Does Our Lizard Brain Steal Our Success?

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Welcome to the latest edition of Unlocking Your Greatness with Wendy Bjork. As an international bestselling author, inspirational speaker and guide to others, as well as founder of, my mission is empowering others to find peace, joy and fulfillment by embracing simplicity.


New Year’s is almost always an automatic time to sit down and make a list of things that you want to improve in your life. This can be anything from losing weight to getting more exercise or even spending less money. It is no surprise that these are the most popular resolutions people set for themselves each year. While it is easy to get excited about these big changes, it can be hard to stick with them throughout the year. In fact, only 46% of people who make a New Year’s resolution actually follow through with it.

It’s not your fault, this article will reveal some of the reasons why New Year’s resolutions are given up on so easily and how you can change this.

It can be very hard to maintain a resolution when you are on an empty tank. You need to have a good reserve of willpower and energy if you are going to succeed at any goal, especially a big one. The holidays are usually very busy and if you start the New Year on an empty tank it is very easy to lose momentum. All of the celebrating, anticipation and preparation can be exhausting.

Another reason that people give up on their resolutions is they overestimate how much effort it will take to stick with their goals. Trying to do too much too soon can cause you to burn out before you even reach the halfway point. Creating realistic and achievable goals will be more effective than setting huge and unrealistic ones that you will struggle to meet.

Next, factor in our Lizard Brain.

The lizard brain is the primitive, animalistic part of our brain that operates on a largely subconscious level to keep us alive. It responds immediately to threats and can be very difficult to control. It can also keep us stuck in old patterns of behavior such as reaching for unhealthy snacks, alcoholic drinks or cigarettes when stressed. It’s why so many people find it hard to break habits that are detrimental to their health and wellbeing despite their best intentions.

What’s more, the lizard brain ramps up survival mode not only over immediate physical danger but also over psychological concerns, such as the fear of failure or humiliation. It’s the same reason you might explode at your colleague for challenging your ideas, or blow up at the server at a slow-moving lunch line, or berate yourself over an embarrassing mistake or an accidental dinging of another car.

So why do our lizard brains keep us stuck?

The answer lies in the way that the mammalian brain developed. In the 1960s, neuroscientist Paul MacLean noticed that parts of the mammalian brain looked very similar to those of reptiles. This led him to propose that mammalian brains had evolved in stages, with the reptilian brain at the bottom, followed by the limbic system and then the neocortex.

When your lizard brain gets activated, activity in the neocortex (the higher brain function responsible for thinking and reasoning) comes to a halt while the basal ganglia and the limbic system take over. This is why so many of our decisions are based on instinct and emotion rather than logic. It’s also why so many of us get overwhelmed by the complexity of modern work, and why burnout is on the rise.

The good news is that you can retrain your lizard brain so that it’s less of an obstacle to positive change. The trick is to start small and move your lizard brain in a very incremental way towards the new things that you want to do. Breaking projects that feel scary into really tiny easily doable micro-tasks can help. Then, once you’ve started a few of these baby steps, your lizard brain will start to catch on and realise that the new things are not as dangerous as it thought they were at first.

This will eventually give you momentum, and as your lizard brain recognizes that the new things are not as bad as it thought they were, its response to these challenges will slowly become more and more rational and controlled.

Give yourself grace and remember you are always stronger than you think!

For a self-paced approach with Wendy’s support, you can head over to the Hearts of Wellness Membership Collective and begin your journey back to simplicity, freedom and wholeness!

Feel free to message me at if there is other support I can provide in living your best life.  Discovering and living by your personalized playbook are important steps we can create together!



As a best-selling author, inspirational speaker and Nationally Syndicated Columnist, Wendy Bjork empowers women to see beyond whatever challenges they are navigating.

She inspires them to boldly live in acceptance, live healthy and free as she teaches them to see life in a different way to fulfill their dreams that have been left on the backburner for far too long.

Her platform is the place for women to begin receiving the support they are seeking as they create their roadmap back to freedom and wellness with Wendy lighting their path.

As a pioneer in advocacy and mentorship, Wendy is leading a global revolution of women walking in purpose and peace as she illumines their path ahead with the light of HOPE:  Harmony, Options, Peace & Empowerment.

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