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Don’t Go Into The New Year If You Haven’t Done These Things

Don’t Go Into The New Year If You Haven’t Done These Things

As we near the end of the year, we enter into the time where people take stock of the year that has passed and begin to plan ways they can improve in the year to come. Most people make New Year’s resolutions, but these aspirations fizzle and fade anywhere between three weeks and three months. Well now you can do something different! Through these 10 practical tips, you can develop positive habits that will enable you to stay focused and persevere, allowing you to accomplish any goal you set.

Create a daily ritual

Your ritual is the foundation of your quest to stay focused. There are no people with a high level of focus who do not purposefully follow a daily routine. It is in following the sleeping patterns you set, establishing when you eat, setting when you have personal time and when you take breaks that you maximize your effort in working towards your goals.

Set 1-2 BIG goals for the year

Setting BIG goals gives you a finish line to run towards, enabling you to ensure that all your daily actions ladder up to these goals in some way. It also allows you to track your progress throughout the year, and evaluate whether or not you have been able to stay focused. Checking on your big goals every 3-4 weeks allows you to effectively measure what you have done, evaluate what needs to be done, and adjust accordingly. This purposeful adjustment will help you stay focused from New Year’s through Christmas.

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Create a vision board

A vision board is a collage of pictures and images that represent your goals and dreams. Adding quotes, relevant articles, and souvenirs that relate to your BIG goals allows you to visualize the end clearly, and reinforces those goals as you see them every day. Having a bad or seemingly unproductive day? Look at your vision board to remind you of what you’re working for.

Set some daily “alone time”

It is extremely important that, in this journey to stay focused and accomplish more in the upcoming year, you allow yourself some time to relax and take a breath. While striving to accomplish everything as soon as possible is admirable, it inevitably results in burnout, which leaves the situation worse than when it began. Spend some time alone reading a book, in meditation, doing yoga, or any other hobby that allows your mind to take a small break and recharge before doing more work.

Complete everything you start

Although simple and straightforward, completing everything you start is still an essential key to help you stay focused.Giving up on a task or procrastinating and pushing back a deadline only serves to weaken your mental resolve, making it even easier to quit or push it off again in the future. Your focus depends as much on determination, perseverance, and resolve as it does on the specifics of the task at hand.

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Make a to-do list

Making a to-do list is a great way to stay focused! It is such a great feeling to cross completed tasks off of a list one by one. Organize your to-do list into categories: things to do today, things to do tomorrow, and things to do this week. You will be more organized knowing what you have to accomplish immediately, soon, and in the near future. This also helps prioritize the important tasks so that you can give your best effort to complete these tasks first.

Multitask less

You may feel that multitasking is a skill because you can accomplish more things at once, but the truth is that your brain is not fully engaged in either task. Instead, devote all of your brainpower to accomplishing one thing at a time, and you will find it much easier to stay focused.

Avoid distractions

Cut the long line of open tabs short. Don’t check Twitter, Facebook, or your email every five minutes. Making sure you take care of the tasks in front of you immediately allows you to finish faster and completely enjoy personal time without worrying. Find quiet environments to work in, and if that isn’t an option, stay focused by listening to calming music or investing in noise-canceling headphones.

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Have “accountabil-a-buddies”

Find people with similar goals, people who will hold you accountable to what you set out to accomplish. They will help to remind you about your goal, spur you to stay focused when you feel unmotivated, and even be sources of new ideas when your mind feels stagnant.

Stay focused on being focused

Don’t be misguided. Focus is inherently simple, but it is difficult too. It takes strategy, dedication, and a commitment to see things through to the end at the cost of all other possibilities. The more rigid you are with your rules of focusing and controlling your habits, the more skilled you will become at it.

As you strive to stay focused for the upcoming year, realize that there will be times when distraction looms and your progress towards your goals is not as rosy as it once seemed. But true focus is found when you can fall in love with the routine and seemingly boring daily practice and not be distracted by the final result or individual event. Let’s start now!

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Are there any other tips or strategies you use to stay focused? Share them below!

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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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