What Problem Are You Giving Your Brain to Solve?
Ep. 284
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What problem are you giving your brain to solve

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In this episode, I dive into the workings of our brains and the perpetual need for growth. Modern life may spare us from primal struggles, but our brains are wired to seek challenges. I explore why we can often face mental decline when we stop actively problem-solving and how to set intentional goals, not as a validation of worth but as problems to solve. Join me in redefining goal-setting as choosing challenges that lead to growth. As we approach the year-end: What problem do you want to give your brain to solve? Dive into this episode and let’s plan to knock out 2024.

Show Transcript
Hey! Welcome to Lessons from a Quitter where we believe that it is never too late to start over. No matter how much time or energy you've spent getting to where you are. If ultimately you are unfulfilled, then it is time to get out. Join me each week for both inspiration and actionable tips so that we can get you on the road to your dreams.
Hello my friends. I hope you are. Well, welcome back to another episode. I'm so happy to have you here. We are coming in at the end of the year, winding now in 2023. If you're listening to this live, if not, if some point in the future. Welcome. Anyways, I promise this, this is still applicable. How have you guys been? I have had an interesting December. It's really interesting for me to think about all of the things that we were told like we should do versus like how you maybe naturally either operate or just what, what season you're in. I like in the middle of October I sort of fell, not fell into this funk. I typically tend to like work in sprints. I'll work really hard for like however many weeks I need to, and then I go into like hibernation and I've for a long time used to beat myself up about that 'cause I don't know all these ideas about what you're supposed to do as a business owner and everything is supposed to be this robotic kind of same input output every week.
And I'm just like, that's not the way I operate and I'm okay with that. Like I have launches and I'll go hard for like a month, two months, and then I will just not do anything for who knows how long. And that's another thing I think people get freaked out. And I was watching myself during this time because I sort of really wound down at the end of October and was like doing the bare minimum, like doing the podcast, doing the newsletters, but really nothing else. And I was okay with it. I was like, all right, we're not gonna, I'm just gonna lounge around. I was reading a lot of books. I was taking naps, I was going for walks. I was not doing anything extra. And I remember thinking like I, like how long am I gonna do this? Maybe I'll do this for like a week.
And then another week. And then the third week I was like, I guess we're still doing this. And I remember like old me would've freaked out and been like, okay, you got two weeks off. Like now it's time to get back in. But I was just like, I'm not, I don't want to, I, I am just gonna kind of skate by for a while and it doesn't matter if I don't do anything else. And that lasted six weeks towards the end of November. What's fa fascinating is I was like, I wonder if I just won't feel like doing anything the whole year. Maybe I'll just go through December. And again, I have the privilege of doing that with my business. It's my business and I can kind of skate by doing the bare minimum if I want to. But I know a lot of people that have that and they still don't.
And they still force themselves to go at a hundred miles an hour. So I say all this to say, I kept thinking, what if I'm not afraid that it'll just go away? Like what if I can just trust my body to know when it's ready to go back? And what's interesting is like at the end of November, I don't know what happened. Like I can't explain to you how motivation comes, but I just was like, all right, let's go. And I've been working really hard all of December. I've been working the most. I have I think in six months. And I talked to you guys about how I hired my friend to help me put an evergreen funnel together. And it's, again, the reason I say it's interesting is 'cause everybody else is kind of slowing down in December. And I think we have these like notions of what we need to do or what we should do.
And I just feel like the more I reject that, the happier I become the more I realize like, well my break was in November and now I want to work and I wanna work until I get up close to the holidays because I still have a lot of energy and a lot of ideas and creativity pouring outta me. And so I don't necessarily need to take off because it's December. So I just say that if it in case it helps you understand that like it's okay for you to operate however it is that you operate and it's okay for that to change. And it's okay to have seasons and it's okay for your seasons not to make sense. And I feel like the more you lean into just trusting that your body will know what it needs and you give it to it and you'll come back, the happier you become, the more prolific you become, the more work you get done.
So this was a really long intro. This isn't even what the podcast is about. I just wanted you guys to know 'cause I'm working very hard. As we go into the holidays, I will take time off over the holidays. But this has been a really fruitful December and I'm excited about it.
Okay, so the real reason I wanted to talk to you about is I want you to ask yourself what problems you're giving your brain to solve. And as we go into this new year and as hopefully you all are thinking about goals that you wanna set and things that you wanna achieve in 2024, I want us to ask this question because part of the, the whole goal setting culture in our society, the problem with it is that a lot of us have picked goals that we don't actually care for or we don't actually want.
We think we need to, like society told us we should be a certain size. So, you know, our goal becomes to lose weight or I should be making more money. So my goal becomes to climb this corporate ladder that I don't actually wanna climb. And so a lot of us get burned and then we decide that you know what the solution is to not set a goal. I'm just not gonna set goals, which is wild that that, that we really like, make fun of people that set goals and think the problem is the goals. It's not, that's not the problem. and I wanna talk about that because I think that's what actually creates a lot of problems.
So here's the thing, your brain needs to solve problems. It is simply how it is created. It is what it does. If you've noticed when even everything is going fine, like your brain is like looking for something to completely like to be a problem. Have you noticed that? I think we all have because that is what it is created to do. It's created to make sure to keep you alive. And the way to keep you alive is to make sure that it, it sniffs out and roots out any potential problems. And the thing is, is that maybe back in the day, those problems were, you know, like finding enough food, raising crops that made it to harvest so that you could eat, hunting animals, making sure you're safe from other animals or whatnot.
And so you were maybe scanning your environment for those things, prepping for those things, solving for those things. But as we all know, like in modern society, we don't have a lot of those same problems. A lot of us very privileged and lucky do not need to worry about like where our next meal is gonna come from. We do not need to worry about being eaten by an animal or being killed on the daily, on a daily basis, right? And so for a lot of us, our brains don't have those same problems, okay? But that doesn't mean that it doesn't then look for another problem. It does. And this is the thing that I want people to understand is like human brains don't stop growing ever, ever, ever. It always needs growth. This is why when you think about like a lot of times there's now like so much, so many studies done about people who really deteriorate mentally after they retire.
It's because they have stopped kind of forcing their brain to problem solve and to focus on things and to accomplish things and to constantly be active. And so when you, while it sounds fantastic to like wanna sit on a beach, that's not what your brain wants to do. And after a little while you get bored and you start coming up with other problems because it just needs something to solve, right?
And so it doesn't mean that those, that thing to solve has to be work. Like let's say if you're in retirement, it's a really good idea that like if you're gonna retire to figure out a way to keep your brain active and busy after that retirement, right? It could be at a slower pace. It doesn't mean that you have to work 40 hours a week or do the things that we've set up in corporate America.
I just want you to understand that like your brain is going to look for something to solve, it's going to look for something to keep it busy. It's gonna look for something to overcome because that's where it gets growth and fulfillment, right?
We love accomplishing things. We love the dopamine that we get where there's like a puzzle and we fix it right? Where there's a problem and we figure it out. Which is funny because you would never think that with humans like we hate, we have such an aversion to negative emotion and like failure and having things be hard. But truly, you never have the duality. You never have the other side. You don't have that feeling of pride and accomplishment and happiness and joy if you don't have the problem to begin with, if you don't have something to overcome, right? If every day is super neutral, you have no issues, everything is handed to you, you would think like in the way that our brains subconsciously operate, you would think that that would be your peak happiness. But you already know that that's not true. Like if everything is handed to you, you're, you become extremely bored and restless and unfulfilled. And that can lead to its own problems, right? This is why there are so many very rich people that can solve a lot of other problems very easily, who create other problems for themselves, right? Who end up creating a lot of emotional issues for themselves. I'm not saying they create it by themselves, I'm just saying like, you know, end up having to deal with, a lot of emotional unwellness that they have to, whether it it, you know, they deal with it in self-destructive ways like drugs and alcohol and things like that. Or even in constructive ways like figuring out going to therapy and spending that money on being healed and stuff. They still have those problems, right?
And I think when we, like I obviously I talk a lot about 50 50 and like the fact that you will always have problems no matter what station in life you have, what resources you have, where you are in your life, you're gonna have these issues of the full human experience. But one of the things I've realized is that like really looking at where those negative emotions come from and what negative emotions you're actively choosing, like which ones are you intentionally choosing and which ones just come to, 'cause what I've realized is for a lot of us that don't choose any goals, we still have a lot of the 50 50 of negative emotions, but they tend to be ones that we haven't chosen for ourselves.
They might be boredom, they might be unfulfillment, they might be restlessness, they might be inadequacy, insecurities, right? And you have to start asking like, are those the negative emotions I wanna grapple with? Or would I like to grapple with, you know, the fear of being seen and the fear of failing and maybe embarrassment or shame if it doesn't work. Like, are those the things I would rather overcome in order to kind of create, like solve the problems that I want to have? So I say all this because as you think about this next year and the whether you're gonna set goals or not, I want you to think about what problems you are giving your brain to solve. Because I, what I've seen so often is that when we kind of fall in this rutt and we think like we're just gonna, you know, try to make our lives quote unquote easy and we're just gonna try to keep the status quo and we're not gonna change anything because it's easier.
We create different problems, right? We create maybe problems within our relationships. We, we become restless and bitter and angry and resentful and we create problems there. Or maybe we start comparing ourselves to other people and thinking their lives are better or you know, more exciting and we create problems there. And I think I've just, as I've observed this, I've seen it, I see it so much more now. I see so many people that have everything seemingly everything they've wanted to accomplish. They've gotten the jobs, they've gotten the, you know, white picket fence and spouse and kids, they've gotten all this stuff and then they just like create another issue for themselves, right? They create something like they create chaos. They create something that then has them busy dealing with that, or maybe they engage in a lot of gossip and judgment and create all of this like negative emotion for themselves within that.
And it's always fascinating to me, and I've realized that like when I see people that are creating goals and like actively consciously working at something, they tend to not create a lot of problems and drama in other areas of their lives.
And I'm not saying that like I know the causation of this. Like maybe there's, there's obviously multiple causes, but one of the things I have realized, like even for myself, I think about this a lot with my business because I try to balance this idea of growth and this idea of doing bigger things and pushing myself also with the idea of doing less and enjoying my life. And I really have thought like, why do I want to push? Why do I even care? Like I make a good amount of money. I work the hours I want. What if I was okay with this?
And I realize as soon as I get into that place of complacency, I start getting really bored and I start creating other problems. I create problems in my business, I just will break things because I'm like, this has been a couple weeks of really boring stuff and I wanna do something else. And then I realize like, my brain just needs something to solve.
So oftentimes, like for me, the point of growth is not because I think I need to grow in order to feel better about myself or make more money or have that money mean something about me. I just constantly am like, well, what problem do I wanna solve next? I've already figured this out. I already know how to do this. Like this has now become easy for me. So what's the next thing I wanna do? What's the next thing? And it's simply through that growth that I find fulfillment, right?
It's the growth of me being like, okay, for the next year I wanna give myself this problem to solve. And that could be for your business or even personal, right? It could be like, I wanna learn a language or I wanna learn how to knit, or I wanna play the piano or whatnot. Because it's like that is what keeps my brain occupied with some kind of hurdle to overcome. 'cause when I don't have that, I tend to look for trouble. I tend to create problems about my own self-worth about, you know, I don't know, I, my, I let my mind run wild.
And so I want you to, if you are somebody who has avoided setting goals, if you are somebody that has used goals to kind of beat yourself up, if you are someone that has kind of given up on goals because you don't stick to things, I want you to reconsider how you think about your goals.
I want you to reconsider, like when you are gonna set a goal for next year, what if it's not a goal? Be like, because you need to achieve that in order to feel better about yourself.
What if like, you got to feel good about yourself exactly as you are knowing that you don't need to achieve anything else to be a lovable, worthy, amazing human. But simply that you wanna pick a goal to give your brain a problem to solve, to give you something to focus on, to give you something to grow with, to like be the catalyst for that growth for the next year. When you start asking yourself that question, in what way do I wanna grow next year? Not what destination I wanna get to, like whether I get to the destination or the result is not actually important, right? Whether I run the marathon or build the business is not the important part.
It's like, how have I grown in the pursuit of that goal? And part of that is what are the problems that I'm giving my brain to solve? What am I asking my brain to do on a daily basis that is keeping it active and keeping it engaged and giving it some way of growing so that and my idle mind doesn't create other problems because I promise you it's gonna find a problem that it needs to solve. So you might as well choose it intentionally. You might as well choose what's gonna give you the biggest growth. And I feel like the more I started looking at goals in that way, the funner goals became, it wasn't something where my whole self-esteem had to be hinged on. It wasn't something that like, if I don't reach this goal, then there's something wrong with me and I'm gonna beat myself up.
It was simply, all right, I'm blessed with another year on this earth, in this life. What am I gonna do with it? What do I wanna try? How do I wanna grow? And when you think of it in that way, it takes a lot of pressure, I think, off of needing to hit that result. And it also helps you figure out why you're doing it, right? Because I know for me, like when I think about my business, a lot of times I'm like, why am I making it harder? I don't need to scale. I could just be super happy with this, but I realize I'm not going to be happy. I'll be happy for like a month and then I'll get bored and I'll come up with another issue. So the reason to do it is simply to push myself. The reason to do it is to give myself a problem to solve, is to see if I can.
That's it. That's the only reason. It's not because I need to prove that I can do that to everyone, you know, to my audience. And when I have like started approaching my goals in that way, it has made goal setting so much more fun and something I really look forward to. 'cause I'm constantly thinking like, huh, I wonder how I'm gonna grow in the next year. I wonder who I'm gonna be by the end of next year. I wonder how I'm gonna grow after that. And when I accept that, that's just a lifelong privilege of being human, right? It's a lifelong quest of constant growth. It's never gonna stop. And so I don't have to have it all done next year. I don't have to become this perfect person. I don't have to have all the skills. I just constantly have to find one problem to work on and give it to my brain and know like that's what we're gonna focus on and keep ourselves busy and keep ourselves in growth and keep ourselves like kind of moving towards the person that we wanna be.
So as you go towards this end of the year and you start thinking about what you wanna do next year, I want you to think about what problem you want to give your brain to solve. Do you want it to be something that is rooted in fear and rooted in, you Know, boredom and your brain just randomly picking it and focusing on it for the next year and wasting time and anxiety and worry and all that stuff? Or do you wanna pick something on purpose and know that it's gonna be hard and do it anyway and give it to your brain to kind of mull over and to come up with different ways and not make it mean anything about you? I'm telling you it's the best way to go and I would love to help you with your goals.
So if you aren't in the Quitter Club, I would definitely get on the wait list so you can join because starting next year we are gonna do something new called 90 day goal setting workshops. And so we're gonna break down all of our goals into these 90 day sprints. We're gonna have accountability pods so that you can keep working on these goals and you can keep giving your brain new problems to solve. If you wanna get on that wait list, go to lessons from a quitter.com/quitter Club and hopefully I will see you there. And if not, I hope you guys have a wonderful Christmas and holiday season and I will see you next week for another episode.
Hey, if you are looking for more in-depth help with your career, whether that's dealing with all of the stress, worry, and anxiety that's leading to burnout in your current career or figuring out what your dream career is and actually going after it, I want you to join me in the Quitter Club. It is where we quit what is no longer working. Like perfectionism, people pleasing imposter syndrome… and we start working on what does, and we start taking action towards the career and the life that you actually want. We will take the concepts that we talk about on the podcast and apply them to your life and you will get the coaching, tools, and support that you need to actually make some real change. So go to lessonsfromaquitter.com/quitter club and get on the waitlist. Doors are closed right now, but they will be open soon.