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The World Is Setting You Up To Fail – How To Fight Back

The World Is Setting You Up To Fail – How To Fight Back

It’s a great time to be alive! You can do almost anything you want to, while exploring hobbies and living a full and happy life. Nonetheless, many people find themselves lost, bored, confused and frustrated. Many more are finding it hard to achieve any type of measurable success. What gives? Is it possible that modern life is simultaneously affording us with more opportunities for success while also setting us up to fail? Is it possible we are being bombarded with mindset-changing paradigms that are hurting our chances of achievement?

Here are four ways the modern world is setting you up for failure:

Instant Gratification

It is very easy and cheap to buy that snack, marathon that show (hello, Netflix weekends!) and distract yourself in the most pleasurable ways. This should be a good thing, but it’s also a really bad thing. Why? Because of instant gratification. A lot of us are hooked on that “high” that comes when you do something to please yourself, and it’s destroying our ability to work through things that are hard in order to achieve our goals. Instead, we find ourselves fixed on the pleasure of the moment. We can’t seem to focus for a long time; we can’t seem to endure through unpleasant activities.

But here’s the thing: we have to. No way around it. There is no success that comes with only doing things that please you. Even if you love what you do, you’ll still have to write that report or that budget, you’ll still have to deal with that one client. By bombarding us with opportunities for instant gratification, the modern world is setting us up for failure.

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Fight back:

Schedule time for pleasure and reward yourself for effective work. The Pomodoro method is great for this. Have your breaks be time to check your Instagram, text friends, watch an episode of a show, etc. This way, you’ll easily balance out the unpleasant, but necessary, and the pleasurable but futile.

Easy Rides

In a world which idolizes the Kardashians, we see people who seem to not do “anything” all day have a boat load of money and success. It’s easy to get roped in to the idea that we should be after this “easy ride,” but there is usually no such a thing. Unless you were born extremely rich, everyone has to work for something they want.

Those Instagram stars spend hours editing and expertly posing for pictures. YouTubers spend hours editing and creating content. Bloggers have to learn Photoshop or HTML and also spend tons of time on image management and content creation. Even the Kardashians carefully manage apps, beauty and clothing lines, appearances, etc. There’s always work involved. But because these people make it seem like their success was effortless, lots of young people think that it’s possible to achieve greatness in an effortless way. It’s not. If you think success is effortless, you’ll be less inclined to put in any effort at all. The modern world is setting you up to fail by making you think success can be an easy ride.

Fight back:

When you catch yourself expecting things to be easy, go through the steps in your head of what it will actually take to get to where you want to go. Bypass your expectations of how things should go, and think of the actual necessary steps. Then, set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound) intermediate goals to achieve your end goal.  Another good idea is to also get hooked on biographies. Nothing makes you understand the process of success more than reading about all the obstacles a person had to go through to achieve success.

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Viral Successes

To be fair, sometimes a person does achieve success through an easy ride. There are several Vine, Instagram and YouTube stars that became famous after one particular video or photo, through very little effort of their own. And these types of successes keep us chained to the idea that success must be swift and big to be worthwhile. However, there’s very little we can do to predict who will become viral and who won’t. Therefore, we cannot expect our success to be viral. We cannot get upset or disappointed when something we do doesn’t automatically blow up with success. We only have the right to predict what we control.

The viral generation is setting you up to fail by making you think success has to be explosive and instant to be gratifying. But to every viral success, there are thousands more where success only came after deliberate, excruciating, constant honing of their craft, and after a lot of trial and error.

Fight back:

Focus on the end goal, not on how to get there. Again, set SMART goals and look at them every day. That will help you get focused on the process you actually have control over. And if along the way you’re inducted into the viral hall of fame, great for you. But never let that be your focus.

Follow Your Passion

Out of the many ways the world is setting you up to fail, this is the most devastating. The idea that you have to follow your passion is leading many young people down a path of demotivating failure and deception. Running from passion to passion, waiting for that lightning moment where they’ll fall in love with something and will be so successful working on their passion that work will never feel like work. The reality, however, is far far far from this.

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Angela Duckworth, in her book Grit shows us that passion truly means the act of fostering your passion, often through a lot of tedious work. Instead of looking for what you feel passionate about, you can pick something you like and foster a true passion for it – by working at it. Most successful people that are truly passionate about what they do foster a deliberate passion by putting in work that does feel like work every single day.

It’s very important to understand that there is nothing wrong with you if you don’t have a passion in life. There’s nothing wrong with not knowing what you want to do for the rest of your life since you were two years old. There’s nothing wrong with not feeling passion for any one career. You can foster passion by finding something you enjoy and then putting in the work to reach an end goal in your chosen path. The modern world is setting you up to fail by making you think your work is not worthwhile if it’s not your undying passion.

Fight back:

Pay attention to what you don’t like. You really need to be in tune with that and, often, you instinctively know what you don’t like. If you don’t like it, don’t waste time doing it. You cannot foster a passion for what you don’t like.  Once you figure that out, then make a list of things you like and would enjoy doing. This is the time to do some soul searching, but don’t beat yourself up if one of those things don’t excite you like a godly calling. This is the time to get realistic and pick something that you think would be the best fit for you and your life. Then, think about how to become successful in that field and have a major end goal in mind. Focus on that goal, every single day. Work hard to get better by doing lots and lots of work – work that will feel like work.

If what you chose is a great pick for you, it will get easier and easier to foster your passion. If not, and you find yourself mid-career hating that thing, then adapt and change. You’ll have more experience and know yourself better and will be in a better position to foster a new passion. The most important thing is to know that passion is not the end-all-be-all of success.

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Did you find yourself falling into these modern world mental traps? If so, you can fight back! By detaching yourself from a viral, instant gratification, passion-obsessed, easy-ride-loving culture, you’ll find yourself in control of your future and your success.

Featured photo credit: Visions Service Adventures via flickr.com

More by this author

How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed and Accomplish Your Goals Pick SMART And Reach Goals To Motivate Yourself To Success The World Is Setting You Up To Fail – How To Fight Back

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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