Helping to optimize your brain power.

Being Adaptive

Filed under: General — support at 2:10 am on Friday, November 10, 2006

Habits are good, but what would life be like if there were only “habits”? Boring! You don’t want to be a robot spending most of your life following programmed behavior patterns, do you?

Habits are good to free our brain to execute more noble and challenging tasks such as “adaptation”. That’s what make us humans so special, we can be amazingly good at that.

Most people are anxious about adaptation because it’s usually seen as a threat, causing us to feel insecure. However, when seen from a different perspective adaptation can be fun. Video games are all about new challenges and adaptation, and people love them, so, why not try some of that in real life?

You had planned a short weekend trip to the country side. Your goal was to be at “This Cute Little Town” before noon. You’ve made a perfect plan: what roads to take, where to stop for gas…and if you are like Jack Nicholson in “As Good as It Gets”, you had even planned “when to play your favorite songs”. It’s 10:30 AM, you’ve been driving for 3 hours and you’re now half way to your goal, …then you find out that Highway 83 has been blocked because of a landslide! What do you do now? Get angry? Cry? Give up your trip and go back home?

Well, the most important thing is to realize that your original plan WON’T WORK anymore, but there is no reason to despair. Now it’s your chance to exercise some of your “adaptation muscles“: if Highway 83 is blocked, what can I do to reach my goal (“This Cute Little Town”)? Are there other roads? Which one should I take?

Successful people have good habits, they know what their goals are, they are determined to reach their goals, they make good plans, but what really sets them apart is that they are very adaptive! They embrace new challenges and quickly adapt to the new conditions.   


Forming New Habits

Filed under: General — support at 12:59 pm on Saturday, September 30, 2006

 So, what’s the secret formula to form a new habit?

Creating a new habit  can be seen as creating a path of worn grass in a public lawn. If you walk through a path once, it won’t do anything to the grass. If you walk for 5 days, you might get something that resembles a path, but if you stop doing it, the lawn will quickly recover and your path will disappear. What if you walk through the same path, everyday, during a month? You’ll probably create a permanent “worn grass” path!

The key is repetition: you have to repeat the behavior consistently, until the pathways become etched in your brain. Avoid skipping, you should do it on regular basis.

How long should it take to get a habit?

It takes time, and you should be patient.  Again, back to the grass analogy, you can’t create a path by stepping on it just once. A week is not enough either. Maybe two weeks?  I’m pretty sure you can do it in three weeks!

What else can you do to facilitate the process?

Reward yourself. Associating some form of reward  during your habit formation will make the process much easier. You can be creative and setup any kind of reward you can think of.   For example, allow you to browse your favorite websites, play  your favorite video game, eat your favorite snack, only after you’ve performed your daily dosage of your “new habit”.

Keeping track of your progress is also a form of reward, it gives you a sense of control. Write down a list stating your progress “Day 1…Day 2…Day 3…” and post it somewhere  in the house where other members of the family can see it. Making others aware of your accomplishments can be a valuable reward. 

The Power of Habits (the good ones)

Filed under: General — support at 4:00 am on Saturday, September 30, 2006

Think about something you can do very well without thinking. How about breathing? Isn’t it amazing? You can breath slower, faster. You can breath deeper, shallower. But even if you don’t think about it, you can still breath. You can read a letter, eat, talk to your friends, drive a car, watch a movie…and still breath.

Imagine if you had to think about breathing all the time: “OK, now I’m going to breath in..OK I’m done, now I’m going to breath out.”. This would be so time consuming that you wouldn’t have time to do anything else. How would you pay attention to a movie if you had to think about breathing in …and breathing out….breathing in … breathing out…. How could you drive cars, read letters, eat, talk to friends… it would be almost impossible. Imagine how exhausted you would feel by the end of the day.

Breathing is not a “habit”, but it is very close to being one. It shares the same properties. A habit is a form of learned behavior that you do without thinking. Breathing is also an automatic behavior, which you can do without thinking. The only difference is that it is innate (you don’t need to learn how to do it, is already hardwired in your nervous system when you are born).

So, a habit is a behavior you learn, which can work the same way as breathing. How powerful that is! You have the power to do it, so take advantage of it. Use it for you own benefit, this feature is sitting there in your brain, waiting for you to program it. Creating good habits could save you so much time and release your brain to do much more interesting things.

GoalEnforcer Blog officially open

Filed under: General — support at 3:43 am on Saturday, September 23, 2006

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