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How to Retrain Your Brain for Success

How to Retrain Your Brain for Success
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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?

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Kirstin O´Donovan

Certified Life and Productivity Coach, Founder and CEO of TopResultsCoaching

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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