Learning new things is good for you
In the busy, hectic, crazy world that we live in, it seems learning new things is something we simply do not have time for. People constantly say things like ‘if only I had the time I would learn a new language or start a new business’.
Our minds run on autopilot as we go through our daily routine. In order to learn something new, we have to create space.
Finding this space sometimes means letting go and de-cluttering our life. There has to be a good balance between doing things and relaxing.
This time of year is a good time for reflecting, evaluating and planning. I know learning something new and exciting can transform your life. Being stuck in the same repetitive mindset leads to boredom. The universe is always changing and so can you.
The power of slowly building new habits
Changing your mindset involves building new habits and replacing them with habits that you currently want to let go of. This is an amazingly powerful way of implementing change.
If you start learning something new in your daily routine, it is possible to substitute the new learning with something you want to let go of. This works well when you commit to practicing the new learning activity for a short period of time every day.
Last year I started learning mindfulness techniques. I bought an audiobook on iTunes: Mindfulness The eight-week meditation program for a frantic world by Mark Williams and Danny Penman.
I practiced these mindfulness techniques for 20 minutes a day by listening to the audiobook on my i pod. I started this new mindfulness practice by replacing it with the 20 minutes I would have played Fifa 16, a football game on my Xbox.
Once the new skill became habitual, it was so much easier to do. Habits are things you do automatically such as: tying your shoe laces, brushing your teeth and driving a car. Habits can be good for you like physical exercise; bad habits like smoking are expensive and bad for your health.
I found by practising mindfulness skills: I am happier, more content and less exhausted. I learned mindfulness at that time because there is scientific research that proves it trains your brain to become more focused and improves your level of awareness.
Mindfulness also helps people with a range of mental and physical illnesses like depression, anxiety and cancer. It is always a good idea to ask the opinion of your doctor before going on an 8 week mindfulness program, if you are using it in conjunction with medical treatment.
Being able to learn new habits is a skill worth mastering. Most people go through life following the same old habits and routines. Awareness allows you to change your habits and change your mindset.
How long does it really take to build a new habit?
I recently read an interesting blog post by James Clear on how long it takes to build a new habit – How long does it actually take to form a new habit? (Backed by Science) on the Huffington Post.
The blog post suggests that a new habit takes on average 66 days to build and not necessarily the 21 days stated by some Personal development gurus.
Practice makes Perfect
Building new habits is easier than you think. Here are some tips to boost your success in creating new habits.
- Practise the new learning activity every day – Practice makes Perfect.
Have belief that the new learning activity will get easier and the habit will form.
Build momentum, by starting with a little bit of daily practice and gradually doing a little bit more every day. It is a bit like strengthening your muscles in the gym: Don’t try to do too much too soon.
Relax and enjoy learning, knowing that building a new habit will take time (around 66 days) but will supercharge your results.
Learn mindfulness skills: I have found mindfulness skills very useful in learning new things. I wish it had been taught to me at school and university. It has helped me to think with more clarity and focus.