How to use Habits to improve our lives?

By Tony Olejnicki | Creator of HiACHIEVR Program

How many habits do you have?

It takes more than a minute to identify them all because they are automatic behaviors performed with little or no thoughts, yet they subtly drive our lives.

The smallest action repeated on a daily basis from saving a single dollar to smoking a single cigarette can have a huge accumulative effect to achieve enormous success or lead to a personal disaster. Hence understanding and embracing your habits is a great way to take control of your life and achieve more.


Small habits can have a surprisingly powerful impact on our lives. We don’t notice their impact because the changes are negligible in the short term but the effects can compound to a big success or a disaster in the long term.


A 20-minute jog will not make any difference overnight but repeated every day will make you leaner and fitter in 6-12 months. Conversely eating family size pizza every day will make you obese within 12 months.

 

Habits are micro changes in your life which don’t involve any upheaval, revolution or reinventing yourself but through repeating it time and again they may lead to a big result.

 

In order to be successful, it is important to understand how habits are formed.


The mechanics are simple. The brain figures out how to respond to a new situation through the process of trial and error. Like in the Thorndike’s “Cat in the Box” experiment brain responds to a cue, performs the action and is rewarded by the release of dopamine, comfort or feeling of personal safety. If repeated it becomes the habit.
It is like your morning coffee habit. Your waking up becomes a cue, triggering craving and a prospect of staying alert. Your action is to drag yourself out of bed and make a cup of coffee. Your reward is feeling alert and ready to face the day.

 

The key to success is a strong and obvious cue, difficult to ignore or avoid.

 

If you have a sweet tooth make your home free of sweet treats. If you decided to jog in the morning, place your running gear close to your bed.
Another way to strengthen the cue is to make it clear, specific and intentional. If you intend to “eat better”, ensure that there is healthy non-processed food in the fridge and plan it in advance to get it ready to eat with the least of fuss.


Don’t just say “I will run more often” but say “on Monday, Wednesday and Friday when the alarm goes off I will put my running gear, which I prepared last night, on and I’ll clock 3km”. This is a clear plan and an obvious cue. These will lead to building positive running habits.

 

We are motivated by anticipation of reward so making habits attractive will help to stick to it.

 

The human brain releases dopamine, a hormone that makes us feel good, when we do pleasurable things such as eating, watching a favorite movie or having sex.
So you can use your favorite habits to release dopamine while developing new habits. This is called temptation bundling. So, for example, you can schedule watching your favorite show, you are addicted to, only when you ride your hated exercise bike. Eventually, it will become your favorite exercise.


We often spend a lot of time on behaviors that are easy, like mindless scrolling through social media and avoiding difficult tasks like studying or exercising.
Reducing friction is a well-known trick to create new habits from difficult tasks. Conversely increasing friction helps to kick bad habits. Simply unplugging TV set or logging out from social media after each session, will make it a more cumbersome engaging in bad habits.


Another successful trick to make the new activity more manageable is the 2-minute rule. This means to break your activity to manageable chunks to achieve the final goal.

  • If you want to read more, commit to reading two pages per day, rather than to read one book in a week. Reading two pages a day is an easily manageable task.
  • If you wish to run a marathon, commit to putting on your running gear every day after work. Once you put your gear on, you will probably go for a run and get rewarded with the dopamine release after the run, nice shower, and well deserved healthy meal.

From the evolutionary aspect, the activity needs to be immediately satisfying to become a habit. Our ancestors focused on immediate concerns like finding food and shelter and stay safe from a predator. This was an environment allowing immediate return and was encoded over 300,000 years of evolution.


In the modern office work environment, our focus is on long-term goals like saving for retirement or sticking to a diet. So the ultimate reward doesn’t happen for months or years making the good habit difficult to sustain. We have been living in a delayed-return environment for less than 200 years, a time too short to effect evolutionary conditioning.


Immediate returns can encourage bad habits. Smoking gives instant stress relief but causes lung cancer in 20 years, so craving for nicotine overrides concerns over long-term effects.


So pursuing habits with a delayed-return needs an attached immediate gratification. Here comes a modern technology to the rescue.
Habit tracking is a simple but effective technique. Using a simple calendar or diary to cross daily activity is effective because habit tracking itself is an attractive and satisfying habit. The anticipation and action of crossing off each day will feel good and keep you motivated. Many Apps such as STRAVA or S-HEALTH make this task even more enjoyable.

Tony Olejnicki – an engineer, motivator and exercise physiologist specializing in high altitude training is the creator of the HiACHIEVR Program, an inspirational program helping professional working in an office environment to improve productivity and life quality by lowering physiological age, improving cognition and optimizing personal health.

TAKE ACTION!
Contact us for a free consultation about the personalized transition with HiACHIEVR Program to high productivity workplace.

What is The Most Dangerous Job?

By Tony Olejnicki | Creator of HiACHIEVR Program

According to Safe Work Australia, agriculture, forestry, and fishing industries are the most dangerous working environments in Australia with 44 fatalities in 2016 out of a total of 218 work fatalities.

Considering over 3 millions of sedentary office workers in Australia, with 8 fatalities reported in 2016, the office job appears the safest job in Australia.

But wait…

According to 2018 Report, 30,000 Australians died of a sudden cardiac arrest (heart attack). And 7,500 deaths occurred at work. (*)
(*)Submission for the 2018 Review of the Model WHS Laws-30 April 2018

Major known factors were: chronic stress followed by poor nutrition, a lack of exercise and other not-diagnosed heart conditions. The Victorian Government has acknowledged the stress is often work-related.

Sedentary office workers constitute over half of Australian workers, so statistically over 3000 office workers die at work each year, as a result of the sudden cardiac arrest symptom. This, however, is not included in the office accidental death statistics due to its complex nature. The stress may not be caused exclusively by the office environment. Also, there are other contributing factors due to personal choices.

Sedentary Behaviour

So, if you are reading this now, sitting at your office desk, you most likely work in the most dangerous job.

Any of these factors can cause chronic stress. Do any of them apply to your working environment?

  • Toxic Organisation culture
  • Bad management practices
  • Excessive job content and demands
  • Poor relationships at work
  • Long working hours sitting at the desk
  • Heavy workload
  • Boring work
  • Harassment
  • Discrimination
  • Poor relationships with colleagues or bosses

Are deaths due to the heart attack work related?

It is not totally clear, it all depends on the working environment and your personal health risks.

  • Are you sitting more than 6 hours at your desk?
  • Is your office environment chronically stressful?
  • Has your doctor assessed you as a high risk for heart disease or diabetes?

If the answer to one or more of the above question is YES, you are a stressed sedentary person. And, you are well on the way to developing one or more sedentary diseases in your 50’s.In fact, your chance to get there is 50 percent.

 

If you had a 50% chance of a car accident, you would average a prank every second day.

If so, would you care to take-up a car accident insurance?

 

Risk of Death in the Office

If you are still long away from your 50’s, then consider the risk of the sedentary death syndrome (SeDS) due to an excessive sitting. 40 years old office worker clocks in 30 years of sitting... This translates to 69,000 plus hours of sitting...

Imagine an enormous amount of stress on your body and unprecedented in 300,000 years history of human evolution.

Every extra hour spent sitting, increases the risk of dying from a SeDS as much as 18 percent.

(*) According to a 2010 study of 8000 people by the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute.)

That’s true even if you exercise regularly. The research shows that to compensate for 3 hours of sitting, one would require 1 hour of exercise, clearly unachievable even for an extreme gym junky.

An excessive sitting is a reason for the early onset of aging in the mid-’40s rather than ’60s for non-sedentary people.

  • Typically a 30 years old sedentary person reached the physiological age of 35.
  • A typical sedentary 50 years old is physiologically close to 60.
  • With a life expectancy of 85, controlled by the physiological rather than chronological age, the implications are obvious.

Most of the sedentary office workers do more sitting than just hours at work. If your behavior is like that on the graph below you maybe sitting 15 hours a day and this is truly extreme risky behavior and a serious health hazard.

 

 

Sedentary Work Cycle lowers the Work Performance

 

The health hazard aside, sitting contributes to poor work performance. The brain can sustain only about 30 minutes of sitting before its concentration and cognitive availability starts fading rapidly.

Within one hour, the body will respond with a strong pain to force you to get up and move. The pain is the wake-up call helping to restore the brain's full Cognitive Availability.

An intensive sitter will experience 4 to 6 such events throughout a working day. This offers only 2-3 hours of effective full Cognitive Availability within 8 working hours. It is also very unpleasant but most people get used to it.

Risk Countermeasures

The way to reduce the risk of death at work is to change to an active work environment, reduce the stress, improve nutrition and sleeping. This will also help to reduce the physiological age and stimulate neurogenesis (brain rejuvenation). The good news about the physiological age is that, unlike the chronological age, it can be slowed down.

The optimum way to create active work environment is to switch to working at a standing work station, regular exercises and measuring your effort with a smartphone app.

Alternatively, set a reminder to get up every 30 minutes and compel yourself to a short stroll in the office. Find an excuse and make the active office your bottom step in your hierarchy of needs.

How to Recognize Symptoms of Work-Related Stress?

The signs or symptoms of work-related stress can be physical, psychological and behavioral. Safe Work Australia lists these as follows:

Physical symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscular tension
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sleeping difficulties, such as insomnia
  • Gastrointestinal upsets, such as diarrhea or constipation
  • Dermatological disorders

Psychological symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Discouragement
  • Irritability
  • Pessimism
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed and unable to cope
  • Cognitive difficulties, such as a reduced ability to concentrate or make decisions.

Behavioral symptoms:

  • An increase in sick days or absenteeism
  • Aggression
  • Diminished creativity and initiative
  • A drop in work performance
  • Problems with interpersonal relationships<
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Lower tolerance of frustration and impatience
  • Disinterest
  • Isolation

 

Tony Olejnicki – an engineer, motivator and exercise physiologist specializing in high altitude training is the creator of the HiACHIEVR Program, an inspirational program helping professional working in an office environment to improve productivity and life quality by lowering physiological age, improving cognition and optimizing personal health.

 

TAKE ACTION!
Contact us for a free consultation about the personalized transition with HiACHIEVR Program to high productivity workplace.

How the Body Awareness Enhances Creativity and Productivity

By Tony Olejnicki | Creator of HiACHIEVR Program inspired by Dr. Michael Anderson

I was inspired by Dr. Anderson research documented in his book After Phrenology: Neural Reuse and the Interactive Brain and his explanation of modern understanding of how the brain works. I connected that immediately with work of Dr. Marc Hamilton on the office mobility awareness a basis of the HiACHIEVR Program. It was a Eureka moment for me when I fully understood how both concepts can revolutionize the Quality Lifestyle for most of the people.

Michael Anderson is a modern day Leonardo Da Vinci with a diverse background with no dogmatic views on what is suppose to be true. He started as a pre-med undergraduate at Norte Dame followed by a Ph.D. in philosophy and postdoc in computer science specialized in Artificial Intelligence.

The Brain Falacy

The research by Dr. Anderson measured, quantified and applied new angle on how the brain works. He confirmed that our minds are connected to the physical world by interacting, touching and manipulating things rather than storing things in ‘memory’ and recalling computer-like on demand. We are all familiar with a fallacy that we are using only 10% of our brain and this is why we have geniuses, who can use 100%. Nature is very efficient with resources so why should be so wasteful with the brain? And of course, it is not.

The Brain Plasticity Makes us Smart

At first approximation, we know that the brain is a collection of very specialized organs dedicated to some very particular kind of processing or kind of perceptual mode such as vision, touch, language, etc. The neurons connect and form partnerships, which can get stronger or fade. This is called neuroplasticity.
This was a foundation for a next step called neural reuse which explained how these specialized areas collaborate.

Dr. Anderson has connected these two stories in 15 years of research and discovered that these two mechanisms interact, collaborate and form sophisticated organizations which lead to the complex brain functionality.

Parts of the brain involved in things like motor control or basic perception are also important to the higher order of thinking like language and mathematics. It is well documented that the task of naming tools activates places involved in motor manipulation.

People with vision when reading Braille while blindfolded use vision parts of the brain but if reading with eyes open uses a different part of the brain.

How the Brain and the Computer Memory Differs?

The brain has some storage capacity and stores mental representations, affordances, for future manipulations. If we look at a doorknob we instantly associate it with a rotation. In mathematics, we solve algebraic equations based on patterns and precedents.

The chess player resolves his moves based on a few successful patterns he remembers and associates them with the current pattern. He doesn’t need to remember a large number of patterns just a few making sense. The computer, on the other hand, relies on millions of stored patterns and matches them a current pattern.
The language and mathematics are a collection of affordance manipulation tools. The language is super powerful as it allows us to manipulate each other affordances, which is going to change their behavior, including their verbal behavior. So our language development is deeply rooted in our social interactions.

Use it or Lose it

Living in a frugal nature we face ‘USE IT OR LOOSE IT’ paradigm every day. Both the Brain and the Body are frugal to preserve the resources. This is why sitting in a chair for 8-10 hour per day leads to sedentary conditions and cognitive deterioration.

1 hour of vigorous exercise per day by no means compensates for 8-10 hours sitting. It slows the deterioration process to some extent but it is too hard for most of the people and therefore not sustainable.
The HiACHIEVR Program design based on office mobility awareness studies and validated by neural research is a sustainable way to prevent sedentary conditions and improve mental cognition, creativity, and productivity.

Tony Olejnicki – an engineer, motivator and exercise physiologist specializing in high altitude training is the creator of the HiACHIEVR Program, an inspirational program helping professional working in an office environment to improve productivity and life quality by lowering physiological age, improving cognition and optimizing personal health.

TAKE ACTION!
Contact us for a free consultation about the personalized transition with HiACHIEVR Program to high productivity workplace.

Why is Everyone So Fat, Broke and Busy

by TONY OLEJNICKI | Creator of the HiACHIEVR Program

This is the best steel I have ever done. It comes from the title of the book by Jeff Gains .
He asks these 3 questions about Americans and finds out that at least 65% of Americans are obese or overweight, 65% are in a bad financial situation and 60% by their own standards are busier than they ought to be.

So what is the reality in Australia?

In 2014-15, 63.4% of adults were overweight or obese. 2 million Australians in 2016-17 are experiencing financial stress. 42% of Australians acknowledge that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but more than half (56%) are missing out on their morning meal at least once a week because they are too busy to have the breakfast.

The issue here is not about calling people fat in bullying mindset but to address the issue in a practical way to help suffering population to recover and develop sustainable living practices. It is a serious mind crisis created by the negative side of the total commercialization of humanity. We all know that but the crisis has not risen sufficiently for people to take action. So what would it take to get to the tipping point for the population to take action?

It is all about psychology and perceived value and commercial mind may help us. It is all about choices. Why do we make the wrong choices so often? And, how to change that?

Behavior produces results, so to change results one must change the behavior. It is as simple as that.
The behavior is driven by your brain: primal brain, the emotional brain, and deeply thinking brain. Jeff Gains calls them the Robot, the Emotor, and the Thinker.

The Robot, the unconscious part of the brain drives your survival mode and is the happiest in a comfort zone of an experienced safety. The Robot receives the feedback signals from the body sensors. It translates them into thinking the emotional parts of the brain. The Robot drives muscles to act in self-preservation to experience gratification and avoid pain.

The Emotor springs to action, when you are driven by emotions (urges, desires, fears). It is concerned with the present and requires a gratification without much delay.

The Thinker, reasoning and thinking part of the brain can see the past, present, and future.

The Emotor makes us see and act through emotions. We ignore contradictory evidence and fabricate supporting evidence. The Thinker can manage the Emoter. Hence most people try to fight or control their emotions, feelings, and fears. This is why they are unsuccessful because willpower doesn’t last.

How to control emotions? Simply put yourself in other's shoes. You will see reality in different ways and instead of going against your emotions you will follow your emotions and develop new behavior which in time will develop new habits. The jerk who cut you off is probably a jerk but it may be a person in distress taking his dying child to the hospital to save the child’s life.

 

If you feel better about the exercise you would enjoy doing exercise.
If you felt different about the food you would eat different food.

 

If you need to change behavior there is plenty of advice. Most of the advice is about the type of behavior and not how to change it. This is one most important reason why it is so difficult to change the behavior.

The HiACHIEVR Program is a 12 weeks practical course of changing and developing behavior for a sustainable and productive personal and professional life.

It is based on the most important principle to successful transformation synchronizing the Robot and the Emoter.

Tony Olejnicki – an engineer, adventurer, motivator and exercise physiologist specializing in high altitude training – is the creator of IMA (Infinite Mountain Adventure), an inspirational company helping professional working in an office environment to improve life quality and experience a motivational Himalayan adventure.
Send feedback or questions directly to the author tony@8mtb.com