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Less Thinking, More Doing: Develop the Action Habit Today

Less Thinking, More Doing: Develop the Action Habit Today

“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.” – Paulo Coelho

Everybody wants advice but nobody wants to do the work. If you cut the time you spend deliberating in half and spent that time actively pursuing what you want, how much farther ahead do you think you’d be? Answer honestly but don’t agonize over it (because “stressing over all that stuff in that past sure made me feel better!” said nobody anywhere ever). Your challenge, should you accept it: Less thinking, more doing. Are you in? If so, check out these 15 ways to develop the action habit.

1. Begin with the end in mind.

Drop your preconceived notions. Forget about what “society” or your friends or your family expect of you. What do you want out of life? What do you want to be remembered for? Be true to yourself and don’t worry about anybody else. Your life is yours and yours alone. It might be helpful to imagine what you think success would look like in a year or two. Begin with that and work backwards to create action steps that will take you from Point A to Point B.

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2. Slow and steady wins the race.

As much as you might want something to be quick-and-easy, life just doesn’t work that way. If you run into this adventure with guns blazing, odds are you’ll find yourself in an insurmountable state of overwhelm. If you want this, start training your patience muscles because you’ll need them (trust me).

3. Break your Big Goal into baby goals.

You know what’s super discouraging? Goals so incredibly ambitious that success is like a mirage in the desert because no matter how much you move forward, you can’t help feeling like you haven’t made any visible progress. Don’t aim for 50 lbs; just lose the first 5. If you want to write a play that rivals Shakespearean tragedies, how about beginning with full focus on the first act?

4. Celebrate every minor victory.

Baby goals are great for your esteem because they offer a constant stream of positive feedback that will make you feel happy, encouraged, and productive. I don’t know about you, but I think it would be more fun to perform 20 touchdown dances than just 1.

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5. Keep your eye on the prize.

Inspiration is a fleeting thing. The temptation to quit will become overwhelming, but to stay on track, remind yourself of why you want to achieve your goal in the first place. The daily grind has a way of making us lose sight of our priorities.

6. Learn from the best and brightest…

Believe it or not, you’re not alone. I’m willing to wager that people in this world are doing or have done the very thing you want to do. Read their books and blogs to learn what worked for them (and save yourself some trouble). Why reinvent the wheel when a brief remodeling will do?

7. …but stay true to you.

Do look for outside inspiration that will point you in the right direction but do not become a mere clone of another person. The reek of phoniness is so foul that it cannot be hidden (and nobody likes a rip-off).

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8. Be ready to make sacrifices.

What’s more important: success or recreation? This isn’t to say you can’t have both, but action takers strive for a healthy balance between the two. Close your door so you can get work done. Roomies too much to handle? Go to a coffee shop or park bench with your notebook or laptop. Turn down the occasional invitation to a bar or restaurant if you’re in the process of flexing your hustle muscle.

9. Watch out for time bandits.

Time flies when you’re on the internet. Have you ever logged on to Facebook, Pinterest, or Reddit and told yourself you would only spend a “little while” there, but the next time you looked at the clock it was 2 or 3 hours later? Also, put down your phone. Those little 5-minute Facebook excursions can add up in a hurry. For the sake of example: If you check your Facebook 5 times a day for 5 minutes per log-in on 5 days per week, you are burning 2 hours per week.

10. Efficiency is your friend.

Strapped for time? Cook in bulk. Choose the least busy day of the week, gather your groceries, and knock-out 5-7 days of meals in a single shot. My favorite bulk-cook dishes: spaghetti with lean beef, grilled chicken salad and stir fry with white rice, tuna, corn, peas, and carrots (try this with a squeeze of lemon: you won’t be sorry).

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11. Find an accountability team.

The best friends are the ones who don’t belittle you but at the same time don’t allow you to settle for anything less than your best. Make friends with people in your field via networking events like your area Chamber of Commerce or online support groups on LinkedIn.

12. Know when to walk away.

Who says you need to work until you find yourself in a comatose state? Working beyond the brink of exhaustion is counterproductive. Not only will your work past this point be subpar, but you’ll also run the risk of creating an association with your work and misery. The best work comes from a place of love and happiness. If you’re not feeling it, take the dog for a walk, catch up with some friends, take a vacation, or do something (anything!) else.

13. There is always time for fun.

Yes, you do have to make sacrifices if you desire success. No, this doesn’t mean you can’t have fun on occasion. Life isn’t meant to be devoid of fun and play. Your hard work won’t vanish during your escape; on the contrary, you’ll come back with re-charged drive and ambition.

14. Evolve as much as necessary.

Stubbornly clinging to past beliefs that were dead-wrong will sink your odds of success faster than you can say “dummkopf.” Be ready for failure, but don’t stress about it (because it’s just a learning opportunity). Brace yourself for the realization that no, you don’t have it all figured out (a fact that life will rub in your face over and over again). Sound nasty? It really isn’t. The only way to evolve is through trial and error. Keep on improving and your odds of acheiving will get better and better with every failure.

15. Go do something.

What follows is the action habit to end all action habits: All of the self-help articles in the world can’t save you if you never take action. Every time you read a book or article like this, immediately apply something from it (no matter how big or small). How are you going to apply this today?

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Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on November 15, 2019

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems, why?

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

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The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

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The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

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It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

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For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

More About Changing Habits

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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