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Last Updated on January 11, 2021

5 Things That Hold You Back In Life And How To Get Rid Of Them

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5 Things That Hold You Back In Life And How To Get Rid Of Them

Habits: they are the things that we are used to doing on a daily or a weekly basis — or, basically, whenever there is an action that repeats itself in regular intervals.

After living a quarter of your life or so, you may think that what you’ve developed in your childhood is what will define you for the rest of your life. Even if some of the habits and personal traits that we’ve developed are holding us back, our mind often chooses to ignore the damages and to resist any kind of change that might usurp the status quo.

“There was plenty of time for that, now I have to live with the cards that I’ve been dealt.” After all, the fast-paced life, having (or not having) children, and a regular job can have you wanting for a routine that will define you and help you cope with everything. However, if the routine is damaging to your mental health and your self-improvement, maybe it’s time for a change.

The routines that we develop and our immediate surroundings (people we see every day or on a regular basis) can sometimes even hold us back and prevent us from fulfilling our life goals. It’s imperative to recognize these poor influences and elevate yourself above them, and the first step towards it is to realize that you are stagnating. There are some definitive signs of stagnation and here I will try to present them to you and (hopefully) show you how to tackle them.

Negativity

Have you ever started planning something that is supposed to change your life/make you rich/perfect your skills, only to have the mental piece of paper with the plan crumpled and thrown to the back of your mind because “it would never work”? This happens a lot to people. The current global situation (which, actually, has never been better), your material situation, or a lack of will can all keep you pinned in place. Like the link above says, it seems that it’s never been a better time to be a pessimist.

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News flash: it’s been worse every step of the way in human history. Black people in the US were segregated until 1964, yet that has not prevented the likes of Ray Charles, John H. Johnson, Jackie Robinson, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos in succeeding in their respective lives, just to name a few.

Today, people have more freedom than they ever had. There is no reason to think that something will fail because “it would never work.” You cannot know until you’ve given it a well-planned try.

However, negative thinking is not entirely your fault. It can also come through…

Negative Environment

This starts with your friends and family, but is not limited to them. Oftentimes, it will be your friends who will poke holes in your plans because they want to try and keep you in the status quo. They will not do this because they have ill intentions, instead, they will see it as doing you a favor and being honest with you. People like the status quo and do not like to see it changed. It will threaten their comfort zone (more on that later) and put them in situations they have not prepared for. Of course, none of this is on the forefront of their logic and most of the time they are not even aware of this fact.

While this is no reason to abandon your friends completely and sever all ties to them, sometimes a change of environment can do a lot of good. Have a new hobby? Start hanging out with people who have the same one. Or, sit at a bar or café alone and try to find someone interesting to talk to. Talking to new people brings new perspectives on life. Sometimes, that is all you need to push ahead.

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Inability to Make a Plan and Stick to It

When you do finally make a plan, the hardest part is actually sticking to it. For example, you want to improve your physical wellbeing by going to the gym. You’ve found a program that will get you fit and help you improve your conditioning. The plan involves daily exercises.

You may do it for three or four days and then skip one — because, hey, you deserve a break. Or you just start procrastinating from day one, thinking how you’ll work twice as hard tomorrow, or something like that.

This will effectively prevent you from making a change. The most important part of every plan is sticking to it. This may take a lot of willpower, but the change will be worth the mental effort. You can do it and you can do it today. Not twice as much tomorrow, not in a couple of days, but today, as it is the only day when you can fulfill what you planned, and it’s all up to you.

This part may also include doing away with some things, like…

Your Comfort Zone

It is a popular saying nowadays that “you can’t make a joke in 2016 without offending anyone.” Everyone has their “safe space,” which works like a bubble of your beliefs and habits which comfort you, telling you that things are alright and nothing needs to change. Stepping out of it, sometimes even for a moment, brings about anxiety, panic attacks, or just a flat-out denial that there is anything good on the outside.

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If you wish to change, there will be a lot of things that will lie outside this bubble. It will involve doing things that you have never done before or even heard of. And it’s always easier to default back to the comfort zone and feel content with what you have than to step outside of it and feel outright lost. But it has to be done. It is the only way to achieve personal progress.

No one is good at everything at the first try. The whole history of mankind is a trial-and-error process and, without it, we would never get to where we are today. It’s not about “I can’t do this,” but about “I’ve failed now, but I know what not to do next time.”

Also, living in your comfort zone almost always leads you to feeling like you know it all, and to…

Not Identifying Your Weaknesses

Habits and routines developed during childhood and teenage years slowly take over your life. We are all looking for stability. Once you are buried in your routines, you will not see that some of them are, actually, your weaknesses.

Have you, perhaps, developed a habit that is hurting your health (mental or physical)? Do you have work to do, but you’ve decided to play videogames instead? You’d think that these habits simply help you to relax, take your mind off things, or just help you get the job done, but they will also prevent you from seeing how they are hurting you.

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Realizing that you have a weakness is the first step towards improving in that field. Smoking marijuana, for example, may relax you, but it will also keep you lazy and can even leave you unmotivated to do anything.

Alcohol may be good as a social lubricant (by far the best description of it that I’ve seen in my life), but drinking every day (even regular binge drinking) can create a habit. You think that everything is normal, but it actually heavily influences your decision-making and, in the end, can ruin your life. It is essential to see things for what they are, not only for the good that they bring you.

Once you’ve realized that you have a weakness, you can choose to rectify it yourself, but this is not always possible. Some habits grip us hard and they (or we) do not wish to let go. That’s when it’s the time to talk to a professional and get some advice.

Basically, habits can hold us back. The world is in constant change and we must change, too, in order to stay on top. There is no recipe for a perfect life, as much as you think you’ve found it. Challenge yourself at every step and step out of that comfort zone. After a while, you’ll feel that it was all worth it and that life has meaning again.

Featured photo credit: Khamkhor via unsplash.com

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More by this author

Vladimir Zivanovic

CMO at MyCity-Web

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Published on November 29, 2021

Why the 10-80-10 Rule Is Key To Achieving Success

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Why the 10-80-10 Rule Is Key To Achieving Success

The 10-80-10 rule is an extension of the Pareto principle that says 80% of productivity/wealth is generated/owned by 20% of the population.[1] This ratio is often observable in various statistics and studies.

The 10-80-10 rule takes this principle and applies it more specifically to human behavior. It is also malleable, enabling people to move between categories. If we apply it to a company (just as an example), in essence, the 10-80-10 rule looks like this:

  • 10% Highly Productive Elite – This is the core of your business. These people will work all the hours that God sends for your company, leaving no stone unturned and generating the maximum possible productivity/revenue for you that they can.
  • 80% Productive – These lovely folks make up the majority of your business and will work 9-5, getting their tasks done and not making much of a fuss about it. They are less likely to offer innovation, but they are reliable, trustworthy, and dutiful.
  • 10% Unproductive and Defiant – These people are outliers and mercifully low in number, but they create work. They are difficult, unwilling to work hard, and generally take more from your company than they give.

This can also be applied in other areas of life. Morality is another example, with the vast majority (80%) of us being law-abiding citizens who may bend the rules occasionally, 10% being unscrupulously good, and 10% being out-and-out criminals.

Who Came Up With the 10-80-10 Rule?

As touched on earlier, the 10-80-10 rule is an off-shoot of the Pareto Principle, first conceived of in the early twentieth century by Italian civil engineer turned economist Wilfredo Pareto. He simply observed that 80% of the property in Italy, at that time, was owned by 20% of the population. Wealth distribution, according to Pareto, was divided 20/80 across all sections of society. The country, age, gender, or industry didn’t matter. This principle still applied.

Later on in the 1940s, Joseph M. Juran (himself an engineer and management consultant) applied the Pareto Principle to human behavior with the aim of improving quality control, positing that 80% of the success on any one project would be due to the efforts of 20% of the team working on it.

Since then, various researchers and theorists have expanded the Pareto principle into the 10-80-10 rule—observing that 10% are true leaders, 80% seek guidance from others, and 10% wilfully act in a counter-productive manner.[2]

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How to Apply the 10-80-10 Rule to Management to Be More Successful

Well, let’s stay with the team/workforce model for now: if you want to improve productivity in your company, where should your focus be? All too often, “the squeaky wheels get the grease.” That is to say, we tend to try and fix what’s most broken in our organization (namely the bottom 10%) before we move on to the less broken.

When you realize, though, that you’re pouring resources into just 10% of your labor force, it starts to look very inefficient. Moreover, that 10% is comprised of folks who are highly unlikely to change their tune (statistically anyway). You need to focus on the 80%. That’s where you’ll have the most impact and where you’ll create the biggest uplift in productivity. The 80% aren’t (of course) completely equal. Some will sit closer to either of the 10% range, but this means that you should be able to increase the size of your top 10% to be more like 20 or 30%.

How Much of a Difference Would That Make?

Now, before you slam your laptop shut, haul off, and start brainstorming ideas about team-building exercises and corporate days out, it is first very important to understand the metric by which you measure productivity. Numbers on a spreadsheet or letters next to a person’s name only paint part of the picture.

What you value in your company is unique to you. As I’m constantly saying to entrepreneurs and business owners that I coach, you have to be specific with what you are asking of your team, your customers, and the universe at large. Ask a vague question and you’ll get a vague answer.

So, do the work of understanding exactly what is working for you and what isn’t. Simply saying that you want revenue to increase is not enough. By how much? In what areas? Who will we add value to increase their spending with us? Where and whom should we target for new growth?

Who Does This Desired Increase in Productivity Help You Become and Who Does It Serve?

Armed with this, you will have much more clarity to take to your team and with which to start formulating a plan of action. You can look at what would incentivize those in the 80% who just need a slight nudge. That’s where minimum effort will yield maximum results! So, start there.

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A 2014 Gallup poll found that a third of the US workforce felt unmotivated in their jobs, with the highest levels of motivation found among managers.[3] This tells us two things:

  • Firstly, the unmotivated third is comprised partly of those in the 80% camp, but the entirety of the unmotivated 10% is in there, too. If you take them out (because they are those people), the remainder isn’t as many people and they are in a group that still wants to work and get on.
  • Secondly, those in a position of management (i.e. those who feel as though they can effect change in the company) tend to be the most motivated.

Now, let’s not confuse motivation with productivity. You can be as motivated as you like, but without proper strategy or direction, you’ll just be a hammer in search of a nail. Nevertheless, those in management who felt the most motivated to be productive are worth interrogating.

Why Did They Feel More Motivated?

I would posit that the answer is very simple: they felt heard and that they could affect change. It’s a hugely important part of human psychology that we feel as though our ideas, thoughts, and feelings are heard by others. When we feel ignored, we feel unvalued. When we feel unvalued, we are (naturally) unmotivated.

This is not to say that you should make everyone a manager within your company. Your business might be a start-up or just a few people working out of your converted garage. The point is, make sure that they all feel heard. I guarantee you that—especially among the upper end of the 80%—you will see the greatest uptick in productivity if you simply listen to them. Make them feel as though they have a vested interest in growing your business, too.

If they can see the role that they play is important and understood by you, they will push themselves to go further, work harder, and achieve more. You have to put yourself in their shoes, which brings us on to the next point. . .

How to Use the 10-80-10 Rule to Improve Success

Okay, so far we’ve just looked at the 10-80-10 rule as it pertains to the success of groups. But how does it apply to us as individuals? What can we learn from it and use in our day-to-day lives?

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You might be a sole trader or maybe a consultant—someone who does not have a team to rally and simply sells your services to others. In that instance, how does this work for you? Divide yourself up into the 10-80-10. Do it by tasks: what are you most efficient/gifted at, what are you good at, and what do you constantly put off doing?

Here’s an example. Say you’re a writer (where did I get this one from?), and you’re very successful. You are asked to write articles for lots of great, top publications like LifeHack, or maybe you’re writing a book and your screenplay just got picked up by Warner Brothers. Writing is your 10% elite. It’s where you offer the greatest value.

It’s probably not the actual writing so much as it’s the creativity, ideas, and talent that you can bring to bear in your writing. The actual writing—sitting down at your computer, tapping it out, proofreading, and catching spelling/grammar mistakes—that’s your 80%. Sure, you’re good at it. You are competent and get it done. But it’s not where you are at your most powerful, and you usually run out of steam at some point during the day.

Then, there’s your bottom 10%. That’s probably your operational tasks, such as your timekeeping, bookkeeping, invoicing, correspondence, tax return, etc.

Where Do I Get These Examples From?

So, where can you be most effective in taking action that will support you in accelerating your growth? Again, start with the 80%. Try finding ways to improve the writing experience for you. Maybe observe yourself on a typical day, and note when you do your best work. It might be right after your second coffee that you stay at your desk for longer and write with the greatest clarity. So, start structuring your day around that.

What has that cost you? Nothing! It was simply a case of reorganizing your day and bingo, you are doing more of your best work in less time than it took you before. Pretty soon, after you’ve tightened up your day so that you are of maximum productivity, you’ll find that you have more time and resources.

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Once you are better resourced, having landed bigger and bigger jobs, you’ll be able to take care of that pesky bottom 10%. It could be that you eliminate it by outsourcing the work to someone else. Now that you earn more for less of your time, why not? Just take it out of the equation altogether.

Final Thoughts

The 10-80-10 rule is not about adding ridged structures or following strict rules per se. It’s simply a lens through which to view human behavior, including your own. The reason why it is (or could be) the key to your success is that it enables you to identify those small changes that you can make that will have the greatest impact and accelerate your growth the fastest.

If you categorize your labor and the labor of your employees in this way, you’ll be able to more easily identify where you can have maximum impact with minimum input. If you continue to work out from there, your success will snowball, and you’ll have the support in place to maintain it.

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Featured photo credit: Andreas Klassen via unsplash.com

Reference

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