Giorgio Delgado

Rewiring Yourself ... Again

March 20, 2014

I've been slacking with productivity as of late and even broke my habit of waking up early this past week. The problem I find with breaking newly-formed habits is that trying to get back into routine can be a daunting and difficult endeavor. Picture an ex-smoker who's managed to quit his nagging addiction. He still is, and always will be, a smoker. The difference being that he no longer chooses to smoke. But don't for a second start thinking that having a drag will have a negligible impact on the man's self-control and avoidance for cigarettes. It takes one measly slip-up to return to square one, which is what I have done.

Luckily for me, I'm fully aware of this and am conscious enough to admit my fault. If you are like me and have fallen out of synch with your better self and want to return into habit (or you're admittedly trying to reach a new plateau for the first time), the first step is to admit the flaw.

What then occurs is cognitive dissonance, which is defined as "the excessive mental stress and discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time." What one can do then, is either keep living a life being fully aware that you are doing something wrong, or you can begin to act on this emotion to change for the better.

Educating oneself is the second step to achieving any strenuous task. The greater one's awareness of all the facts, the more fundamental reasons we have to pursue the goal even in times of doubtful reasoning.

The third and final step is to condition yourself until the habit is fully cemented into your being. You must figure out a way to get your future self to agree with today's demands.

As a personal example, the way the I got myself to wake up immediately around 5 in the morning was to practice in a conscious state of mind the process that I would go through in that instance. I would get home from work, have a 20 minute nap and replicate what I would do in the morning scenario. That way, when I'm actually faced with the decision of getting out of bed or pressing on the snooze button, I make the correct decision. This was the very process that I enacted in order to first reach this plateau of productivity, and it's what will get me back on this level.

This New Yorker Article explains how we are not our conscious selfs in the morning. Our prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain in charge of self-control and decision making) is not awake in that moment. Thus, trying to constantly set a louder or physically farther alarm will prove futile in your efforts to wake up early.

Here's a blog post that goes into greater detail over the challenges with waking up early.

In summary:

Don't think that you're clear of any bad habits once you start seeing results. One slip up and you'll end up having to start again just like I am right now.