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7 Things Successful Entrepreneurs Do To Make Themselves Insanely Productive

7 Things Successful Entrepreneurs Do To Make Themselves Insanely Productive

We tend to look at world-famous entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos and just assume they have something that we don’t that has made them as successful as they are. While that might be true, it’s not because they were born with that special something; they have cultivated it within themselves through the way in which they live. Successful businessmen approach each and every moment of their time on Earth much differently than most people do. In doing so, they set themselves apart from the common man in many ways.

They eat well

How many of you grab a banana or granola bar while running out your front door on your way to work? Successful entrepreneurs don’t do this; they wake up early enough each and every day so they can start their day off on the right foot with a healthy breakfast. Eating a breakfast full of fruits, grains, and proteins can benefit your body and lifestyle in many ways, and busy businessmen know this. By eating well first thing in the morning, they fuel their bodies in preparation for the hectic day to come.

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They plan

Successful entrepreneurs know exactly what they’re going to be doing each and every day of their lives. They take time the night before to plan out the following day; some plan right down to the very minute. Many entrepreneurs plan too much to accomplish in one day. However, they do so as a contingency plan in case they happen to finish a project early, or a meeting gets canceled. That way, they always have some other activity to fall back on if they suddenly have a free block of time. They also schedule breaks throughout their day in order to recharge before hitting the ground running once more.

They set a purpose

Since they have a plan for every day, successful entrepreneurs know exactly what they intend to accomplish at any given time throughout their day. They stay focused on their goals, and keep the end in mind while working on specific projects. They also set aside distractions, such as emails and text messages, until they complete their current task. As previously mentioned, they’ll have scheduled time to check these nuisances, but they never let a buzzing cell phone distract them from attaining their goals.

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They visualize

Entrepreneurs visualize themselves succeeding at every turn. Doing so is one part optimism, one part motivation, and one part realism: They approach each challenge optimistically, believing they can accomplish whatever task is set before them; they motivate themselves to be able to accomplish the task; and they know it can be done. As mentioned before, they list their goals on paper, and sometimes sketch a picture of what their success will look like. In this way, they make their abstract ideas come to life in a tangible and reachable fashion.

They say “No”

While you might think that a budding entrepreneur would be open to each and every idea that they’re approached with, this would completely overwhelm them. Instead, they must be incredibly selective with the ideas they choose to pursue. Because of this, they have to learn to say “no” to many of their own ideas, as well as most of the ideas others come to them with. Not even Warren Buffett can create a fortune by investing in a terrible idea. Instead, the successful entrepreneur knows when to decline an opportunity that he knows will end up going nowhere in the long run.

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They value their time

Going along with the last point, successful entrepreneurs don’t waste their precious time on anything that could stop them from achieving their goals. They usually find shortcuts or come up with creative ways to reduce the time spent on daily routines. For example, one of their common struggles is dealing with the trivial yet complex technical problems of their mobile devices that they rely on to handle daily tasks. Instead of letting these technical problems eat up their time, the driven businessmen would choose to install tools like Bushel to their mobile devices. So they can simplify the processes in managing their devices. With higher productivity, they can devote more time and energy on growing their businesses.

They listen and learn

From the budding entrepreneur to the richest businessmen in the world, they all stay successful by being life-long learners. They actively seek out help and guidance from mentors and peers, and continue to keep an open mind when it comes to how they approach their business. And they never stop reading, keeping new trends constantly in mind. As the world around them continues to grow, they know the only way they can keep up is by growing, themselves.

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Featured photo credit: Dos Entrepreneurs / Kevin Krejci via farm7.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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