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Things People Do On Monday Mornings That Make Them Highly Successful

Things People Do On Monday Mornings That Make Them Highly Successful

Ah, Monday morning. It’s nobody’s favorite time of the week. It’s when we all have to stumble out of bed and face a brand new week, grumbling about needing coffee and being too tired to function. We’ve all been there. But just because that Monday morning alarm clock is a rude awakening (literally), that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of those early hours. Here are 16 things people do to start their weeks right. Next Monday morning, give these a go.

1. They don’t hit snooze.

Everyone loves the snooze button. Whoever invented snooze should be given a Nobel Prize. However, though we all like that chance to catch a few extra Z’s, repeatedly hitting the snooze button ultimately does more harm than good. Do your best to get up right when your alarm goes off. That way, you’ll be ready to face the day more quickly. This will give you more energy in the long run than the constant cycle of waking up and going back to sleep that the snooze button forces us into.

2. They exercise.

The best way to have energy throughout the day is to get moving early. Many people prefer exercising first thing in the morning because it gives them a reason to get out of bed quickly and wakes them up more effectively. Exercise in the morning can also help with the Monday blues, as exercise is proven to improve your mood and boost your confidence.

3. They eat right.

It’s like the cereal commercials all tell us: it’s important to start the day with a balanced breakfast. Successful people are more likely to stay successful when they have the nutrition they need to get the week off to a good start. Make sure your breakfast includes protein to help you stay full longer, thus minimizing distractions or grumpiness that might come from being hungry an hour later.

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4. They leave behind a clean house.

Monday can get hectic, so it can be tempting to leave things laying around the house or let those dirty dishes soak in the sink all day. However, there’s an even bigger possibility you won’t want to take care of any of that stuff when you get home, either. Clean up after yourself. It’ll only take a few minutes, and you’ll thank yourself once you return later in the day.

5. They make a game plan for the week.

Most people have a daily routine or schedule. However, things can vary from week to week. Whether you need to plan out a project for the coming week, or simply pencil in a lunch meeting for Thursday, do it first thing Monday morning. That way, you’ll get yourself on track as soon as the day starts.

6. They get to work early.

…or at least on time. The habits you form on Monday morning can form your whole week, so make them good ones. Arrive early to work to really get things going and avoid the headache of rushing in to a meeting 10 minutes late because of traffic.

7. They get organized.

What better way to start the week than by straightening up your work space? You’ll be more productive if your desk is decluttered and everything is put away in its rightful place. Once you get organized, you’ll be better equipped to tackle the day (and week) ahead.

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8. They attend to small things first.

If you have a number of small tasks you can get out of the way first thing, go for it. Respond to a few emails, make copies, whatever you need to do. Once these things are out of the way, you’ll be able to be more focused on the bigger tasks ahead.

9. They get their inbox under control.

Speaking of emails, make sure your inbox isn’t too crazy. Empty your spam folder, delete unnecessary things, organize your emails by putting them into different folders. The last thing you want to do is spend a long time searching through your inbox for something, when you could easily organize your inbox and find that email as soon as you need it.

10. They greet everyone.

Success is as much about skill and hard work as it is about making good connections with people. Saying a simple “hello” or “good morning” to everyone you pass on your way to your desk can make a big impression on people in the long run.

11. They make a to-do list.

To-do lists are great. They keep you on track and hold you accountable for getting all of the work done. Make one on your computer, one on your phone, one on a sticky note on your desk — that way, you’ll know what you need to get done and in what order. Remember to cross things off as they get done.

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12. They imagine success.

Picture yourself succeeding at whatever you have to do this week. Visualizing success can help you reach it. It’s a good motivator.

13. They take on big problems.

Once you’ve sorted out some of the smaller things on your to-do list, move on to the big problems. They might take longer than you expect, so getting to them first thing in the week will help ensure you’ll get them done on time.

14. They stay positive.

Even when things get tough, successful people don’t let it get them down. Getting discouraged at the beginning of the week will only make the rest of the week that much harder. Keep your chin up and power through.

15. They focus on the task at hand.

It’s easy to get distracted, so rid your work-space of anything you know will cause you to be less productive. Try to begin working when you know you won’t be interrupted with something else. Highly successful people can only be successful if they get their work done, so make sure you’re able to do the same.

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16. They aren’t afraid to say “no.”

There’s only so much one person can do. If you come into work on Monday morning and start getting requests right and left, only agree to as many as you can handle.

Featured photo credit: Sean McGrath via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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