#9: How to Use Latest Mindfulness Strategies to Beat Procrastination
with Virin Gomber
February 9, 2023 | 75 Minutes
On "Inside-Out Career Design" this week, hosts Nicola Vetter & Peter Axtell speak with Virin Gomber.
If you are at a what's next moment in your life, a moment where change is inevitable, then the practice of mindfulness can be foundational for letting go of past mistakes, self- judgements, and failures. This can be the most liberating thing you can do to creating a new YOU. Virin describes why mindfulness is a skill to surviving and thriving in difficult times and why procrastination is a problem of emotional self-regulation rather than time management. Mindfulness strategies can help you overcome your mental barriers and build your resilience muscle to bounce back from obstacles, beat procrastination and make decisions to take action to getting closer to your goals and dreams.
In our conversation, we talk about…
- how mindfulness is a way of living and how it can lead to success, balance, and happiness,
- how understanding the infinite power of the brain and integrating success strategies, planning, and decision making with mindfulness,
- how mindfulness has four key elements that are easily understood and practical in the real world (awareness, acknowledgement, acceptance, action),
- how quantum physics has a link with what neuroscience tells us that one small change of our quanta (which are the smallest measurable particles in our bodies) can impact all the other quanta in our bodies – one tiny change can affect our whole being,
- what’s underneath procrastination and much more.
About Virin Gomber
Virin Gomber is a Mindfulness Success Coach, Speaker, and Author. Following a successful corporate career that left him with stress and burnout, he learned, created, and mastered highly effective Mindfulness strategies to boost his balance and personal performance. Since then, he has integrated principles from Quantum Physics, Neuroscience, and Positive Psychology to craft a unique blend for his Mindfulness success system. Dedicated to helping people become top achievers, the core of his work is with entrepreneurs, CEOs, professionals, and driven individuals to support them achieve peak performance, balance, and happiness. He brings more than a decade of Success Coaching, corporate training, and 25+ years of Mindfulness experience to the table. Virin is an author, appeared on TV shows, and contributed to numerous global online magazines. Born and raised in India, Virin is now based in the gloriously beautiful and peaceful New Zealand. In his free time, he likes to travel and connect with nature.
- Website: https://viringomber.mykajabi.com/
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/viringomber/
- Book: The Missing Piece in Self-Love
Connect with WhatsNext.com
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Connect with Nicola & Peter
Books, resources, and people mentioned in this episode
- Tony Robbins - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Robbins
- James Clear: Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones - https://amzn.to/3xdGPIU
- Joseph Ferrari: Still Procrastinating: The No Regrets Guide to Getting It Done - https://amzn.to/3YyKDAg
- Socrates - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socrates
- Aristotle - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristotle
- Abraham Lincoln - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Lincoln
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About the Inside-Out Career Design Podcast
This podcast is obsessed with answering a single question: Is it possible to create an authentic, meaningful, and fulfilling life you love while building a successful and rewarding career?
Join Nicola Vetter and Peter Axtell, co-founders of the WhatsNext.com Career Insights platform and creators of the groundbreaking MotivationFinder assessment, as they follow their obsession with answering this question by sharing their insights, discoveries, and life lessons and talking career experts, leaders, spiritual guides, psychologists, data scientists, coaches -- anyone and everyone who might hold a strategy or answer to the age-old questions of “what’s next for me?” and “what should I do with my life?”
They seek to transform suffering into joy for millions of people stuck and confused in their lives and careers.
Get ready to be inspired, motivated, and above all, to connect deeply with who you are and what you are meant to do with the time you’ve been given.
Virin Gomber 00:00
The smallest particle in the human body is the quanta. So if a particular change is made at the quanta level, that smallest particle in our body, and we have quantas all over the body, including our brain, one little change can actually change all of the 100 trillion cells in our body. And that's good news and bad news. Right? That's, and that means if we actually are, if we actually do something that impacts one quanta in a bad way, then all other quantas get impacted and that actually can bring us down. And what I mean, not just physically but mentally and emotionally, so it's just one thought. If you think of, right now, if you think of your happy place, what's your happy place? Could be a garden, could be a beach, could be your room. That's your happy place. If you think about it. I can see smiles on your faces already. So you are not there here, right now. But just thinking about it has completely changed all the quanta in your body, makes you feel happier. That's what neuroscience and mindfulness tap into.
Peter Axtell 01:14
Welcome to Inside-Out Career Design. In this show, we're obsessed with answering a single question. Is it possible to create an authentic, meaningful, and fulfilling life you love while building a successful and rewarding career? My name is Peter Axtell, and I'm here with Nicola Vetter. We're co-founders of the WhatsNext.com CareerInsights platform, and creators of the groundbreaking MotivationFinder assessment. Join us as we seek to transform suffering into joy for millions of people stuck and confused in their lives and careers. We'll share our insights, discoveries, and life lessons and talk with career experts, leaders, spiritual guides, psychologists, data scientists, coaches, anyone who might hold a strategy or answer to the age-old questions of: "What's next for me?" and "What should I do with my life?" Get ready to be inspired, motivated, and above all, to connect deeply with who you are, and what you're meant to do with the time you've been given.
Peter Axtell 02:43
Are you trying to figure out what to do with your life, to figure out what to do with the precious time you've been given on this earth? Or to figure out what only you as a remarkable and unique individual can bring into this world? If you are, please join us for one of our live and completely free online workshops, where we cover different topics to help you figure out what to do with your life and career without wasting precious time, taking wild guesses, or risking it all. To save your spot in our next live and free workshop go to WhatsNext.com/workshops. We can't wait to see you there. Again, that's WhatsNext.com/workshops.
Nicola Vetter 03:37
Our guest today is Virin Gomber. Virin is a mindfulness success coach, speaker and author. If you are at a what's next moment in your life, a moment where change is inevitable, then the practice of mindfulness can be foundational for creating the change you want.
Peter Axtell 04:02
Viren was successful in the corporate world, and thought he had it made. He had worked hard to get there and thought he had what it takes to live a happy life. But something deep inside started to bother him. There seemed to be something missing. He realized that the career was not what he wanted his life to be like. Eventually, he lost his motivation. And so he quit his job and went on a search to find answers to what he wanted his life to be like. Eventually, he discovered mindfulness practice, which at first he thought was a passing fad. But then found out it wasn't. It became the foundation of his life and continues to this day.
Nicola Vetter 04:54
That's why we were so excited to talk with Virin, to explore how mindfulness can create a big shift in your life. And in our conversation, we talk about how mindfulness is a way of living, and how it can lead to success, balance and happiness that we are all looking for. How understanding the infinite power of the brain and integrating success strategies, planning, and decision making with mindfulness. How mindfulness has four key elements that are easily understood and practical in the real world. How quantum physics has a link with what Neuroscience tells us, that one small change of our quanta, which are the smallest measurable particles in our bodies, can infect all other quanta in our bodies. One tiny change can affect our whole being. What's underneath procrastination, and much more. And now, it's time to listen and learn from Virin. Welcome, Virin. As a friend and fellow traveler, you have been connected with us here at What's Next for quite a while now. And we are truly happy to have you on as our guest, again, as you bring such a calming energy to every conversation. And one of the reasons for this beautiful energy is your dedication to meditation and mindfulness for over 30 years now. It's such an important way of being, or, shall I say, a skill to surviving and thriving in these stressful and uncertain and demanding times we live in. So give us a glance into your personal history, with stress, and burnout, and how practicing mindfulness helped and led you to where you are today.
Virin Gomber 07:24
That's a really good question that you asked Nicola, in terms of my pathway to where I am right now. And it's always interesting and fascinating when we realize our calling in life. So about 10 years ago, or so, I was in a very well paying corporate role with a PR company. And I really thought that was it, that was the success I needed to live a happy life. Because I had really worked hard to get there. After years of, you know, grinding, working hard, and while I really enjoyed the role, and I was grateful for it, there seemed to be something missing. And for some reason I felt deep within that it wasn't what I wanted my life to be like. I didn't know what that was back then. But that feeling kept bothering me. And as a result, I started losing work productivity. But unfortunately, that was no the only thing that was going wrong in my life during that time. Some of my relationships were starting to lose juice and one of my relationships ended. And so I started to accumulate stress, slowly, gradually, which slowly grew and went up to the point that one fine morning I woke up and I didn't want to go to work. So I thought to myself, well, I'm going to quit my job. This is not for me. I don't see myself doing this in five years time. And there was a thought that it was truly a warning signal that something was really wrong. And I wasn't quite sure what that something was. And all this pain and rejection started manifesting in my physical health, I started getting lazy, gaining weight, losing energy, and even the desire to work on myself. And I quit the job eventually, without a backup plan, I had mortgage and everything else but I quit it anyways. I started, you know, after a while I started losing all my savings I had because there was nothing, no backup plan as I said, and I was looking for something else and other jobs, some freelance work and things like those. But nothing seemed to be working out. So that had a huge negative factor on my relations my family, my parents, my siblings, even my friends, and I would get grumpy at the drop of a hat. It feels funny now just thinking about it. And I started losing connection with myself. And life really seemed to be a big burden at that time. I was feeling stressed, depressed and clueless. Three key words there. So now when I look back at that phase, I feel that was the lowest phase in my life. But for some weird reason, deep inside me, a hot little corner where there was a glimmer of hope that I was destined to discover and create something bigger than I could even imagine. And I guess probably there was because I had been regularly meditating since my teenage years. And that helped me stay sane and stable at a deeper baseline level. So I started seeing answers to my questions and the solutions to all my problems back then. And I went online, watched all the personal development videos and everything else around that, just to find those answers. And as part of that, I learned quite a lot. And I also discovered the true essence and value of mindfulness. And initially, I thought it was another form of meditation and a fed, that was gripping the world and just like the diet feds. But as I researched more and connected with other fellow mindfulness practitioners, all the pieces of the puzzle started to fall in place for me. And I realized that mindfulness is a way of living. That can lead us to the 360 degree level of success, happiness, and balance that we all are looking for, actually. It's about understanding our own neural system, or the way our brain operates, and the infinite power it has. It's about applying this understanding to build success strategies, mindful goal setting, action planning, integrating all of those. This was a huge turning point for me that lead to the transformation at all levels. And that's where my journey in mindfulness started. And today, it's just part of everything that I do.
Peter Axtell 12:31
Virin, can you paint us a picture of what your life was like before mindfulness? And what it's like now?
Virin Gomber 12:44
Very critical question that you've asked Peter. And I reflect on that a lot of times. Back then, I had none of those skills that I have today, in terms of resilience, particularly, in terms of bouncing back in face in the face of adversity, in terms of communication, communication with myself at the top, communication with people around me, in my personal life and my professional life, and also a deeper understanding of how I operate, how humans operate, at every level, how they think, and what drives them, what doesn't drive them. So all of those things, not just the knowledge, but a deeper understanding of how that operates, how that works, and how people really operate as human beings. I had none of those concepts back then, before mindfulness came into my life. And as you can imagine, I was just like a piece of driftwood, you know.
Nicola Vetter 14:00
What is the difference between mindfulness and meditation because you mentioned meditation, and that you had some practice in meditation before?
Virin Gomber 14:13
That's right. So that's an eternal question that keeps getting asked a lot of times. So, in fact, the term meditation is an umbrella term for a lot of strategies, a lot of ways you can utilize strategies or methods or ways you can use to de-stress, you can use to let go of difficult thoughts, emotions and feelings. And even though mindfulness initially used to be considered as one form of meditation, but it's actually a bigger umbrella in itself. Because mindfulness is not just a meditation, a type of meditation, there is something called mindfulness meditation. But mindfulness is more a way of living, as I said, the way you can live life in an operational way. So for example, I could sit down and do mindfulness meditation, which is, you know, close my eyes like a Zen meditation, and it's a type of mindfulness meditation I can do. But through the day, if I'm talking to people and delivering my work, I'm working with clients and working with providers, anyone. It's the behavioral side of mindfulness. So I can live my life more mindfully through the day. And sitting down meditation is one part of it only. And people think, people have this still, there's a lot of myths around that in terms of you have to sit down cross-legged every single day for 30 minutes to be to be mindful, but that's not so. As I said, as I discovered the true meaning of mindfulness, it completely changed my perspective on it. And so it's like a behavioral mindfulness that really drives us on an everyday basis. I hope I'm making sense around that because there's probably four key elements as to give a bit more clarity into this four key elements that I kind of teach. And it's kind of all those behavioral mindfulness steps come under those four categories. There's, you know, awareness of things, then there's acknowledgment, and then there's acceptance, and there's action. So understanding all those things, there's four different categories that we can put everything that comes that led to mindfulness under those categories.
Peter Axtell 17:05
Virin, I'm imagining someone in our audience is imagining, okay, what would a behavioral thing be like with regards to mindfulness? So can you give us an example of something, and how you might react to it, or how you put all those pieces together in a very clear, practical way?
Virin Gomber 17:27
Yeah, so as an example, we face a whole lot of different situations in our life, every day, and quite a few different conversations that we have with people. And sometimes, those conversations make us happy, sometimes not so pleasant conversations, as you can imagine. And a lot of times, what we do is if somebody talks to us in a way that we don't like, and we carry that back through the day, thinking about it, getting stressed about it, judging that person based on what they said, or how they behaved with me, how they made me feel, impacts on my thought process, my emotions and my feelings, right. And if I'm not able to let go of that easily and effortlessly, then I'm carrying those emotions and feelings through to the next day and to the next day, and the next day. I can in the meantime, I'm talking to hundreds of other people and I might be accumulating similar judgments from them as well. And particularly for our audience, let's say, you know, you're in a job and your boss talks to you some way, one of your colleagues talks with somebody that you don't like, there's arguments, or there's some behavior that you don't like, and you are judging them all the time, based on what they said or how they say things. That causes a lot of anxiety, lots of stress that you carry through the day. And stress as we know is the biggest killer at the moment in terms of not just our success, but how it affects our physical well-being as well. So if you've got to call your GP for any little thing they would say are you stressing, you know, because stress actually worsens everything. So if I'm able to utilize here, the principles of mindfulness, of acceptance for example, of non-judgement, if I accept that person as they are, or I accept a particular situation as it is, but acceptance doesn't mean that I accept that as it is and don't do anything about it to improve it or enhance it. That's not acceptance. So according to mindfulness, acceptance is when accept a decision as it I don't make it worse, I don't really brood over it, I don't moan about it, I wouldn't complain about it, but I try to do something to make it better. So that's your behavioral mindfulness. And then I can only approach any such situation if I'm able to actually ground myself in here, at the brain level. That's where mindfulness meditation helps. But on a day to day basis, my behavior level, I need to, you know, practice some of those principles of acceptance, of non-judgement.
Peter Axtell 20:28
In our Inside-Out Career Design podcast, we like to dig as deep as we can. Because our audience is asking the question what's next for my life and what should I do with my career or even the bigger question, what should I do with my life? So Virin, what were those, what's next moments in your life and career where you had no choice but to figure out what's next for you?
Virin Gomber 20:57
Yeah, I did give you an example earlier, but there have been, obviously, once I started learning mindfulness, there have been numerous examples or situations in my life where I had to actually dig deep, to make the right choices. I mean, doesn't mean that if I'm doing that right now, today, I am perfect at making all those choices, that I make all the right choices all the time. But the beauty of practicing mindfulness is that once you start to leverage the strategies to become more open, and achieve that growth mindset, you start to build a bank of confidence and self compassion and self love, as well as self respect and self esteem, where you're not fearful of taking any decisions, right. So that means when you're not fearful of taking any decisions, that means most of times, you would be acceptable to any outcomes that come from your decision. And even if that decision goes wrong in some form, you know, everything goes to custard after that, you can bounce back, because now you've built your resilience muscle as well. So 10 years ago, whatever happened was that back then I didn't have any mindfulness skills, to be honest, as I said, maybe some meditations because I was to reground myself, but nothing of that sort that I have today. But in my coaching business, success consulting business, for the last eight to nine years, they've been innumerable instances where I've had to take some really high level decisions. I was for example working with another business person, another entrepreneur, in my business, we are partnering, working together on a project. It was a 12 month project. And we started very well. And the project was going well. Three months into it some disagreements came to the fore. And there was an opportunity to make some hard decisions whether to continue with that association. Because we had come a long way, we had actually worked together for almost about couple of years to put that project forward and together. But because of some of the differences in opinion and thought processes we could have actually ended that relationship on a better note, but because we are both in the space of mindfulness we're both able to practice acceptance of each other's thoughts and opinions, and really come to a conclusion of a very decent and really amicable resolution, to park that project till we could come together again on the same plane of thought. So that's probably one of the biggest examples lately, you know, literally, you could say in my life mindfulness has come to the fore for me and really saved me, be the savior.
Nicola Vetter 24:42
That's beautiful. I think you always approach situations in your life, over the whole period of your life, where you have to draw from what you learned in meditation and mindfulness to manage the situation, right?
Virin Gomber 25:02
Exactly. And it's an ongoing process, Nicola. As I said, we know we're never going to be perfect. But it's a learning curve all the time. We're learning all the time. And not just learning, it's actually applying that learning that we learn. And being open. That's part of the growth mindset. I kind of keep bringing that word up again, growth mindset, it's actually being open to making mistakes, being open to learning from your mistakes.
Nicola Vetter 25:32
Now Virin,with a master's degree in quantum physics, you approach meditation and mindfulness from neuroscience and quantum physics. So how has that added to the idea of mindfulness and what makes this approach so successful?
Virin Gomber 25:59
Okay, great. You take me back to my Uni days when I was studying quantum physics. And back then I had no idea. I was thinking of getting into research, scientific research. But back then I had no idea why I was studying quantum physics apart from that goal of going into research. But then for some reason, the universe knows, my situation has changed, I couldn't go into research, I actually ventured into a very different field, I ventured into interior design, I studied interior design, and worked as a designer for a few years. But then I had accumulated that curiosity already studying quantum physics. And later on, when I actually got into mindfulness, understanding the science of the brain a bit more, I started to actually, my brain reminded me of my quantum physics understanding and knowledge. And now here, I was, if you go back probably 15 or 20 years, neuroscience was quite an alien subject as well, in itself, and neuroscience actually has exponentially grown in the last 10 years, particularly. So I got to study that as well, I got to study NLP. And that certainly gave me the opportunity to connect the dots from where I learned quantum physics back then. So all those concepts that neuroscience really tells us today have a huge link with what quantum physics tells us. And quantum physics has been the basis of all these new studies around neuroscience as well, particularly at the quantum level, because we say the smallest particle in the human body is the quanta. If a particular change is made at the level of the quanta, that smallest particle in our body, and we have quantas all over our body, including our brain, one little change can actually change all the 100 trillion cells in your body. And that's good news and bad news. Right? That means if we actually do something that impacts one quanta, in a bad way, then all other quantas get impacted. And that actually can bring us down. And what I mean, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. So it's just one thought, if right now you think of your happy place, right? What's your happy place? Could be a garden, could be a beach, could be your room. That's a happy place, if you think about it, I can see smiles on your faces already. So you are not there here, right now. But just thinking about it has completely changed all the quanta in your body, makes you feel happier. That's what neuroscience and mindfulness tap into. How we can tap into that, a sense of making that little change at the level of a quanta to make a huge change in our lives and the way we think.
Peter Axtell 29:24
That's super interesting. So the implication of that is that if we want to make change, these little small incremental changes can have a profound effect. And neuroscience has proven this?
Virin Gomber 29:39
Absolutely. So there's been probably more than 10,000 pieces of research now in neuroscience and mindfulness that point to some of these outcomes. And actually, it's quite amazing to think that because I was born and brought up in India and India has a huge ancient civilization. Back then, probably more than 5000 years ago, some of the most ancient scriptures that mankind has called the Vedas, if you know about the Vedas, and so one of the Vedas, Upanishads, there's one sentence in it that says, "when a blade of grass is cut, the whole universe quivers." So you can imagine, that's neuroscience, that's quantum physics. And that's what sizes are catching up on now. Even though that wisdom existed 5000 years ago.
Peter Axtell 30:36
Okay, now I want to drill down on this a minute. So I'm imagining somebody in our audience, they are looking to make some kind of major change, either in their career or their life. And change is stressful and scary. I'm trying to get a handle on if you can make this small change that could have that kind of potential on your entire body, what would you tell somebody who's trying to make this major change, what should I do next? What would you tell them?
Virin Gomber 31:14
Yeah, and particularly, you're right, particularly with someone who may not have this level of understanding, in terms of how I can change, if I can make a big change. And most of the times, people think, I have to make a big change in my life. You know, there's so much problem in the world, there's COVID, there is inflation, there's, you know, economy is going down, you know, gas prices going up, and all those things. The world is in a mess, there's wars happening. And then people start to think I have to make so many changes in my life, to be happy to be successful. But that's where we can ascend, this science helps us to understand how we can make some little changes to achieve big results. It's very similar to understanding, I don't know, if you play golf?
Peter Axtell 32:07
I do not. That little white ball that people chase around...
Virin Gomber 32:12
That's the one. I don't play golf. I have played it in the past, but I'm not currently playing it. But I was just watching Tony Robbins video, and he talks about golf, that he started to play, and he, he never played golf. So he just wanted to play with his kids. That's why he went on the golf course and started playing and he had a trainer and the trainer told him how to hit the ball and all of that. And he was hitting, hitting, hitting. And everything was kind of really going either in the sand or in water. So he was getting frustrated. And so his trainer said, "hey, Tony, you're just one millimeter away from hitting it, right." And Tony was like, "What do you mean? My balls are kind of going miles away from where it should be going. And you say it's one millimeter off?" He said, "Okay, just let me show you. So when you actually hit the ball it's usually like you just change the angle of your ball, the way you hit it, change it by one millimeter. And also, sometimes you're striking the ball, just one millimeter on top of the ball, so bring it down a little bit, and then see the difference, because that fundamental one millimeter means that it completely changes the arc of the trajectory of that ball that it takes. And one millimeter means it can actually go into the sand or into the water or to the hole that you want it to point to." So it's one millimeter today. It's like, if I make a change today, in one of my habits, and then I continue with that change consistently, for a week, two weeks time, three weeks time, four weeks time, in six months time, where would I be with that habit? Think about everything that you've learned today. You know, the learning curve, it's like, you can't just start learning today and tomorrow, you can get a job, right? It's a learning curve, right? All the learning that we accumulate today was a result of little pieces that accumulated and now you are there at that level where you are in your job as well. So it's that point of little points of difference that we can see make a huge difference. So obviously, if I'm doing something today, and I'm planning something for the future I can't imagine it to be like that. I may be starting a job today, for example, and I'm imagining I want to earn a six figure income. But today I'm earning only 50K, for example. And today, I can't imagine a six figure income. When would that be? How would that be, all of that? But we've seen examples of how people are starting their jobs. And, you know, maybe we have examples where people have started as a cleaner at McDonald's. Now they own that same store, McDonald's store, right? How did that happen? So little, you know, little pieces of action that they took every single day.
Nicola Vetter 35:29
And it takes time. So all those people out there that are saying, "Oh, give it to me quick." Right? They will lose.
Virin Gomber 35:41
Nicola Vetter 35:43
Now, people have told us that they are afraid of making the wrong decision, making a mistake or disappointing someone. But you've written that mindfulness can help people make faster and better decisions. Tell us a little more about that.
Virin Gomber 36:06
Yeah, so what happens is, it's like when you're standing in front of a pond that's clear, and transparent, it's clean water, you can see through to the bottom of the pond, right. But then you actually throw a stone into the pond, and there's ripples in the pond, you can't see through to the bottom. That's what happens to our brain, there's too much happening in our brain, we can't make clear decisions, we can't think clearly. And another example is, everyone uses laptops, computers, if you have too many windows open, your machine starts to heat up, and it freezes at times, then you have to reboot it. And that's what happens, our brain is like an operating system, a computer, we actually open too many windows, we're overwhelming ourselves, we heat up very, very quickly. And then we freeze and don't know what to do. So we can't take empowered decisions, well informed decisions, if that's happening inside of our mind as well. So in order to achieve that state of clarity, and clarity is power, in order to achieve that state of clarity we need to bring down the level of activity that's happening in our brain. And then when that happens, our brain gets more space to think clearly, to make the wisest decisions possible. And in fact, one of the key benefits of practicing mindfulness is it actually even helps to boost your intuitive power. And then that means that when you have actually better intuition, and better intuitive powers, you are bound to take the right decisions more often. Because most of times we think... I should adjust this for your audience. For example, if they are actually applying right, left, and center for jobs, you know, and they don't know which one's the right one for them. Right? Maybe in the surface, something looks really beautiful, and shiny. But again, if you can utilize, your intuition to make those decisions, you will never miss the mark. So that's where the power of mindfulness comes to the picture where you can utilize it to actually stay grounded up here. So you give more space, more clarity, to your thought process to your intuition to make those decisions.
Peter Axtell 38:44
Virin, how do you tell whether you are on track with your intuition or whether your mind might just be fooling you? How do you tell the difference between the two?
Virin Gomber 39:01
You'll have to give it a try, Peter. As I said earlier, the more you grow in that space of understanding your intuition, the more you would feel instinctively what the right decision is for you. So there's a lot of science behind it as well now, but and I tell you what, there's three brains we have not just one. Did you know? So there you go. So we have three brains. So we have the head brain, everyone knows about it. Then we have a heart brain. In fact, the nerves in the heart brain outnumber the nerves in our head brain. And then we have a gut brain. So there's three brains here. You know, we talk about things, and you would experience this as well, sometimes you say, "Hey, I've got this gut instinct, you know, something's not right here." So what's that? It's actually your gut brain telling you something. And if you can actually improve those powers, there's a huge science behind this, it's called multiple brain integration, where you can actually make decisions by integrating all three brains, not just using your head brain, but using your heart brain and using your gut brain as well. And then you can never go wrong.
Peter Axtell 40:35
We teach something similar, not exactly like that, that's quite brilliant, that your body seems to be a much more reliable indicator of your internal wisdom than the logical crazy mind. That's amazing. You've also written, Virin, about the regret of sunk costs. And I'll clarify that. I'm imagining someone in the audience are thinking, I've got the paycheck, I feel kind of secure, but I'm really unhappy. Or I spend so much time on my education, and I just have to continue on. Don't want to be a lawyer. I find out I hate being a lawyer, but I have to continue on because I have the sunk costs. Let's talk about that.
Virin Gomber 40:51
Asolutely. Yeah, it can come from various sources. A part of that is our own mental barriers. A big part of this are our mental barriers and mental barriers are formed based on our own upbringing. That's one of the sources of that. Upbringing plus what the media tells us. And, in fact, our own experiences, so there are the mental barriers, but also our own experiences contribute to that state. So, I mean, everyone experiences failure in their life in some form, right? Small or big, you know, some people experience a double XL size failure, and that's fine. But that actually contributes to our thought processes around that as well. And that can actually lead us into freezing, not taking any action. You know, getting really unclear about where I want to go. And why does that happen? Because this is a condition that we get trapped into because for experiences in the past. And when we do that, we start to actually put things off, we start to put things off that we know we should be doing every single day. And we know we can do it. But we put things off. A really good example of that is from from James Clear, if you heard of James Clear, who wrote the bestseller Atomic Habits, is that there are two kind of states we are working towards. One of them is the present state and the other state is a future state. So we when you're trying to make goals for the future, for example, losing weight, or writing a book, or finding the right job, you are actually making plans for the future self and you're envisioning what you want your life to be like in the future. Now, researchers have found that what you think about your future self is quite easy for your brain to see the value in taking actions with those long term benefits. Because it comes with long term rewards. However, when the future self can set goals, only the present self can take action. The future self can't take action right now. So your present self, whatever your thought processes are, your belief systems are, you're gonna take action based on that. And when it comes to taking a decision, you're no longer making a choice for your future self. Now you're in the present moment and your brain is thinking about the present self. And researchers have discovered that the present self really likes instant gratification, not long term payoff. So the future self wants to be trim and fit. But the present self wants a doughnut. So that's the biggest barrier, I would say. And you know, that brings us to that state that you just mentioned.
Peter Axtell 44:55
So are you saying that the awareness then to understand this mechanism of your future self, and your present self wants this instant gratification and that's where things fall apart and you kind of give up. Do I understand that?
Virin Gomber 45:09
That's right. So, as an example, like many young people know that saving for retirement in their 20s and 30s is crucial, right? They know it, they know the concept. But the benefit of doing so is decades of. So it's far easier for their present self to see the value in buying a new pair of shoes, or a new gadget, rather than socking away $100 for a Yosemite roll. They can't see it right now. And that also means that they're not to blame, because that's how our brains are wired. But now that we also have this understanding, this knowledge of how we can transform the situation, we have a lot of choices now.
Nicola Vetter 46:01
This has a lot to do with procrastination, right?
Virin Gomber 46:04
Nicola Vetter 46:05
And it's a big issue for many people. Now, you are an expert in this field. So what is at the root of procrastination?
Virin Gomber 46:20
That's a good one. Now, what is procrastination? That's what we need to understand first, right? What is procrastination? I call it the squirrel syndrome. Because, well, it's not uncommon for people to spin their wheels and lose focus. So why do we call it squirrel syndrome because squirrels have a severe inability to focus. Alright, squirrels often dart back and forth, back and forth, doubting their decisions, unable to choose a direction. So basically, squirrels have something to teach us, which is what not to do. So obviously, as you can imagine, this can actually cause these abrupt dashes from one idea to another, from one project to another, it can cause a lot of anxiety, it can cause a lot of delays in terms of your decision making process. But why does it happen? That's the main question. And there are actually quite a few reasons for that. And there's a whole cycle around it, how we start. As I said earlier, most of these things can start from a particular failure in life, and there's a cycle what you call the failure cycle. So what happens is, the beginning of the failure cycle is excitement, where we get excited about brand new things. And when we are in the excitement part of the cycle, we have a go up and go forward mentality, our attitude is, we look forward to the future, we are excited about the outcome, and we do what's necessary, whether it's a new job, you know, new relationship, going to the gym, you want a new body, you were excited when you started that. But you know, change requires work. So what happens is, we all know that for achievement in any part of life, you need to constantly work towards it, we know that right? And even though, we can still keep improving after the excitement phase of it, it's usually after about six to eight weeks, for most people that we start to avoid a little bit, just a little bit. It starts to become a little harder or boring, we start to miss the gym session, or it just starts to become a tiny harder. That's what we do, all of us. I mean, we talk about, we are in the new year space at the moment. And we know how people make New Year's resolutions. And most of times, they don't last more than three to four weeks, 90% of them. And that's what this is exactly all about. But at the same time, our brains are not wired for that. We've been taught all our life that it's bad to avoid things, you know, discipline is better. And then we start to feel guilty because we are avoiding things inside of us. We start to feel guilty and we start to make excuses because we are now becoming defensive. So that's the next part of the cycle: excuses. So we know that the book of excuses it's 7 billion pages long and growing every day. My mind comes up with new excuses all the time, whenever I'm trying to do something. But we know that's completely wrong. So we start to actually enter the last part of the failure cycle, which you call blame. Making excuses, suddenly we know that's wrong, so we start to blame, we start to blame others, we start blame situations, we start to blame the traffic for little things. If I'm getting late, I could start half an hour earlier, I could dress faster, I could save another 10 minutes in the shower, I could take a different route, you know, traffic is not to blame. The guy in front of me is in the same spot as I am. And then the 10 guys in front of him are in the same spot. It's not their fault. It's nobody's fault. But I get in the habit of blaming things and situations. This is the complete failure cycle. And then that second part, remember, we have the excitement part, then when we entered the avoidance part, test the part where procrastination starts to kick in, that's what we call procrastination. And if we can make a change at that level, we are able to sustain that level of excitement that we started off with, then we can win our procrastination. And just to quickly give you some of the key reasons why that avoidance happens. That's important to understand. There are four reasons. Number one, we have wrong goals, we're not clear about our goals. And number two, our focus is not very clear, we have scattered thoughts all the time. Number three, we have no action plan in place to get to where you want to go from point A to point B. If there's no clarity around that, I'm not going to take action. I'm going to sit in my couch and keep watching Netflix. And the fourth one are those mental barriers. I've accumulated so many barriers in my mind, so many thought processes based on how I was brought up and the media that actually blocks my thought processes, not the fears and doubts and worries about things.
Nicola Vetter 52:08
Now, I want to go back to the squirrel syndrome, how you called it, a funny name. Is it possible for someone to overcome this squirrel syndrome forever? Or is it just part of the human condition that needs to be managed somehow?
Virin Gomber 52:36
Yeah, wish there was a magic wand that could allow us to banish it forever. But, you know, there's a lot of research around procrastination because it's probably one of the biggest topics of conversation and research because this impacts people's results and outcomes in life. So one of the psychologists, I think his name was Joseph Ferrari, said that everyone procrastinates. But not everyone is a procrastinator. So he said that as many as 20% of adults worldwide are true procrastinators. Meaning they're chronically procrastinating. And that could be a condition. But the whole world population procrastinates from time to time, we are all part of that club, right? And obviously, there's also research that tells us now that procrastination is a problem of emotional regulation rather than time management, rather than a problem being itself. It's actually a symptom of emotional regulation, your self regulation. And now that you ask this question, it reminds me also of another fact, which is a fun fact, you might enjoy that. The audience might enjoy it, is that human beings have been procrastinating for centuries. Like for centuries. The problem is so timeless that in fact, even ancient Greek philosophers like Socrates and Aristotle developed a word to describe this type of behavior and it's called a crazier, A crazier is a state of acting against your better judgment. It is when you do one thing even though you know you should be doing something else. So loosely translated, you could say that across years, procrastination or lack of self control. Now, it brings me to that point where you asked about can get rid of it? We can actually manage it better utilizing a lot of strategies for those things, if you can address them, you know, and get really clear about your goals, get a really strong focus, get a strong and clear action plan, and then overcome your mental barriers that can help you actually overcome a lot of the effects of procrastination. So that's where I could easily say that mindfulness can help us achieving all those things.
Nicola Vetter 55:22
But it has a lot to do also with discipline. You have to keep at it. Right?
Virin Gomber 55:31
Yeah, exactly. And you know, what discipline has, the habit of discipline really gets nurtured when we start to see rewards, right? If I'm not seeing rewards, if I'm going to the gym every single day, after four weeks, if I am not getting results, you know, I get demotivated. And then discipline goes out the window. So that's what the human mind wants, it wants to see rewards for every action. That's how it gets into a discipline.
Peter Axtell 56:02
Virin, I want to circle back to something you said in this four part process of failure. You said in the first part, when you're excited, if you could go back and regenerate that excitement, I think that's what you said, how would I go and regenerate that excitement that I have lost? How would I actually do that?
Virin Gomber 56:23
Okay, that's something that we can easily achieve by understanding the fact that, why did we start that project, that thing in the first place? And if there is no high level commitment to anything then we will never actually follow through. That's the whole thing. So we can get excited about a new TV you've just bought, right? And then you put it in a really central place of the house and that becomes a center of attraction for a family of four, let's say, they have little kids, they watch the TV every single day. After a couple of months, that becomes part of the furniture. But what was the first reason you bought that TV, for example? Was it just for entertainment? Think about it, just for entertainment? Or you wanted the whole family to come together, sit together, hang out together, have some quality time together. So if that wasn't your pulling vision, then you're gonna lose that excitement that started initially, right? So what I say is that there's a few things you could do to actually stay in that excitement phase, it's actually starting with that vision. Right? Getting really clear about your vision, a vision that has pulling power, you accomplishing something that you're passionate about, you're truly passionate about. So I would encourage anyone who's listening to this to actually get real clear about your vision. Like Abraham Lincoln said, if you have six hours to cut a tree down, spend four hours sharpening your axe. So because if you get very clear on that, then those couple of hours that you have a sharp axe and you can actually achieve your goal very easily. So what's sharpening your axe in this case, actually finding out what you're truly passionate about. And then you've got to attach yourself to that passion. And that's only the first step. The second step is actually becoming what I call other people centered in this process, like if you could become disposed towards the delivery of worthwhile things to other people in the process of doing your passion. Guess what, you're undeniable. You can't stop yourself. And that will help you to keep yourself in that excitement phase, you would actually wake up in the morning, every single day, feeling excited to go to work, to doing something that you do if you're passionate about it. So think about it as an example, if you're going to lose five kilo, you might struggle to lose the five. But if you plan to lose the five kilos for yourself, and also so you could play with your kids more, or be a better role model, or you could be less of a burden on the health system. Now you are other people centered, now your pulling power of that goal becomes way more. Right? And that's where that change can happen. You'll be excited every single day. And also, it all comes with, you know, gaining mastery over your mind as well, because that kind of keeps fooling us as well all the times.
Peter Axtell 59:57
So it seems to me that people would be advised to think about it, I would say maybe a contemplation or meditation or just some quiet reflective time, to think about what is my vision? What is the goal that I started out with as a preventative from falling off that motivation, and in failing.
Virin Gomber 1:00:21
Yeah, spot on, essentially spending a good amount of reflective time with yourself, understanding and calibrating your current set of skills, and what you really want to achieve, what's your passion? And how you can utilize your skills to deliver that passion? And how would it benefit, not just you, but the world around you?
Peter Axtell 1:00:49
So, Virin, people who are at a crossroads in their lives, and they're trying to answer the question of what's next, often experience anxiety and overwhelm. You say that even 10 minutes a day of mindfulness can help a person deal with this. How is that possible that it could take as little as 10 minutes a day? And for how long? Is it a month or a year?
Virin Gomber 1:01:15
Yeah, let me give you an example of how it works at the physical realm, right? You know, when we are hungry, we have a meal, it takes us about 10 to 50 minutes to have a meal. And then, we get hungry again. So we have to have another meal, and another meal, or maybe some snacks in between. And the next day, we start all over again, we can't just say, I've had one meal, now I'm okay for the rest of my life. And similarly, with this mind muscle thing, right? You know, it's a muscle, right? You go to the gym, you get fit, let's say you have a three month regime, you have a trainer, and you get really, really fit, you will have acquired the body that you want. And then you go back to your regular routine and say, I've done my bit. I don't want to go to the gym again, I'm fit for rest of my life. Is that possible? But you have to do it. It's consistency, right? It's the same thing with this process as well, we can't just do it once and expect that the rest of my life is sorted. Because not just that my mind needs that, there's evolution happening all around us, things have changed, the landscape is changing, the environment is changing. So I need to keep up with that practice to deal with the ever changing environment. How has COVID completely transformed the world and the way we live? Can we live the same way that we used to be prior to COVID? I don't think so. So we have to make those changes, we have to upskill ourselves, we have to be resilient, we actually come up with new ways of working. And that's what this evolution requires us to do, to be consistent doing that.
Peter Axtell 1:03:13
And it's as little as 10 minutes a day. Well, it must be based on our previous conversation about that one little tiny change and how that just can multiply.
Virin Gomber 1:03:23
You got it, you answered the question, right?
Peter Axtell 1:03:25
I did. You're a good teacher, you're a good teacher, I was listening. Is it hard to learn?
Virin Gomber 1:03:34
It's not hard to learn. Actually the only hardest part is being consistent. That's what I would say. In fact, it's actually the easiest thing to learn. Because there's so much, there are so many tools available these days. There's so many trainings, guided meditations, guided tracks, apps, whatever you want to do. There's no excuse for not doing it now. It's probably never been easier to actually practice and learn meditation than ever before. I get surprised when people say, you know, it's hard. The only hard part as I say is because they're still trapped in their procrastinating mind. Because our mind actually takes us back to our comfort zone. Because again, it has some good intentions, it wants to keep us safe, it doesn't want us to be in the discomfort zone. So, we have to actually come out of our comfort zone a little bit, little bit, tiny bit every single day to achieve that result.
Nicola Vetter 1:04:35
And how long does it take to learn can you see results like in a day?
Virin Gomber 1:04:43
You would start to see results as committed as you are. The level of commitment to it will determine the level of your results. So obviously, you know when you start do something, as I said earlier, you need to be excited about it. Just the thought of doing something new that's going to give you results already changes the quanta in your body to a level where you start to get excited about it. And for the first few weeks, if you can maintain that consistency, after the first few weeks you'll also start to see results anyways, but the real results would start to really, it's kind of like compound interest. If you can do little every single day, in a few weeks time you start to see the compound interest impact.
Peter Axtell 1:05:36
Virin, what's going on underneath the hood? How does it actually work?
Virin Gomber 1:05:45
Okay, if you want me to open up the science book.
Peter Axtell 1:05:50
This is okay, I slipped because I'm fascinated by all the mechanics of how it works. Maybe for our audience, I won't torture them. Maybe you could explain simply on how mindfulness actually works.
Virin Gomber 1:06:05
Okay, yeah, so let me give you an analogy around how this might be working behind the scenes. So you've heard of the sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous system, right? And for all people, that doesn't make any sense, because they don't know how it operates. And that's fine as well, you don't need to, like, if I'm driving a car, I don't need to know how the engine works, right? You know, I just need to know how to drive the car. For most of us, we don't need to know how the science behind it works, we just need to get the benefits from it by applying the skills, right? By learning to drive, that's it. But if someone wants really to understand how it works, it's like an orchestra inside our system. Not just the head brain, as I said, there's the heart brain, there's the gut brain. It's like an orchestra happening. So if I can change one thought about myself, about a situation, about anything that I want to achieve, that thought gives rise to a million other thoughts or potential possibilities, that can give you more opportunities to think more widely. If you've actually ever been on YouTube, for example. And if you type something on YouTube, let's say you say, how to bake a cake. Right? And you watch a couple of videos, and go back to sleep. Next day you open your YouTube, suddenly, there's millions of videos of how to bake a cake in front of you. You didn't order that. You only ordered that yesterday. But now the YouTube algorithm knows this is what you like, this is what you want. Right? So in the same way, this is what happens is what we have inside our head is what we call the RAS the reticular activation system, if you've heard of this, which is if we actually open up a file of a particular thought, this is what I want right now. If I introduce this thought to my system about this opportunity or anything that I want to achieve this introduction of that thought, then my brain was taught to actually activate the RAS, reticular activating system, which will start to show me all the possibilities, all the tools, all the resources that I need to achieve that goal. So that's how it works and becomes an orchestra, one little thing, one little piece of music that's playing in the whole orchestra really determines the rhythm of all other pieces of music. So if I can fine tune that one little piece of thought, all the thoughts become more automatic, rhythmic, rather.
Peter Axtell 1:09:03
Nicola Vetter 1:09:04
That's a beautiful metaphor for my musician. Okay, now, Virin, how is it possible that you can by simply listening to recorded meditations transform your energy?
Virin Gomber 1:09:21
Okay, that's only the first step, you know, we can't just listen to 10 minutes of music, sit down and then the next day do nothing in terms of my action plan. So I mean, there's no replacement for action, to be honest. So it's not you know, a law of attraction, all of those things. Like you got to work on yourself, your inner game, but then you got to take action as well. But what happens is, working on your inner game makes the action taking part easier. That means once you start doing that, you start to enjoy the action more, you become more resilient, and setbacks won't bother you anymore. That means you will consistently take action. But you got to keep working on your inner game so you can actually be more productive every single day, you are boosting your cognitive capability as well as a result of this and then you becoming more productive and getting the results that you want.
Nicola Vetter 1:10:27
Okay. Virin, is there anything that we didn't touch on that you really want our audience to know?
Virin Gomber 1:10:36
I'm okay to even share a piece of a five minute mindfulness meditation guided track, if that's something you'd want to include in this. Feel free to do so. That might give them a taste of it.
Peter Axtell 1:11:01
Nicola Vetter 1:11:02
Okay, wonderful. So we can add that to the show notes, if you send us the link.
Peter Axtell 1:11:08
But while we have you here, in addition to the clip, is there anything that you would want our audience to know some pearls of wisdom that you'd like to leave our audience with?
Virin Gomber 1:11:33
I like to keep things simple. So my mantra is actually, simplicity. But really, this year, I'm looking to simplify a lot of things in my life. And it's not that complicated, but, you know, we accumulate so many layers, every single year. And layers of physically as well as mentally, emotionally, we are accumulating all the time. And one of the biggest things that mindfulness helps us do is letting go. Letting go is the most powerful, it's actually the hardest thing to do. But also the most liberating in terms of acquiring a new version of you. So the last piece of advice or mantra is actually: simplify your life. That's what I would say.
Nicola Vetter 1:12:31
That's beautiful. That's what we are going to work on as well this year.
Peter Axtell 1:12:35
And I think that's a great place to end right there. Beautiful.
Nicola Vetter 1:12:39
Thank you, Virin. It's always such a pleasure to have you on.
Virin Gomber 1:12:44
Thank you, Nicola and Peter. And it's been a pleasure, you know, having this conversation, enlightened conversation.
Peter Axtell 1:12:54
We hope you enjoyed this interview. The biggest takeaway for me was how quantum physics and neuroscience together has proven that a small change in one quantum in our body can affect all the other quanta. It's good news and bad news, however. A bad thought can work the same as a happy thought. Both can infect the body, almost like a virus. Amazing.
Nicola Vetter 1:13:26
Yes, let's rather choose to be happy. And my biggest takeaway was how procrastination is what Virin calls the squirrel syndrome, meaning that squirrels have a severe inability to focus, darting back and forth, unable to choose a direction. They can teach us what not to do.
Peter Axtell 1:13:55
So true. To learn more about Virin, head to WhatsNext.com/9, where we share the transcript links and more. Again, that's WhatsNext.com/9.
Nicola Vetter 1:14:20
And if you like what you've heard, share it with someone you care about. And subscribe, rate, and review our Inside-Out Career Design podcast on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts, so you'll never miss an episode. Thanks so much for joining us here today. We'll see you next week for another episode. Same time, same place.