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10 Brain Hacks To Make You Smarter

10 Brain Hacks To Make You Smarter

Training your brain to function on a higher level doesn’t involve a Doctoral program or becoming a Buddhist monk. The three key steps are to first, feed your brain, second rewire your brain and third, to challenge your brain. If you want to wow the world in 2015, here are some actionable brain hacks to make you smarter.

1. Feed your brain

This is the first and foremost hack, because if your engine doesn’t have the proper fuel, then it won’t be running at it’s best speed. Little did the proponents of the low fat diet know, our brains are powered and upgraded by fatty acids, particularly those Omega 3’s. Invest in high quality fats – coconut oil, almond butter, grass fed beef, grass fed butter, wild caught salmon. These healthy fats will give your brain the best supply of energy it can get.

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2. Reboot your Circadian Clock

No one gets enough sleep. But, you can reboot your circadian clock (your internal sleeping rhythm) by getting more sun and eating less sugar and caffeine. By aligning yourself with the Sun’s natural patterns, you will rid your brain of that infamous morning grog and evening insomnia. There are also numerous apps of your phone, like Sleep Cycle that monitor your sleep and help you determine when you enter the various stages of sleep. And then there is F.lux, which adjusts the setting of your monitor to imitate an evening sunset to help you get ready for bed.

3. Practice Awareness

An easy, and very actionable way to upgrade your memory is to practice awareness. This simply means to focus on only one person/task at a time. Is your boyfriend telling you about how his work day went, but you are instead ticking off a grocery list in your head? Take that five minutes and instead focus and be present, your significant other will appreciate it and eventually reciprocate, and you will also quiet your mind in the process. The quote that I have come to live by is that You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

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4. Do Yoga

When I was still working a desk job I always felt tired, groggy and unmotivated no matter how much cardio I did, or how many Paleo meals I ate. Then, I started hot yoga. This simple practice (I prefer YogAlign, a low impact type of yoga) helps to stretch out the body, rewire your brain with your body, and to also help you gain a better perspective on being present and aware. The exercises helped me to become rooted, to be more aware of how my body felt, and what areas I needed to focus on. I realized that the way I was sitting in my desk chair was causing my lethargy and immediately corrected it.

5. Learn to Speed Read

Knowledge truly is power, and there is so much information out there, how are you supposed to consume it all? Enter speed reading. The technique to consume information and retain that data at nearly unfathomable speeds is possible. For the average person, learning to speed read could be the ultimate game changer.

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6. Rewire your emotions

Some of the smartest people I know could be even smarter and productive if it weren’t for the emotional baggage that they drag around. Meditation is a way of rewiring your brain so you no longer have negative associations, and can unload the mental baggage that has been a burden so you can move forward with your life. In my life personally, yoga and meditation have allowed me to accept my failures, and in turn accept myself.

7. Use a Pen and Write it down

There is something that can be said about physically writing something down. Personally, I notice that I remember things much better if I write it down versus if I jot it in my phone. The brain-body connection is strong when you take the act of writing out your thoughts with your own hand.

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8. Listen to the Classics

There is a reason why the greats jam out to Beethoven or Bog Seger – they fire up those neurons. Classical music has the ability to reduce stress, reduce pain, stop seizures and can even help you to battle insomnia.

9. Do something new

Oh, monotony, it is the killer of creativity. A 9-5 life and a habit of sinking onto the couch and watching Netflix makes for a life and brain well wasted. Cancel the Netflix and invest that money in that cookbook you’ve always wanted. Learning a new skill, like mastering Mediterranean cooking, is not only good for your brain, it is good for your life as you invest in a new skill.

10. Repeat

This is the theory is, if you do something enough times and for long enough, it becomes habit. I recently have begun the ritual of reading my favorite blogs every morning before I do any work. I log into my Bloglovin account and read Paleo Newbie, Reason and Intelligent Travel. This habit provides me with new information everyday! I cannot count the ways in which I have benefited from this repeated action.

Featured photo credit: Marcus Q via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals

How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals

There’s no denying that goals are necessary. After all, they give life meaning and purpose. However, goals don’t simply achieve themselves—you need to write an action plan to help you reach your goals.

With an action plan, you’ll have a clear idea of how to get where you want to go, what it will take to get there, and how you’ll find the motivation to keep driving forward. Without creating a plan, things have a way of not working out as you waver and get distracted.

With that in mind, here’s how you can set goals and action plans that will help you achieve any personal goal you’ve set.

1. Determine Your “Why”

Here’s a quick experiment for you to try right now: Reflect on the goals you’ve set before. Now, think about the goals you reached and those you didn’t. Hopefully, you’ll notice a common theme here.

The goals you were successful in achieving had a purpose. Those goals you failed to accomplish did not. In other words, you knew why you put these goals in place, which motivated you to follow through.

Simon Sinek, author of Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Finding Purpose for You and Your Team, explains:

“Once you understand your WHY, you’ll be able to clearly articulate what makes you feel fulfilled and to better understand what drives your behavior when you’re at your natural best. When you can do that, you’ll have a point of reference for everything you do going forward.”

That, in turn, enables better decision-making and clearer choices.

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I’ll share with you a recent example of this in my life. Earlier this year, I decided to make my health a bigger priority, specifically losing weight. I set this goal because it gave me more energy at work, improved my sleep, and helped me be a better father—I really didn’t care for all that wheezing every time I played with my kids.

Those factors all gave me a long-term purpose, not a superficial short-term goal like wanting to look good for an event.

Before you start creating an action plan, think about why you’re setting a new goal. Doing so will guide you forward on this journey and give you a North Star to point to when things get hard (and they inevitably will).

2. Write Down Your Goal

If you really want to know how to create an action plan for goals, it’s time to get your goals out of your head and onto a piece of paper. While you can also do this electronically through an app, research has found that you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goal if it’s written down[1].

This is especially true for business owners. If they don’t schedule their time, it’ll be scheduled for them.[2]

When you physically write down a goal, you’re accessing the left side of the brain, which is the literal, logical side. As a result, this communicates to your brain that this is something you seriously want to do.

3. Set a SMART Goal

A SMART goal pulls on a popular system in business management[3]. That’s because it ensures the goal you’ve set is both realistic and achievable. It can also be used as a reference to guide you through your action plan.

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Use SMART goals to create a goal action plan.

     

    By establishing a SMART goal, you can begin to brainstorm the steps, tasks, and tools you’ll need to make your actions effective.

    • Specific: You need to have specific ideas about what you want to accomplish. To get started, answer the “W” questions: who, what, where, when, and why.
    • Measurable: To make sure you’re meeting the goal, establish tangible metrics to measure your progress. Identify how you’ll collect the data.
    • Attainable: Think about the tools or skills needed to reach your goal. If you don’t possess them, figure out how you can attain them.
    • Relevant: Why does the goal matter to you? Does it align with other goals? These types of questions can help you determine the goal’s true objective — and whether it’s worth pursuing.
    • Time-bound: Whether it’s a daily, weekly, or monthly target, deadlines can motivate us to take action sooner than later.

    Learn more about setting a SMRT goal here: How to Set SMART Goal to Make Lasting Changes in Life

    4. Take One Step at a Time

    Have you ever taken a road trip? You most likely had to use a map to navigate from Point A to Point B. The same idea can be applied to an action plan.

    Like a map, your action plan needs to include step-by-step instructions on how you’ll reach your goal. In other words, these are mini goals that help you get where you need to go.

    For example, if you wanted to lose weight, you’d consider smaller factors like calories consumed and burned, minutes exercised, number of steps walked, and quality of sleep. Each plays a role in weight loss.

    This may seem like a lot of work upfront, but it makes your action plan seem less overwhelming and more manageable. Most importantly, it helps you determine the specific actions you need to take at each stage.

    5. Order Your Tasks by Priority

    With your action steps figured out, you’ll next want to review your list and place your tasks in the order that makes the most sense. This way, you’re kicking things off with the most important step to make the biggest impact, which will ultimately save time.

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    For example, if you have a sedentary job and want to lose weight, the first step should be becoming even a little more active. From there, you can add more time to your workout plan.

    The next step could be changing your diet, like having a salad before dinner to avoid overeating, or replacing soda with sparkling water.

    Learn these tips to prioritize better: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    6. Schedule Your Tasks

    Setting a deadline for your goal is a must; it prevents you from delaying the start of your action plan. The key, however, is to be realistic. It’s highly unlikely, for example, that you’ll lose 20 pounds within two weeks. It’s even less likely that you’ll keep it off.

    What’s more, you should also assign tasks a start and end date for each action step you’ve created, as well as a timeline for when you’ll complete specific tasks. Adding them to your schedule ensures that you stay focused on these tasks when they need to happen, not letting anything else distract you.

    For example, if you schedule gym time, you won’t plan anything else during that time frame.

    Beware the temptation to double-book yourself—some activities truly can be combined, like a run while talking to a friend, but some can’t. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can both write and catch up on Netflix simultaneously.

    While you can use a paper calendar or planner, an online calendar may be a better option. You can use it to set deadlines or reminders for when each step needs to be taken, and it can be shared with other people who need to be in the know (like your running buddy or your mentor).

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    7. Stay on Track With Healthy Habits

    Without healthy habits, it’s going to be even more challenging to reach your goal. You could hit the gym five days a week, but if you’re grabbing burgers for lunch every day, you’re undoing all your hard work.

    Let’s say your goal is more career-oriented, like becoming a better public speaker. If you practice your speeches at Toastmasters meetings but avoid situations where you’ll need to be unrehearsed—like networking gatherings or community meetings—you’re not helping yourself.

    You have to think about what will help transform you into the person you want to be, not just what’s easiest or most comfortable.

    8. Check off Items as You Go

    You may think you’ve spent a lot of time creating lists. Not only do they help make your goals a reality, but lists also keep your action plan organized, create urgency, and help track your progress. Because lists provide structure, they reduce anxiety.

    There’s something else special about lists of tasks completed. When you cross off a task in your action plan, your brain releases dopamine[4]. This reward makes you feel good, and you’ll want to repeat this feeling.

    If you crossed out on your calendar the days you went to the gym, you’d want to keep experiencing the satisfaction of each bold “X.” That means more motivation to go the gym consistently.

    9. Review and Reset as Necessary

    Achieving any personal goal is a process. Although it would be great if you could reach a goal overnight, it takes time. Along the way, you may experience setbacks. Instead of getting frustrated and giving up, schedule frequent reviews—daily, weekly, or monthly—to see how you’re progressing.

    If you aren’t where you’d hoped to be, you may need to alter your action plan. Rework it so you’re able to reach the goal you’ve set.

    The Bottom Line

    When you want to learn how to set goals and action plans—whether you want to lose weight, learn a new skill, or make more money—you need to create a realistic plan to get you there. It will guide you in establishing realistic steps and time frames to achieve your goal. Best of all, it will keep you on track when you stumble, and we all do.

    More on Goal Action Plans

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

    Reference

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