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Stop Living The Traditional Social Rules If You Want To Ditch Mediocrity And Start Playing Big

Stop Living The Traditional Social Rules If You Want To Ditch Mediocrity And Start Playing Big

“What are the lessons people most often learn too late in life?” — a question that hits thousands of people on Quora. Guess what’s topped the list? Following the convention is said to be one of the things people regret the most later in their lives.

You may be surprised: isn’t following the convention a quality of a good citizen, the quality of being a good sheep?

The brutal truth is, however, following the convention is an obstacle on your path to success. It leads you to nowhere but mediocrity.

The old rules only yield mediocrity.

The cruel reality is that only very few of us would enjoy the taste of success. The others, no.

This echoes the 80/20 law proposed by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. An example illustrating this law is that 80% of the wealth in a society is enjoyed by only 20% of the population. The gist of this theory is that only the minority, or the elite, will succeed. And the other 80% of people will remain at the average level.

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Given the convention is set by the majority of people, following the convention is mimicking what the majority is doing. This, unfortunately, leads most people to mediocrity where they settle down and stay in their comfort zone.

As Darren Hardy once said,

“Run towards the things everyone else is running away from.”

If you are unsatisfied with your current position and want to ignites changes in your life, don’t be afraid to break some rules, and don’t be afraid to do something everyone else avoids doing.

But breaking the rules is never easy. It could build enemies.

Very likely, the one who defies the convention will be considered as the outcast by the majority.

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After all, humans are what the scientists call as the social animals, among which the one who does not comply with the norm is classified as the abnormal ones.

Sometimes, being unconventional could exert your full potential.

The famous business magnate Bill Gates was originally a Harvard University student back in the day.[1] However, because he wanted to start a business, he dropped out of one of the most prestigious and highly-ranked schools in the world. After getting admitted to one of the top colleges and decided to quit as a young kid, most people saw Bill Gates’ action foolish. But eventually, he proved others wrong and pursued an amazing career and founded Microsoft, one of the leading tech companies.

If you watched the movie Hacksaw Ridge (hang on spoiler ahead!), you’d understand that breaking the rules would mean people going against you. But when you stay true to yourself, instead of blindly following the rules, you’ll always experience something different from the crowd.

Unquestionably, punting against the counter-current is a daunting journey, yet it is also a rewarding one as you are setting your foot on a new path as a pioneer.

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Let your voice soar anyway.

We all have a voice inside telling us what is the right thing to do. If you catch that voice, be it tiny or not, do not forsake it.

Think about it – you have things you want to achieve, but often society or others tell us otherwise. We are not listening to our voices, which makes us miss out on great things that we could have accomplished.

One of the most highly regarded poets and novelists of all time Rudyard Kipling was told by an editor that he did not know how to use the English language.[2] This comment did not stop him from pursuing a career in writing though, he knew what his strengths were and later he produced amazing literary works that are still very well-known this day.

Or take Michael Jordan as an example. He was considered too short to play at his high school basketball team,[3] but with his passion for sports, he was very determined to be a great player. After practicing for a year, he was admitted to the team and that’s how his professional athletic career began.

Sometimes, we are too afraid to go with our guts, because we are scared to bear the consequences or face failures. At the end of the day, the only person who is responsible for yourself is you, not others. And you will badly regret the things you did not do far more than the things you did that were wrong.

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Choose the path now

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.—Robert Frost

Which one you would like to choose? And that makes all the difference when you look back at the end of your life. So there are two roads stretching before you now, the one most people take, and the one no one dares to travel.

Featured photo credit: Summit Entertainment, Hacksaw Ridge via indiewire.com

Reference

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Chris Cheung

Editorial Intern, Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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