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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

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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