Five Psychological Steps to Spring Cleaning your Life in 2021!
Author – Carla Bormolini
Date: June 2021
Psychology is not only for psychologists providing therapy to clients, but everyone can also learn some psychological strategies to use for everyday life. Here are five steps to help you find your mojo, and spruce up your life:
Step 1 – Change some of your unwanted habits and get motivated
Sometimes life can become routine and automatic. By making some positive changes and conquering some unwanted habits, we can begin to be empowered by taking the initiative. Take for example when we want to make changes in our life – our health, our fitness or even work habits. Setting and achieving goals and making changes can create positive momentum.
Wanting to make a change is easy but waiting to feel motivated to make a change can be slow-moving, especially when life seems to get in the way. Some suggestions for changing habits and developing motivation include:
- Make a start, albeit small and achievable – set a schedule and stick to it. Get moving and the brain engages.
- James Clear in his book, Atomic Habits (https://jamesclear.com/atomic-habits) refers to The Goldilocks Rule which states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. Not too hard. Not too easy. Just right. So make them slightly challenging but achievable and realistic.
- Set a routine and make it a ritual. Repeating the new behaviour in the same way (a warm-up stretch or morning exercise), habitually. Making it easy to achieve and doing small chunks at a time reduces the chance of skipping it. https://www.revivehealthandhappiness.com.au/exercising-making-it-a-routine/
- Find a way to start the day stress-free. Incorporate a five-minute meditation and breathing ritual to set your focus and prepare the brain for the day ahead.
- Measure your progress and receive immediate feedback whenever possible
Step 2 – Be more productive
Many people can relate since the Covid-19 with unexpected changes, with working from home, unsettled office routines and lockdowns impacting productivity. Psychological research even before the 2020 experience has found that trying to perform more than one task at a time seriously impairs speed, accuracy, and productivity. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/mental-health-services/mental-health-services-in-australia/report-contents/mental-health-impact-of-covid-19
Three basic lessons from these studies offer some everyday tips to increase your productivity more effectively:
- Avoid multitasking when working on complex or dangerous tasks.
- Focus on the task at hand.
- Eliminate distractions.
Psychology crosses all areas of life and can provide interesting insights into understanding everyday behaviours, our relationships and why we behave in certain ways. Understanding the psychology behind our behaviours doesn’t excuse our poor behaviours but rather can offer knowledge and strategies to improve and make valuable personal, health and economic changes.
Step 3 – Communicate well to make good connections with others
Psychological studies have taught us a lot about interpersonal communication and in particular non-verbal communication. Non-verbal signals are just as important in our communication as the actual words that we use. If you do not already, learn to use good eye contact, notice nonverbal signals in others, use your tone of voice and inflexions to reinforce your message and what you would like to communicate.
Be as warm and friendly, but clear in your interactions with people to convey a sense of confidence and approachability. Be curious about what you observe in others, and show empathy where appropriate.
Social connection is one of the keys to happiness.
Step 4 – Develop your leadership abilities
Whatever your role at work is, we all need to manage people and emotions. Leadership styles have been studied and include:
- Authoritarian (an autocratic style that focusses on command by the leader and control of the followers)
- Participative (democratic style where group members are involved in decision making)
- Delegative (laissez-faire style where the leader offers no guidance)
- Another leadership style that has proven to be the most effective is called Transformational leadership. These leaders tend to be emotionally intelligent, energetic, and passionate. They are not only committed to helping the organisation achieve its goals, but also to helping group members fulfil their potential.
Employees generally see bosses who are non-authoritarian as being better leaders.
Makes for interesting reflection when you head to work. Have a think about your own workplace, your own style and wherever possible develop those Transformational leadership qualities!
Step 5 – Take responsibility for managing your money matters
Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman and his colleague Amos Tversky conducted a series of studies that looked at how people manage uncertainty and risk when making decisions. Behavioural economics uses the psychology of human behaviour into economic analysis and offers for example some findings that may be useful insights into managing your money more wisely.
One study found that workers could more than triple their savings by using some of the following strategies.
- Don’t procrastinate. Start investing in savings now. No matter how much you earn, commit to a specific percentage of your income going into savings (and investments) automatically – when you can’t access it automatically you can’t spend it.
- Commit in advance to devote portions of your future earnings to your investments or retirement.
- Try to be aware of personal biases that may lead to poor money choices – like having an addiction to shoes! Make sure you have a strategy for how you will address your spending habits.
There are many great books like the Barefoot Investor (https://www.barefootinvestor.com/) and The Money School (https://www.moneyschool.org.au/), written by everyday Australians which teach you how to rest easy about your financial decisions, and plan for the future relatively painlessly.
Financial independence tends to provide people with a degree of calmness of freedom, as well as a way of riding unexpected uncertainties as we all experienced in 2020.