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How to Retrain Your Brain for Success

How to Retrain Your Brain for Success

We all share one world, but we really live in different realities. The way you see the world and the way you understand it can be completely opposite to the person sitting next to you. I am not referring to someone seeing a blue elephant when they are actually looking at a chair. Your individual views and beliefs about the world were formed as you grew up, based on what you saw, heard, felt and experienced and this is what has given you the reality you find yourself living in now.

Are you happy with your reality? Did you know that by changing the way you view the world, you change the results you have in life? That is really what sets us all apart, our beliefs and most importantly, that is what sets the more successful apart from the less successful.

The good news is that your brain is able to change the way that is currently structured and how it responds to the world. What does this mean? It was thought for many years, that once the human brain had developed it stayed fixed and unchanged and that is the way it would be for life.  Ever heard of Neuroplasticity?

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This is something new for scientists too and there is still a lot of learning to do, but we do know a few things. Neuroplasticity tells us that our brains are continuously changing, forming and growing new neurons and connections. This means, that we can actually change the way our brain is wired, because of the way we are thinking for example.

So how do you retrain your brain for success then? There are different ways, depending on your objective, here are some suggestions to get you started

1. Develop a mindset geared for success

Recognize the thoughts that you want to change. You can’t change the way you think if you don’t know what you want to change. The easiest way to do this is to create awareness around your emotions. When you are feeling sad, fearful, anxious, helpless, etc; basically limiting emotions, stop and ask yourself, ‘What am I thinking that is making me feel this way?’.

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Hold that ‘thought’ and challenge it, is this fact or a belief?’ If it is a belief, ask yourself how this belief is serving you, it mostly likely isn’t. Then choose another perspective that you can take on that is more empowering.

Consistent effort to reinforce new beliefs. You need repetition to create another path (neural connection) that will override the one you currently have. How do you do this?

  • Affirmations – An affirmation is a positive sentence written in the present tense that you would repeat to yourself over and over again throughout the day. Take out a few slips of paper and write down your affirmation, eg: I am confident and I believe in myself.

Try to repeat these sentences to yourself in the morning and evening and even better, at intervals throughout the day. It will most likely seem unreal starting out; you will have a voice in the back of your mind telling you that this isn’t true. Don’t focus on the voice, but rather focus on imagining that you really do feel this way. After a month or so of doing this consistently, you will find that the new thought has most likely overridden the old one.

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  • Subliminal messages

These are messages that only your subconscious mind notices. Imagine watching an advert on TV; and an image flashes saying ‘buy now’. You won’t see this image, but you will feel a strong desire to buy the product. Big brands use them all the time, although it is much more controlled now.

You can buy subliminal programs that you run on your computer while you work. You can choose the affirmations you want to appear and so while you are working, your subconscious mind is receiving new affirmations. A tip with these programs is to not have more than 5 affirmations at a time, as this will reduce the effectiveness. Also do this for a month.

2. Brain training games

There are many brain training games out there, I personally love Lumosity, a fabulous online tool. You can improve your memory, intelligence and executive function, whatever you goal is, this program has it. If you don’t continue to reinforce these neural pathways, your brain starts to atrophy as you get older. Research has shown that there is proven benefits to playing these online games for 15 minutes a day. After 1 month, you will definitely feel the improved difference.  

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3. Meditation

Meditation has been around for centuries and unless you practice it regularly, you won’t really understand how powerful it is. Besides reducing stress and anxiety, studies have also shown us that the act of meditating actually changes your neurons as well. Mediation actually changes the size of the different regions in the brain. The more you meditate, the more focused you feel and be able to concentrate for longer periods.

Unless information is applied, it is useless. How are you going to use this information to your advantage? You only have one life, don’t settle for less or what others want you to do. Be proactive in creating the results you want and the life you want, you won’t get another chance to come back and do it all again! What are you waiting for?

More by this author

Kirstin O´Donovan

Certified Life and Productivity Coach, Founder and CEO of TopResultsCoaching

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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