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Becoming LIMITLESS - small actions clear space for bigger goals

Be warned, no dangerous sports were practiced in the course of writing this blog. It's largely about tidying up...! The danger in tidying up, decluttering your environment is that you just might find that you've created more space, you've generated more energy, and now you are motivated and driven towards bigger, clearer goals and purpose! Go on, be adventurous, take some of that clutter to the bin, you never know where the path might lead you!




I've been setting out a philosophy in my blogs which promotes the concept of an Adventure Mindset as a means to thrive on life's challenges. This incorporates an understanding of how the brain functions under stress (from my research into cognitive neuroscience), with techniques and concepts from coaching practice that help people achieve goals and overcome sticking points. The ambition is to help folks unlock potential and live happier, more fulfilled lives! In short, being more adventurous in thought and action.

“Pursuing goals at a micro scale can ‘close the dopamine circuits’ and start to build momentum. One step at a time. As with the maxim that the hardest part of running a marathon is lacing up the shoes, turning that on its head, actually lacing up your shoes is trivial. So literally or metaphorically lace up your shoes. Even if you just sit there with them on! You will probably find that you lace them up then go sit nearer the door. Stretching down to do so, do a calf stretch...Soon you might find you are propelling yourself out the door and beyond. "

Decluttering the mind - micro goals to create energy and momentum


In the movie Limitless, Bradley Cooper’s ‘slacker’ character ingests a nootropic (smart) drug that suddenly gives him a moment of clarity. He acts on this, immediately setting to work on reorganising his flat, and his life. A mania ensues in which he tidies everything away, cleans up, restores order. Then he sets to real work: attending to the book he has been putting off writing.


He delivers the manuscript in super quick time, to the amazement of his publisher used to his prevaricating ways. It's even really good! And from then his ambitions explode as he taps into that inspired source of creativity and clear thinking. Anyway, I won’t spoil the film, but you get the point.


Declutter your environment, declutter your mind – find clarity and pursue your goals with ferocity!


There’s no magic pill to all this, but the principle is sound. Indeed, there is a scientific premise which asserts that completing goals, no matter how small, produce reward as ‘dopamine circuits are closed’. Basically meaning you get a boost, freeing up some mental energy. And moreover, from dopamine, ultimately adrenaline/epinephrine can be generated in a chemical cascade - a source for further energy and drive...(please see Andrew Huberman’s conversations where he talks authoritatively on the subject)


Wouldn’t it be great to be Limitless and stride through life as Bradley Cooper’s character does, confident, assured, crystal clear as to purpose, effortlessly achieving success at every turn? Sure it would... That’s Hollywood of course!


But I have to say every time I watch the movie it stays with me afterwards. I set to work tidying my house, with renewed vigour!


This time the practice stuck. I’ve successfully embedded the habit into my routine. I’ve made changes, reordered spaces. In fact, now I can’t go into a room without removing stuff that is out of place, putting things in cupboards, clearing the sink. There’s no more ‘floordrobe’ in the bedroom. The recycling stuff is not allowed to accumulate on a kitchen surface. It goes to the bin. I’ve become a little evangelical about this (hence the blog).


A curious thing happens in all this. Firstly, there is motivational energy that can consistently be tapped into: I clear away one small item, and then go after another, and another. (Being careful not to develop OCD!).


Secondly, I notice so much more. Our routines, automated behaviours in a familiar environment result in habituated patterns of looking. The everyday visual landscape fades into the background. Post-it notes on a fridge reminding us to do such and such, whilst initially useful, gradually become ignored (adding to the clutter). Whole areas of space are tuned out and we focus narrowly on what we expect to see. Yet, by picking things up, clearing things away I start to see things in the periphery, or resolve background objects back into the foreground. I look around more. And with purpose! The purpose is to actively reorder the environment into a more functionally useful space. [I've talked before about how the visual system is influenced by/influences the circuits underlying response to stress and arousal including a capacity to expand the field of awareness with respect to the environment.]


This also cascades into freeing up some mental energy and clearing cognitive load – you don’t realise how much things ignored, cluttering up your space, also take up mental energy – you swiftly contain your movements, and attitude to the restricted context you are bounded by.


When this mental energy is freed up, it allows ideas and inspired thoughts to emerge from the cluttered background noise. It can open up creative thinking. Unblocking the flow of energy that can be more powerfully focused towards bigger goals and ideals.

When we are overwhelmed by the enormity of things – too many demands, too many options – this can create paralysis, or avoidance. We can become demotivated, apathetic, or else anxious, manic, frustrated. Energy needs to be managed, given an outlet, or re-ignited.


Pursuing goals at a micro scale can ‘close the dopamine circuits’ and start to build momentum. One step at a time. As with the maxim that the hardest part of beginning training for a marathon is lacing up the shoes, turning that on its head, actually lacing up your shoes is trivial. So literally or metaphorically lace up your shoes. Even if you just sit there with them on! You will probably find that you lace them up then go sit nearer the door. Stretching down to do so, do a calf stretch...Soon you might find you are propelling yourself out the door and beyond.


Becoming limitless is not an all or nothing affair. Unless you ingest a mind altering substance that launches you instantly into the stratosphere, it’s more likely to be a step by step progression. But here’s the thing, once you declutter a tiny area of your life, the clear space accumulates exponentially. A corner of the room is cleared, and your attention shifts to the wider space – things chunk into groups. Now you are thinking about how you could rearrange the whole room, inspired and creative. Then room by room, the whole house! You have a project that you are motivated creatively towards, rather than totally swamped by all the individual details and items lying about, which are ‘easier’ to ignore, step over, sweep under the bed. Nagging away at the back of your mind.

This can be rewarding in more ways than one. I have a shelf in my bedroom where small change accumulates. Pennies, tuppence pieces. I noticed there were a few silver coins amongst these. So I decided I would quickly stack any twenty pence pieces I found, that’s all. Then I saw there were some golden coins, pound coins. And 50ps. So I made some small stacks of these. Momentum built and soon I had cleared them all into stacks. I made an estimate based on the size of the stacks. There was at least £26 in various denominations! I just made a tidy sum of money from a bunch of useless change!


In a moment of philanthropy several years ago, I recall a similar incident whilst living in a flat in Milano. At the end of my tenure I had accrued a large amount of small change. Counted up, it amounted to 28 Euros or thereabouts. I went walkabout on the streets determined to do some charity work. I found a homeless chap and deposited the whole bag of change on his lap. I'm not sure if his exhortations were cries of gratitude or annoyance, but it would keep him in Big Macs for a few days should he choose to spend it thus...

Habits can seem like impossible things to lay down, because of the cognitive load associated – yet another thing to have to think about/remember/do. But actually, they can be installed through the tiniest of actions, almost effortlessly.

The coaching that I practice is orientated towards decluttering the mind, reducing the cognitive load, and unblocking the flow that can surge towards greater ambitions. This I do in both conversational sessions, to help create that purpose and tap into the passion that drives us forward effortlessly, but also using adventure as a facilitator for this. ‘Wild coaching’ involves setting the mind free in the great outdoors, to refresh perspective and stimulate broader thinking that helps overcome the blockers to progress!


So please connect with me to explore the options that can help you become limitless in your attitude to life...

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