We have all set them before and continue to do so, despite the statistics that show that come February most New Year’s resolutions have fallen by the way of the Christmas fruit cake. But, there’s something about that date . . . the 1st of January . . . the first day of the rest of your life . . . ahhh the possibilities.
Lucky for us mere mortals, I have a found a couple of – I guess I’ll call them “life hackers” – people who have, or are in the midst of figuring out shortcuts (hacks – the minimum that needs to be done while still getting maximum effects) to bypass our own self-defeating tendencies (and we all have them, so sit down and take notes). In my opinion, if we can at least understand the why of our behaviors, we have a better chance of changing them to serve us, rather than the other way around. The following websites have gathered the top experts in their fields and garnered their knowledge and techniques for our benefit.
Creating New Habits/Behavior Modification
The first one is Eric Barker, author of one of my favorite blogs, Barking Up the Wrong Tree (http://www.bakadesuyo.com/). Quoting directly from his website: “This site brings you science based answers and expert insights on how to be awesome at life.” Sign me up!
Following is a quote from his latest blog post, The Five Habits That Will Make You Happy, According to Science, which was featured in the New York Times:
“When it comes to the choices you make and the things you do, Alex says there are 3 regions you need to be concerned with. You don’t need to memorize the names. It’s just important to realize they all get a vote:
The Prefrontal Cortex: The only one thinking about long-term goals like, “We need to prepare that report for work.”
The Dorsal Striatum: This guy is always voting to do what you’ve done in the past, like, “When it’s time to work we usually start by checking email 9 times, then Facebook, and then watching Netflix.”
The Nucleus Accumbens: The party animal of the three. “Email, Facebook and Netflix are fun. Work sucks.”
So guess what you end up doing? Yeah… Ouch.
But when you exert effort, the prefrontal cortex can override the other two and do the right thing. Repeat this enough times and you rewire the dorsal striatum: “We usually start reports quickly. I vote we do that again.”
That’s how the brain builds good habits. So why don’t we do that more often? Often the culprit is stress.”
Following is a link to another one of his articles, which directly addresses New Year’s resolutions:
Whatever your goals may be, you will find science-backed techniques at this website. The articles cover subjects from what the color of your clothing says about you, how to be creative, how to focus, ways to conquer chronic procrastination, shortcuts to bonding with a romantic partner, etc. The blog has also been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Wired Magazine and Time Magazine.
Fat/Weight Loss and Fitness
The second resource I highly recommend is Tim Ferris, author of “The Four Hour Work Week (and a blog post by the same name), The Four Hour Body, The Four Hour Chef and a tv show/series, The Tim Ferris Experiment (available on iTunes), which he describes as a mix between Mythbusters and Jackass, and he describes himself as “Bestselling Author; Human Guinea Pig.”
Since losing weight and fitness is one of the top goals on most people’s lists (all year round, but especially in January), I highly recommend you start with the following two articles on his website:
How to Lose 20lbs of Fat in 30 Days . . . Without Doing Any Exercise – Fat Loss via Better Science and Simplicity
From Geek to Freak: How I Gained 34lbs of Muscle in 4 Weeks
Ferris also gives a list of books and other resources in the articles and within the comments section, and he notes some basic ingredients and techniques that he’s found help in accelerating/facilitating fat loss, such as cinnamon, cumin, and ice baths (yes, ice baths! Brrrrr).
But don’t stop at just the articles I linked above. Ferris’ site covers a very wide gamut. From investing to fitness, health, neuroscience, entrepreneurship, psychedelics, meditation, travel, technology, and relationships – just to name a few. His interview guests are just as varied. From neuroscientist, Dr. Rhonda Patrick (who works with one of the most quoted scientist in the world) to seven times New York Times best selling author, Neil Strauss (author of The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pick Up Artists and The Truth (the story of one man’s search for true intimacy as he questions and struggles with the concept of monogamy)) to Tara Brach, PhD., founder of the Insight Meditation Community in DC and author of Radical Acceptance. (if you like guided meditations, she offers an amazing collection of free guided meditations on her website https://www.tarabrach.com/
These are just two of my favorite sites that have helped me develop and stick to new habits and have referred me to resources to develop other skills, such as speed reading, learning a new language. A couple of others to look up are Brian Johnson (The Optimizer, En*theos, Optimize) and Tom Bilyeu of Inside Quest.
Hope this helps everyone as they embark on their New Year’s journey. And remember, “When the world says , ‘Give up,’ Hope whispers, ‘Try one more time.'” ~ Unknown