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If You Want A Successful Life, Be Determined About What You Want First

If You Want A Successful Life, Be Determined About What You Want First

Being ambitious is all well and good, but without a clear idea of what it is you’re going for, you can end up lost and working non-stop without focus. Or maybe you know what you want to do, but you’re stuck on how to get there.

Here’s some ideas that will help you to hone in on what it is you really want, and how to get it. Because life is worth living when we’re psyched to be chasing our dreams. As Joseph Campbell said, “follow your bliss“; you will discover a life full of passion, drive, and most importantly, joy.

Become who you want to be, instead of just doing what you think you ought to do

The only way you will be able to truly follow your desires is by living them. If we are simply going through the motions, at work or when building that dream of ours, rather than living and practicing our values, we will find it very hard to be successful. This can be the difference between doing what you ‘should’, and doing what you actually want to do.

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For example, if you only went to university because you’re ‘meant’ to, success is unlikely. You might even find a job that makes you a lot of money after your course, but this probably wouldn’t feel like a complete success. Success is living with meaning, being present in your life. All of the most successful people live fully in their lives and are unapologetic for who they are. They are sure of who they are because of the way they live.

Try writing down all of the things that you want to do that are fun to you, that are really going with ‘the flow’, where you feel alive doing them. These are the things to focus upon and grow. Make time for these things. Even just ten minutes a day can improve a skill dramatically.

Have a vision of your future, so you know where you’re going

When we don’t have a vision we can easily be swayed. Life and society has many directions it would like us to go in, and without a vision steering us towards where WE would want to go, it can be easy to get steered off with the crowd.

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It’s not about being rigid in what we do next, or not taking opportunities when they appear. It’s about knowing yourself well enough to know whether any opportunities contribute to you and what you really want to do with your life, or if you’re just going along with the crowd.

One great thing you can do to create a vision of your own is to draw it. Drawing a future we like the look of improves the probability we will commit to moving towards it. And feeling we have a meaning in the now not only makes us happier, it gives us meaning, and that means we are already more successful than we were before.

If something isn’t worth the effort, you never really cared about it in the first place

As Elizabeth Gilbert says, you have to work out whether something is worth all the bother. -If you love doing something, you will love it enough to go through any difficulties that come along with it. Each time we are challenged, we ask ourselves ‘is it worth all this pain?’ and if the answer is ‘yes’, then you know you’re on the right track.

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Often in life we find the answer is ‘no’, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, that’s just a part of the process of working out what is really important to you, and what you can let go of.

With this in mind, you can focus on what really matters to you. The more your focus becomes attuned, the better you become at doing what you love. The more time you dedicate to these things that really matter to you, the more you will get back from them at the end of the day.

Try changing something today so that you become just that little bit more invested in it. Perhaps that is beginning to play guitar for ten minutes a day, or finding a new way to surprise your wife, or finding a little time to practice self-care. Whatever it is, finding a way of practicing it, rather than complaining about what is holding you back, could be the way to make your dream a reality.

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So, I challenge you today to see where your curiosity lies. Find what feels good to you in the moment. See where you want to be and what you want to be doing, this can help carve out not only your future, but who you want to be today and how you will spend your time. And that’s the most freeing thing of all, there is always now. What dreams will you start living today?

Featured photo credit: Psychologies via psychologies.co.uk

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Daniel Owen van Dommelen

Coder, Director, Writer, Human

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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)

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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