Your Brain on GTD

When you define the successful outcome of a goal or project clearly, your brain starts finding ways to achieve that outcome. Or, as David Allen crisply phrases it in chapter 13 of Getting Things Done:

  • Make it up.
  • Make it happen.

A recent article entitled Your Brain on Fiction summarizes new research to support this idea. “The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated.” Reading fiction is like having your brain run a computer simulation program.

You might have heard David say in his seminars that the human nervous system doesn’t distinguish between a well-imagined thought and reality. Once you have identified an outcome, your brain’s reticular activating system will start organizing incoming information in ways that help you get the outcome you’ve defined. So go ahead and let your imagination savor the experience while you read your lists of successful outcomes—your projects and goals—as your brain helps you convert what you read into your reality.

Reticular formation of the brain, from Gray's Anatomy

Reticular formation of the brain, from Gray's Anatomy