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6 Ways to Live Life on Your Own Terms

6 Ways to Live Life on Your Own Terms

If you’ve ever loaded up your Facebook feed and immediately gotten jealous of some random acquaintance from high school after seeing pictures of their vacation to Cancun, you’re not alone. We’re inundated on a daily basis with stories about how absolutely incredible other people’s lives are, while we’re left sitting in our tiny cubicle wondering when our time will come. I’m not even going to get into the fact that those other people live just as boring a life as you do; they just highlight the three days of vacation they get a year to make their lives seem a bit more interesting.

Anyway, the point is, you shouldn’t be comparing your life to others. The only way you’ll get where you want to be is if you live life on your own terms. And you can start by:

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1. Staying out of other people’s business

It’s human nature for us to want to be accepted and loved by everyone around us. It’s no surprise we’re constantly thinking the grass is greener on the other side. But the truth is, your grass is just as green as it needs to be.

Okay, enough with the metaphors. If you want to be free to live your life your way, you have to allow others to live their lives their way. There’s no reason to get involved in anyone’s life but your own.

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2. Staying away from toxic people

Then there are the people who make it a point to get into your business whenever they can. They’re the ones constantly pointing out faults in your ideas at work, or the so-called friends who try to bring you down because they hate seeing others succeed. Whether consciously or not, these people are incredibly controlling, and will do their best to make sure you live your own life on their terms. Ditch them as soon as possible.

3. Using your gifts to your advantage

Everyone in this world has a talent for something. Unfortunately, we often get so caught up in our day-to-day lives that our talents end up going to waste. Whether you’re a musician who has taken a day job as a mechanic to make ends meet, or college graduate who took a job as a barista until “something better comes along,” don’t let your skills go completely to waste. The last thing you want to do is give up on your true calling.

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4. Not working for external rewards

Money, money, money. It’s what keeps us all going, isn’t it? But does it really make you happy? If you want to live life on your own terms, you have to stop thinking of your worth in terms of how much you make. This goes for the poorest of the poor, and the richest of the rich. Some of the least monetarily successful people I know are the most enlightened; they’ve traveled the world and have thousands of stories to tell. On the other hand, some of the more well off individuals I’ve met live only to work and make more money, as if a six-digit number in their bank account will make them feel better on their deathbed.

If you want a fulfilling life, look inward. Being intrinsically motivated allows you to seek out what it is you truly want to get out of life, and make the absolute most of it each and every day.

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5. Letting your work speak for you

Going along with being intrinsically motivated, you should never boast about your accomplishments and achievements. If you’re goal is to live on your own terms, what good is telling others how great you are? In fact, it’s usually the individuals who hide behind titles, degrees, and other accomplishments that are the most insecure about who they are and what they’re capable of. You may be proud of all that you’ve done in life, but never let your accomplishments make you feel as if you’re superior to anyone else in any way.

6. Not holding yourself back

So many of us have a tendency to hesitate when faced with a difficult task or decision. While it’s definitely important to analyze situations carefully before taking any drastic measures, you don’t want to be so fearful that you don’t make a move at all. Remove any doubts you might have about your abilities. Be confident in your capacity to weather any storm that comes your way. You’ve made it this far, haven’t you?

Featured photo credit: A Pause for Contemplation, on Top of the World, Machu Picchu / Geraint Rowland via farm9.staticflickr.com

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How to Fight Information Overload

How to Fight Information Overload

Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

What you need to do is focus on these 4 steps:

  1. Set your goals.
  2. Decide whether you really need the information.
  3. Consume only the minimal effective dose.
  4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming too much information.

But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

The Nature of the Problem

The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem. This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

When we see some half-baked blog post we don’t even consider reading it, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it. We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

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No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on. The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control. Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it. But first…

Why information overload is bad

It stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here. When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work, or enjoy your passion.

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So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with your goals.

1. Set your goals

If you don’t have your goals put in place you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

2. What to do when facing new information

Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans then skip it. You don’t need it.

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If it does then it’s time for another question. Will you be able to put this information into action immediately? Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks? Or is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away? If the information is not actionable in a day or two (!) then skip it. (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant. Self-control comes handy too … it’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future then SKIP IT.

3. Minimal Effective Dose

There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour Body,Tim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs. Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life. Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming more information

Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

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Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

In Closing

As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance. I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over. I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

Feel free to shoot me a comment below and share your own story of fighting information overload. What are you doing to keep it from sabotaging your life?

(Photo credit: Businessman with a Lot of Discarded Paper via Shutterstock)

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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