Scientific Reasons Why We Ruin Our Own Goals

Although humans are believed to be the wisest of all, they sometimes make irrational decisions that prove to be disastrous to themselves. Whether in business or in personal life, you must have taken some decisions for which you are still regretful. So, if you are rational, logical and work for your own benefit, then why do you make such decisions after all? Science has found out some coherent reasons for such kind of behavior coming from human beings.


Intuitive decision making

Most of the times, we try to solve a problem rationally by watching each step carefully. But a decision turns out to be unsuccessful when we act fast even before thinking watchfully. Under such a situation, we do something and later find ways to make sense out of it.

In a study, few participants had to hold a pencil with their teeth and watch a cartoon, while others had to hold it with their lips without touching the teeth. Due to this, the first group could smile and enjoyed the cartoon more, but the second group did not enjoy the cartoon because they had to focus more on the pencil. Similarly, we may come to a decision, depending on the circumstances and a number of external factors.

We take certain decisions to feel better for short-term, but we forget about the long-term effects. We regret our decision after some time, but because we are doing fine for the time being, we seldom think about the long-term consequences.

Working together of the three brain components

There are three separate brain components that act differently from each other. With time, a new layer develops over the older one to form a modern brain.

Basal ganglia, the first layer of the brain, is the oldest one, and is more focused on survival, reproduction, nourishment and avoiding threat. The new limbic brain focuses more on emotions, and allows us to take decisions based on past memories and experiences. Sometimes, such decisions can be unfair and illogical. The third brain component is neocortex, which focusses more on rational thinking, languages and creativity. All the three layers work together to affect your decision making skills.

The way your brain takes decisions

The three components of your brain work differently to take a decision. For instance, when you see delicious junk food, your reptilian brain perceives it as something to eat, your limbic brain focuses on how delicious it is, and your neocortex brain component watches its high calorie content.

Which part of the brain becomes the winner at the end?

You tend to take impulsive decisions when your emotions take above logical. When you are more inclined to enjoy the reward of an instant success, you may willingly compromise a little on your long-term goals. Our emotional part of the brain cannot imagine future, and tends to live in present, while our logical brain can see future consequences of our decisions. When something that we desire comes in front of us, it becomes very hard to resist. The dopamine in our brain becomes active and we tend to act on impulse. After fulfilling our desire, we tend to regret what we did on impulse.

Ways to control your brain

People tend to mature and control their emotions better as they grow up. That is why, adults resist the view of chocolates better than children. The cortex develops with age, and communicates better with other brain components. But still there might be certain decisions that we take on impulse, such as a huge round of applause at a business conference. Here are a few methods to keep your brain under control and be better at decision making:

  • Be surrounded by like-minded people, and stay away from temptations
  • Relieve anxiety and stress, stay in good mood, take proper rest, and maintain your energy levels through the day

You tend to be more interested in what you are emotional about. For instance, if you are not interested in starting a project, attach your emotions to the same and see the difference

  • Sometimes, you may feel confused about whether you should do something or not. For instance, if you are confused about sending promotional emails to strangers, just go ahead and do it. It will become a fun process from the next time.

Emotions can lead us away from logic and reasoning. But if you can train the different components of your brain to work in coordination, you will be able to achieve success more quickly and efficiently.

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I'm a self confessed foodie, king of the kitchen, wannabe anthropologist, technology evangelist , curious, inquisitive & experimental entrepreneur at @DigiLands and an adrenaline junkie. Love spending time with my wife & two young children and faulty KitKats that consist purely of solid chocolate.