The alarm goes off in the morning. Stretch luxuriously, and remember that today is a new day. A day full of hopes and plans. A day for successes and wins. Rising with a smile is easy. But, then as you sip your coffee and review for the day, doubt settles in. Are you good enough to take on all this? Will you fail despite everything?
The buzzword around this feeling is imposter syndrome. But you have an innate superpower called metacognition that will make the dreams reality ─ no matter what you have to tackle.
What is metacognition?
It is often shortened to the phrase “thinking about thinking.” In the world of education, metacognition is approached as deep thinking about a topic. But if you look at it through the eyes of neuroscience, you see how truly powerful of a tool it is.
Metacognition is the process that our brains go through every time we have a thought. As you are reading this, you are processing the information. This comes across as thoughts. As you are thinking, your brain is cross-checking this information against things that are already in your file cabinet of memories.
Metacognition impacts everything in your life. Even your listening. Let’s say you are chatting with a client. They say something, and your brain has a chance to either stay engaged in the conversation or it can make a leap from the thing they mentioned to something else you relate to it. You’ve just applied your bias instead of seeing things through your client’s eyes.
Break that habit and change the outcome.
It’s your mind, which means you can change how it operates. Just like you can go to the yoga mat to make your body lither or the weight machines to make it stronger, you can also exercise your mind to direct your thoughts.
It’s a slow process, but the action to do it is simple. It’s a technique called after action review (AAR). We used it in the military to review our training. They would record our actions during a scenario, then afterward we would sit around, reviewing what happened. We’d actively discuss the good, the meh, and the ugly. Then we’d make plans on how to be better.
A civilian can do this too.
Since leaving the military I’ve used the AAR method for passing exams in uni, writing better papers, increasing the success in my relationships, and even helping me lose weight. If you can break down what you did and how it impacted the results, you can use the AAR method as part of your routines for personal development.
Step 1: Take a breath, clear your mind, and put your emotions on the shelf for a few moments. You’ll get the best results when you can look at things objectively.
Step 2: Close your eyes, and go through the scenario you want to review again. Pretend you are a 3rd person watching from the outside. Note as many things as you can. What is going on in the background? What are actions that people make? What things happened? What is the cause and effect of everything that happens?
Step 3: Open your eyes and jot down any notes.
Steps 4 – 7: Repeat steps 2 and 3 a few more times, trying to pick up on anything you missed. Amend your notes as necessary.
Step 8: Review your notes and look for any areas that you can make a difference ─ even a tiny action will have a rippled down impact.
Step 9: Train yourself to make that change a natural reaction for you.
That’s it. With this technique, you can really design and take charge of your own life. You’ll see results so quickly you’ll want to stick with it for more than just your morning cup of coffee, too.