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If You Want To Succeed But Do Things in the Same Old Way, You’re Waiting for Failure

If You Want To Succeed But Do Things in the Same Old Way, You’re Waiting for Failure

Having goals and dreams is what makes our lives meaningful but how we go about achieving these goals, both in mindset and physical action, can be the difference between success and failure.

If you’re feeling frustrated because your goals seem out of your reach, and no matter how hard you seem to try, you just don’t feel like you’re getting any nearer, then you’re not alone. Many people work hard to get to where they want to be but unless you change your thinking and your habits towards getting to that goal then it may take much longer than you want.

Why Is It So Hard to Succeed Sometimes?

When our goals mean a lot to us, it can start to put pressure on how we perceive our abilities. We can start to doubt if we’re capable enough – if it’s really possible.

The strategy we put in place may not work effectively or work around our changing lifestyles or life plans. Distractions are a big problem with internet, TV and our phones taking away our focus so easily.

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And, of course, underlying fear can also play a big part in stopping ourselves from truly moving forward to that place of success. What would it really mean if you finally achieved this? Would your life have to change? Would it ultimately mean sacrificing other things that are important to you? Mindset and habits, as well as the actions we take or don’t, can all lead us to what we interpret as failure.

Why Being Successful Is Important

Success doesn’t have to be confined to career. Personal goals and dreams are equally important because, ultimately, success brings confidence, well-being, hope, the sense that you’re contributing to either your own personal growth or to the world around you – it’s the essence of living a fulfilling life.

We are born to succeed as a species. We need to be successful in looking after our offspring both with protection and providing for them. Therefore, the want for success is ingrained in us and is the basis of what makes life meaningful. So, whatever success means to you – whether it’s in your career or if it’s learning to read, write or run a marathon – it’s the idea of fulfilling and achieving a desire that keeps us content and gratified.

What Is the Secret to Success?

It can be soul-destroying when you see people around you succeeding and you feel you’re trying your best but just can’t seem to do the same. It can hit our confidence and make us believe we just aren’t capable of succeeding. It can lead us to get in to this never-ending cycle of giving up, trying, not getting anywhere and giving up again. But have you wondered what you could do differently? Perhaps the habits you adopt are what’s keeping you from the life of your dreams?

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Check out the habits you need to do differently in order to get the success you deserve.

1. Mindset: Stop Seeing The Problems

Many of us have a mindset that seeks out the negative. It’s something we’ve been trained to do because, well, it’s easier to dwell on the negative than the positive especially if things aren’t going exactly as we want them to.

Instead you need to see these obstacles as challenges and opportunities rather than a reason to feel like you’re failing. It’s really about building up a positive mindset – no matter the problem you can always find a positive aspect to it. Problems are opportunities to grow and if you keep this in mind you are less likely to give up on your goal.

2. Strategy Is Good But So Is Flexibility

Having a plan and a strategy in place creates a good framework but when we are too rigid with this framework we don’t allow for potential changes. Life isn’t linear and we can’t always predict what’s going to come up. Disruption can throw our plans out of the window and if we’re too dependent on sticking to a particular framework then we can lose motivation.

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Try less planning and more doing. Have a general framework but make sure it can be flexible. It’s more important that you start the first steps (which can often be the hardest) than spending too much time planning.

3. Make Short Term Goals Rather Than Long Term Ones

“You don’t need to see the whole staircase, just take the first step” – Martin Luther King

This quote speaks volumes when it comes to success. Motivation is the number one key to achieving goals and many of us lose motivation when we focus too much on the long-term. Break your goal down into smaller, short-term chunks because that way your motivation won’t take a hit and you’ll feel like you’re achieving so much more.

Give yourself a reward when you reach each small milestone and celebrate all the little achievements along the way.

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4. Distraction Is a Success Killer

Entertainment is big business. We’re living in a time when our minds are craving to be entertained to the point where learning and education is easily given the backseat. Ask yourself how much time you spend watching TV, surfing the internet, playing with your phone?

While it’s good to have down-time, we often don’t realise how much time we waste idly distracted instead of focusing on more important things. Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day but it’s how you use these hours that makes or breaks success. Be honest with yourself and try to be conscious of how you spend your time.

Success doesn’t have to be a struggle. Having the right mindset, creating a flexible but instilled strategy and making sure you keep motivated with good focus will go a long way in helping you gain confidence towards achieving the life you want.

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on June 27, 2019

How to Use Observational Learning for Your Best Improvement

How to Use Observational Learning for Your Best Improvement

Someone walks over, introduces themselves and raises their hand out in front of you. How do you know what you’re supposed to do next?

If this were the first time you saw this behavior, you wouldn’t have a clue.

If you were from an Eastern culture, you might go to bow toward this person. But you know what to do because since childhood, you’ve observed many adults shaking hands.

Observational learning is a learning theory in psychology that describes how we learn by watching and imitating others.

In this article, we will look into what observational learning really is and how it helps you learn and grow.

What Is Observational Learning?

Children learn many of their behaviors and expressions through observation. We pick up things as fundamental as walking, playing, gestures, facial expressions, and body postures via observational learning.

In the 1970s, psychologist Albert Bandura outlined a four-stage process of how observational learning occurs:[1]

  1. Attention: Notice something in the environment.
  2. Retention: Recall what was noticed (memory).
  3. Reproduction: Copy or mimic what you noticed.
  4. Motivation: Get reinforcement from the environment for completing the behavior (or punishment for not).

Pretty simple, right?

Neuroscience provides further evidence. Mirror neurons fire when one animal acts and another animal observes as if the neurons in one brain are mirroring the patterns of another brain.

The result?

You make a funny face at a baby. And the baby makes the same funny right back at you.

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What Influences Observational Learning

Observational learning doesn’t always occur, so it’s essential to understanding the conditions in place when it does.

So when are we more like to imitate others? It happens when:

  • You doubt yourself and your abilities.
  • You are confused or in an unfamiliar environment.
  • You’re in a position of authority, like a boss, leader, or celebrity.
  • Someone is similar to you in some way: interest, age, or social class.
  • You see someone getting rewards for their behavior.

For example, let’s say four people go out to an upscale restaurant. One person frequents this type of restaurant while it’s the first time for the other three individuals.

The person who is comfortable in this environment knows what to do: when and where to place the napkin, how the place setting works, and how to communicate with the wait staff. Because he knows what to do, in this situation, he’s the authority.

The rest of his company are in an unfamiliar environment. And when we don’t know how to behave, we tend to look around and observe the behavior of others.

Somehow, we know who to observe by picking up subtle cues. So without having to think about it, the rest of the party subconsciously looks around and begin to discern who the “expert” is and what he’s doing. And this sort of process frequently happens throughout our development and the rest of our lives.

Performing Your Best with Observational Learning

Observational learning usually occurs subconsciously in social situations. That is, our basic need to belong, or “fit in,” drives us to adapt our behavior to the actions of others.

But the real power of observational learning comes from making this process active and conscious.

What does this mean?

Once you understand how observational learning works, you can choose to apply it in ways that support your personal and professional development.

Modeling

Modeling

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is another term for observational learning. Let’s say you want to become an expert presenter. No problem. Find a few presenters that you believe are highly skilled and watch what they do.

Pay attention to everything:

  • How do they hold themselves?
  • When do they pause?
  • How do they emphasize specific points?
  • Do they use slides? Imagery? Sounds?
  • What gestures do they make as they communicate?

Modeling the success of others is perhaps the fastest way to elevate your game and make rapid progress in your development.

Shadowing

In the workplace, observational learning is often called shadowing.

By shadowing an experienced employee for a period, you’ll naturally learn how to perform the tasks this person does each day. This process works effectively in sales environments too.

Apprenticeship

If you study the masters of any field, you quickly learn that they had great teachers or masters from whom they learned.

In Mastery, author Robert Greene points out that those who reach the level of mastery in any field submit to a rigorous apprenticeship to absorb the secret knowledge of those with many years of experience.

Similarly, in The Talent Code, Daniel Coyle highlights that anyone who cultivates talent has a master coach who knows how to break things down and teach things in a way that accelerates learning.

So if there’s any area of your life that you’re seeking mastery in, with who can you form an apprenticeship?

Here in this article, you can learn more about apprenticeship at work: What Is an Apprenticeship and What Value Can It Bring to Your Career?

Hijacking Your Behavior

Our brains, in many ways, are like sponges. We absorb what we observe.

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While this observational learning can be a powerful tool for our personal growth and development, it can also be a destructive force.

How?

Consider all of the bad behavior we witnessed when we were kids (and still today):

The list goes on. And yes, we observed and absorbed these behavioral patterns too from our parents, teachers, family members, and friends.

We also adopt behavior we observe on television and in the media. Studies show, for example, that teens who watched a lot of sexual content were more likely to start having sex soon after.[2]

Does this mean that watching violent movies will make you act violently? Not necessarily, but these images are imprinted in our unconscious and often later express themselves under the right conditions.

Here’s the bottom line:

Be very conscious of the media you consume and with who you spend your time. Our minds are like computer hardware and what we observe is like the software. So choose positive and life-supporting software if you want your brain to mimic it!

5 Ways to Use Observational Learning to Your Advantage

Here are five tips to make observational learning work for you:

1. Be Highly Selective on What, Who and When You Observe

Remember, observational learning is taking place whether we want it to or not. To harness this powerful force, consciously select who you are observing and in what context.

For example, if you know someone who’s highly productive in their work, ask to shadow them as they work.

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But this individual may be an entirely different person when they aren’t working. So be mindful of what behavioral patterns you’re absorbing.

2. Pay Attention to the Details

Those who achieve mastery in any area of their lives do so by mastering the fundamentals and then continually improving on more subtle levels. To the inexperienced eye, it’s often difficult to notice what they do differently.

In the case of negotiations, for example, a skilled negotiator knows how and when to disarm the other player. Sometimes these skills express themselves instinctively, so you may pick up on details in behavior the individual doesn’t even know they are doing.

3. Maintain a Playful Attitude

Many of us are conditioned to believe that seriousness is a valuable quality for learning. Psychologist Abraham Maslow, however, found that self-actualizing individuals,[3] or individuals with positive mental health, tend to have a more innocent, playful attitude when they are learning and developing.

Research also shows that we learn up to ten times faster in the areas that interesting to us.[4] So stay curious, open, and ready to learn.

4. Rehearse What You Observe in Your Mind

Studies show that rehearsing specific patterns of movement in our mind’s eye can help our brains encode desired actions and behaviors.[5] Many peak-performance athletes and musicians use this form of creative visualization training.

Visualization practices are extraordinarily powerful when you do it right before bedtime so your subconscious mind can process in the images while you sleep.

5. Don’t Just Observe, Do

To make observational learning stick, you must also do whatever it is you’re observing . Many companies combine shadowing experienced employees with hands-on training to accelerate the learning and development of new employees.

The Bottom Line

In the personal development space, observational learning is often called modeling the success of others .

Perhaps as you’re reading this, you’re already getting ideas of who you can start modeling.

Here are three questions to help you get started right now:

  1. What skills and behaviors to you want to learn?
  2. Who already possesses these skills and behaviors?
  3. How can you start modeling these individuals right away?

Now, make it so!

More About Learning

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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