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If You Say ‘No’ To Steve Jobs’s Question, You Should Follow These Steps To Live Your Ideal Life

If You Say ‘No’ To Steve Jobs’s Question, You Should Follow These Steps To Live Your Ideal Life

Steve Jobs once asked the hypothetical question: “If today were the last day of your life, would you want to be doing what you’re doing?” I’d be willing to bet that most people reading this would answer this with a resounding “No”.

If we knew we were going to die tomorrow, we wouldn’t be wasting our time on the Internet or typing away at a cubicle. We’d be on a plane to Italy, or swimming with the dolphins in the Caribbean. Of course, we can’t just up and leave our families and jobs in order to pursue the things in the world we simply want to do. But we do have power over our own destiny.

We can get where we truly want to be if we put in the effort required to experience the amazing things this world has to offer.

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1. Choose your own path

So many of us drift through life without really ever making a major decision for ourselves. We do what we think is expected of us by our parents and society in general.

We jump into careers at 21 without being completely sure if it’s what we want to do with the rest of our lives. We get married and have kids because society tells us we should. We sacrifice our hobbies, interests, and time in order to chase money and success. I doubt very many people would want to be at work today if they knew they were going to die tomorrow.

It’s important to blaze your own path, and create your own version of success. Don’t let society or naysayers tell you how to live your life, or that you can’t do something you set out to do. Whatever path you choose, make sure you put your all into it every day of your life, so that when you do reach that final day, you’ll be happy with how you spent it.

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2. Picture your ideal life

Now that you understand the importance of living for yourself, you should figure out what it is you really want out of life. You might choose to focus on your career, or you may look forward to having a loving, tight-knit family of your own. Or you might want both.

Do you want the freedom to be able to hop in a plane on Friday and spend the weekend on the beach? Or would you be happier taking your 8-year-old daughter mini-golfing, or watching a movie with your wife?

Don’t settle for anything less than what you would consider perfection. And, again, don’t let anyone else cloud your vision of perfection. What makes you happy makes you happy, regardless of what anyone else thinks.

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3. Realize and face your fears

Everyone has their own set of fears that have haunted them throughout their lives. As you get older, your fears start to become more realistic.

A lot of adult fears stem from a person’s relatively small comfort zone. The only way to alleviate these fears is to pinpoint the exact problem, own up to them, and face them with everything you’ve got.

If a fear of public speaking is holding you back from your dream job, seek out classes you could take to practice speaking in a public forum. If you feel out of shape, force yourself to hit the gym. You’ll realize that after you dive into that which had previously held you back, your comfort zone will immediately begin to expand.

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4. Start taking steps immediately

Don’t ever think you’re too young or too old to get moving on your dreams. So many people waste their college-age days (myself included) thinking they have all the time in the world to do everything they’ll ever want to do. On the other hand, those who have been stuck in the same dead-end job for years often believe it’s too late to get started on their dream life.

On both ends of the spectrum, these thoughts are a waste of valuable time that could have been spent making the changes needed to live that dream life. Don’t put off til tomorrow what you can do today. After all, one day there won’t be a tomorrow, and you’ll have spent the last day of your life looking ahead to a future that will never come.

Featured photo credit: Steve Jobs 1955 – 2011 RIP / Zip250 via farm7.staticflickr.com

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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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