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This Is The Surest Way To Lead An Unsuccessful Life

This Is The Surest Way To Lead An Unsuccessful Life

It is the annual reunion with your friends from the Class of 2014. Over a few cocktails, some started to trash-talking their bosses and whining about how much work sucks. You sensed that they were regret landing their stable-yet-unexciting nine-to-five right after graduation—even though it seemed like the best thing that had ever happened to them before…

Maybe this sounds like one of your friends, or maybe this sounds like what you’re struggling about. It’s okay to struggle because it’s still not too late for a change.

Refusing to make changes NOW means delaying success.

Hungarian psychologist Laszlo Polgar thought he had found the major factor contributing to the success of hundreds of intellectuals, and decided to test his hypothesis on the three daughters of his own.[1]

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Polgar believed that “early and intensive specialisation” was the key to being successful at what a person chose to do. He and his wife therefore made practicing chess the focus of life for his daughters since they were young, aiming to produce child prodigies. As expected, all three girls became very successful chess players. On top of that, the youngest, Judit, became the youngest Grandmaster at the age of 15, and remains the most celebrated chess player today.

You may not have dedicated parents like the Polgars, but you can create your own success now if you want to. Keep in mind what you start doing today will make a difference tomorrow.

The routines we have and the smallest things we do every day either make us mediocre or highly successful.

The first step is to look at what you do without thinking on a daily basis. If you think you are a normal human being because you get through your day just like everyone else, it’s a sign you need to change. While being mediocre may not be a failure, it will never mean successful.

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And you want to be successful, which is why you should have the courage to become different from others.

Having the same routine as others will only make you an average person, a normal, mediocre person. Forget about having to blend in, and aim to stand out instead. Focus on what helps you improve as a person.

Following the rules like everybody does prevents you from achieving what you could have.[2] Rather, try to understand the rules, think about what these rules aim for and create your own rules that will do a lot better. Don’t be afraid to do what others aren’t doing. Be critical for the sake of becoming a better you.

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If you want to ditch mediocrity and become successful, break some routines and start something new today.

Changes don’t have to be big ones, especially if we’re talking about changes in your daily routine.

For instance, you can try ordering something different from your usual morning Cappuccino, or take a different route to work/school. Breaking a small habit teaches you to look at things from a new perspective.[3]

Also, you can start trusting your instincts a little bit more and stop second-guessing yourself.[4] If you know what it is that you want to do, do it at once. Sometimes, a little craziness is all you need to get started on something that would lead to future success.

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Finally, it is also important to be careful what you feed your mind. Your goal for reading shouldn’t be to gain talking points with your friends or co-workers, but to learn different insights that allow you to develop your own way of thinking.[5]

In order to be successful—to stand out and be different, you have to know what others don’t do. You want to be unique. So don’t just read what’s “hot” right now because it probably isn’t going to contribute to your future success.

Reference

More by this author

Wen Shan

Proud Philosophy grad. Based in HK.

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind.

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

2. Keep certain days clear.

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work.

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time.

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position.

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

7. Don’t try to do too much.

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan.

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first.

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work.

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour.

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

14. Never stop.

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body.

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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