Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Jumpstart Your Brain Challenge: Organizing and Assessing Your Goals

 Last week I invited you to join me in increasing your brainpower. I’ve been referring to it on Twitter as the Jumpstart Your Brain Challenge. I asked you to “write down any and every dream you have.”


Any and Every. It’s why it was the only assignment. Write them down, even if they seem a bit out of reach. A bit.


I created my list. We’ll talk about that later. First, I want to address why this is important to have dreams and goals in order to build and sustain brainpower. 


Our brains are wired to problem solve. We need challenges to continue to strengthen our brainpower. There is evidence that strengthening our brainpower serves us in many ways including maintaining memory function. If you’re interested in the synapses of the brain and more scientific explanations, CLICK HERE. For this exercise, I prefer to keep it at the more pragmatic level.


We were created with the ability to think and create. We can see new uses for objects. Think, “sock puppet.” Or consider the flat sheet of paper intended for writing a letter that, once in the hands of a ten-year-old, will be folded into an airplane flying across the room. 


Left unchallenged, our brains lose strength. Just as an unused arm muscle makes it hard for someone to lift a gallon of milk, the unused brain makes it hard to think. Remember. Create. Solve problems. Imagine.


You get the idea.


So now you have a list of dreams and opportunities to flex that muscle between your ears. How will you do it?


First, I suggest you sort the items in your list. Put them in meaningful groups. You decide which ones belong together.


I have fourteen items on my list. I sorted mine into three groups: 1) Things I want to learn, 2) Life experiences I would enjoy, and 3) Hobbies and Crafts. 


Your list will likely look different from mine. Not to worry. It should. We are all different. You are not enrolled in a class here. You will not be graded. This is your individual plan. 


The exercise of sorting and grouping  in itself stretches your thinking skills. 


You may choose to sort each list into sub categories as well. For example, in the section I call Life Experiences, I have a few places listed I’d like to visit and things I’d like to do. I also have “space travel” in there. I gave it a special place of it’s own.


Okay, now that you’ve stopped laughing, let me explain. 


My husband and I grew up in the space age. We were in awe when astronauts circled the earth in rocket propelled capsules. We watched with our families as Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon. We were addicted to Star Trek. We took our daughters to the space center in Florida and camped on the beach so they could witness the launch of a shuttle. I even went so far as to request the application for the Teacher in Space program. Tom and I read through it. The mission itself didn’t bother me. The only reason I wouldn’t apply was because of the time it would require away from my family. 


Does all this mean I have to give up the experience? Not at all. I recently checked into the Space Camp options NASA offers. I can still challenge myself in this life experience by enrolling in the three day/ two night space camp for adults.  


This leads me to the next part of our quest. 


Once you have organized the list to your liking, what should you do next? This next week, look over each item in each category and consider what you have and what you yet need to make it happen. Write it down. Everything.


For example, in the “Things I want to learn” section, I have listed play the piano and play the guitar along with several other avenues of interest. I have a piano. I no longer have a guitar. It makes sense to assess my resources before I tackle one of my dreams. That means I can put “play the piano” above “play the guitar.”


“Learn to speak Spanish” is above “Learn Albanian” since one, I no longer live in Kosovo where Albanian is the language of the land and two, my youngest granddaughter is learning Spanish.


Be aware as you go through this exercise, not everything will fit nicely into one category or the other. I came up with numerous items in what I call hobbies and crafts. Drawing, painting, gardening, finishing a scrapbook, and many other items fell into this category. 


One of my dreams is woodworking. I would love to build a few items for my house and yard. Woodworking fits in the hobbies and crafts section, but to make it happen I need to learn how to use the tools Tom left me. So technically, that item could fit in either the category on learning or the hobbies and crafts category.


Now it’s your turn. Assess your list of dreams and possibilities. What is within reach? What could be reimagined? What resources do you have available to help you in reaching your goals? 


Be sure to let me know. I’d love to dream with you.


Next week we’ll look at the process vs. the product. 





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