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Make Significant Changes in 15 Easy Steps

Make Significant Changes in 15 Easy Steps

Whether or not humans can change is a question as old as time itself. While the innermost character can be hard to actively change, there are some things that can change easily such as your routine and habits. These tasks make up 40% of how you spend your time. Things that some people consider part of a person’s character, like “being lazy,” or unsociable, or awkward, are often caused by a tangible difference in behavior. However, changing these aspects of yourself requires considerable work. Here’s 15 ways to help you make the change easier:

Break Your Goals Down Into Small Actionable Steps

Get ultra specific. Down to the point where you have a set of repeatable actions that you can do every day/week. This way, you ensure that you are always making progress. Don’t set something vague, like eating less. Instead, decide what you should do. Pick a few healthy meals that you will eat and the forms of exercise you will do each week. Make it a plan, not simply a goal.

If your goal is unconventional, like becoming a sculptor, make it a point to reach out to successful sculptors every week so that you can get the guidance you need. Focus not only on steps that improve your skills, but also ones that increase your network and chances of success later on down the road.

Tap Into The Power Of Routine, Make It A Habit

Contrary to popular belief, creating a habit isn’t about repeating something for 21 days and then you’re all set. It is true that the longer you do something, the closer to second nature it becomes. However, understand that you will experience times when it is extremely hard to keep going. These are the times when it is essential that you do just that.

Write Checklists By Hand

Write checklists to keep yourself in check, no pun intended. When you’re working towards a long-term goal, it’s easy to get sidetracked and forget the daily actions that keep you moving forward. Plus, the added physical effort of writing them down by hand seems to make all the difference.

If your goal is to become a self sufficient artist, don’t forget to put time into making connections. Add anything to your list, such as practice daily, reach out to successful artists, or contact local galleries. Perhaps, include a mandatory daily relaxation time. The checklists will be a reminder, when you feel like making excuses, that the long road is the only way to true success.

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Track And Share Your Progress

Track your progress to motivate yourself and spot patterns. This allows you to find out what works best for you and your goals.

A study showed that people who wrote weekly progress reports and sent them to a supportive friend were more likely to successfully change than people who didn’t do this. Who is your most supportive friend? Tell them what you’re trying to achieve, and how it’s coming along.

Focus On The Most Effective

Sounds simple? To the contrary, figuring this out can be a job in and of itself. Have you ever heard of the Pareto principle, or the 80/20 rule? Basically, the idea is that we spend 80% of our time doing things that contribute only 20% towards our goals, and only 20% of the time doing the vital stuff that contributes 80%.

If you can isolate what helps you the most, you progress more in less time.

Further reading: How to apply the 80/20 rule to earn more, work less, and dominate

Don’t Try To Reinvent The Wheel

Sometimes it can be tempting to venture out into new area. Don’t go overboard. If you’re trying to lose weight or bulk up, don’t try to invent a new diet revolving around your favorite food, chocolate chip fried chicken. Stick to tried and tested principles.

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If you find yourself overwhelmed, pinpoint what may be causing it. Think about the simplest alternatives. What can you do easier? Be careful and thoughtful, sometimes shortcuts turn out to be counterproductive and inefficient.

Leverage Your Strengths

If you’re great at lifting weights, and you actually enjoy it, but you suck at cardio, and hate it, focus on where you excel. Instead of forcing your way through traditional cardio, adapt your weight-lifting routine and add medium full-body exercises that suit you better. This doesn’t only apply to weight loss.

A designer, who may not be talented in marketing, can create a uniquely compelling business card and hire someone else to do the marketing.

Take Steps To Make It An Enjoyable Process

If you like listening to music and you’re still able to concentrate, integrate it into the pieces of the process that you don’t like. If you enjoy a particular sport, start getting personally involved in an amateur league, or just arrange games with your friends. If your goal is to learn to play an instrument, don’t stick to the songs in the book if they bore you to death, choose some of your very favorite songs. These small steps will help you enjoy the process, not just look forward to the goal.

Make Use Of Past And/Or Preexisting Habits

This one is pretty straight forward, but it’s also easy to miss. If you have a habit that would be useful for working towards your current goal, revisit it, ramp it up, and reap the benefits.

If you want to learn a new language, and you spend a lot time watching TV, incorporate it into your goal, by watching foreign language TV shows. If you like mountain climbing and long walks in the park to relax, take it one step further and add it to your workout.

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Remember The Little Things

Don’t overlook the little things. According to the Pareto principle, the little things can be a huge part of your progress.

They may seem insignificant, but given enough time, the little things can mean the difference between not losing any weight one year to losing 10 pounds the next.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

One thing a lot of us have in common is that we don’t ask for help enough. Maybe it’s pride, or maybe it’s fear of rejection, or even a combination of several factors. Regardless, the solution is simple: ask for help more often. Seek out the people who are most qualified to help you with your current problem.

Accept And Move Past Your Failures

If you fail at something, don’t beat yourself up over it. Think about why you may have failed and what you could have done better. Accept that a speed-bump is part of the journey, and get back to work.

One thing that helps is to focus entirely on what went wrong and exactly how. When you move yourself out of the equation and look at the failure objectively, it’s easier to improve and move on.

Don’t Push Yourself Too Far Too Quickly

You may witness this at your local gym. Somebody that hasn’t worked out for months, or ever, comes in and tries to show off. Inevitably, they either embarrass themselves at the gym, or pay the price later in the form of aching muscles and decreased mobility.

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Instead, start off slow. Think about how much you can handle, and then lowball yourself. You can always gradually increase the amount of work you do, but keep in mind that it’s counterproductive to go too far.

Don’t Expect Things To Stay The Same

When you change, your habits and interests also change. Other changes will follow. You may have less in common with your very best friends, and even find yourself hanging out with a new crowd. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

If your old friends are nurturing and worthwhile, don’t kill the friendships, but also don’t let them disrupt your improvement.

Prioritize Your Health And Happiness

There’s nothing productive about burning out after the first month of pursuing change. Instead, balance your rest, work, and play.

Be sure to sleep at least seven and a half hours every night. Leave yourself some “me time” to unwind and relax. Spend time with your friends and family. Eat healthy and exercise regularly. Write these things in your daily checklists so you don’t forget. If you want to pull through, you will need to be healthy, happy, and energetic. Remember that change will not be instant, and in most cases it will not be quick, either.

So prepare yourself for the long haul.

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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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