in Cognitive Wisdom, Prism of Life

The Subtle Art of Achieving Challenging Goals By Changing One Habit At A Time

Have you ever been bitten by a shark?

How about a mosquito?

It’s the little things in life that usually bite you and keep you in discomfort. Although the duration of discomfort may differ, you can never be sure of the next bite that may be coming your way that could create a totally unwarranted allergic reaction.

Therefore, it is essential that we are aware of the influence people and the environment around can have on us. Because only if you are aware of their influence, you can build counter-intuitive measures to use it for your advantage.

The key to making significant changes in your life doesn’t have to involve significant upheaval; you don’t need to revolutionize your behavior or reinvent yourself. Instead, you can make tiny changes to your behavior, which, when repeated time and time again, will become habits that may lead to significant results.

We often spend a lot of time on behaviors that are easy. Scrolling through social media, for example, takes zero effort, so it’s easy for it to gobble our time. Doing a hundred push-ups or learning a foreign language, in contrast, requires a lot of effort. Repeating those behaviors daily until they become habitual is tough.

So making behaviors as easy as possible is key to turning them into habits. Luckily, there are a few tricks we can embrace to make anything seem easier. 

Here is a non-exhaustive list of difficult goals that can be pursued successfully by bringing change in one behavior at a time.

1. If you want to follow through the discipline of Dieting: you can start using your non-dominant hand because when you start eating with the help of your non-dominant hand, you are forcing yourself to engage in unusual behavior. Since you are not used to using your non-dominant hand for eating, the act will invariably demand more of your attention. As a consequence, you will be more conscious of the food that you eat and will eat less.

2. If you want to keep your temptation at bay start pushing the object of temptation away from you: Pushing an object away from you as if you don’t like it makes you dislike the object and vice-versa. Therefore next time when you are confronted with your favorite sugar-coated doughnuts or pastry, you can try pushing the plate away from you and feel the temptation fade-away.

3. If you want to strengthen your willpower, you can start tensing up your muscle: Next time you feel the need to counter the usual urge of nicotine you can make a fist, contract your bicep, or grip a pen in your hand till you witness the passing of that urge. Subsequently, you can reward yourself by having a hot cup of your favorite beverage.

4. If you want to inculcate persistence you can start sitting up straight and cross your arms: In numerous experiments when researchers presented volunteers with tricky problems and measured the duration of their tenacity, they found that those who sit up straight & fold their arms tend to struggle on for nearly twice as long as others. Hence when the going gets tough don’t forget to cross your arms.

5. If you want to increase your self-esteem & confidence, start adopting a power pose: If you are sitting down, lean back, look up and interlock your hands behind your back. If you are standing up, then you can try placing your feet flat on the floor, push your shoulder back & your chest forward, and hold out your hands in front of you.

6. If you want to influence & persuade someone you can start nodding your head: Mimicking someone at the subtle level creates an invisible bond that is very difficult to decode. And the best way to execute this is by listening to the other person with intent rather than listening only to find an opportunity to interject & respond.

7. If you want to counter procrastination you can start small: Your resistance to accepting anything that is anything less than perfect is your biggest obstacle. Rather than looking for perfection, you can always start with baby steps. Those steps will first teach you to walk properly before you could master the craft of long distance running.

8. If you want to be creative start moving outside the box by breaking the monotony. Even leaving your work desk to roam around the office space will kickstart your creative juice. Rather than engaging yourself in office gossip during lunch break, you can go for a walk exposing yourself to visual stimulation along with the sunlight.

9. If you want to get rid of your guilt, you can start by cleaning yourself. The act of cleaning sends a comforting signal to our mind that whatever wrongdoing was committed has now been corrected.

10. If you want to keep your nerves under control start chewing gum: The act of eating something gives a signal to your brain that everything is all right. Because from the evolutionary perspective if you are eating something, then you couldn’t possibly be in grave danger.

11. If you want to save one-fifth of your salary you can automate a monthly transfer from salary account to a savings account: Once you succeed in automating your financial behavior, everything else becomes effortless. Not only that earlier you start this simple tweak in this behavior you are far better placed to reap the benefit of compounding.

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