What are Executive Functioning Skills

What Exactly Are Executive Functioning Skills?

Many adults find themselves struggling with time management, organization, productivity, and otherwise falling short of accomplishing their short term and long term goals. The resounding feedback following such realizations, is the assumption that they are simply not a productive person. For example, a man might find that he’s unable to reach his fitness goal, and may just assume that he simply lacks the necessary discipline to accomplish this feat. A student might constantly forget to turn homework assignments in time, and thus will declare that they’re just a disorganized individual. Somebody who regularly finds themselves overwhelmed with their workload may label themselves as a person lacking time management skills. The list continues but the pattern is clear; a person may have goals and aims for an efficient and prosperous life, but finds themselves blocked by a trait about themselves that they assume is innate. 

However, these perceived weaknesses are symptoms rather than a root cause. Rather than adopting these attributes (disorganization, lack of time management skills, trouble sticking to healthy habits) as inherent personality traits, one should seek to understand the foundation of these obstacles. A lack of Executive Functioning skills is often at the heart of every frustration in the realm of leading a productive and fulfilling life. 

Executive Functioning skills are a series and system of micro-habits that establish one’s internal structure when approaching myriad tasks and daily topics. 

These include:

  • Taking control of one’s schedule by developing a series of small habits that transform the flow of the day
  • Backwards planning
  • Effective habit forming and goal setting
  • Aligning emotions with goals

These fundamental mechanisms serve as the basis of all action, and are the cornerstone habits that snowball towards the individual’s success. To develop these skills, one must establish their goals and ask themselves, “what is the next smallest thing that I can do, in order to move towards this goal?” Through a system of backwards planning, one may find that they don’t exactly have the issues around organization, time management, and productivity that they always assumed were elemental parts of their identity. Instead, a strong set of Executive Functioning skills will empower them to tackle any task with the same rigorous framework. 

Such an approach requires the person to rid themselves of the harsh judgement they may have towards themselves related to why they were unable to reach their goals in the past. Part of developing one’s Executive Function skills is to recognize that physical and psychological factors have a profound influence on what we’re able to accomplish. It’s necessary to align one’s emotions with goals, in order to prevent internal doubts from stunting tangible progress in real time. 

Developing Executive Functioning skills differs from simply tackling organization, time management, productivity and confidence as completely separate topics. Each of these issues, and more, are rooted in an overall need to strengthen Executive Functioning as a whole. Executive Functioning skills encourage each individual to reconstruct their daily life so that their goals are seamlessly woven into the fabric of the day, in every action. These strengths will then serve for long-term progress and lead to a complete and sustainable positive shift. Through a holistic approach, one will establish a complete plan to construct a system of new habits and Executive Functioning skills that will transform everyday life.

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