“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
You are in a slump and decide you need to make some changes in your life. You decide that the time has come to really solidify your life goals and create some new habits in order to reach them. You realize that you are master of your own destiny and only you can change your life by changing your habits. Knowing you need new habits and creating them, however, is not always easy. The good news is that once established, your new habits will become automatic and you won’t have to think about them anymore. Your new habits will become your regular habits and will become part of your daily life. The following tips will get you started on your habit changing journey.Advertising
1. Start with one or two.
Focus on just one or two of your most important goals to work on in the beginning. In starting with just a few goals at first, you are less likely to become overwhelmed, disillusioned and possibly give up altogether.
2. Create smaller, manageable goals.
Rather than setting large, seemingly insurmountable goals, start with bite-sized, more manageable ones. If you want to lose 25 pounds, start with a goal of just 5. Build on the success of your smaller achievements.Advertising
3. Be accountable.
Buy a journal to list out your goals and write out measurable steps you need to take to achieve them. Keeping a journal holds you accountable over time. Keeping a journal also provides a clear written record of your progress and success, keeping you inspired as you go. You may see a pattern for obstacles you encounter and find ways to deal with them to ensure you don’t give up.
4. Plan ahead.
If working out consistently is one of your goals, join a gym close to your house or on your route home from work. Keep your packed gym bag in the car. If you tend to snack at the vending machine during the day, bring fruits and veggies to work so you have healthier options to turn to when you feel hunger pains. The more pre-planning you do and fewer excuses you have, the more likely it is you will follow through with your plan.Advertising
5. Replace old with new.
In order to circumvent the automation of your regular habit, consider replacing that habit with something entirely new. Instead of meeting for happy hour with the girls after work, talk them into taking an art or cooking class together. You will break up your regular routine, learn something new and create interesting memorable bonding experiences.
6. Reward your success.
Acknowledge your successes with something that is valuable and enjoyable to you. Put this reward on the calendar. If your goal is to run 3 days a week, schedule a reward, like a massage, for the end of the month when you have achieved your goal.Advertising
7. Get support from a buddy.
There truly is strength in numbers. If you have to be accountable to another person, you are much more likely to stick with your goal setting plan. Working on goals with a buddy also makes the experience more fun and enjoyable.
8. Give yourself some slack.
Habits are hard to change. If you slip up, forgive yourself and continue moving forward. Get up the next day and try again. Not giving up is truly the key to your overall success. Trust in yourself and don’t give up. If it’s meaningful to you, it’s worth your continued effort. Creating new habits will move you closer to achieving your life goals and is always worth the effort.
Last Updated on September 20, 2018
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.
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.
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.
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.
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