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Chunking: The brain likes it small

Did you know its not unusual for it to take 2 months to climb Mount Everest? Climbers spend days ascending and acclimating and taking small carefully planned steps to achieve their goal. Climbing a mountain can not be done all at once, and neither can other great goals. We are capable of reaching big things, but the problem is that often we focus on climbing the mountain so fast and being perfect that we don't look at the steps it takes to get there. When people do that on Mount Everest they get hurt or die. When you do it, you feel sad and defeated, and you put yourself through it over and over again.

So how do we get rid of this perfectionistic attitude and take small steps to get where we want? We use a concept called chunking.


Chunking is psychological technique used to break down large things into smaller pieces. The brain likes things in small bites. It can't make sense of the big.

Chunking means taking the large goal and breaking it up into small doable pieces that encourage you to move forward. They are small goals that make you feel successful and make you want to continue instead of giving up. The most common example of Chunking is remembering your phone number. We don’t say my phone number is 2025550122, we say my phone number is 202-555-0122. Or take a look at your credit card. It is broken into 4 sections of numbers. The brain prefers it that way.

The whole point of chunking is to make it small. Start with your big goal and break into bits.

I will often ask clients to engage their parasympathetic nervous system. That's the good rest and digest one that helps release positive happy hormones to our brain. However, I tell them I don't expect them to start meditating or doing yoga an hour a day. I give them tons of tools to make it small and add chunks of positive food for their nervous system.

Sigh three times-Sighing is a great reset for our nervous system. Think of when you get scared and then when the scare is over you relax your body blow out and say, "whew." That is our system trying to balance out the adrenaline from when we get scared. Now we may not get a big scare, but all day long we get stress hormones so every couple hours sigh three times and that long relaxed out breath will really help.

Shake it out - animals in the wild shake up to 10 times a day to reset their nervous system. Stand up and shake your body arms legs head and hands. Just like a wet dog, and exhale while you do it. You will feel refreshed.

Gratefulness- When you feel stressed say something you are grateful for. Our brain chemistry is impacted by the thoughts we think and the words we say. So when you find yourself stressed, or thinking negative thoughts. Think "it will be okay," "I can do this," or just think, "breathe."

Chunking is breaking it down. So break it down and climb your own version of Everest!

Kristin Cronin Boone

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