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How do we become habituated to and focus on what really matters?

 

Focus on one step at a time

 Why we are habituated to certain habits?
How do we become habituated to and focus on what really matters?

These questions allow us to dig deeper into habit formation. 

Habits are correlated to a certain goal in some way or the other.

All habits are there because of a specific goal, doesn't necessarily need to be good or bad, But they must have a goal to perform actions in the first case.

You may not be conscious of all your habits and associated goals, it happens under the threshold of your conscious awareness ie subconsciously.

And they might have emerged from similar situations where you had gone through in the past and however you may try to avoid them, you would not completely erase them but can only be replaced.

The goals you had targeted in the past to do these habits will certainly lose their power as time passes and you'll still have these habits.

To be more precise, Habits must have come from performing the same conditional tasks repeatedly and the imprints of those habits would remain in your brain and you perform them irrespective of the goal automatically.

For instance: let's assume that when a person has started smoking for distraction or refreshment as a goal in the initial stage of smoking, as he has been repeatedly doing this for years now, then at this stage of habit he doesn't need any distraction or a refreshment in mind, still continues with the habit automatically.

The idea is to understand that any habit starts with a goal and as you do it for a certain period it moves on to auto-pilot mode without any need for your conscious mind to engage in the process. 

Any decisions and actions related to physical or psychological, it needs some mental energy to perform. 

when the habits become automatic, the requirement and utilization of mental energy will slow down and finally at one point your brain stops making decisions at the automatic level of habituation.

It means the routines would be running on without much conscious thinking on your part.

How incredible this opportunity is that you can likely turn your old habits into your desired habits and you could even make new habits as you wish to do with your respective desires and wishes.

It is quite difficult to know all those goals which you have aimed to make your habits automatic.

 But once you notice certain patterns in your habits, you can break down into chunks and find out the cues and triggers which compelled you to take action in the first place, and get even deeper and know for what benefits(reward) you had started to do any habit in the second place.

Everything boils down to habits are formed because of the pain-pleasure principle, that our brain constantly looks for the routines that give pleasure and avoid the routines that are painful.. 

You and I will only notice the surface-level goal in every habit, but in-depth there is a lot more to it.
The main goal of every habit is to ultimately settle down the inner urges.

How to change a bad habit and make a good habit?

Here for instance: if you have a habit of smoking, let's assume the cue is that you are stressed and you do the routine of smoking for the reward of distraction.

Now you let the cue and reward be as usual, and you change the routine with chewing gum or a cup of coffee or anything which gives you refreshment and distraction.


You can take any habit in the same way and change it.

1. Old habit: cue(feeling stressed)-routine(smoking)-reward(refreshment)

2. New habit: cue(feeling stressed)-routine(chewing gum or cup of coffee)- reward(refreshment)

For some habits, you need to change the cue and the reward for effective habit building.

For instance, you want to make a reading habit or you already have a habit but you are not reading consistently.

Now here, in this case, you got to choose a specific cue like decide at what time you would like to read a book, like in the morning hours while you are having your coffee would be the best cue and it can trigger you to read your favourite book consistently.

Because here having coffee will act as a trigger and push you to make a habit automatic.
And you can choose to read after your evening shower will be the preferable choice, choose the cue according to your situations and conditions.

But, after finishing your routine, don't forget to reward yourself like having a cookie or chocolate right after reading your book in the initial stages till it becomes automatic.

Reading habit loop: cue(while having coffee)-routine(reading a book)-reward(have a cookie or chocolate)

Quite simply, if you want to break the bad habits, you change the routine only and to form a good habit into automatic you should change the cues and rewards or the opposite way suites to your behaviour.

You can apply this habit loop method in any area of your life.

Focus on what matters

How can habits lead to focus and concentrate on what is essential?

Habits are already there in our lives what we are doing is searching for the habits which are more excited to do or which gives you more gratification instantly.

Habits get stronger with two things:
  •  The excitement
  • And the willpower.
Excitement comes out of imagining the final outcome of any action you are about to take. Quite often than not your brain indulges in anticipating the final results of a particular goal.

On the other hand, will power is wanting to do, it is like a smartphone battery when it is down you need to recharge and use it again. 

But the minimum amount of will power is assigned by your brain is limited and in our day to day works it will be utilised to the maximum extent and left with none at the end of the day.

Your will power can be saved by choosing only important things to do and discarding the unnecessary, when you are fully charged, your will power is usually high in the early mornings.

Pretty much like you delete the extra power absorbing apps and unnecessary data from your smartphone to save charge and do some important work.

You take actions and make certain decisions are not apparently because you need to take those actions, but because your brain gets that dopamine shot once you imagine the final outcome.

It doesn't matter whether or not the results have a positive or negative outcome as long as your brain is associated with the pleasure of dopamine shot.

Now, we have many things to accomplish in our daily work life, how do we know what to focus on, it is simple, give attention to what is important and needed to be done in the present task.

There is nothing special about our daily routines and habits you have been doing for a long time.

You have no other purpose except doing and performing routines for basic survival.

Is that only it or something else is encapsulated in our lives?.


Perhaps there is something powerful and compelling that is running the show. I accept the fact that we need habits to perform our daily activities easily without remembering every time we do the activity or any routine.

Habituation makes it possible for you to discard the unnecessary actions and processes, and focus on what is essential and absolutely needed in our day-to-day life.

You might be curious to know that what else is there to our life apart from habits?.

I have certainly no idea what is the exact thing that involves in our life other than habits.

But this question makes us believe that there is something which is underlying our habits.

As far as my experience and knowledge are concerned, the underlying force and the energy which moves us to take certain actions are desires and wishes.

I would say that our own desires and wishes that we have been creating since our childhood and maybe even before that, are the compelling force behind our habits.

The desire is what you want and what you have been thriving for long. It might be obscure and you might not notice it, but a subtle remembrance of that desire is what forces us to take actions and influences all our decisions.

Your brain thinks that if you don't perform these actions which are driven by desires then you would not survive. This is the reason why we set goals and constantly put an effort to reach them.

But how far setting goals will put us in the basket of success.

Focus on the process and system instead of aiming at your goal without any action 


Setting goals and overestimating the results will not aid you to reach the goal or the ultimate success. But the only thing that will aid you is a habit of working with process and system to reach your goal where you put your tons of work is involved.

The process means actually accumulating the set of skills required to accomplish the current set of tasks and practising deliberately to reach the goal.

 And that one step to start that process of putting your tons and tons of work and thereafter it doesn't stop, you got to take that ultimate decision of focusing on one thing which comes to you easily and naturally.

Unless you keep on working and practising deliberately towards your goal, you never know what to focus on. And you no need to remind each and every time that you got to reach it. But only concentrating on the required process itself helps you to reach your goal. 

You can figure out what to focus on and what to ignore when you try different things and put so much work

For instance: Let's assume a cricket team got to chase a big score, what if they always keep staring at the scoreboard instead of playing the actual cricket, it will ruin the match and ultimately they'll lose it. 

Rather than if they could focus on staying on the filed playing slowly ball by ball and hitting boundaries at the loose balls till the last over, then there is a chance and a huge probability of winning the game.

The same thing applies to every area of our lives.

If I want to write a best selling book, then I need to write hundreds and thousands of words each day and try different styles importantly continue for years before I even think about writing a book. 

Moreover, I need to focus on the process of writing, instead of just planning to write a book won't help.

A great masterpiece will born out of deep silence from the bottom of the heart and from an unimaginable practise that you put in. Where you couldn't articulate anything particular but only practice and practice.

What makes the difference between success and failure is that sticking to the actual process makes you success whereas failure born out of constantly planning to reach the goals and underestimating the process which leads there.

On the other hand, quite often than not most of us tend to believe that a huge success requires an earth-shattering decision and step that you should take, all at once you set the goal.

Instead, Imagine you are a toddler learning to walk at the initial stage and take tiny steps and small improvements are indispensable for you to be successful.

On contrary, in setting goals there is a problem where once you reach that particular goal then after that you don't have any goal to chase and you slowly slip into the old behaviours and habits.

Usually, when you see success as an event and ignore the process to get there, will only give you a temporary feeling that you have achieved something and push you towards not taking action on the process or the system.

And ultimately you'll be at the level of setting goals and planning and will never realise how crucial is to give your attention and energy to the process to reach your goal.

Once you understand this simple strategy to focus on what is important for the current task will make it possible to concentrate on what matters.

Final thoughts:


On the whole, you will gain the ability to choose what is necessary and ignore unnecessary when you already put in your work relentlessly with single-minded decisions and being able to give attention to what really matters to you.

You can make good habits and break the bad ones with an accurate way of choosing to concentrate on tasks that are appropriate and neglect the things which are irrelevant to you. 

Thus in such a way you can constantly learn and accumulate skills and improve bit by bit day by day and not trying to reach there but being engaged in the process of work.


What methods do you use to become habituated to and focus on what really matters?


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Milan Tomic

Hi. I’m Designer of Blog Magic. I’m CEO/Founder of ThemeXpose. I’m Creative Art Director, Web Designer, UI/UX Designer, Interaction Designer, Industrial Designer, Web Developer, Business Enthusiast, StartUp Enthusiast, Speaker, Writer and Photographer. Inspired to make things looks better.

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