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Many People Fall Into This Trap Of Thinking. If You Can Overcome This, You’ll Be Outstanding

Many People Fall Into This Trap Of Thinking. If You Can Overcome This, You’ll Be Outstanding
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It’s February now, and chances are, most of us have long since let go of our resolutions for 2017. It’s such a familiar happenstance – you want to lose weight and get fit, so you start an exercise routine. You pat your back every day that you do it. One day, you fall ill or just have too much work to do. So, you skip exercise that day. Then, you skip another day and one more. And then, poof, exercising is out the window altogether. Why? Because we fall into the trap of thinking that it’s everything or nothing!

It is the greatest mistake of all to do nothing because you can only do a little…

Imagine a day when you have far too many errands to run and a lot to do on the professional front too. That day, you know you cannot make it to the 50-minute yoga class or the 45-minute bike ride. But, what stops you from taking a quick 15-minute jog? We stop ourselves. We fall into the trap of thinking that if we cannot do it fully, we cannot do it at all. It’s a perfectionism trap – it either has to be done perfectly, or it shouldn’t be done at all.

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Those harsh, unrealistic promises we so often break

We often tend to slip from our goals or even resolutions because we tend to make very black and white promises to ourselves. It’s like when you drink too much at a party, wake up with the mother of all hangovers, and swear that you will never touch another drop of tipple for as long as you live, so help you God. How long does that last? A day or two, or maybe till the next weekend. You drink again, and it’s back to berating yourself and your ineffectual willpower.

The problem doesn’t lie in your willpower to begin with. It lies in making all-or-nothing promises to yourself and falling victim to this trap of thinking. Instead of harshly telling yourself to ban the drinks, make a promise to yourself that you will nurse each drink for at least 30 minutes and that you will not let more than three drinks pass down your throat. That’s a promise you can stick to, for sure.

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Open your heart to shades of gray

The black-and-white trap of thinking is also very limiting. It makes you think of yourself as either someone successful or a loser. You are either worth something, or you’re worthless. The problem that arises has got to do with self-esteem. If you are feeling good, you might think too highly of yourself and have a gargantuan ego to match. And if you are in the doldrums, then your self-esteem takes a battering. With a thinking process like this, you tend to become judgmental too – labeling your friends, family and colleagues with the same “good” or “bad” definitions.

In turn, thinking like this makes you an anxious, somewhat depressed person who has low self-worth. A better way to deal with this is to expand your thoughts and open your mind and heart. You cannot just be good or bad. Everyone is a mixture of good and bad, and most of us are aiming to be more “good” and less “bad.”

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Step out of the black-and-white trap of thinking

Black-and-white thinking makes us prejudicial and makes us look at everything with a jaundiced eye. It literally closes the open doors in our lives and ruins personal and professional relationships when we are too busy measuring and labeling people to realize their worth.

This is also one of the main reasons we simply give up on something the moment we slip up on it. We become immersed in the need for a perfect outcome, forgetting that life often lies in the journey to a goal. All we need to remember is that life is negotiable – it always allows for U-turns!

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More by this author

Rima Pundir

Health, Wellness & Productivity Writer

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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