Habits are a powerful thing. They shape our days and, eventually, out lives. Because of that, the right habits are incredibly important for achieving our goals and getting the life we want. However, habits are difficult to change. If you have some unhealthy or unhelpful ones, it is necessary to change them in order to change your everyday life.
Why Changing Habits is So Hard and How to Do It Anyways?
Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. shared a great article about changing your habits. It points the light to the nature of habits, which explains why they are so difficult to eliminate. Based on this knowledge, he also gives some great advice on how to make this process less difficult and to successfully implement some healthy habits in your life. You can read the whole article here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-choice/201602/why-old-habits-die-hard. Here are the most interesting parts of it.
- Habitual thinking and behavior are a result of powerful neural pathways in our brains, and memories that are automatically and unconsciously accessed; we get brain chemistry rewards every time we access those memories.
- Unconscious thought processes can predetermine, without an individual’s awareness, decision-making bias and actual decision-making.
- Emotions are the key driver to decision-making, not logical, analytical thought. Our logical processes are often only rational justifications for emotional decisions.
- Your brain will put up defensive mechanisms that will try to protect you from change.
- Because the brain operates in a quantum environment, our perceptions and self-talk alter the connections and pathways in our brains. Whatever we focus our “attention” on changes or creates new brain connections.
- Individuals should focus on desired new patterns of thinking and behavior to help employees change, not analyzing and trying to fix the old patterns because the latter will only reinforce the problems.
Do you feel overwhelmed with work? Are you constantly tired and under stress? Your boss is calling you to ask just one more question about the meeting, you’re checking your e-mails on the evenings and you can’t seem to get that huge workload out of your head? Well, you’re not alone. Many young people feel exactly like this in the 21st century. As a matter of fact, a new study shows that Canadians are feeling lower levels of satisfaction with their work-life balance in comparison with eight years ago. This is the same period in which smartphones and internet became inevitable parts of our everyday lives. Coincidence? Didn’t think so.
But let me ask you one uncomfortable question: until when are you planning to go on like this? Can you imagine yourself in 5 years feeling the same? If your answer is “Oh, hell no!”, then it’s time to reevaluate priorities and make some changes.
What Is a Work-Life Balance and How to Maintain It
Greenhaus (2002) defines work-life balance as “satisfaction and good functioning at work and at home with a minimum of role conflict”. However, expansion of technology brought a pressure for us to be available in any moment of the day. This makes your roles in the workplace and at home hard to strictly separate, creating the conflict between them. In other words, technology is making it difficult for us to unplug and separate work from home. Further, our private life is suffering, and we’re feeling stressed and unhappy. Eventually, it takes a toll on your physical and mental health.
So, how to make the balance? Is there a way to be successful and maintain a fulfilling career while having enough quality time for friends, family, partner, hobbies and yourself? Yes, there is. Forbes published 6 tips for successfully creating the work-life balance that’s right for you:
1.Let go of perfectionism – perfectionism was useful when we were kids, because it helped us stay on top of our obligations and get good grades. However, as you grow up, life becomes much more complicated, and in these circumstances, making everything perfect is often impossible. It’s the habit that works against you; the soon you learn to let it go, the better. This, of course, doesn’t mean to get sloppy and to stop caring about the way you do your job; it just means that you should strive for greatness, but not for perfection.
2. Unplug – Turn off your devices! Every time you jump to respond to that e-mail or the phone call from work while you’re at home, you’re sending the message to your brain that what’s happening at work while you’re not there is extremely important and that something catastrophic can happen if you don’t answer. But that’s irrational belief; if you stop for a second to think about it, you’ll realize it. But every time you decide to turn off your smartphone and make yourself unavailable for the next few hours, you’re sending yourself the message that your well-being and maintaining your relationships are valuable. Eventually, you’ll feel more in control of your time and your life.
3. Exercise and Meditate – Working out and sitting in silence are two incredibly powerful methods of taking control over your thoughts. If your mind is constantly shifting towards your work, practicing mindful meditation can do wonders for training yourself to stay in the moment and enjoy it. Further, exercise is proven to boost your mood; it’s an instant fix against feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
4. Limit Time-Wasting Activities and People – How many times have you caught yourself endlessly scrolling through social media, and feeling miserable after that? Or you said ‘yes’ to hanging out with people who are drowning your energy? Identify the bad habits you have that are swallowing your quality time and try to eliminate them. Next, make a list of priorities – what are the things you enjoy the most? Then devote your quality time to high-priority people and activities on your list.
5. Change the structure of your life – If there’s something that cuts your precious time, try to reorganize things a little. You don’t have to do everything by yourself; this is the perfect opportunity to soften the grip around the need to control everything and delegate part of your obligations to someone else. This way, you’ll make room for your higher priorities.
6. Start Small. Build From There. – Don’t put too high expectations in front of yourself. Start one thing at a time; and reward yourself for every small step you make toward your goal. Why don’t you start with this list? Trying to accomplish everything at once and create a work-life balance in a short period of time would be impossible, and you would soon end up frustrated and disappointed. So, one step at a time. Moving slowly is completely alright.
Be gentle with yourself, you’re doing great. Take care.
“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become a character. Watch your character; for it becomes your destiny.”
As we’re rolling to the new year, I have one very important advice for you: Don’t do new years resolutions!
Goal setting is a daily, weekly, monthly habit, not just for the 1st of January.
Have a spectacular 2010!!
Feeling stress during the Holiday season? Think about these questions from The Work by Bryon Katie.
- Is it true?
- Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
- How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
- Who would you be without the thought?
- Then turn it around (the concept you are questioning), and don’t forget to find three genuine, specific examples of each turnaround.
I’m eager to share a link by Brendon Burchard, who is one of the leading speakers and experts in personal development and motivation. In his video, titled “How To Improve Your Relationship”, he discusses a few great points, which I’ll outline below.
One of the first key points he makes is that it’s easy for people to fall in love, but very quickly, they lose the intention of working together in the same pure way which drove the couple together in the first place.
To help us, he identifies 3 intentions we can make on a regular basis:
We are social creatures! Life is so full of distractions. We have conditioned ourselves to habitually disregard those around us. We are engaged with our phones, iPads, and everything else around us that so few of us have real connections.
One of the most heartfelt ways of giving attention is to be fully present. Give that person you’re with your full attention. Lock your phone away and Make eye contact.
As he says, take a few hours and learn to be human again!
“You have to have the intention to give extraordinary amounts of attention.”
2) Give more appreciation
Learn to make your partner feel appreciated. Giving compliments and practicing gratitude are great habits for relationships. Appreciating the things they do, as well as the things they don’t do. Unconditionally appreciating the person you’re with rather than showing appreciation with gifts.
“The magical part of a relationship is having someone you can pitch and catch with.”
Show more attention and appreciation to that person you’re with. It’s a give-and-take. As you both start to turn towards each other (phrased from Dr. Gottman), you’ll work together as a team, and feel more magic in your relationship.
As a bonus, here is an awesome video about how to improve your relationship: