Improving your life doesn’t need to involve a massive overhaul. Taking simple steps each day to implement new habits can lead to enormously positive changes.
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Overcome Indecision with Small Steps
We can waste a lot of time fretting about whether we could or should pursue a new path. If we’re not careful, years can turn into a lifetime as indecisiveness turns into paralysis. We’re not suggesting you don’t think or plan before you decide to pursue a new goal, but rather that you’re not going to get anywhere by sitting on the fence. There’s only one way to test whether your idea will be successful, and that is to take action.
Rather than needing clarity before we act, we often gain clarity by acting. You don’t need to take drastic action and quit your day job right away – one small step could simply be signing up to an online course and learning a new skill that could just end up transforming your career.
To do today: Take one small action to see you moving closer to the big change you’d like to manifest in your life.
Do One Thing at a Time
We tend to think that we can increase our productivity by doing several things at once. Yet research shows that multitasking damages our output and efficiency.
Trying to do more than one thing at once not only slows us down but causes us to make more mistakes. We feel busier, but we are actually doing less, and doing it less well.
Studies at the Human Information Processing Laboratory at Vanderbilt University have shown that people performing two tasks simultaneously took up to 30% longer and made twice as many errors as those who completed the same tasks in sequence. These findings have been replicated time and again by other scientists.
To do today: Practise grouping similar tasks together so you spend less time and energy switching between different types of activities. Once you’ve batched your tasks, identify uninterrupted blocks of time for each.
As humans, we are motivated by the anticipation of reward, and making positive habits attractive will help you stick to them.
The neurology of desire shows that the human brain releases dopamine when we do pleasurable things, but that we also get a hit of it when simply anticipating these activities. It’s the brain’s way of encouraging us to keep moving forward and actually do things.
Use this knowledge to your advantage when trying to form new habits. Think of a behaviour that you know will be beneficial but that you find unappealing, and link it to something you’re drawn to. For example, if you struggle to exercise but love binging on your favourite Netflix show, set up an exercise bike in front of the TV.
To do today: Choose one positive but unappealing habit, and link it to a reward you know will motivate you to practise it.
Create an Accountability Framework
Habit tracking is a simple yet effective technique. In your calendar or diary, cross off every day that you stick to your chosen positive behaviours. The anticipation and satisfaction of crossing off each day will no doubt feel good and keep you motivated.
Another option is to commit to your new habits in the company of family and friends. Share your goals and intentions with them, and ask them to hold you accountable to following through on them.
To do today: Create a habit calendar or journal, or reach out to an accountability partner.