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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

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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