“There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.” – Zig Ziglar
Ben had never quite fitted into the ‘traditional’ idea of the way we should live our lives; the white picket fence, 2.4 children and a mortgage, however, somehow this was exactly where he found himself. Trapped in an existence he wasn’t content with and in lot of debt from his previous startup falling through. It wasn’t until it all began to unravel that he had to take a proper look at his life and work out if all he was doing was surviving, not actually living.
Ben was a candidate I dealt with, who I knew had more aspirations and skills than he could ever have dreamed of. In short, this wasn’t the life for him and that was plainly obvious over the course of the time I knew him. He wasn’t the type of person who would ever have been content with your standard ‘adult’ life, he wanted to see the world, explore and use his creativity for the good of those around him.
He had a strong imagination and could instantly bring photographs to life and you could tell that this was something he loved doing. He also enjoyed helping and making a difference to the life of other people and these were two things that could go hand in hand together.Advertising
That was Ben’s story and there is more about it. If you find yourself with the same attitude and believe me, more people do than you could ever imagine or would ever admit to, you may want to explore some of these steps to achieving your goals and ultimately, create the life you desire.
Many people spend their whole life dreaming about settling down and taking out a mortgage. It’s what society in general aspires to and the way you know you’ve “made it” in life. However, what if you get the mortgage and the white picket fence and realise it isn’t what you wanted after all? The way people think is slowly changing and as a career advisor, I had an experience with a candidate who ended up bankrupt through their desire to have all of these possessions, yet they were never truly happy.
When they told me they were giving it all up to become a travel photographer, I couldn’t have been happier for them. I felt, from getting to know them that this would be the kind of life they would have loved. It wasn’t an easy journey by any stretch of the imagination. The need to file for bankruptcy and, of course, the courage of letting go of their life and possessions to go into a new world was completely unknown and in many ways, very scary.
The point to remember is, if you want to do something, you should go for it. It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing or what everyone else thinks is the right way to live your life. You should always follow your own desires and dreams and do what makes you happy. After all, it is your journey and no one else’s.Advertising
“We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us.” – Anonymous
If you do like the idea of becoming an independent traveller, these are some of the steps you might want to take in order to reach your goal.
1. Make the Decision
The most important step and possibly the most difficult, is to actually make the decision to change your life and become an independent traveller. If this is something you aspire to, then the sooner you make that decision, the quicker you can start to put your plans into action. My candidate had her epiphany after travelling around India, sitting on a boat on the river Ganges at dusk. But your photography epiphany could begin anywhere at any place, you just need to feel it and make a decisive plan to work on it.
2. Saving Money
In the case above, the candidate I was dealing with was made bankrupt, so they had no debt to pay off. If you find yourself in a similar position, it might be worth taking this step too. If you want to travel, this will give you the financial freedom to do so and will allow you to start saving straight away. The benefit of this kind of lifestyle is that you won’t need credit for mortgages, loans or anything like that. You will be completely free and this can be such an amazing and freeing feeling: no longer having to find the money to make ends meet but instead, having the freedom to save money and embark on an exciting journey.Advertising
3. Which Job?
There are far more options available now for those who want to work independently and travel, whether it is photography or another line of work, it’s important to plan out what you are going to do. In photography, when moving into a freelance position even as a travel photographer, it’s important to focus on a niche. My candidate focused on South East Asian travel photography and now she has popular travel publications calling her up for assignments whenever they want to focus on a country in this region.
4. Plan Your Route
Just as you want to focus on a niche make sure you choose an area you are particularly fond of – or intrigued by! You will need to decide on where you actually want to go first and what route you will take. The world is your oyster, so you have many options to choose from. This can be an exciting prospect of it’s the own, the chance to just say, “I’m going here” and to start on a journey which could lead to anywhere.
5. Finding Work
There is, of course, the aspect of finding freelance work when you get to your chosen destination. No one said the journey would be easy, so you will need to be prepared to break doors down to find work and to work really hard. It might be a good idea to try some freelance websites prior to arriving and find out if there is any work you can do offline. In the case of a travelling photographer, you may want to phone up companies in the local area and let them know when you will be arriving.
Social media can also be a great way to let potential customers know where you are and what you can do for them. In the case of my candidate it was apparent that with her little money she needed to find frugal measures to become acknowledged, she entered travel photo competitions and approached image libraries to host her images. This opened new doors for work at low expense.Advertising
6. Making the Break
Although this choice of lifestyle comes with its share of advantages, it can also be a difficult choice to make. You will not only need to get rid of all of your possessions, but also saying goodbye to your friends and family can be a very difficult part of it. No one said it would be easy, but if it makes you happy, then it is worth jumping over the difficult hurdles. For more inspiration, take a look at this article and when all is said and done no one is in charge of your own happiness but you.
Featured photo credit: Chris Hunkeler via flickr.com
Last Updated on November 19, 2019
Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart
I imagine that like me, you say that you never have enough time and that you just cannot cope with 60 dozen things all at once.
How on earth do you get out of that spiral?
Many people never sit down and look at how to work smarter, rather than harder and even longer hours. But not you, you’re smart enough to try to learn effective ways to work.
So how to work smarter not harder? Here are 12 smart ways you should be following:
1. Improve Your Time Management Skills
Easier said than done? Well, no actually, because there are a few simple rules that can really help you to manage time better.
For example, when setting up a top priority task, you need to switch off the phone and ignore your email first. Then you need to abandon any ideas of multitasking as that will slow you down and ruin your focus.
Finally, set a reasonable deadline and do everything in your power to meet it.
“When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.” — Sir Ray Avery
2. Speed up Your Typing and Use Shortcuts
These days we’re all keyboard slaves. So why not speed up your typing and try to get rid of the two finger syndrome. In fact, when you save 21 days per year just by typing fast!
This is exactly what I am doing now, so I cannot honestly say I am practicing what I preach!
But help is at hand. Try some of these apps and games to help you type fast: 8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast
Using shortcuts on the keyboard is another time saver and can speed up your work.
For example, press F2 to rename a selected file, while CTRL + I will put selected text in italics.
There are so many of these. If you make the effort to learn them, they really can be helpful.
3. Learn How to Use Productivity Tools
It is well worth downloading all the useful tools and apps that can highly boost your productivity. Take a look at these 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools and install whatever fits your needs.
Now that is really a great way of working smarter, not harder.
4. Use Your Phone Wisely
Instead of writing emails, sometimes it’s better to pick up the phone and talk to the person responsible. It saves time, especially for important or urgent discussions.
If that colleague works in the same office, it is even better to go and talk to him or her. It gives you a break, you get some exercise and you actually make human contact which is becoming quite rare in this electronic world.
5. Keep a Tab on Your Tabs
If you are like me, you might well find that you have a ton of tabs open at the top of your browser.
In order to find the one you want, you have to search for them as they are off screen. Having all these tabs open slows down your browser too.
One solution is to use OneTab which can keep a neat list on the screen of all these tabs when you want to quickly get to one of them or you want to remind yourself which ones you have open.
6. Use a “To Don’t” List
We all know about to do lists and I find that they are generally great. They give me a great sense of achievement as I cross off the tasks done.
But often, I find that we are doing non-essential tasks or ones that can easily be postponed. That is why many people recommend the to don’t list.
Some people prefer to savagely prune the to do list while others prefer to have two separate lists, to do and to don’t. You just have to work out what works best for you when you are trying to save precious time to become more productive.
7. Expect Failure and Fight Paranoia
When failure rears its ugly head, some people get a bit paranoid and fear that this may become a trend.
Projects will go wrong and failure should be expected rather than feared. Learning lessons from failure and analyzing what went wrong is the best way forward.
“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” — Richard Branson
And here you can find 10 Great Lessons Highly Successful People Have Learned From Failure.
8. Be Concise
Rambling on at meetings, in emails and even when introducing yourself to new clients can waste a lot of people’s time.
One way is to practice and sharpen your “elevator speech,” which tells people in 30 seconds or less why they need your skills and how they can benefit from doing business with you.
Just think of the many situations where this could be useful:
- Making new contacts
- Talking about yourself at a job interview
- Meeting people at conferences or parties
- Phone calls to new clients
9. Ask the Right Questions
“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” — Naguib Mahfouz
How do you get feedback? The secret is to ask the right questions at the right time.
When you do this, you are gathering the information you need to help in decision making. This will save you time and you will be able to cut meetings to a minimum.
Forbes magazine reports on research that they carried out on asking the right questions. When that happens, the positive effects are increased by 400%. There are also other benefits in staff motivation and a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.
Lifehack’s CEO Leon has shared about how to ask for feedback to learn faster: How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want
10. Learn as Much as You Can
You should always be on a steep learning curve. Look at your skills profile and determine where you need to fill a gap. Talk to important connections and network in your niche.
Keep up to date on trends and developments. It is a fact-changing world. When an opportunity arises, you will be the best equipped to seize it because you have never stopped learning. Just another way of working smarter.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi
11. Look After Your Greatest Resource
No, your greatest resource is not time. It is YOU.
If you do not get enough sleep, exercise and relaxation, you find that you become less and less productive. You begin to work longer and longer hours, which is the exact opposite of what you want.
What you should be doing is making sure you are in the best shape. It is useful to remember that you need a break of 15 minutes after every one and a half hours of work.
Taking breaks and getting fresh air and exercise is one of the best ways of working smarter, not harder.
12. Don’t Fall into the Trap of Working Smarter and Harder
As a society, we are obsessed with doing everything smarter so we are more efficient and we save time all around.
But the most important thing to remember is to accept when we are ready to switch off that computer and not fill up the time with even more work!
The Bottom Line
The key to greater productivity is to work smarter, not harder. Working smarter saves precious time and energy for the things that really matter — your life goals, your personal growth, your health and your relationships.
Stop working for more hours and start working smarter!
More About Working Smart
- How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter
- 7 Effective Time Management Tips To Maximize Your Productivity
- 50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time
- 20 Productive Hobbies That Will Make You Smarter and Happier
Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com
|||^||Brand You: The “To-Don’t” List|
|||^||Forbes: The Perfect Elevator Pitch To Land A Job|
|||^||Forbes: Are You Asking The Right Question?|
|||^||Leadership Fitness: Peak Performance and the Ultradian Rhythm|
|||^||The Guardian: This column will change your life: the trouble with smarter, not harder|