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Find Difficulty In Achieving Your Goals? You Should Adopt This New Way Of Thinking

Find Difficulty In Achieving Your Goals? You Should Adopt This New Way Of Thinking

Do you have a major goal in your life that you are trying to achieve, but you are stuck in a rut as to how to get there? Have you broken down the steps needed to reach this goal? Sure, you probably have. Yet, you may be unsure about how to get started. The problem may lie in the way you look at your goals. You may be looking at the steps as problems to overcome instead of solutions to reaching your goal.

If you can change your mindset and start looking at goals as solutions, science has shown that you can develop more creative ideas. In the 1980s, business professors at Stanford University started teaching a relatively new business concept called Design Thinking. Design Thinking in business is intended to help businesses research and develop new products for customers based on their needs.

Design Thinking is based on five steps. They are:

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1. Empathize: This requires the researchers to fully understand the experiences of the person for whom they are designing the solution. It’s done through observation, interaction, and working side-by-side to learn their problems.

2. Define: This step is where the researchers process the results of their findings in the first step in order to find a point of view to address with the design of the product or solution.

3. Ideate: Now, the researchers will brainstorm and work to develop numerous different possible solutions. They should be as diverse as possible to allow the researchers to step outside the box and explore many original ideas.

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4. Prototype: Here is where researchers take their best ideas and develop them into physical solutions. Perhaps it’s a new product or service. This will be delivered to users in the last step.

5. Test: Of course, after developing the prototype solutions, the researchers must test them with the users they empathized with. Testing includes feedback on results to refine and improve the prototypes. It even includes learning more about the user and possibly adjusting your definitions even more to perfect your solution.

So, now that we know how businesses use Design Thinking, how can you use this mindset to accomplish your personal goals? One writer recently used Design Thinking to help her lose 25 pounds. It can also be used to find a life partner, a new job, go on that dream vacation, start a new hobby, or whatever goal you truly have.

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Let’s take one of those goals from above and talk about how Design Thinking can help you achieve it. Imagine with me that your goal is to find a new job. We’ll go through the steps to see how we can accomplish that goal.

Empathize: Why do you want a new job? If you’re not working currently, that’s an easy question to answer—you need to make money. If you are currently working, what is it about your current job that makes you want to find another? Is it better compensation and benefits you’re looking for? Is it a better environment, or do you want a more rewarding work experience? Understanding the reason why you truly want a new job will help you in finding it. The key is to start asking yourself why you want this and what it would accomplish for you.

Define: After asking yourself these questions, here comes the hardest part—defining which answer is the real reason. Maybe you are disappointed with the money you’re getting paid, but the real root of the problem is that you are bored with your job and you need a new challenge in a new field. The point is, this where you find the true answer to those why and what questions.

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Ideate: If you decide that you need a new challenge, and you’re not getting that through your current employer, you need to start formulating ideas of what potential employers can provide you with those opportunities. Start making a list of those companies and the positions you want. Be as radical as you can here to make sure you think of the best ideas. Changing jobs is not a minor decision to make.

Prototype: In our case here, this may seem hard to do. In reality, it’s not. Imagine the job you want. Create it in your mind and then develop a model of it at home or at another location outside of your current place of work.

Test: Now, try doing that job and record the results. Does it increase your happiness? If yes, then start pursuing that new job in the field you want until you find it. You may even need to use Design Thinking to land that interview with the specific company you want to work for. If your answer to the happiness question is no, then you will need to return to step two and make sure you have defined the true issue and continue from there until you get a yes.

By using the Design Thinking method, you are able to better understand your goals, why they mean so much to you, and you instantly become more creative in figuring out ways to achieve them.

Featured photo credit: Paxson Woelber via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 17, 2018

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

How is your memory? Is your cognitive function as strong as you’d like it to be?

If not, then you’re definitely going to be interested in the memory improvement tips I’ll be sharing with you in this article.

Despite what you might think – or have been told – improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it. (Don’t worry, as you won’t need to make any significant lifestyle changes.)

So how to improve memory? Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve your memory significantly.

1. Meditate

We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts and figures into our conscious minds.

Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. And research suggests that the more information and distractions, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory.[1]

Fortunately, meditation can help you out.

Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

If you need help in shifting into a meditative state, I recommend trying an app like Headspace – which can assist you to achieve this in a convenient and structured way.

And don’t forget, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

2. Get plenty of sleep

If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then I’m guessing you’re not remembering well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities – including your memory.

How much sleep should you be getting?

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Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things.

Now, I’ll be honest with you, maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!). But if you care about improving your short-term and long-term ability to remember things, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

Are there ways to hack the sleep cycle?

Yes, there are.

Try these three things:

  • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
  • Don’t eat too late
  • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory…

3. Challenge your brain

When was the last time you challenged your brain?

I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or undersleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and memory games.

To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself, has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-thinking ability and memory.

There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

  • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live – while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it, try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

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4. Take more breaks

When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctively remember working all the hours under the sun – and many under the moon too!

At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat and tears.

However, I was wrong.

Taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

Let me explain.

Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it – in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

Namely, extended study sessions are rarely a good thing, as your ability to retain information naturally declines after a certain period of time.

It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

It’s the same with your brain. If you overload it with information, you’ll suffer from mental fatigue.

What’s the answer?

Make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

If you don’t want to be as regimented as that, then take breaks as soon as you find yourself losing the ability to focus on the new material. Your brain will thank you – and your learning aptitude will move up a level.

5. Learn a new skill

I love this quote, as it’s 100% true – but frequently overlooked:

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

Let me give you an example of this:

Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day – many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you – rather than letting you work in your own way.

Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like, and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction in to learning a new skill (computer coding). It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career – and the ongoing learning made the call centre job much more bearable.

Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking our new information. And when learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly, becomes a habit too.

6. Start working out

If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory.

Regular exercise increases blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. And a well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

“But I just don’t have the time?,” I hear you say.

Not a problem.

A research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise, offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines.[2] So, if you’re short on time – now you know what to do.

Interested in getting started?

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Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

  • Join a gym
  • Join a sports team
  • Buy a bike
  • Take up hiking
  • Dance to your favorite music

7. Eat healthier foods

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

This applies to your brain too.

The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health too.

Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery and dark chocolate. But anything high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory.

Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain – leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

Want to be mentally healthy? Then eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

  • Turmeric – helps new brain cells grown
  • Broccoli – protects the brain against damage
  • Nuts – improves memory
  • Green tea – enhances brain performance, memory and focus[3]
  • Fish oilfish oil supplements can increase your brain power

Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

Final thoughts

I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be of help to you.

You don’t need to implement them all. I suggest just trying the ones that appeal to you.

But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested. I’m confident you won’t regret it.

Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

Reference

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