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5 Things You Can Do Before Bed To Jump Start Tomorrow

5 Things You Can Do Before Bed To Jump Start Tomorrow

Ben Franklin told us years ago, “The early bird catches the worm.” But perhaps we can amend that now to say: The Worm that Gets a Jump Start Gets His Prize!”

It’s no great news flash to share that we all live in a very busy world. It slows down for no one and almost seems as if we’re in a constant state of playing catch up. Life, people and circumstances demand our time, energy and thoughts constantly – or so it seems. This state of always being in demand and constantly being at the beck and call of outside influences can be draining to say the least and overwhelming to put it mildly! How can we ever hope to get a jump on all of the things that we’re supposed to do and take part in? Is there a way?

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Well actually there is…and how you do it, can put you a step ahead of those who share your same burdens.

How you get that extra jump is very simple…you prepare the night before!

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Want to feel more in control of your time?

Take a look at your calendar. Whether you keep your calendar digitally or in paper form, spend a little time each evening actually consulting it. Take a look at what’s coming up. Is there a doctor’s appointment, you set a few months ago? A party coming up that you agreed to attend? A lunch date with a friend? When you look at your calendar on a regular basis, you are creating a mental stamp in your mind of time blocks that have been committed to a certain purpose. It helps keep you focused as to what’s coming up next that needs your attention. There are so many wonderful calendar tools that we have at our disposal to keep track of our time, use them and gain a sense of knowing what is going on in your own life and maybe you’ll feel a little less like you’re flying by the seat of your pants!

Want to feel more energetic?

Get the  gym bag ready! This is huge. I don’t know anyone these days who doesn’t complain at one time or another that they’d like to have more energy. We each have found some coping mechanism to get us through the day and especially the morning (if you’re naturally a night owl). Whether you gravitate to that morning “cuppa joe” or protein shake or energy supplement. We all are looking for that magic bullet to restore our energy and revitalize us. And while we may have moderate amounts of success with the above, the cold hard truth is, that we need to exercise. Our bodies, in addition to being fed, also demand being exercised. What better way to get a jump on the excuse, “I don’t have time to prepare” than to pack a gym bag the night before! Get your shirt, shorts, yoga pants, tennis shoes, water bottle, etc. and stick them in a bag and have it by the door ready. When you leave to start your day, the bag gets scooped up too!

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Want to sleep better?

Turn off your phone for better sleep – This really should be a no brainer, but sadly, there are those who are so completely addicted to technology that they have a sense of needing to be “plugged into” the world at all times. You’ve seen them. Those people who constantly have a cell phone in their hands. Texting, talking or downloading the next hottest app is a ever constant state of being. So, is it hard to understand that they actually sleep with the phone by their bed? This ultimately leads to being awakened with every subtle little blip or beep of the phone. Your body simply can’t shut down operations for the night and restore itself if it is constantly being alerted with every little message. TURN OFF YOUR PHONE! Or better yet, don’t even have it in the same room with you. Leave it in another location and come to it in the morning. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have legs…it’ll still be there!

Want to gain a sense of self?

Write in a journal. Journaling is one of the best ways of reconnecting to self. Since we are so distracted with the needs of others and demanding circumstances that we find ourselves involved in, it becomes very easy to lose one’s sense of identity. When a person journals, they are taking the time to mentally clean their slates. Self examination of feelings, motives and plans for the future allows for mental preparation for what lies ahead.

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Want to relax?

Read a real book – Immerse yourself in a story. Go back in time or allow yourself to be propelled into the future. Perhaps, become an investigator or a world explorer! Anything is possible inside the covers of a good book. When we allow ourselves to be transported to another time or place or simply to be engrossed in a story, we are freeing our minds of the stresses of today and mentally preparing (whether we know it or not) for what is waiting for us when we wake up tomorrow. 

In summary,  we have more of a say so in what takes up our time and thoughts than what we realize. It’s truly as simple as making a decision as to what you actually consider to be a priority. Life doesn’t happen to you, you make it happen with how you choose to respond to circumstances and how you choose to prepare for those things you know are on the horizon. You can choose to put your head in the sand like an ostrich and hope they’ll go away or you’ll miss the hard stuff or you can be like that worm that Ben Franklin told us about years ago and jump start on “it” (whatever it is) …EARLY!

Featured photo credit: A Leaf in Morning Dew via picjumbo.picjumbocom.netdna-cdn.com

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Cathy Robinson

Cathy blogs about mental strength, motivation and happiness at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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