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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.

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Wen Shan

Proud Philosophy grad. Based in HK.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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    Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

    The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

    But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

    However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

    This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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    Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

    We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

    Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

    Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

    The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

    When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

    When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

    How to Make Decision Effectively

    Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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    1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

    You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

    Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

    Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

    2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

    You don’t have to choose all the time.

    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

    Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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    3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

    You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

    The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

    Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

    Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

    So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

    More Tips About Decision Making

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

    Reference

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