience something so profound it not only affects your thoughts, your outlook, but your wants in life too.sunset-eles-hwange

To do anything in life, you have to feel the energy to do something.  We’re all connected and being in Africa brings you back to our roots reminding us we’re all part of nature.  You feel it when you're there because you stop to watch sunsets, the cycles of the moon and witness births and deaths in the Animal Kingdom. Going on safari, no matter what kind, allows you to FEEL and heal.  

We are just like the animals, we all need to heal.  And we need the space to heal.  Time in Africa with the animals allows your mind to disconnect and address whatever you need to address, through nature.  Because modern life is so busy and all consuming, you need to disconnect to reconnect.

The Importance of Mindfulness and Elephants

Going on Safari is definitely considered a form of mindfulness.  It's so important to be in the moment, to watch and learn from the animals.

Elephants live in a matriarchal society, led by strong female leaders called Matriarchs.  The Matriarch is not “given” a leadership role and she is not born into it.  She has to earn it through the respect of the other elephants.  

Throughout their lives, elephants have to be patient, compassionate and learn to gain respect.  Studies have shown that strong matriarchs tend to have certain personality traits including decisiveness, social intelligence, and confidence.  

Older female elephants run the show.  They know the migration paths and teach the youngsters how to survive and thrive.  Older females carry the wisdom of generations and their role is vital to the survival of the herd.  

ele-family-manaWhat a wonderful way to understand life.  If you believe your life is over at 40 or 50 or 60, think of the elephants, their roles, and how at those ages a new life as leader is just beginning for a female elephant.

It is inspiration for those of us who have gone through life "doing" and "wanting" things - without the feeling to drive us forward in a more true way.  I understand now.

Our wants have to come from a place of true, purposeful, feeling to be achieved.  

Tammie takes several groups out to Africa every year to learn from the elephants on safari.  Visit her safari site at

Learn Your WANT skills

microphoneSinging is Not One of My Want Skills

I have always WANTED to be a singer.  But anyone who knows me knows that I am not a very good singer.  But that doesn't mean the "want" isn't still there.

This whole want to sing started when I was 12 and heard Madonna for the first time.  I learned quickly from my peers, from my brother, and every boyfriend I ever had, that I should shut up and do something else.  Singing was not something I could do well no matter how much I WANTED to do it.

Fast forward to 2010.  I'm on holiday with my new barely one year old, in the USA, visiting my family for the summer.  I was deep in my depression and had to find ANYTHING to do, to keep busy with this child or else I knew I would fall off the rails.  So I signed up for a Music Together class.  It's one of those classes where you and your baby go and sing songs, do little dances and movements to the music.  It was HERE, that I was given license to sing - hooray!  Not only did I still enjoy singing but as I listened to the other Mums and realised I wasn't all that bad and if anything, I could hold a tune, even if I was a bit tone deaf.

What Are Want Skills?

I chatted with the Music Together teacher who explained that anyone could sing, if they WANTED TO, you just have to acquire the skills to do it.  What are those skills?

Skills such as learning to read music, learn and practice note scales, and then doing these exercises daily.  These were skills that I just didn't enjoy doing.  At the end of the day, I didn't "want" to learn to become a singer, I just wanted to sing.  That's a huge difference.  And so, I am still that tone-deaf singer who belts it out like Madonna in the car, in the shower, and in the kitchen.... and I'm happy with that!  (Want satisfied!)

If you really WANT to do something, you have to WANT to do and learn the skills required to achieve your goal.  If you want to hike Mt. Everest, you have to want to learn the skills required and put in the time to prepare for that hike.  If you want to lose weight, you have to WANT to learn how to jog properly, use the machines at a gym, or learn how to eat nutritiously.  If you want to find a partner in life, you have to WANT to share pieces of yourself with others to make a connection.  To achieve the things you want, you have to DO SOMETHING and that requires learning and utilizing your skills.

Finding Your Want Skills

Want skills are skills only you posses. They are the skills you enjoy, like, want to do, and naturally do to get what you want.

Here are some questions to identify your want skills.

What skills have you been "trained" to do?  

List them and then knock off the ones that you don't enjoy.  Here's my list:  Event Planning, Writing, Marketing, Editing, Event Set Up, Website Development, Content Creation, Speaking, Spreadsheet and Financial Management, Research, Management.

What skills do you posses at parties? 

Are you the caterer?  Are you the comedian?  Are you the connector?  Are you the gossiper?  Are you the networker?  Are you the observer?  Are you the drinker?  Are you the entertainer?  Are you the photographer?  Are you the disk jockey?  Are you the dancer?  Are you the host?  Are you the guest?  Either list these in order or choose those skills you really enjoy doing - because they become your want skills.

When you're around kids, what do you like to do?  

Do you like to draw?  Do you like to watch movies?  Do you like to jump on the trampoline?  Do you like to ride a bike?  Do you like to do Lego's?  Do you like to cook?  Do you like to play with dollhouses or play sets?  Do you like to do puzzles?  Do you like to do arts and crafts?  Do you like to paint?  Do you like to.... Kids know authenticity when they see it, so when you're doing something with kids, make note of the skills you're practicing while getting lost in the moment.  

Finally, the famous question: if you were given a day off, what would you do? 

Would you read a book?  Go for a run?  Would you eat in a restaurant?  Would you work in the garden?  Would you cruise the Internet?  Paint or do art?  Would you travel - on a bus, a train, into a city, to the countryside, to a historic building, to a landmark?  Would you sleep?  Would you meet up with new people?  What would you do?  Make a list and then look at all the skills you'd be practicing DURING THAT TIME you're doing.  Those are want skills.

Activate Your BEST Thinking - Interview with Peter Demarest


Your Best Thinking Helps You Get What you Want

Have you read those books, "thinking to change your life" or "thinking to grow rich" or "thinking your way to success"?  I have always been a bit skeptical about those types of books.  However, after my discussion with neuro-axiologist Peter Demarest, from Axiogenics, I've changed my mind.  You CAN think to make change and you CAN THINK to get WHAT YOU WANT!

Introduction to Axiology

Have you heard of Axiology?  Axiology is the philosophical study of value.   Right, so what does this have to do with our wants?

In my previous posts, How To Use Positive Want Phrases and Be Selfish With Your Wants (and the story of the 4th son) we've seen that emotions and wants are intrinsically linked.  Knowing this, I ask Peter to help us understand this link and how we can change our thinking to activate our BEST thinking and get what we want.

Peter DemarestMost of our negative emotions (anger, upset, stress, frustration, overwhelm, etc.) arise from perspectives that trigger a self-centric mindset. That’s good news because it gives you a way to recognize when you are at your worst: when your emotions “get the best of you.”

Knowing that, if you can be mindful of when a negative emotion starts to take hold, you can switch perspectives before it takes over completely.

How do we do that? How do we shift our perspective?

By asking ourselves questions. We do it all the time. We ask ourselves “what shall I wear today?”, “What time is it?, “What is he thinking?”.  Whenever we ask ourselves a question, our brain immediately goes to work seeking an answer.

The first key to activating your best thinking is to recognize that real success in any worthwhile endeavor occurs when we are conscientiously focused on creating value greater than the value we want or expect to receive.

This is the path to abundance. Contrary to what some “new-age” teachers may have your believe, abundance is something we create not something we merely receive.  (Through THINKING, I may add.)

So, how do we "create value"?

To think is to value. Think of value as a measure of quality of life. The human brain is wired to pursue value (quality of life) in many forms ranging from survival to ecstasy and a thousand expressions of value, goodness or quality in between.

Wants are included in this.

To value something is the act of determining the value of something, often in comparison to something else. We tend to value things that we believe add to our of life more than things that we believe don’t. Of course, we don’t also get it right.

Here's an Example

You want a new house.  Perhaps you believe it will add value to your life, by giving you a roof over our head.  Or you may see it as a status symbol.  Either way, this thought could also be a misjudgment.  Perhaps you haven't considered the cost of running the house and it may end up putting you in a worse off situation.   So, let's see how we can activate our BEST thinking to make sure we make the right decision for our wants.

We all have multiple ways of thinking. Essentially, each different “way” of thinking is a different perspective.  As individuals, we can be good at thinking one way and not so good at another way. Depending on which way we are thinking we will either have good judgment (and make decisions and take actions that lead toward success/greater quality of life) or poor judgment (that causes us to make mistakes – mistakes in judgment – that lead toward failure / reduced quality of life).

To “activate” our best thinking means to shift our perspective such that our thinking leads to good judgments, decisions, and actions.

LIGHT BULBThe Lightbulb Moment

This was a lightbulb moment for me as I applied this thinking to a decision I made last year.

I wanted a new shirt, that I knew was too much money, but I wanted it.  I tried it on, looked in the mirror and turned around admiring myself in the mirror.  I felt good, my emotions were at the forefront as I engaged with the self in the mirror.  I felt successful, I felt wealthy, and I felt good.

When I took it off, I looked at the price tag and realized it was too expensive.  That's when my "old" thinking began to work.  I think all of us are very good at justifying wants, especially when the price or the risk of the want isn't that great.  But what I also did was to think about how I could pay for this later - later! I didn't think about creating value in this decision NOW.

Shifting Perspective

What I should have done is ask myself the central question that Peter kept harping on about...

“What choice can I make and action can I take, in this moment, to create the greatest net value?”

Or in layman's terms, "does this choice or action really create the greatest value?"

Since creating value is the path to success and since your best thinking occurs when you are thinking about creating value, one thing you can do to activate your best thinking is to shift your perspective to think about the value in all your decisions.  

It's THIS THINKING that will help you get what you want.

If you want to read more about how to create the greatest value in life, by activating your best thinking, have a look at Peter's book:  Answering The Central Question, available on Amazon.

Your Brain is a "Meaning Making" Story Machine - And It Matters!


The Meaning Making Story Machine

Why do we want?  Because we believe it will add to our quality of life. We think about what life would be like, if we only had whatever it was that we wanted.  We believe we would be a better person if we only had what we wanted.  So, what is it that makes us believe our wants will change everything?  It's the stories our brains are constantly creating through our emotions and our values becoming a meaning making story machine. Let's look at how this happens.

Our senses are not only biologically important to living, but they are the foundation to living life.  They help us identify our primary learning style (as mentioned in the post Know Your Learning Styles) and they also bring in messages and ideas to help our brain make our experiences mean something.

Here's an Example

You want to buy a house and go see a house for sale.  When you get out of the car, you SEE a beautiful home, you SMELL the flowers that line the front walk and HEAR the birds in the trees as you head towards the front door. As you continue viewing the house, both inside and out, your senses are at work sending messages to your brain bombarding it with all kinds of information.  It has to do something!  Quickly and efficiently your brain takes all those messages and begins to make some meaning out of them.  (good or bad)

Stories and Perception

"Great, I get that" you say but what's also important to understand is that while your brain is making meaning and stories with all this information, your brain is also creating a perception of value in this meaning.  

Perhaps after seeing the tidy garden, you believe the owners do a great job of taking care of the house and hence love the house and have taken care of it for years.  Or perhaps you see the skirting board has no dust and think that the owners are very proud of their house, keeping it clean, giving you a sense of pride too.  Or perhaps the house ticks all your boxes for buying a house making you excited about everything surrounding it - it has tremendous value in your brain and you believe this house will add to the quality of your life.   The bad news is that, this may not necessarily be accurate.

The stories your brain has just created are our perceptions of what we may want to have happen, what we have taken in, and what we have experienced in our lives - because that's the information our brains have to work with.  However, the reality may be that the owners hate the house, hate the neighborhood, and pay four people to upkeep the house while they live in someplace else?  At the end of the day - DOES IT MATTER?

Our Stories Matter

It's important to understand that the stories your brain has just applied meaning to, are accepted and either aligned or dismissed with your values.

As humans, we assign value to everything with the most important value being around the stories we create and retell.  We have the power to justify anything, based on what we care about. And this justifying comes back to our values (outlined in the post, How To Find Your Values).

However, for us to benefit we have to make meaningful stories with positive assigned value.  We also have the ability to make up stories and assign negative value that can become detrimental to our lives.

When I interviewed Scott Drummond, he explained it best:

The power of Story is immense.  Those stories you tell yourself.  Those stories you tell others ABOUT yourself, about your family, about your life.  They’re really important.  The more you tell the same story, the more it gets ingrained in your head.  So before you say anything, be aware and conscious of how it’s going to AFFECT you, the listener, and anyone else in the story.  It’s utterly important to make peace with your stories, be honest and truthful, be grateful and positive and be thoughtful because these stories end up becoming you.

The Opposite of Meaningful Story Creation - Justification

The opposite of understanding that our brains are constantly creating meaning and assigning value to our experiences is allowing our brains to JUSTIFY our actions for experiences that are not aligned with our values.  For example, I know a workaholic who works ridiculous hours, in an office, away from his family.  When I asked him what his core values were and on the top of the list was family.  I had to question this.   If his top value were family, then being with his family should be a priority for him, not spending most of his time at work.

This is a perfect example of the brain doing a really good job at justifying the situation.   PRESENCE with his family has more value, to those around him.  His story is telling him that he is family oriented but his actions are creating a different story to his family.  They see him working for the money, not them.

Create Positive Meaning Stories

Your brain is an amazing meaning making story machine.  You can help it along by taking a couple minutes of the day thinking about an experience that maybe bothering you.  Or a decision you have to make.  How is the story you're listening to or repeating in your brain, affecting your emotions, mood, and others?