Sunday, 22 August 2010

Monitoring internal dialogue

Seth Godin writes intriguingly today about monitoring one's internal dialogue.  I think it's imperative to do the same when making important decisions, especially career decisions.  Why?

It comes down to a simple idea:  your mind is not your friend and it is not your enemy.  It is an evolved problem solving organ whose primary responsibility is to keep you alive. 

It's like having a very loyal, very powerful dog outside your house.  Your dog will deter intruders, keep you safe, protect you.  But, if you let it, it may also deter friends.  Its instinct is to prevent you from leaving the house at all.  If you let it, it will make your life smaller in the service of safety. 

But what language has given us is the unique ability to examine our own thoughts - metacognition.  By seeing thoughts as having a specific role, we can begin to see when they are useful to the kind of life we want to lead, and when they are not.

Perhaps some of the thoughts in your career decision are like the dog.  Well meaning but limited.  By being willing to examine our thoughts, we can become better at recognising why we're making decisions.

If your next career decision is about staying safe, well that's fine.  But if your life is about more than staying safe - living a vital or a meaningful life for example - you could do worse than read Seth's post.   And start bringing that dog to heel.

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