This week’s message is designed to motivate and empower you to achieve your goals this year. A new year (also a new decade) started just last month, our students are all trying to get through the second semester, and we’ve just finished what is apparently considered to be the most depressing month of the year. Seriously! Click this link! Whether you’re trying to build new habits for life, learn new study skills for school, or are just interested in general self-improvement, we’d like to give your motivation a boost and equip you with a few techniques to choose realistic goals and feel the sense of accomplishment that comes with actually achieving them.
STEP 1: WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? The first step, as with anything important in life, is planning, and the first step of planning a new habit is to decide what it is you want to do and, more importantly,why. Once you understand the “why”, you’ll realize there are probably several different habits you could develop that would all get you to the same goal.
For example, you might initially say that your goal is to start running regularly, but when you ask yourself why, you find that what you really want is to lose weight, or improve your breathing, or just get outside more often. Once you figure out why you want to develop this new habit, you have choices! Instead of your goal being just another daily task you’ve given yourself that requires motivation and willpower, you've found different ways to achieve your real goal and choose the most enjoyable one. These two things - choice and an enjoyable task - have already greatly increased your likelihood of success in building your new habit, and you haven’t even left the planning stage!
STEP 2: PLAN Don’t focus on the new habit you’re trying to form; focus on what you’re going to give up to make room for that new habit. Conversely, if you’re trying to quit something, like watching too much Netflix, you’ll need to focus on how you’re going to fill that time that was previously devoted to watching TV. This is an excellent opportunity to ditch a bad habit and start a new one, all in one move!
This may seem counterintuitive, but too often, our goals revolve around doing more – learn a new skill, spend more time with family, read more books, exercise more, etc. – and we think, somehow, that we can just add the new activity to our lives and still keep up with everything else we’ve been doing. When we fail to add the new activity, we say we don’t have time when, in fact, the truth is that we didn’t make time. So, how will you find time? Perhaps you could watch one less episode of your favorite show and devote that 45 minutes to learning or developing a new skill.
STEP 3: NO EXCUSES. TIME TO ACT! Keep your “why” from step one in mind, and enact your plan. Stick to a schedule so you don’t have to think about it, and in time it will become automatic. Just think, soon, instead of dragging yourself to the gym, it will feel weird not to go to the gym! This is your real goal; it means your new habit is becoming part of who you are, rather than an act you’re trying to get yourself to perform.
STEP 4: PUSH YOURSELF, BUT NOT TOO MUCH It’s important to keep the long game in mind, and that means realizing that getting started at a level you can sustain is far more important than trying to accomplish everything at once, failing, and ending up discouraged. Instead, set your starting goal, whether running, reading, or learning and instrument, to spending 5 minutes each day on your new habit. If this seems ridiculous, remember that one of your biggest obstacles is overcoming your current routine, and it’s very hard to suddenly create 30 minute or 1 hour space in your schedule for a new activity, but creating a 5 minute break for a new habit is easy, and it’s only the beginning. Watch this video if you’re not convinced, or want to know more.
STEP 5: REWARD YOURSELF! Don’t get too excited yet! You have to earn your rewards, and there are two very important rules to follow. First, you should only reward yourself for making measurable progress toward your goal. Secondly, your rewards should contribute to the new habit or skill you’re trying to develop. For example, if you want to start running, your first reward should not come until you’ve increased the distance you can run, increased your speed, or maintained your exercise schedule for a certain amount of time, and when you do reward yourself, it should be with something that makes you want to keep running.
If you’re running to improve your health, and your reward is a fast-food cheat day, your reward is clearly hurting your goals. If, on the other hand, you reward yourself with some new running shoes, wireless headphones, or a fitness tracker, not only have you made running more enjoyable, you’ve also – wisely – waited until you’ve actually started to establish your new habit before spending money on it.
So, to sum up: 1. Find your real goal. 2. Be deliberate about making space in your schedule to accomplish it. 3. Start small with a focus on getting started and sustaining progress rather than making instant changes. 4. Find rewards that feed your new habit.
Good luck! I’m off to the gym.
First, the last puzzle and answer: An Arab sheikh tells his two sons to race their camels to a distant city to see who will inherit his fortune. However, the son whose camel is slower will win the inheritance. After wandering aimlessly for days, with each son hoping to outlast the other and neither son sure how they're going to end this "race", the brothers ask a wise man for guidance. Upon receiving his advice, they jump on the camels and race to the city as fast as they can! What did the wise man say to them?
He told them to switch camels!
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Now, this issue’s new puzzle: This puzzle is very short, but may keep you thinking for a while! One day Kerry celebrated her birthday. Two days later, her older twin brother, Terry, celebrated his birthday. How!?
iLearn Academy Programs & Promotions
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Linked Articles of Interest
22 Microhabits Is this link a little bit clickbaity? Yes, but the concept is still strong. Make small changes now, and reap big rewards later. Introducing positive change to your life doesn't have to be dramatic or painful. Try starting with a few of thesesimple suggestions.
Better Than Yesterday Whether you're interested in improving your health, sleep, productivity, or just want to be more confident in your social interactions, this YouTube channel has a little bit of everything. Explained in short animated videos that range from around 4 minutes to nearly 14, each topic contains actionable information you can put to work right now! Below, I've linked a great video on getting started with new habits.
The Loyola Academy Ramblers have been doing very well in basketball lately, ranking 24th in the state!
A huge congratulations to Glenbrook South on a very successful winter sports season! The Glenbrook South Titans performed extremely well this year in swimming and gymnastics, and we've had the pleasure of teaching two students from the gymnastics team.
It's always exciting for us to hear about the successes of our students! Let us know about your successes; we'd love to feature your accomplishment in our next newsletter!
Please write to me at SeanStein@ilearnacademy.net or call the tutoring center at (847) 834-0791 if you have any questions about the resources in this article, or any of the other information I found but was unable to include. I’ll be happy to hear from you.