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How Our Siblings Greatly Influence Our Success

How Our Siblings Greatly Influence Our Success

As an introspective and psychologically curious middle child, I’m fascinated with how siblings can affect each other, not just as children, but also into adulthood. As more statistically based studies are conducted on birth order, psychologists are finding that order itself isn’t as powerful as once thought. Instead, the affect siblings (as people) have on each other is more important.

“Growing up with each other generates differences” says Dr. Sylvia Rimm, Psychologist and Director of the Family Achievement Center in Cleveland Ohio. She speaks of the push and pull of relationships which generate a psychologically polarizing affect between siblings. We naturally want to individuate ourselves from our siblings.

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I remember this from my own childhood and teenage years. I was upset that one of my sisters borrowed my clothes. I still remember the way it felt to this day. I somehow felt that people would see my sister wearing my clothes and I would lose a unique aspect of myself.

I think this especially bothered me because I saw my sister as prettier than me, and I adopted my unique fashion sense to be special. It sounds funny now, but this desire for individuality is backed by research. It can have a strong affect on each person’s approach to themselves and situations in life. This sibling differentiation is reinforced by parents by labeling children “the smart one” or “the sporty one”. This differentiation is especially powerful in siblings of similar age and gender. On a positive note, our differences feed competition.

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This competitive feeling can translate into our adult and work lives. We may be acting on old rivalries or reacting to people in ways we learned growing up with certain people for siblings. The type of person our sibling is makes a huge difference in who we are and choices we make in life.

Let’s say your older sister was always a grade A student right from the start. With teachers, parents, and friends pegging her for Dartmouth since grade school, a couple of different outcomes can unfold, depending on your innate personality. First, it could set a pattern in your life for under achieving as the particular ability of being brainy is “already taken”. Secondly, it could set a pattern for an alternative (but just as achievement-oriented) success route from you sibling, like sports versus academics.

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The number of siblings has a huge affect on our interaction with the world according to the research in “Money and Success – Sibling and Birth-Order Affects on Positional Concerns” It notes how single children are more pre-occupied with their social positioning or “positional concern” than children of multiple child families. Single children grow up with more pressure of living up to parental expectations.

Not having any siblings makes them the center of attention, and the central focus of hope and parental projection of their own aspirations. For people who did grow up with siblings, the more siblings we had the more positional concern we tend to develop and therefore, the more we care about relative income and relative successfulness, regardless of birth order.

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The more people you have to individuate yourself from as a kid, the harder you tend to work to succeed as an adult. Siblings are our first interaction with the world beyond our parents.

The sibling relationship is really the place where we develop social skills with peers, rather than authority figures. These early interactions can spill over into our lives as we grow into adulthood and age. Our approach to other people is our approach to the world. So if we have learned to function well with our siblings, we can implement that success into our new relationships throughout life.

Whether we emulate siblings, learn from their mistakes, or deviate from them as much as possible, it’s clear that siblings have a huge affect on each other from a psychological and sociological perspective. However, no matter your birth order, how much you have bonded or pulled away from your sibling as a person or in interests, you are never limited to anything. You have every opportunity to develop in ways that make you unique and happy. All you need is a little perspective to recognize behavioral patterns and work on them.

It’s absolutely possible for siblings to be mutually successful; maybe in completely different ways. It all depends on who you are as individuals and how you decide to interpret and act on the interactions you experienced with those we so fondly (or sometimes not fondly) called our siblings.

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Hannah Glenn

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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