The final segment in a series on Reason.
Happy New Year!
The new year is always bursting with aspirations, but somehow, as
January settles in, it can become challenging to stick to your
resolutions. Luckily, we each have reason as a loyal ally to help us
achieve our goals.
Yet our reasonable aspect is easily depleted, so we must be mindful of how we use it. To maximize an investment of mental energy (whether willpower, decision making, or logical thought), consider using reason's gadgets to establish constructive habits and routines.
Habits are a sequence of behaviors or mental activities that happen automatically after lots of repetition, without your awareness. You can slip into certain paths – your habits – unintentionally, or you can choose which habits you would like to develop. Adopting constructive routines will eventually develop good habits.
When crafting your future plans, it’s important to consider how much willpower you will need to execute your new routines – so you can allocate your energy appropriately, and get the support you need. For example, “forcing” yourself to do fifty push-ups requires lots of self-discipline for a short time, while resisting foods with sugar drains mental energy periodically throughout the day.
It's hard to renounce familiar pleasures, or to sign up for uncomfortable activities. But, like investing in a bullish market, developing good habits will yield a generous return. Instead of always having to “force yourself” to do something, healthy habits and routines make life easier.
Complex activities (like keeping organized or reflecting on your feelings) will eventually become second nature, just like driving and putting on your sneakers. And once a routine becomes a habit, it no longer requires mental energy -- leaving reason free to tackle your next goal.How to get the most bang for your buck from reason’s limited energy supply?
Reason can help you make good plans that will place you on the path of your choice.
Using logic and foresight:
- Study the impulses you are trying to resist or encourage (to learn how to manage them)
- Avoid temptation (to save energy)
- Set realistic goals (to avoid frustration and despair),
- Ensure that your new habits have built-in rewards (to increase their chances for success)
- Rely on social support (to reduce the efforts needed to execute your plans.)
Revise important plans for your future when you are:
- Not overwhelmed by more pressing matters (that deplete mental energy)
- Well rested (because sleep replenishes mental energy)
- Well fed (because glucose replenishes mental energy)
To turbocharge your efforts to achieve your goals, ask yourself:
- When and how have you best used logical planning in the past?
- Which of your past plans have succeeded – and why?
- Were you lucky?
- Did others help you?
- Did you have realistic expectations?
- Did you learn quickly?
Which of your past plans have failed – and why? Did you suffer from:
- Physical, mental or emotional overload?
- Lack of real commitment?
- Unrealistic planning?
- Too little help?
- Poor research or unreliable information?
Don’t let inner conflicts fly under your radar while planning your road to success - pay attention to and address your resistances to your new goals. Let reason arbitrate among your conflicts (for example, you can modify your goals to make them more realistic or flexible) before your protests become overwhelming and self-defeating.
Using reason shrewdly (planning for the future, staying aware of your conflicting desires and establishing good habits) can increase the rewards you get from your sacrifices – giving you superpowers you never imagined possible.