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Life is a Marathon – A simple techique to keep on PACE.

Life is a Marathon – A simple techique to keep on PACE.

As I grow older, I can’t help but notice how much truth there is in folklores. We tend to brush them off as ‘stuff old people say’. Let’s face it, if they’re still alive, they must know a thing or two about life. One folklore that was imprinted on my subconscious and emerged to the forefront later on is KISS. No not the 70s face painted rock band. My alcoholic, 11th grade chemistry teacher would say it everyday. Kiss stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. If you’re an average Joe like me, especially at the that age, you might misinterpret the proverb. Without having an opportunity to apply it I wasn’t able to grasp the true importance of the concept. After being battered by the waves of life, its definition became clear.

Preparation Is The Key

In today’s information overloaded world, making decisions can be a convoluted process. This often results in stress, anxiety and indecisiveness. We all know that life is a chess game but the victor must always be steps ahead of the competition while staying present. How is that even possible? A simple answer – preparation! Chance favors the prepared mind. Is your head spinning from folklores yet?

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So how exactly do we prepare for this superfluous information chess game of life which supposedly is also a marathon?

Life is a marathon as it is a chess game because all three require strategy. The sooner one stops being reactionary and starts thinking things through, the sooner the chess match evolves. At this point a PACE plan can provide a key technique to enduring aches and pains of the cross country run.

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Apply The KISS Technique

This particular KISS technique can be used in both personal and professional areas of your life. PACE stands for Primary, Alternate, Contingency, and Emergency. Pretty self explanatory right?

One can literally apply this system for almost every decision one makes. If you decide to visit a friend 30 miles away, you can take four possible routes: the most direct or efficient; an alternate route in case there’s an accident or traffic; contingency thorugh back roads if there happens to be an influx of drivers on the road and the first two options aren’t effective; and an emergency route that you hope you’ll never have to take because of the lengthy duration but guarantees a safe passage to the destination.

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Having a PACE plan reduces stress of overcoming adversity or unforeseen events. You already have a plan in place and only need to execute with some minor changes if necessary. Having simple systems in place is one of the key differences between successful people and well the other guys. They are rarely caught off guard and are seldom reactionary. This is why successful people rise to victory when faced with adverse circumstances. They are prepared so chance falls in their favor.

Similarly this is why a lot of small businesses stay small and others grow into big corporations. Instead of having to address mundane issues on a regular basis, leaders can focus on developing business and taking calculated risks by emplacing clear and simple systems.

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If you’ve ever worked in corporate America, then you know that there is a form or procedure for almost everything related to the business. That’s their insurance policy to keep the Is dotted and Ts crossed.

Having a PACE plan is a proven life saver. This is why it is one of the first techniques Green Berets learn during their qualification course. To be successful in corporate America one has to have a warrior’s mentality. It’s no coincidence as to why high ranking leaders of our Armed Forces take on senior roles in the corporate world. The two entities share uncanny resemblances in their structures. Corporate America made a carbon copy of the bureaucratic structure of the military with some changes and ‘civilian’ flair.

It’s not everyone’s goal to be corporate but implementing some of their strategies can definitely make you more present in the chess match. Knowing that, on every play, there are multiple options on the board that put you at an advantage regardless of what piece your opponent moves. It allows you to be steps ahead while remaining present and alert for any surprises.

Keep It Simple

For someone who has, on numerous occasions, almost lit me on fire with a bunsen burner, I would never have thought my chemistry teacher on her second mug of whiskey spiked coffee would enlighten me with such a gift. If she didn’t remind me to keep it simple then applying the PACE plan wouldn’t have had such an impact on my life. It opened my eyes to the realization that I needed to simplify more areas of my personal and professional life. Keeping it simple stupid by running the marathon on PACE can do the same for you.

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Life is a Marathon – A simple techique to keep on PACE.

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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.

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Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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