Lizard Brain

May 22, 2020

When I decided to attend university, my goal was simple – obtain a degree.  When I completed my studies, my sense of accomplishment was found in the ability to start my career.

There is nothing unusual about this path.  When you have the ambition to complete something, you follow the steps to accomplish the goal.

Achieving goals certainly has its rewards.  Many of us write daily goals and have yearly goals.

The question is:  Do your goals align with your purpose and aspirations?

Taking a step back from goal setting is important if we want our intentions to match our aspirations.

The nuance between aspiration and ambition may seem minor however it is vital.

Aspirations represent the compass of who we are.  They are not about achieving because they do not have outcomes which we can evaluate or fall short of.

Aspirations inspire us.

You cannot be disappointed because aspirations are not tied to a specific set of actions or keeping score.The actions you take come from the heart, which means you won’t look back 5 years from now with regret.  You will look back at your actions with pride wanting to do them again.

How do we find our aspirations and the compass to orient us?


It is difficult to get to the root of who we are when we are “busy”.  When you are working on a task, your mind is focused on that problem.

By creating wedges in our lives it gives us the ability to reflect and not respond to the next problem, email or text as soon as we receive it.

Wedging can be found in many forms: breath work, meditation, yoga.  They interrupt the cycles, and regular paths of our lives including our goals!

When people are taught to address their fears or stressors, one of the approaches is to create space between stimulus and response.  By doing so, we can train our brain to understand the difference between an automatic response and conscious control.   That automatic response is controlled by a part of the brain called the Lizard Brain.  It is the part of our brain in charge of fight, flight, feeding and fear.

If you live your life on autopilot focused on to do lists and goals, you’ll find yourself checking the boxes not only for those lists BUT checking off the years without the opportunity to really reflect on your aspirations.  "Wonder" and "awe" are more likely to occur from inspiration, than to-do lists!

A common aspiration is "being there for others".  This is admirable, however, you need to start by being there for yourself.   A good analogy for this concept, is the instructions given on flight in the case of an emergency  (I know its been a while!). You place the oxygen mask on yourself first, so you can in turn, help others!

Find some space in your life (full of emails, texts, and goals) by creating wedges to prevent your Lizard brain from controlling your life.

Have a great weekend, Karl

If nothing else, 2020 has been a year of regaining perspective.  A silver lining of hard times like these is that they inspire introspection and focus - what matters the most to us? And how do we live up to that?  Mark Gainey & Michael Horvath, Founders of Strava
Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes Carl Gustav Jung

Karl Choltus

Deep thinking Canadian sharing thoughts created in the shower.