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9 Strong Mental Habits That Successful People Never Give Up

9 Strong Mental Habits That Successful People Never Give Up

For most people, success in any endeavor is not an overnight phenomenon but is achieved through years of consistent effort and the development of strong mental practices. Along the way, we (hopefully) pick up good habits and drop the bad. Sometimes, though, knowing when to hold onto a habit that others might see as a negative can lead to success. For instance, the most accomplished among us almost always strive to adhere to the following mental habits.

1. Please Others

Successful people know that in order to get where they want to be, they need to get things done for others. In fact, you could make a good argument that wanting to help people is a requirement for true success, but it’s also a dangerous personality quality. If you try to please everyone all the time, you will become completely overwhelmed and unable to get accomplish anything. The most successful people know that saying “no” all the time is not the answer, though. Instead, they look for ways to get to “yes” that benefit all parties and help prioritize their work.

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2. Keep Their Options Open

While successful people are decisive and move steadfastly toward their goals, most of them avoid choices which limit future options. Modern life continues to move faster by the day, and new possibilities, opportunities, and even social standards arise all the time. None of us can afford to create boundaries that are so stiff we can’t adapt when necessary.

3. Listen Before Speaking Their Minds

Successful people are bold, but they know railroading every conversation is a quick way to end cooperation. We all need the help of other people in order to be truly successful, and one of the best ways to form alliances is to listen to what those around you are saying. Show them you understand their point of view with your responses, and they will be much more likely to hear out your opinion, too.

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4. Target Small Successes

Failure is a necessary part of ultimate success for most people, but bombing at regular intervals can kill your motivation and encourage you to abandon your dreams. Successful people set themselves up for victory by establishing many ambitious short-term goals on their path to whatever they see as their big prize. By consistently challenging themselves and achieving tougher and tougher objectives, they build confidence and move closer to their ideals.

5. Exercise Caution When Necessary

Fear of failure or embarrassment can paralyze even the most ambitious among us, but a healthy respect for the unknown and potential danger can save us from disaster. Successful people are not afraid of taking risks, but only after they have weighed possible pitfalls.

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6. Dwell on the Negative

Negative thoughts don’t make anyone feel good, but successful people realize that the shadow of potential failure lurks behind every new opportunity. By spending at least as much time and energy working through what might go wrong as what is likely to go right, they are able to dramatically improve their chances of long-term victory.

7. Have Multiple Projects Going

Multitasking has developed a bad reputation over the last few years, and for good reason since it’s really hard to do two things well at the exact same time. But that really only applies to what’s happening right now — can you read this article AND count to 100 at the same time without either one suffering, for example?

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Most of us are capable of working on multiple undertakings during the course of a day or week with no ill effects, and it’s a tactic that successful people use to become even more accomplished. They focus all their efforts on reaching the top of their field, but they line up numerous projects all aimed at that ultimate target. The variety keeps them fresh, and the multi-pronged attack keeps them moving forward.

8. Seek Ideas from Others

When we were in school, asking for input from other kids was a natural way to make decisions and get things done. Group thinking usually dictated what games we played and how we approached class projects. As we get older and assume more responsibility, though, most of us close off this avenue of fresh ideas in order to protect our turf and guard against credit for good work going to someone else. Successful people, however, know that collaboration is a key to really big accomplishments, and they never stop looking for external inspiration and help.

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9. Stay Stressed

Stress is the “silent killer” that can wreak havoc on your health, but successful people have learned how to use it to their advantage. They realize that hardly anything worthwhile ever gets done at a leisurely pace, and the pressure to perform is a powerful motivator. The most accomplished among us thrive on deadlines and outdoing their previous best efforts, over and over again. By applying stress from the inside out and latching onto these other “negative” habits, they leave 99% of us in their dust.

Featured photo credit: Eneas via flickr.com

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Adam Hughes

IT Director

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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