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You Can Be Mentally Stronger If You Do This Small Act Every Day

You Can Be Mentally Stronger If You Do This Small Act Every Day

As humans, we tend to set goals throughout our entire lives and dedicate most of our time trying to achieve them. That gives us purpose and motivation to strive forward. Yet, it can have detrimental consequences to our mental health, activating stress indicators that come as a byproduct of pushing ourselves too hard towards massive goals.

As psychologist Karl Weick suggests in his article “Small Wins,” we should make it an everyday practice to focus our attention towards the positive by counting each small win we make. By taking the Alcoholics Anonymous as an example, he suggests that the principle works due to the change in perspective. Instead of focusing on overwhelming and complex goals, participants are encouraged to choose small, achievable daily actions:

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The impossibility of lifetime abstinence is scaled down to the more workable task of not taking a drink for the next 24 hours, drastically reducing the size of a win necessary to maintain sobriety.

By celebrating these small, daily wins, participants feel more confident and motivated to achieve the same satisfactory feeling the next day, and so the behavior gains momentum leading to an almost effortless achievement of the ultimate goal.

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The Dangers of Dreaming Big

We are encouraged on a daily basis to “dream big” and set our bars high if we want to achieve great things. This phrase is an inescapable part of every motivational speech by almost every successful person who ever lived. There is nothing wrong in the saying itself, yet it tends to be misinterpreted by us, the regular mortals who are fascinated by fairy tale stories of dreams that come true to those who are brave enough to wish and focus on the ultimate goal.

For every great achievement ever made, there have been a million of small wins and breakthroughs that gradually led there, and this is something many people tend to overlook when working on achieving their goals. If we forget to appreciate the small wins we regularly make, the following negative consequences will appear:

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  • Our sense of self-worth can be worsened
  • We risk feeling bad about ourselves and feeling incompetent when we constantly compare present state to our final goals, which can only lessen our chances of making progress
  • We are prone to the feeling of failure and depression when our goals can’t be achieved
  • The increased amount of stress we have to cope with when we work on getting it all and now is counterproductive, as it blocks our productivity and weakens our physical health

Once we change the perspective from big to small and break our final goal into smaller, achievable chunks, we take the pressure off and avoid the risks to our health. By focusing on everyday progress, we automatically feel much more motivated, which causes our brain to get hooked on the positive rush and the feeling of accomplishment striving to achieve more. Understanding the importance of small wins and knowing how to apply it to your everyday life will cause tremendous benefits to your goal achieving and your overall health.

Here is the 4-step process you can take to develop the habit of celebrating small wins:

Step 1: Start small

First of all, you need to write down your final goal, and forget about it. It sounds silly, but this will help you focus on the fragments ahead of you, which is the only way to get things done. Instead of wasting energy on planning months ahead, focus on the next day’s challenges only. Be here and now and only think one step ahead in order to move forward. This will give you the constant sense of accomplishment, which will motivate you to move forward and boost your self-esteem.

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Step 2: Reflect often

Every once in a while, take some time to reflect on your progress. So often we focus on goals yet to be accomplished and forget about the progress that has already taken place. This means comparing yourself — with yourself. For example, if your goal is to lose certain amount of weight, instead of beating yourself up for not getting there yet, you should compare some older photos of yourself to the new ones. By doing so, you will get the visual proof of your progress which serves as great inspiration for future advances and inspires positive emotions.

Step 3: Reward yourself

From early childhood, we get familiar with the achievement — reward formula which makes us consider it a norm in each such situation. Therefore, if you achieve certain success, no matter how big or small, your mind expects that you provide yourself with an adequate prize. If the reward doesn’t come, your motivational fuel gets drained, making your efforts futile. So, next time when you catch yourself single-mindedly chasing a complex goal without appreciating the small wins, give yourself a break and treat yourself to a movie, favorite sweet, or a short trip with your friends.

Step 4: Enjoy the process

Maybe the most important element to keep in mind in order to maintain mental strength in a competitive and goal-oriented world is to remind yourself to be content with yourself and the goals achieved. Remember to have fun and not take yourself too seriously. Enjoy experimenting and growing. By appreciating the process and the lessons learned, you will be able to avoid the stress and negative emotions, even if you don’t achieve the ultimate goal.

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Ana Erkic

Social Media Consultant, Online Marketing Strategist, Copywriter, CEO and Co-Founder of Growato

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Last Updated on November 5, 2019

12 Powerful Habits of a Lifelong Learner

12 Powerful Habits of a Lifelong Learner

Formal education is something everyone has to go through to a certain degree, and the knowledge it offers isn’t always that practical in real life. Life long learning is how you improve as a person, bit by bit and day by day.

Life long learners recognize the importance and joy of growth so they never settle for what they currently know and always seek for improvement.

Here are 12 habits of people who value lifelong learning have in common – see how many of them you recognize in yourself.

1. They Read on a Daily Basis

Whatever problem or dilemma you currently face, there’s definitely at least one decent book that discusses it and presents a variety of solutions.

Reading is a great way to open up new horizons, train your brain and revolutionize your life. I can’t even count how many times books completely transformed the way I view the world, and it’s always a change for the better. Through reading, you can connect with successful people and learn from the lessons they share.

Life long learners love to get lost in books and do it regularly. Bill Gates knows that reading matters a lot; on his personal blog, he reviews plenty of game-changing books.

Due to technology, you can access a bookshelf of the wealthiest entrepreneur on this planet.

2. They Attend Various Courses

Whether it’s online or offline, there are countless courses you can participate in without spending a dime on it. These are great opportunities to connect with clever and like-minded people and learn from them.

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Because of the advanced technology, you can now gain knowledge from online programs, starting from coding through self-improvement to programs from top universities.

There are literally endless ways to thrive. What life long learners have in common is squeezing as much as possible out of these opportunities.

3. They Actively Seek Opportunities to Grow

Instead of spending your free time laying on the couch and watching TV, you prefer doing something creative and practical. You know every wasted minute is gone forever.

That’s why you’d rather practice your language skills with a native-speaker you’ve met, engage in local meet up or attend a class that teaches something you always wanted to learn.

Life long learners stay up-to-date with growth opportunities in their areas and participate in them frequently.

4. They Take Care of Their Bodies

“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” — John F. Kennedy

A clever mind combined with a body in a great condition is the best asset you can have. Our bodies were designed to run, walk, jump, swim, lift and much more. Leading a sedentary lifestyle harms both your physical and mental sphere.

Life long learners know the body is your temple. In order to make it flourish for as long as possible, they train regularly, move a lot and eat healthy.

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5. They Have Diverse Passions

Among Steve Jobs’ wise quotes, there’s one I like especially. It’s about connecting the dots:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” — Steve Jobs

Each dot is some event or skill in your life, and it’s only when you go through these elements that you know how to combine them into something great.

Having a variety of passions indicates that you love to progress. By practicing different skills, you give yourself an advantage over the rest of the people. During hard times, you are more likely to to act intelligently and solve your problems with less effort.

6. They Love Making Progress

If behind the efforts, there is passion and a deep desire to grow, your chances of success are way higher, compared to when you are forced to learn.

Life long learners love to experience the constant growth and improvement. The breakthrough moments help them to notice the impressive change that took place because of the learning process. Any milestone serves as a driving force for further headway.

7. They Challenge Themselves with Specific Goals

In order to keep growing, you clearly define your goals. Smart goal setting is one of the tools to ensure constant growth.

Since you love challenges, a difficult goal doesn’t scare you. Quite the opposite, it keeps you motivated and engaged.

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Research showed that precise and ambitious goals increase the performance of an individual. As we already agreed, life long learners are people who care about their performance, hence they never stop improving.

8. They Embrace Change

A complete change can lead to incredible results. This is especially visible on the example of successful companies.

Oftentimes, it’s that transformation which created space for their so-called overnight success. Twitter was originally created as an internal service to serve Odeo employees. Currently, it has over 300 million monthly active users and is considered the second biggest social network.

As a life long learner, you know a change can lead to extraordinary results so you welcome it and stay open minded about making a shift.

9. They Believe It’s Never Too Late to Start Something

Some people tend to think after a certain age, they are no longer allowed to start something and become successful. The truth is, it’s just a lame excuse not to leave the comfort zone.

Opposite to common misconceptions, there’s no wrong age to begin something. Henry Ford was 45 when he invented the Ford Model T car, which is considered as the first affordable automobile.

Sure, for some domains like becoming a professional athlete, starting early is required. However, to learn and improve for its own sake, you are never too old.

10. Their Attitude to Getting Better Is Contagious

“We now accept the fact that learning is a life long process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.” — Peter Drucker

There’s nothing better than to see your surroundings getting involved in what you actively participate in. Oftentimes, the best way to achieve that is to inspire them and be the example. As Gandhi would say, you need to be the change you want to see in the world.

As a life long learner, you are extremely passionate about the constant growth and people around you can sense that positive attitude. As a result, they start acting similarly.

11. They Leave Their Comfort Zone

Is it really better to step out of your comfort zone? The answer is always yes.

You always embrace discomfort as you know the path to success leads through hardship and countless obstacles. Instead of being afraid of facing them, you challenge yourself to overcome more and more difficult handicaps.

Every time you get out of your comfort zone, regardless whether you win or fail, you learn something new. That’s the part you love the most!

12. They Never Settle Down

“Knowledge is exploding, so you need to commit yourself to a plan for life long learning.” — Don Tapscott

A sense of being clever enough is something you don’t experience. Without a doubt, you appreciate what you already know, but that’s never a reason to stop. You just know once you stop learning, you lose the amazing privilege humans have, namely an ability to a never-ending intellectual development.

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Featured photo credit: Christin Hume via unsplash.com

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