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You Are Not Special, But You Can Be

You Are Not Special, But You Can Be

Is anybody truly special? Short answer: Yes.

Is there anything wrong with being special? Another short answer: Yes.

Very few people are special. You are not one of them. Why? Because there is a downside to being classified as “special.”

Being special in today’s society means thinking that you are an exception to the rules that everyone else has to follow. It has very little to do with self-esteem and very much to do with self-deception.

The downside is that we can be thinking about ourselves in such a damaging way without realizing it. And our unawareness drives us to be ungrateful and even unsuccessful.

Pedestals and Privilege

So let’s be honest for a little while.

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Perhaps you grew up in a family where you were the apple of your parents’ eyes. Maybe you were always seen as the good boy or good girl who never broke the rules, the model student in school, obedient in every way including being home before curfew, and so on and so on.

In short, you were given privileges and people put you on a pedestal. It was assumed that you would be successful because, well, you had such a perfect past (which required very little work from you, of course). It just happened.

Now, here comes the downside. A child who grows up thinking this well of them self will see their self as special. And because he or she has been told in so few words and treated in so few ways — as if they are special — they will begin to expect everything to come easy to them. They can begin to feel entitled to success without any effort.

But sooner or later, you find out that this is not true. You do not have any special powers. You are not too big, too beautiful, or too smart to fail. Everything you do is not guaranteed to succeed.

Conditioning

Children who grow into adults who have been conditioned to think they are above and beyond everything and everyone else will ultimately have to come face to face with reality. You are not special.

Privileged? Yes. Special. No.

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You should never let yourself fall into the trap of assuming that you don’t have to work hard or that life is just supposed to happen perfectly for you. People who think they are special and have been conditioned to think that everything will come easy to them are at a disadvantage.

If it is all just given to you, do you really understand how success really works. Does it just happen? Do your dreams just come to pass? If everything is all there for you because you are already qualified (because you’re special, remember, everybody thinks so), you miss a very important lesson.

The Way It Is

Maybe you are one of those people who has been taught to believe that everything is just going to come to you because of how wonderful and bright you are. Well, I want to make the shock of reality a little less sharp for you.

It doesn’t work that way. Obstacles are the way of life — for everybody.

You are not entitled to a great future because you had such a great past. In fact, for many people, it is the very opposite because they deceive themselves into thinking otherwise. How many rich kids turn out to have completely tattered and torn adult lives. Special? No. Choices? Yes.

The way it is: If you want it to be a certain way, it is within your power to create it.

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You have to choose.

Ego is one of your worst enemies. Thinking you are special is just an excuse to escape the painful reality of responsibility and choice. Avoiding the hard word of owning up to our mistakes and choosing to change is a deceptive tactic that strangles our progress and ruins our future.

After all, it is much easier to sit atop our high horses and look prim and proper than delve into the messiness that is life.

Still want to be special?

Special people don’t concern themselves with being special. They just don’t. Because being special is not important. They don’t try to be the exception to the rule.

Instead, special people do special things. They earn what they have. They put themselves on the line for others. They work hard at meaningful and fulfilling work — work that benefits the larger part of society.

They admit when they fail and struggle because they’re not special. They accept help where it can be found and allow others to gain strength from their stories. They learn and grow because special people actually have time to better themselves.

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Special people know that the world does not owe them anything. Instead, they owe the world something. When special people leave, the world mourns their loss and remembers their legacy. Because it was never about them anyway. It was all about what they could do for someone else.

Life isn’t about you. You want to special? Start giving the world and the people around you something they always needed but never had. Make yourself useful. Make your existence meaningful. Use your perspective and abilities for good. Design a future that others want to emulate.

Why?

Because you’re special. And your “specialness” means something to us.

More by this author

Daniella Whyte

Psychology Researcher

You Can If You Think You Can: 4 Ways to Build Self-Efficacy A Letter To My 50-Year-Old Self: On Grace and Getting Older Never Be the One Who Waits to Give Flowers 6 Questions That Help You Break Out of A Motivational Slump 6 Ways to Use Stress to Your Advantage

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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