Making a big life change

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If you are like the majority of people, there is a divide between the person you are now and the person you aspire to be in the future. There are both small and large goals that you have set for yourself that you believe you ought to accomplish. You could try doing something more productive with your time, like going to the gym on a regular basis, eating more healthfully, learning a new language, working on your novel, reading more, or even just actually engaging in the activity you consider a hobby rather than wasting time online.

However, there are times when it seems as though you need to transform into a completely different person in order to reach your objectives. Someone who is reliable, makes greater efforts than they need to, is disciplined and has strong willpower. Perhaps you have put in a lot of effort to become more like that. And it was successful! For the time being. Until you become aware that you are returning to your previous behaviors. In the end, it appears that you are unsuccessful. And every time you try something and it doesn’t work out, you feel more and more annoyed and frustrated with yourself.

If you believe the “success and hustle” internet, then it is all your own fault: if you don’t succeed, it is because you just didn’t want it enough, and the failure is all on you. However, adapting to change can be challenging. And as is the case with the majority of things in life, having an understanding of the why makes things much simpler. Imagine your brain as a lush and dense jungle. Moving through it, say to make a decision to do something, is comparable to moving through an actual jungle in that it is difficult and it requires a lot of energy.

Your brain despises expending energy, so it devised a cunning plan to avoid doing so: every action and behavior you engage in leaves a path in the dense undergrowth of your brain. As soon as you begin doing something, you immediately begin to trample some plants and make a path through the undergrowth that is rough and improvised. When something is done on a regular basis, a trail of evidence will eventually be left behind. It takes some time, but eventually it becomes a path that is easier to walk on. Because of this, you take it more often, and eventually it turns into a street.

If you keep doing the same thing over and over again for a number of years, eventually the road will turn into a highway. It makes traveling through it easy, and you quickly get used to and comfortable with it. The more distinct your brain highways are, the more accustomed you will become to the ease that they provide. Because of this, we continue to make use of them, which indicates that we typically stick to the same practices that we have always used. This is one of the reasons why change is so challenging, particularly when you are an adult and your jungle is already traversed by a network of well-established roads and paths.

Both routines and habits need to be differentiated from one another if we are going to comprehend the construction process of those highways.

A routine is a series of actions that you perform in the same order every time because you’ve found that doing things this way produces the best results for you. For instance, you always purchase the same components for your go-to meal and prepare them in the same sequence every time because you prefer the way the finished product tastes. Or, before going to bed, you decide that 6:30 is the time that you want to get up and set an alarm for that time. Imagine the routines that are carried out by a shrewd planner. It is deliberate and methodical, and it is in charge of strategizing and performing mental computations. The planner is aware of what will happen in the future and gives careful consideration to the kind of outcome you desire.

On the basis of this, it decides which actions to take in order to achieve particular outcomes, even if those actions are unpleasant, such as taking a shower after getting out of bed. Habits are a much simpler way of doing things because they are essentially just a string of actions that are carried out without much conscious thought. Routines have the potential to evolve into habits over time. Because you have performed these actions so frequently in the past, your brain considers them to be rewarding and an excellent response to any given circumstance.

Therefore, a habit can make you feel as though you are operating on autopilot. When it comes to doing something that’s become a habit, you don’t have to try to persuade yourself to do it; you just do it. The most important aspect of habits is that they are initiated by triggers, which are context cues that can be individual things or entire situations. Triggers send a signal to your brain, telling it to begin the behavior or action that they are associated with. You probably already have quite a few triggers in your life, such as the fact that whenever you see your phone, you almost always unlock the screen on it. Or, when you get into a car, the first thing you do is reach for the safety belt. Or, in the morning on the way to work, you get a cookie along with your coffee purchase, even though you aren’t particularly hungry at the time.

An impetuous toddler is capable of carrying out routines. It reacts to your immediate desires by taking into account the environment around you. without taking any longer-term objectives into consideration. The toddler has no concept of the future and despises having to put in any effort. Consequently, when it detects a trigger, it guides you down an accessible path within your brain that ultimately results in a well-known and pleasurable outcome. Because getting coffee is something you do every morning, the toddler will insist on having a cookie as well if you get coffee. This gratifying sensation is also the root of the majority of your negative habits, such as the fact that chocolate is delicious and that browsing Reddit can be occasionally mildly entertaining. Because of this, you continue to engage in these behaviors, despite the fact that they are detrimental to you.

The pleasurable feelings that are connected to an action demand that the action be repeated, which is how a bad habit is born. In spite of the fact that the toddler may appear to be a built-in mechanism for sabotage, it is just as important as the wise planner, and in fact, the two of them collaborate most of the time. You cannot think big thoughts, do your taxes, or park in parallel without your trustworthy planner. But if you let your wise planner handle everything, it will take up too much of your energy. Your brain is able to more easily manage your day-to-day life when it outsources mundane and repetitive tasks to habits, which are managed by the toddler. This frees up your brain to deal with more complex mental challenges at the same time. Therefore, if we want to make a change and incorporate a new behavior into our lives, we can actually make it easier on ourselves by utilizing these energy saving mechanisms. We won’t be concentrating on the big picture, but rather on the details.

It is much better to aim low and make some incremental progress in improving your life than it is to shoot for the stars and make no progress. In particular, because even modest adjustments can have a significant impact after a period of time (months or years).

If you want to make change easier, the best way may not be to force it by using willpower, but rather to convince your brain that it’s not that big of a deal for you to make the change. by establishing new patterns of behavior and subsequently molding those patterns into habits. You want your astute planner to build the first trail, and then you want your toddler to assist you in easily starting the action. Let’s say you want to get fitter, which is a very common objective, and you decide to start working out.

Because the goal is to make the action itself as simple a threshold as possible, the first thing that you should do is to break down this fairly open-ended objective into distinct and distinct steps, because the idea is to make the action itself as simple as possible: so small that it is manageable, and so specific that you don’t have to think about it very much. A concrete and attainable action could be “doing ten squats” every morning, for instance. This would be a controllable behavior. You can begin by making an effort to establish a routine, but you should also be sure to include distinct cues that the toddler will be able to recognize in the future. Always keep in mind that a trigger is simply a signal that is always associated with the action. They may take the form of visual cues, such as recognizing a specific object, such as the clothing you wear while exercising. Or a particular period of the day, or a predetermined location, such as a nearby park; or, even better, the combination of all of these aspects working together.

It is essential that you always begin your action in a particular setting. This is the most important thing. This is the start button that, when pressed, will eventually cause the action to begin occurring automatically. Therefore, if you want to begin your at-home workout routine with ten squats, you should make it a point to perform them in the same location and at the same time every day, such as in your living room at eight in the morning while wearing your workout clothes. Once you have identified both your trigger and action, all that remains is to carry out both of them on a consistent basis, preferably on a daily basis. If you keep going, they will transition from being a routine to becoming a habit, and from being a path to becoming a highway. It is important to note that performing the squats will still require some effort on your part; however, the decision to do so will come to feel much less like a burdensome obligation and much more like a natural component of your day. Although straightforward, this is not a walk in the park.

There are a lot of things that you want to turn into habits, but most of them don’t offer as much instant gratification as scrolling through Reddit. Make an effort to make the new behavior enjoyable for the toddler so that it is more likely to be adopted by him or her and easier for you to demonstrate. Not necessarily by rewarding yourself after you’ve completed the task at hand, but rather by increasing the pleasure you get from performing the behavior or action itself. For example, you could limit yourself to listening to your favorite podcast while you work out, or you could make some progress on your taxes while you wait for civilization to load the next round. You have to determine what approaches are successful for you. In theory, that’s all there is to it. The majority of things that will improve the quality of your life are deceptively straightforward and easy to implement.

There is a wide range of possibilities for how long it will take for your toddler to take charge and form a routine. It is dependent on many factors, including the behavior you are trying to get used to, the type of person you are, the amount of stress you are under, and many other factors. It can take anywhere from 15 to 250 days for a new routine to become so ingrained that it is triggered automatically by its cue. You won’t have any idea of how much time it will take you. The beginning is the most difficult part, particularly during the first week or two. The challenging part is to keep doing it each and every day. But it does get easier as you keep going. There are no foolproof methods for effecting change. The study of habits, however, serves as a reminder that this is something that can be accomplished by anyone, regardless of how old or how young they are. Even if all you accomplish is a little bit more of the good stuff or a few new things, you can still consider that a victory.

Being dissatisfied with something while making no effort to improve the situation is preferable to having even a modest increase in one’s level of health or education. In the end, change is a process rather than an endpoint to be reached.

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