As we grow older, the harder it gets to learn new things. What once took us a few months or even days to learn takes us months or even years.
The same is true with habits. The older that we get the harder it is for us to learn a new sequence of habits.
It’s called Neuroplasticity. This is nothing new, however research by Dr. Sarah McKay, director of The Neuroscience Academy, has shown that we can use neuroplasticity to learn and develop habits regardless of age.
It all comes down to pathways. Things become a habit when we “load” a pathway. It’s like our morning routine. We go through a set amount of sequences before doing other things.
With Dr. McKay’s research we can use that information to leverage that and develop new pathways to improve our life. She explains all that in a six step process called REFIRE to rewire.
Because these steps are critical, I feel it’s best to break this article into two parts. That way I can give the attention that these very important steps deserve. So let’s begin.
Step 1 — Use Reason
We are generally better persuaded by the reasons we discover ourselves than by those given to us by others. — Blaise Pascal
The first step towards “Refire to rewire your brain” is to use reason. Dr. McKay explains in this step that we need to have a why. Having a why at the beginning will help us to focus on the journey ahead of us.
This is also the point where we identify our goal or project.
You want your why and your goals to be clear and specific.
When they aren’t, it’s easy to be pursuing the wrong goal for you.
Furthermore, you may accomplish the goal with no sense of pride, progress, or satisfaction.
Step 2 — Engage
Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you. — Thomas Jefferson
Once you have a goal, a reason to pursue something, the second step is to engage yourself with it.
A goal you want to achieve is tied in with a particular habit.
If you want to lose weight, you’ll need to walk and exercise a little bit every day.
To be a better reader is to read every day.
To have a healthier lifestyle, you need to move away from unhealthy foods.
But again, there are resistances to those changes. We find it challenging to do those sorts of things at time.
This is why you engage.
You’ll need to encourage yourself to take action and follow through with that habit. I’ve talked a few times already about ways to overcome some of those roadblocks and commit to something with confidence.
Some other alternatives that Dr. MacKay suggests is finding a guide, mentor, or coach.
Paying someone to help you learn something is strong as well since that person will be on your case.
Moreover, putting money into it means it’s harder for you to give it up. You want to recoup that investment.
Step 3 — Feel
“Is it really possible to tell someone else what one feels?” ― Leo Tolstoy
The third step to Refire to rewire your brain is to feel entirely.
According to Dr. McKay, you want to be feeling your emotions in the work that you are doing.
The other thing you want to do is maintain that balance.
What she means by that is a balance between fear and boredom.
Why fear and boredom?
Well fear can do many things that keep us pinned down. I’ve discussed it before and it’s along the same reasoning Dr. McKay tells others too.
However with boredom we can lose our touch as things get too easy for us. That can lull us into a sense of asking…
“What’s the point of doing this?”
As a result, we stop doing it because we lose the challenge of tackling the goal.
Another way you can look at this is stress.
We know that too much stress doesn’t work very well on us. We’ll crack and cave completely.
However we do need a little bit of stress in order to pump ourselves up and focus on the work ahead of us.
For many people, that sweet spot may be lower stress levels, or they could be higher.
It’s up to you to find yours.
There are still three other steps that we need to cover, but you can see already from these steps how we can push ourselves into developing a new habit.
Thanks to reason, we clearly outline what our goals are and what we want to pursue.
With engaging, we are prompting ourselves to take action. We are either motivating ourselves to get into the work or we are finding someone else to guide us.
Lastly with feeling, we are creating a foundation to stay committed. We are finding that sweet spot where we still work hard to achieve our goals but we’re also not losing interest in it either.
Tomorrow I’ll share the last three steps to refire your brain.
To your growth!
Eric S Burdon
This post is part of an 3 month writing challenge that I’m committing myself to. Every day for 3 months, I’ll be writing articles with specific criteria in mind. You can learn all about my reasoning as well as what that criteria is right here. This is 15 of 91 of this series.
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