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8 Challenging Tasks That Can Triple Your Chance Of Success

8 Challenging Tasks That Can Triple Your Chance Of Success
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A common piece of fitness advice is to “find comfort in discomfort.” The basic premise is that you cannot move forward and grow without pushing yourself past the boundaries of your comfort zone and into new territory. You need to learn to recognize that being uncomfortable means positive change. This advice is beyond fitness enthusiasm: it is a mantra for achieving life success.

Our personal habits revolve around avoiding stress and discomfort at all costs. It is difficult to see the long-term benefits in short-term excursions outside of our comfort zones, especially when the hurdles to surmount are particularly distasteful. Lucky for us, our brains are hard-wired to propel us to action once we begin to feel some level of stress and discomfort. The key is finding balance: too much stress can lead to the undesirable meltdown, while not enough stress will keep us imprisoned in our comfort zones, well out of the reach of meaningful actions.

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If you’re ready to push towards optimal performance — and are prepared to handle the discomfort that comes along with it — then it may be time to embrace these uncomfortable tasks.

1. Meditate daily

Meditation may sound simple, but anybody who has tried — and failed — to consciously still their mind will tell you otherwise. Take a few minutes every day in a quiet space to forget what is going on around you and find some perspective. It may not be comfortable to “do nothing”, but it will physically improve your brain by increasing density in areas responsible for self-control and focus.

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2. Tackle the “impossible”

You know that list of things you keep that you’ve always wanted to do, but don’t do them for fear of failure? Get it out and start knocking off tasks. Achieving goals that you think are impossible not only challenges you, but gives you an immense sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that boosts self-esteem and overall well-being.

3. Wake up earlier

This may be your least-favorite challenge, but the benefits of early wake-ups are worth the discomfort. Waking up even an hour or two earlier gives you time to get more done in your day. You will have the opportunity to plan out your daily schedule, squeeze in some exercise, meditate, and eat a solid breakfast that will fuel the rest of your day.

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4. Speak in public

If you’re one of the 74 percent of Americans who fear public speaking, then this task will be especially challenging. Even if you need to start out in a room with five audience members, any level of public speaking is a boost to your confidence and career. Tip: speak about something you are passionate about — you will feel more knowledgable and less like you don’t know what you’re doing.

5. Say no

We all need to say no at some point in our lives in order to keep from being overwhelmed. Not only does saying no honor your existing commitments, but it frees up time and energy that you could spend on more important — or enjoyable — things. Make sure your “no” is decisive, though; phrases such as I’m not certain leave room for negotiation.

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6. Practice self-control

Lashing out at an irritating coworker or the inconsiderate neighbor brings short-term benefits and long-term problems. Wrecking relationships beyond repair for the sake of being right in a conflict is hardly worth it. Keeping quiet and considering the wisest move will keep your relationships and sanity intact.

7. Make new connections

Talking to unfamiliar people is a fear right up there with public speaking for most people. Even if social interaction is something that makes you uncomfortable, it is a tool for widening your professional and social networks, increasing self-confidence, and absorbing new ways of thinking.

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8. Stop procrastinating

Stop putting off things that you know you should do just because they are difficult. Start with one or two things on your “must-do-but-don’t-want-to” list and get them done. The “I’ll do it tomorrow” mentality never brings about success. If you want to improve your chances of being successful, then you need to complete every task, even if it is undesirable.

Comfort zones are stagnant — you will never accomplish things within them. If you can “find comfort in discomfort” in life, then you can greatly improve your chances of success.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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