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Are you normal?  Do you forget where things are, dates you meant to keep, tasks you wanted to do, information you thought you had?  Is this normal?  Actually, it is.  But is it useful?  Or necessary?

Memory gives knowledge its power!  Whether it’s selling, relating to others, learning, performing, or just making our days better, what we remember raises our success.

You’d think something so impactful would be taught.  But not so.  Most of us rely on haphazard methods that fail too often. Then, we lose information, often publicly, which halts the moment.  Worse yet, forgetting convinces us that we don’t have what it takes.

Nothing could be further from the truth!  Remembering is like speaking:  we come hardwired to do it and early experiences set up how we go about it.  But then, those skills can be improved.  For remembering, it can happen quickly.  What’s needed is targeted information about memory and ability. With a little myth busting and know-how, you can start remembering more right now!

Memory – 3 Myths About Your System

Myth #1

“Some people have a naturally good memory and are born smart. I’m not one of them, because I have a bad memory.”

Truth: First, memory is not like height. It’s not genetic or fixed. Rather, it’s like our muscles: use the right skills and methods, and you’ll get stronger! Second, saying “I have a bad memory” is like saying “I have a bad computer.”  You may need an upgrade; but “bad” isn’t the problem.


  • Reassure yourself.
    • Check that your forgetting is normal with this quick Harvard Medical School survey. See a doctor if you have any doubts.
  • Work on your mindset.
    • When forgetting occurs, remind yourself that memory is a skill, and you can get much better at it!  Read on to discover how.

Myth #2

“Once you pass a certain age or life stage, memory starts to decline.”

Truth: The brain can create new cells and expand at any age. Called neuroplasticity, it is evident in achievers and vibrant senior citizens alike. What changes with age or life – for some – is taking on habits that use up rather than replenish resources. Less working, learning, and problem solving diminish thinking.  So do poor health, lack of exercise, and less social interaction.  All of them create a cognitive slump. It’s not an automatic brain drain.


  • Modify your life style.
    • Add some exercise, learn something new, socialize more, get healthier.
  • Realize that small improvements reap big memory gains!

Myth #3

“Memory is just a mental ability.”

Truth: Actually, remembering combines all the aspects of our experience, including sensory data, information, and motivation.  So, it’s more than just the intellect.  But motivation is critical.  First, it’s the motivation heart-pull that determines how much attention and effort you use to lock in information. It all boils down to how much something matters to you.  And second, motivation is a part of memory that you can control.


  • Start with “why?” motivation!
    • Think about why you want to remember something, like people’s names or information you need.
  • Get revved up before you want to create memories.
    • Concentrate on the feelings and rewards you’ll get. Will you meet new and interesting people? Will the information lead to success and recognition? Will you feel more powerful?

Ability – 4 Myths about Your Potential

Myth #1

“I should be able to recall the name of the person I just met or what someone just said.”

Truth: We can’t recall what we didn’t hear clearly and completely.  Noisy environments or a wandering mind will turn the volume down or even off.  In addition, recall for new data requires labelling it as important and quick learning to file it into long term memory. Just hearing something doesn’t create recall.


  • Double check what you heard.
    • Ask for a repeat, if you’re at all unsure.  (People usually take that as a compliment that shows your interest in them.)
  • Repeat the new data.
    • A quick guide is to call the person by name three times.  Or, use that same triple play to silently go over anything you want to remember.

Myth #2

“I should be able to recall the text I just read.”

Truth: Reading – even rereading – is a great way to grow your understanding.  But it’s not a good memory technique.  Reading and memory are different systems:  they’re input and output mechanisms.  So, just like filling up a gas tank doesn’t start the engine, you’ll need some actions to turn what you read into memories.


  • Think, act, and do something with the information.
    • Active reading and thinking is the key! Make notes. Or, Q & A the text: simply look for and answer questions like “What’s important? Why does this matter? or How does this work?

Myth #3

“I should be able to focus easily.”

Truth: The brain’s reward system has a mind of its own!  It’s wired to pay attention to dangers and delights.  So any sound, event, or thought that switches our attention to avoid this or acquire that cuts off our focus.  But, we can override this automatic system by directing and controlling our attention.


  • Concentrate!
    • Concentration or focus, is a learnable skill. Eliminate distractions.  Pick a quiet environment, turn off electronic distractions, and arrange for uninterrupted time.
  • Work Smart.
    • If the information hard, get people or resources to make it easy.  If it’s long, cut it down to easy-to-do subtasks. Use expert tools and techniques.

Myth #4

“My brain should work even when I don’t feel 100%.”

Truth: The brain is biology.  So, what’s good for the heart is good for the brain.  The basics — diet, sleep, water, and exercise — affect the glucose, oxygen, and brain chemicals needed to create memories. If you don’t feel 100%, your memory isn’t all there. In addition, there’s stress.  It zaps the system, diminishes the basics, and depletes the resources.  In short, the body is the operating machinery for memory: “mechanical” problems hinder memory!


  • Increase your self-care.
    • Get the sleep, exercise, diet, hydration, and relaxation you need.  Manage any stress or frustration that comes up for the task or the moment.  Just a little –a nap, glass of water, snack, or break – can increase memory sharpness dramatically and right away!

In the End…

Memory is a dynamic, learnable, and improvable skill that’s always ready to expand. You have the ability to recall more, focus better, and use the techniques that work. Here are a dozen ways to remember more now!

  1. Reassure yourself.
  2. Work on your mindset.
  3. Modify your life style.
  4. Realize that small improvements reap big memory gains.
  5. Start with “why?” motivation.
  6. Get revved up before you want to create memories.
  7. Double check what you heard.
  8. Repeat the new data.
  9. Think, act, and do something with the information.
  10. Concentrate.
  11. Work smart.
  12. Increase your self-care.

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