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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

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Chris Cheung

Editorial Intern, Lifehack

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Last Updated on October 15, 2019

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

Why we procrastinate after all

We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

So, is procrastination bad?

Yes it is.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

How bad procrastination can be

Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

Procrastination, a technical failure

Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

Reference

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