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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.

More by this author

Ragnar Miljeteig

Ragnar is a passionate writer who blogs about personal development at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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