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How to Build Better Habits With 3 Practical Steps

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While it’s in our nature to want to improve and achieve our goals, what often stops us from getting there, is a lack of understanding of how we operate as individuals. Luckily for us, thanks to the latest discoveries in neuroscience (the science that studies the brain), we can learn how to train our brain more effectively to live healthier, more productive, and inspired lives.

Part of that training resides in the creation of better habits which is nothing more than a systematic repetition of desired actions. The problem with picking up good habits is that we often experience a gap between our desired intentions and actual outcomes and this is mainly due to a lack of alignment in our brain. Our brain is divided into 3 main parts (the rational, emotional, and instinctive) and while they all serve their function, they often disagree with each other creating an internal tension that leads us to poor results. 

The good news is we can learn how habits are formed and with the right mindset, knowledge, and patience, we can let go of bad ones and build good ones.

According to behavioral expert BJ Fogg, habits are formed around three elements: cue, routine, and reward, the so-called “habit loop”.

Cue – This refers to the initial trigger motivating our desired behavior, and it can either come from our external environment (ex. phone notification) or from our internal environment (ex the desire to plan our day). 

Routine – This refers to the action required to perform our desired habit, whether that is deciding to read more or stop mindlessly scrolling on social media.

Reward – This is the most enjoyable part and is what motivates our brain to perform the behavior. As human beings, we are hardwired to seek pleasure and avoid pain and so when we align our desired behavior with a great reward, we are much more likely to pursue it. Rewards can be tangible (receiving money), or intangible (getting recognized by a friend) but what matters most, is to choose ones aligned to our wellbeing and personal growth. Rewarding yourself with 2 slices of cheesecake every time you succeed in going to the gym, is a clear step in the wrong direction.

The key to building healthier habits is in playing around with the routine and reward to find the combination that works best. There are several studies trying to demonstrate how long it takes to build a habit, and while there is no exact number, the one thing needed is a continuous repetition of effort.

“Habits are not a finish line to be crossed, they are a lifestyle to be lived.” – James Clear

Putting the habit loop into practice

Let’s say you want to read Addicted 2 Success 5 times a week. Now that you are clear on the outcome, it’s time to understand the nature of the reward. To make the most of this step, you must dig deep to explore the WHY of you wanting to read Addicted 2 Success. Other than a desire to be well informed, you could be driven by a fear of missing out or by the aspiration of starting a blog. While there is no right answer, the more reasons you can come up with, the more your brain will put a value on this activity and identify it as a motivating experience. 

Willpower is undoubtedly important, but so is setting up your environment for success. If you are planning on reading from a browser, closing all other tabs or putting your phone away are simple techniques to resist any form of temptation and distraction.

Next, identify the cue. What could be the trigger driving you to consider this new habit? Maybe it’s whenever you are having a low moment, but if you want to “win easily”, try directly time-boxing it in your calendar. As you can imagine, the second approach which is more proactive, will significantly increase your chances of completion.

And if you want to take it to the next level, focus on practicing the so-called “if-then technique”.

In this case, you could say “if it’s 7 pm on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday then I will read Addicted 2 Success”. By taking this approach, not only are you avoiding tapping into your precious willpower but also creating a stronger connection between the situation(if) and the action I want to take (then). 

Want to know how this simple trick can increase your chances of success? In one study, 91% of people who used an if-then plan stuck to an exercise program versus 39% of non-planners!

“Practice isn’t the thing that you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” – Malcolm Gladwell

Now it’s time to play around with the reward. My suggestion is to focus on intrinsic rewards such as tracking the number of articles or time you spent reading as when we rely solely on extrinsic rewards that bring us immediate gratification (ex. validation, unhealthy food),we might succeed in forming the habit but not in growing as people.

As with all great things in life, growth only happens at the end of our comfort zone, but with the right knowledge, you can accelerate that process.

Passionate entrepreneur on a quest to help people live more empowering and expansive lives, Filippo di Lenardo is the Co-Founder of 3SSENTIA, the SMART personal management system that helps professionals fulfil their personal and professional goals more effectively. Filippo is also a coach and co-founder of Leap2yourbest, a personalised 2-day program designed to help entrepreneurs accelerate their personal and business growth.

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A Simple but Effective Technique to Be More Confident

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Many people want to learn how to be confident in different situations, but it’s not always easy. Maybe we’re too addicted to comparing ourselves or maybe social media has brainwashed us to believe that we should all be rich, famous, and in incredible shape. (more…)

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Knowing Your Message vs Delivering Your Message

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Have you ever sent a text message only to have it misinterpreted by the person reading it? Happens all the time. Have you ever given a presentation that you were totally prepared for only to have it fall flat? Happens all the time. Have you ever had someone ask you something like, “Why are you mad?” when you were not at all mad? Happens all the time. (more…)

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The 3 Most Important Things I Learned About Personal Growth

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When you look back on your life, what do you want to think about? Do you plan to reminisce on all of the good things that have happened and how they shaped who you are today? Or would you rather remember all of the bad decisions, challenging experiences, and mistakes made that hurt or wasted a portion of your life?

In my opinion, I think it is important to reflect on both. While it’s important to remember the hardships we’ve been through in our lives – without them we wouldn’t be where we are now. There are 3 very specific areas that I feel have helped me grow in a personal sense more than anything else in my life so far. 

These aren’t simple lessons in a book or a lecture that you can just absorb and apply to your life. These are things that I’ve learned through experience and reflection, and I’m still learning and growing today.

1. We determine how much we’re worth by what we think about ourselves, others, and life in general.

This might seem like a pretty obvious lesson in life but it’s actually one of the most important because we can determine our own worth by how we think about ourselves and the world around us. If you’re looking for success in any kind of business or social setting (dating), then I’ll tell you right now that it doesn’t matter if you have 10 billion dollars or not – people are still going to judge you based on your thoughts and beliefs alone.

What determines our value isn’t necessarily what we do with our lives (which is often based on luck) but whether or not we believe that ‘our work’ is worthy or not in some sort of grand scheme or universe. We may not always be able to control what happens in our lives, but we can always control how we value ourselves and others.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

2. You don’t have to change your habits or personality just because someone else doesn’t like it – their opinions are THEIRS alone.

This is another one of those lessons that people tend to pick up on a little bit late in life, but if anything that makes its importance even worse! Basically, there’s going to come a time when you’re going to meet someone who has certain expectations of you as a person…but these expectations might not be realistic due to their motivations and personal beliefs. For example, sometimes parents might expect you to be a lawyer or doctor because that’s what they believe is best for their child.

However, this isn’t the case for everyone and so maybe your passion lies in music or writing novels. In this example, if you were also pressured into becoming a doctor – then there would obviously be some kind of conflict going on within yourself as a person. You should never have to give up something that you want to do just because someone else doesn’t like it! The reason why we’re put onto this Earth is to make our own choices and go after our OWN dreams instead of letting others determine what we can and cannot do with our lives .

3. You can’t change your life until you accept that you need to make a change.

When I was younger, I thought that this lesson would be pretty obvious – but as I got older, it really made me appreciate the fact that there are always different ways of perceiving our lives. For example, if someone wants to become rich and famous one day – their mind might simply overshadow any other possibility in their head because they feel like this is what they NEED to do right now.

However, this isn’t always true within our own lives because we think about things too literally instead of having an open mind. If you want to achieve success in any kind of business or social setting (dating) then you should be willing to try out different things instead of staying in your comfort zone. If you want something, then it’s up to YOU to actually go after it – nobody else is going to give it to you!

The three lessons above are some of the main things I want to pass on to everyone because they’ve come at an important time in my life where I need to start thinking about others instead of only myself. It’s great if we can learn to love ourselves first before anything else, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect everyone around you even though they might be your friends and family members!

If you enjoyed this article on the 3 most important things I learned about personal growth, then please share it with your friends and family! Also, check out my other articles on success & motivation as well as life lessons that could help people who are struggling with their life right now on lifengoal.com. Thanks for reading!

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​​4 Boss Level Growth Strategies That Create an Optimized Life

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Building a business is about more than sales, marketing, and flexing on social media. While those things tend to draw attention, they attract the wrong type of clients and are not how you build a sustainable and freedom-focused business. (more…)

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