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This Is The Surest Way To Lead An Unsuccessful Life

This Is The Surest Way To Lead An Unsuccessful Life
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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

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Wen Shan

Proud Philosophy grad. Based in HK.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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