It’s not always easy to set up a routine, establish good habits and stick to these in the long run. Sometimes, only a small push in the right direction is whats missing.
Waking up a bit earlier, spending less time on social media websites, or even learning to cook… Whether you seek to start working out, stop smoking or pushing yourself further in general, we are going to see how you can “hack” your brain to help yourself get in the right mind-set.
We will also see that contrary to popular belief, you are not “born this way” and that the argument “I have always been like this” is not valid. Our habits and behaviors are influenced by many things, the most important being the brain; complex system that is made to adapt. The repetition of attitudes and behaviors ends up pushing it to develop new neural pathways. It’s this development that renders the brain malleable and constantly able to develop new reflexes. It’s impossible, for example, to drive on a freeway without this capability!
What’s interesting about this? Well, based on the skill you wish to develop, you won’t stimulate the same zones…imagine the potential! For example, visual-spacial memory relies on the hippocampus; musicians have a cortex that is more dense than normal, and for blind people, it’s the region of the brain responsible for vision that is reassigned to the hearing region.
In addition, through synaptic plasticity, you can:
- Re-establish balance or hearing
- Heal from cerebral accidents
- No longer suffer from dyslexia or other learning disabilities
In this article, discover some ways to stimulate your brain and establish effective neural pathways, which will help you change your habits.
1st technique: no-BS
No-BS for no-bullshit. Here, no shortcuts: chose what you wish to improve, and wake up an hour earlier for 21 days non-stop. Why 21 days? Well, this is the amount of time that has shown up in several experiments regarding synaptic plasticity. 21 days for neurogenesis (the multiplication of neurons or neural connections) and for synaptic pruning (the removal of inefficient synaptic connections).
For example: prepare your lunch, workout before going to work or class… the idea of this technique is to force yourself to do something, and this as soon as you wake up, without thinking. After 30 days, you most likely will have no more problems moving forward towards your goal.
2nd technique: hold yourself accountable
Find a partner who will check up on what you are doing. You can, for example, talk to a friend and ask them to come with you to the gym every other day from 6 to 8. You can also ask them to monitor your diet, for example by asking them to check you are sticking to it every day.
This is a good way to engage the power of social expectation, which is very strong for many of us. This power can help turn intentions into actions, which is what matters most! Here, habits will be established with the help of an external “agent”.
3rd technique: gradual progress
Want to be able to do 100 pushups? Do some every morning right when you wake up or before going to bed, and every day do a little bit more. Monday 25, Tuesday 27, Wednesday 30, Thursday 33….
This is a good technique to develop your strength and rapidly reach the goal you have set. It is also very motivating as progress will be rapidly noticeable, and a perfect habit to add to your routine. The progress you will notice will make you feel accomplished, and will stimulate your brain’s reward circuit. This circuit is a zone composed of neurons that in turn forms the medial forebrain bundle (MFB), whose activation leads to the repetition of the gratifying action (favoring dependency) to strengthen the associated pathways in the brain… In other words, by becoming “addicted” to your progress, your motivation will skyrocket!
4th technique: constant tracking
Add your tasks to a notebook (or smartphone).
I have found that the applications any.do and Todoist are perfect for this. Once your tasks are added, your phone reminds you (for example) that you haven’t worked out yet today…time to get on that. Tracking what you do is a good way to get yourself used to a routine that corresponds to your goals, and motivates you to do what you need to do to accomplish your goals. Try to stick to this tracking at least 30 days; not only will you acquire a bunch of habits, but you will feel more organized and less like a procrastinator 🙂
5th technique: the challenge
Figure out something you want to accomplish, but find challenging. Then, start from the bottom and work your way up gradually- before you know it, you will have established a habit.
5 days without a cigarette? 2 days without fast-food? 1 week without meat?
Don’t wait for the beginning of a new week to start, rather attack your challenge now. To start, you can also stimulate your response circuit by doing something that makes you happy (going to a restaurant with friends, for example.)
6th technique: reach for the moon
Aim high, always. How can you make progress if your goals are the size of a peanut in your mind? You want to lower your body fat for a competition, or run a marathon? Believe in these goals as strongly as possible and do everything possible to reach them.
Here, it’s your neurosomatic circuit that will be activated- nothing will be able to stop you!
Don’t be afraid to have ambition and to dream: trust yourself and you will be the first to be surprised by all you are able to accomplish.
When you take your dream and you shape it into your own reality ; the fruit in your life comes in the form of new friends, life lessons, character building, resiliency…and you learn things you never thought you could do.
If you want more guidance, we highly recommend the following books:
The ultimate guide to reaching your goals: Check out our E-book “One Month…To be FIT!”
In Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: you’ll find straightforward solutions that will inspire you to live life on purpose.
Finally, check out The Compound Effect for an easy-to-use, step-by-step system that will help you multiply your success, chart your progress, and achieve your goals!