Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Trick Your Brian: Form a Desirable Habit or Accomplish Your Unrealized Goals

(FIRST initial DRAFT here. Revisions later. Just getting it out here...)


I think I may coin it START.

Steps. 

Set yourself up to succeed on goal at a time. Make them a part of the bigger goal. Make sure they are achievable in smaller spaces of time. When you get to the last one, the bigger one, that you'd like to keep up, you'll already see how far you've come, all that you've done to ensure your goal comes realization, you won't want to scrap the whole lot of these accomplishments! Make it worth it! Once you get there, you should know that you can do it again, and again, and again.
If you want to go back to school, for example, to get a new degree, don't just have this as your next goal. Break it down into smaller steps on the way to getting back to school. What does this goal entail? It's possible you may have to plan for a bigger savings account or nest egg to help you go through school or look into financial programs to aide the endeavor (ie. gov. loans). You may have to plan daycare or the right timeframe (when kids get school-age and won't need childcare arrangements during the day). You might discover a smaller goal would be organizing your time efficiently for all the activities in your life, and freeing up time. Maybe even starting one class first, to see how well you do at juggling time, so that you can have a mini-success to bounce off, before setting yourself up for the bigger, full-time goal. It may be that going back to school even means one class at a time, until you've completed all your classes.

Triggers. 

If you have an undesirable habit you'd like to break (like smoking, cussing, procrastinating, getting angry prematurely, other substance abuse, gossiping [girls!] etc.), and yet all the good intentions can't get you there, it may be best to analyze what happens right before the undesirable habit/reflex you'd like to break. Usually there are warning signs or triggers that are associated with the adverse reaction or proaction.
For example, if you're a gossiper, maybe the first thing you do is get excited or a thrill when you hear a story about someone, or maybe you think something negative. Maybe it would help to begin practicing, immediately following some story you've heard second-hand, saying something kind about the person. Maybe it's walking away, or saying nothing.
Maybe the vice is smoking. Is it reasonable to expect yourself, merely on willpower or intention alone, to eradicate a chemical dependence or addiction? It can be very beneficial to identify triggers that signal your body to smoke, and replace these triggers with those positive triggers you can associate with smoking. So, if walking into a bar, or drinking, gets you hankering for a cigarette, try smelling fragrant oils or possibly a dirty rag. Do this every time in place of the cigarette smoking. Or try reflecting on what life will be like smelling good, and being active, and breathing nice air (both yourself and your partner) after a nice cruise on the ocean. Picture the place you want to be, and how you want to feel, every time you think, "I want to smoke." Create a new trigger, in the place of the usual time or location you want to smoke. After a few weeks, it can also forge an association to this urge. Maybe you'll even pick up a new-found hobby on the way, like meditating or taking a walk when you used to smoke.
Lastly, if certain work breaks inhibit your self-control, create a new place for breaks, that are smoke-free.

Maybe the reaction is anger. If so, here's more about how anger can be connected to a trigger. If controlling anger is your goal, read here: Control Anger by Recognizing Triggers

Advance (Planning).

Do things in advance! Planning for success enables you to succeed. If you want to get better at working out in the morning, for example, set your clothes out the night before so they're right there for you to see when you wakeup. If your work group goes out a lot after work, then you will have to consider this and make a time slot that you will realistically be able to fit in a workout. This may mean working out in the morning before work, taking workout gear to work and running home, working out before you go to dinner, or eating light so that you can workout on your way home.

Repeat. 

The key to successful learning and implementation is repetition. The same way one forms a habit they want to break, they can form a habit they want to keep. Practice and repeat. Do it again, and again, until it becomes second nature.

Tell.

If you tend to do better with encouragement, or you like to be held accountable, tell your closest friends. Hearing words of encouragement can help you when you're low. However, some people tend to satisfy part of the urge and satiate their own drive, by hearing these words of praise. If that tends to be you, wait until you accomplish something to start telling everyone about your goal. Make sure it happens in order to feel better about it, rather than getting the fix (of self-praise, others' praise, emotional satisfaction) without actually putting forth the effort or putting in the work.
If you're someone who actually follows-through and does better when you tell others, it's most likely because that created expectation or accountability. In that case, have friends hold you accountable, ask questions, or challenge you.

Most of all, Tell Yourself! Tell yourself why you want it, why it's important, what you'll feel like when you accomplish the goal, and how to do it. Tell yourself by reading out what you have committed to, after you've written it down. Tell yourself by saying it out loud. Tell yourself by giving yourself reminders on your phone, post-it-notes, etc. Tell yourself by creating mini-successes to achieve along the way, and think up some reward that you can receive, and thus tell yourself you've gone part way.

Telling others how you did it, what you learned, and how they can do it! Knowledge is power, and it feels good to enable others, and see them succeed! A world full of satisfied, successful, happy people would look a lot better than a world with a lot of people without knowledge or tools!

You can even tell your creator, the desires of your heart. Telling in itself can be asking, for help and open doors along the way.

Additional Tips:

Don't give up! If it isn't realistic, revise!
Give it time!
Be positive! (You should always spend more time on what's right in life than what's wrong. Yet, it's very important to analyze what's going wrong or what we can improve, but then focus on the how - the positive direction.)
Involve others!
Pass it on! Let others hear encouraging words or information, that may better them the way it has you. Additionally, passing it on and seeing someone else succeed can often encourage our own selves to succeed.



My After-thoughts: 

(I really hope it's taken in stride, and as it is intended; in humility and earnest. I don't want this to be a message that's perceived with..."duh", "she thinks she knows", "she thinks it's easy"...I want it to be one that's responded to with, "she cares", she's not quite there, but I can take something from this", "she likes helping", "speaks from experience", "helpful", "I think I want to know more"...

with best intentions,

Felicia

P.S. An interesting blog about happiness can be found here: 10-scientifically-proven-ways-to-make-yourself-happier