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The Art of How to Make Progress

The Art of How to Make Progress

Have you noticed how knowing how to make progress is one of those things that only seems massively important when you’re not making progress?

The stinger is that being able to get that feeling of making progress is so essential to motivating ourselves to keep going. Without it, we feel stuck and get frustrated very easily. We lose hope. We give up. We don’t see the point in trying, if we’re not going anywhere.

In fact, being able to make progress is essential to feeling like you’re living a kick-ass, meaningful life.

Without it, you will certainly slip into negative thinking, questioning what it’s all for, and why should you bother. Feeling stuck is just a natural consequence of not triggering that feeling of progress.

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The good news is you don’t have to light up the world to turn it all around (even though this is precisely what most movers and shakers try to do!)

If you’re a go-getter, I KNOW you’ve been there before.

How do I know?

Because this is a common problem experienced by people who have big dreams, and a desire to go out and set the world alight. It’s not something experienced by people without vision or ambition.

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Unraveling the Go-Getters’ ‘Stuckness’

I’ve worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs, and the most common block that talented people come up against is trying to do everything, all at once. Even if they don’t intend to actually do everything in one go, they still try to see that track they’re going to run on.

The way to overcome this is both simple and sophisticated.

Let me explain.

It’s simple in that you have to take the first obvious step forward to be able to make progress. Don’t try and make it complicated or too involved. Imagine you’re hitting a golf ball… you don’t want to be whacking it all around the course. Just put it as close to the hole as you possibly can.

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It’s also simple in that you need to know where you’re going and keep in mind that bigger outcome you’re shooting for. Paint that picture of where you want to get to in your mind’s eye: even if it’s something like finishing the paperwork clogging up your desk, or getting the kitchen cleared up. Visualize the end result – the task finished.

Right, now here’s where it gets sophisticated.

You need to keep your eye on both of these things at the same time: the end goal, and the simple, direct baby steps.

Take your eye off the baby steps, and you get mentally absorbed into a candy-land dream that will never materialist. Take your eye off the big picture, and you get trapped in the long grass of minutia.

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Every Journey Begins With A First Step

With that in mind, here is the step-by-step process to making effective progress quickly:

  1. Get clear on where you want to end up. See the end goal – and sure, plan this end result in lots of detail.
  2. Now chunk back and decide what is the most obvious first thing you need to do.
  3. Take the first obvious step, holding in mind the big picture, i.e. where you want to end up.
  4. When you’ve done that, take the next step.
  5. Only ever plan the next two or three steps down the way.

Between Minutia and Candy Land

The road to real, tangible, jaw-dropping, tummy-turning progress lies slap-bang between those two worlds. You need to walk with one foot in each, and divide your attention between each on a daily basis, to really take the straightest path to where you need to go.

It works beautifully if you have an idea of what you want to create and where you want to end up. Sure, you can imagine and visualize all the detail in that end result… but trying to map in the same detail *how* you’re going to get there is flat out going to mess you up.

Name Your Candy Land

I’m curious to see what you’re shooting for. Leave me a comment, and describe your big vision – that ultimate goal you’re going to work towards.

Movers and shakers make things happen by getting clear on where they’re going, and then using the process described above.

That’s it! Go ahead and leave a comment sharing your ultimate vision for what you want to create.

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

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.

In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.

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]

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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?

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.

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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.

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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