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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 March 25, 2020

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems.

In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

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Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

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Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

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2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

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6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

More About Changing Habits

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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