Can you hear a colleague mention your name three cubicles over while in the middle of a task? If so, you can thank your Reticular Activating Center (RAS).
Your RAS is similar to a big filter at the base of your brain, which allows you to let in or pay attention to what’s important and keep out everything else. It’s up to you to program it for its highest and best use.
1. Clarity is key. The more accurate and detailed your needs, goals and objectives, the more likely your filter can draw appropriate information. For example, if you would like to develop yourskills, what does that look like? Is it your speaking skills, or your ability to assert yourself more effectively? Once you’re clear on what you want, write it down. The more specific the information you desire, the more likely your RAS will deliver the goods.
2. Focus only on what you want. You are responsible for what gets through. If you want to attend a conference on using Excel, focus on that. Why waste your time noticing announcements about Outlook if it’s not what you want? Your RAS works hard for you, and will draw all your thoughts to you, regardless of your intended use, so focus wisely.
3. Identify your strengths. Take the time to write down the top five skills or behaviors you believe have advanced your career to date. Are you an excellent writer? When you own your strengths, your RAS can allow additional opportunities to filter through. For example, you’ll be more apt to notice the tiny blurb in the company newsletter asking for submissions rather than just see the articles.
4. Review daily. Glance at your goals and strengths. It’s a way to gently nudge your RAS into action.
5. Reward your RAS! Attend a networking function and run across a banquet facility manager when you’re responsible for planning an off-site? Kudos to RAS.
In your crazy-busy workdays, it’s important to limit unnecessary input and information and only let through what will move you toward success. Put your RAS to work today.