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The One Hack You Need To Stop Procrastination And Achieve Your Goals

The One Hack You Need To Stop Procrastination And Achieve Your Goals

Accomplishing goals is challenging. To many people, the most common scenario is that they feel excited when setting goals and stick to their goals for a while. But as time goes by, they find the process of achieving their goals stressful and try to procrastinate with all kinds of excuses like being too busy, lacking the resources, discouragement from people around them etc. Have you ever wondered why procrastination and even giving up are the usual endings when pursuing your goals? It is not about you being not perseverant enough, but you setting your goals with the wrong approach.

The problem of focusing too much on numbers

When it comes to career planning, many people like linking their goals to numbers. I wish I can proceed to the management level in 3 years. I wish I can break the sales record of the company next quarter. I wish my salary can increase by 30% in one year. No doubt these numbered goals are concrete and easy to visualize so they are able to motivate you in the beginning.

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But let’s face the fact: whether we can achieve our career goals is not only determined by how much effort we put in our work. There are many factors we cannot fully control. So setting numbered goals is like a double-edged sword. On one hand, it gives us a clear direction; on the other hand, it traps us in a rigid boundary. Once we cannot proceed to the management level or break the sales record when the preset deadline is approaching, most likely we will feel overwhelmed and procrastinate what we are supposed to do. Worse still, we may feel deeply frustrated and deny our self-worth.

So instead of setting a fixed goal and thinking what concrete actions you need to take to reach the goal, you should ask yourself this more important question: What are the values behind the goal you set?

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Why focusing on values is a better approach

If we truly understand why we’re setting specific goals, then we’ll be better at incorporating the goals into our lives and building habits for them, and so we no longer feel exhausted from rushing to reaching our goals within a certain time frame.

If your goal is reaching the management level in your career, you should go deep to understand the rationale behind it. If your ultimate goal is to make your ideas as the driving force of the company’s strategies, then what you do is not only limited to demonstrating that you possess the qualities to make a great leader or competing with your colleagues for the titles. Instead, you will build the habits of grasping opportunities for your company, contributing more valuable ideas in meetings and bettering the communication and coordination between colleagues. In this way, you will not confuse your values (increasing your influence and contribution in the company) with the means (reaching the management level).

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Although setting numbered goals and coming up with corresponding strategies can possibly shorten your time on reaching your goals, the non-negligible side effect is that you do not enjoy the process and so procrastination keeps visiting you. When you try tweaking the approach to set your goals based on your values, you can see more options to realize what you want and by turning them into your habits, you’ll find the process more enjoyable and more sustainable.

Featured photo credit: Amanda Jordan via stocksnap.io

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Kyle Hiller

Author, Writer

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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