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How Making Good Use of The Time After Work Can Fast-Track Your Career Success

How Making Good Use of The Time After Work Can Fast-Track Your Career Success

Do you want to get ahead in life?

If yes, then you must dedicate some of your spare time to improving yourself.

For example, average workers come home at the end of each day to purely relax and enjoy themselves. High achievers, on the other hand, take a regular part of their spare time for learning new skills, developing existing ones, and finding ways to make their daily work more efficient.

Which of the above are you?

If you aim at achieving outstanding performance at work – then please read on.

Successful People Go for Exponential Growth While the Majority Settle for Natural Growth

Have you ever considered that work time should be solely for working? For instance, an actor does not rely on their time on stage to practice their art. They do this between performances.

It should be the same for you. Let your work time be the period when you focus on productivity and output. (In other words, do the job that you’re being paid for!) And let your spare time be the period when you work on improving your knowledge and skills.

People who habitually devote some of their spare time to learning, are the ones most likely to be successful in life.

However, this doesn’t necessarily happen overnight. It’s much more likely to follow the pattern of exponential growth, which looks like this:

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    The above graph shows the world’s population growth since 10,000 BC to 2,000 AD. As you can see, growth was in tiny increments for thousands of years, but began to rapidly spike about 1,000 AD.

    This is exponential growth in action. Small increases that eventually snowball into massive gains.

    For those people who think hard work is just about putting in the hours, and rely on others to give them directions, growth is much different. Take a look at the below chart:

      This shows the varying income inequality in the U.S. As it clearly demonstrates, changes took place relatively slowly.

      This can be described as natural growth and natural decline. Workers who make little effort to improve, may find themselves becoming less successful after several months or years due to these natural fluctuations.

      Conversely, workers making good use of their spare time will put themselves firmly on the exponential chart – and in time, their fortunes are likely to soar.

      You Just Need to Spend One Hour Every Day to Make the Difference

      It can be tough to make an effort after a hard day’s work.

      You’re probably tired or even exhausted. You may also have… cleaning to do, pets to feed, children to play with, friends to call, and partners to please. (I could go on!)

      What could be easier and more satisfying than slumping down on your couch and turning the TV on?

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      It’s tempting, for sure.

      However, I have a suggestion for you: Commit to spending one hour each evening on your personal development.

      This will still leave you plenty of time for relaxation and entertainment, but it’ll also put you on the fast track to success!

      By breaking down your self-improvement time into one-hour chunks per day, you’ll find it much easier than trying to study for five hours on a weekend (for example). You’ll also have the benefit of building a regular routine that you can easily stick to.

      If You Want to Use Your Spare Time to Boost Your Success – Here’s What to Do

      What you do after work can determine your future. So, please use the time wisely.

      Here’s my top recommendations:

      Read books on diverse topics

      While reading in general is a great hobby, why not take it a stage further and make it part of your career development?

      You can do this in a couple of ways.

      Firstly, read books that are specific to your line of work. For example, if you work in IT, then you could spend an hour reading a book on the latest software trends. This extra knowledge will immediately put you ahead of most of your colleagues.

      The other thing to do, is to choose books from a wide range of topics. (Be sure to include subjects/genres that you wouldn’t normally choose.) If you do this, you’ll stretch your thinking, and you’ll also be able to supercharge your creativity by enabling you to connect different ideas that you’ve read about.

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      Boost specific skills that are currently holding you back at work

      If you’re like most people, then you probably don’t enjoy public speaking. You may even go out of your way to avoid it! However, if your job involves communicating ideas, then it’s inevitable that at some point you’ll be asked to present them to an audience.

      The key to defeating your fear of public speaking is preparation.

      Imagine spending an hour per night developing your presentation skills. You could watch videos of great speakers, take an online presentation course, and practice speaking in front of a mirror.

      With time, you’ll magnify your skills – and your confidence.

      Build your connections

      Your future career prospects are likely to depend on who you know.

      Few people like to admit this, but it’s the truth.

      So, turn over some of your spare time to growing your professional connections. You can do this through social media sites such as Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter.

      Just be sure that you’re connecting to the right people. This usually means folks who share your interests and line of work. For instance, if you’re a trainee accountant, link up with qualified accountants and other finance professionals.

      Connections can become mentors – or even lead to career opportunities for you.

      Work on personal projects

      Let me tell you how I got started as a freelance writer.

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      I had the idea to set up a website that would feature the latest innovations in green technology. To be honest, it was supposed to be just a hobby. I created the site on WordPress, and then began writing regular articles for the site. I did all this in addition to my full-time job.

      However, I found that I loved writing and sharing stories. And before long, I decided to apply for paid writing work. It took me a while to secure my first contract, but since then my writing career has taken off.

      You could do something similar.

      Take a hobby or personal project (e.g., playing a musical instrument or researching your family tree), and see whether you can turn it into a profitable sideline – or potential new career. Even if you don’t make money from your hobby, you’ll still be able to take soft skills such as patience and enthusiasm and transfer them over to your day job.

      Look for ways to do things more efficiently

      I’ve saved this one until last, because I think it’s the most important.

      Wherever you work, and whatever your job, there’s bound to be ways to improve the way work is performed.

      Let’s say that you work as a receptionist at your local gym. One of your duties is to help people to sign up for new memberships. You’ve noticed that this takes about 15 minutes on average, but can also take much longer.

      You’re too busy at work to find ways to streamline the signing up process, but at home you want to give it a go.

      The first night (and hour) you make a list of ways that the signing up process could be improved. The next night you prioritize the list into which ways will be most effective at quickening and simplifying the process. On the third night, you develop ways to implement the changes.

      Imagine taking your suggestions to your boss. Even if they decide not to go ahead with the changes, they are sure to be impressed with your initiative.

      If you want to begin practicing the five suggestions above, you’ll need excellent time management. The secret is to turn your actions into habits. Once you’ve done that, spending an hour each day in personal development will be as natural as spending an hour watching your favorite soap opera!

      If you’re eager to join the ranks of the highly successful, then be sure to make great use of your spare time.

      More by this author

      Craig J Todd

      UK Writer who loves to use the power of words to inspire and motivate.

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      Last Updated on December 2, 2019

      How to Develop Mental Toughness And Stay Strong

      How to Develop Mental Toughness And Stay Strong

      Are you the kind of person who wants to achieve massive success in your life? Do you have the mental toughness to make that happen?

      I think we can all agree that no matter your ambitions, achieving success can be difficult; and over time, the daily grind can take a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional energy.

      Achievers and high performers from all walks of life face ups and downs along the path to success—they face failure, burnout, discouragement, fatigue, self-limiting beliefs, stress, and so much more.

      How do some people continually strive towards their personal goals year after year while others give up on them? How do those people stay strong and persevere when there is so much stacked against them?

      Studies now show that mental strength is a critical key to success. If you haven’t read Angela Duckworth’s book Grit, you should. In it, she shows that “the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls ‘grit.’” In other words, mental toughness plays a significant role when it comes to achieving goals.

      Sometimes, our goals wear us down and leave us feeling exhausted. Other times, our goals get difficult, and success seems impossible, so we lose hope, become discouraged, and want to quit.

      At its core, mental toughness is simply the ability to stick to something when the going gets tough. People with high levels of mental toughness can push beyond these obstacles and forge a path towards success while those with lower levels of mental toughness may abandon their dreams.

      Want to know the good news?

      No matter who you are, what you’ve been told, or what you currently believe, you can develop the mental toughness you need to be successful.

      All you need to do is learn to develop a positive mindset, focus on your why, and utilize the people around you for support.

      1. Develop a Positive Mindset

      If you’re going to increase your mental toughness, the first thing you have to do is focus on building a strong, positive mindset.

      According to the Cleveland Clinic, the average person has 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 95% of those thoughts repeat each day and, on average, 80% of repeated ideas are negative.[1]

      That’s roughly 45,600 negative thoughts per day!

      Carrying around these negative thoughts is like going on a hike in the mountains with a backpack full of rocks. The hike is hard enough on its own, but having extra junk weighing you down is a recipe for failure.

      Sometimes, building mental toughness isn’t as much about building new strength as it is about saving your strength for the right tasks. Wouldn’t it be easier to dump the rocks out of the backpack instead of trying to get strong enough to carry the extra weight?

      Absolutely!

      But how can we learn to spot those 45,600 negative thoughts and get rid of them? How can we empty our metaphorical backpack?

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      Well, it gets a whole lot easier if you know what you’re looking for. Some of the most prominent types of negative thoughts are self-limiting beliefs, all-or-nothing thinking, and dwelling.

      Let Go of Self-Limiting Beliefs

      It’s pretty hard to be mentally tough when you’re constantly beating yourself up. Self-limiting beliefs are any beliefs that hold you back in some way. Here are some examples:

      “I’m not smart enough to…”

      “I don’t have enough experience to…”

      “I’ve tried that before, and it didn’t go well, so I must just be bad at…”

      When we allow these self-limiting beliefs to flood our minds, negative self-talk runs rampant, and we crowd out our ability to think positively. We’re effectively working against ourselves.

      If you want to keep your mind strong on your path to success, you have to overcome the self-limiting beliefs that are holding you back by realizing one key truth: self-limiting beliefs are thoughts, not facts.

      When you recognize a self-limiting belief cropping up in your mind, quickly silence it by telling yourself that it’s not true and then back that up with some positive affirmations:

      • “I am smart enough; I may just need to do some more research first.”
      • “I may not have as much experience as someone else, but that’s not going to stop me from trying. I have enough experience to get started. I’ll figure the rest out on the way.”
      • “Just because I failed at this last time doesn’t mean I’m going to fail this time. My past does not dictate my future.”

      Get Rid of the All-or-Nothing Thinking

      Another form of negative thinking that could be preventing you from building mental toughness is all-or-nothing thinking.

      All-or-nothing thinking is the concept of thinking in extremes. You are either a success or a failure. Your performance was totally good or totally awful. If you’re not perfect, then you’re a failure.

      But this isn’t true!

      If you’re trying to lose 30 pounds and only lost 28, isn’t that still better than not losing any weight at all? I’d say so!

      If you allow all-or-nothing thinking to rule your mind, you’ll be on cloud nine when you succeed, but you’ll beat yourself up when you “fail.” Acknowledging the shades of gray in between will allow you to see success more often and it will help you celebrate your smaller wins.

      When you recognize an all-or-nothing thought, remember to look for the positive in the situation. What did you gain by trying? What would you have missed out on had you not tried? Could you do better if you were to try again?

      Ditch the Dwelling

      Self-Limiting Beliefs and All-or-Nothing Thinking can lead to a bad case of dwelling on the negative. If you want to build some mental toughness and keep your mind strong, you have to ditch the dwelling.

      Every day, bad things happen to each of us, and while there’s nothing we can do to prevent that, we can control how we react to these situations.

      When we dwell on our misfortunes, we waste massive amounts of energy that we could be using to achieve our goals. When this happens, we’re more likely to quit altogether.

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      But that doesn’t mean you’re not mentally tough; it just means you’re misusing your energy.

      The next time something bad happens, it’s important to allow yourself to feel the disappointment and frustration, but work on reducing the amount of time you dwell on the situation.

      Easier said than done, right? Try these:

      1. Call a friend or mentor and talk it through with them. Get some outside perspective on your situation.
      2. Time block your dwelling by allowing yourself to dwell for no more than one hour.
      3. Then, tell yourself to move on, that you’re human, and you’re allowed to make mistakes or experience setbacks.
      4. If all else fails, find a good way to distract yourself until you can calm down and reexamine things with a clear mind.

      The faster you can focus on the positives and move past the problem, the quicker you can get back to achieving success in your life.

      Be Patient about the Process

      No matter which negative thoughts tend to run around your mind, working to replace them with positive thoughts can take time.

      Learning to spot self-limiting beliefs, all-or-nothing thinking, or dwelling is one thing, but learning to quiet those thoughts is another thing entirely.

      If at first you don’t succeed, don’t fret. Instead, take a deep breath and try again. As you work towards improving your mindfulness and your mental toughness, remember that you’re going to get better with time.

      To make things a little easier, it helps to connect with your purpose.

      2. Connect with Your Purpose

      One of the most critical elements to building mental toughness and keeping a strong and focused mind is having a strong ‘why’ for everything you want to do.

      If you set out to achieve a huge goal that you don’t have a ‘why’ for, you’re going to find yourself distracted, discouraged, or disengaged as soon as you experience your first setback.

      Think about the last time you were working on a goal or resolution and things weren’t going well, maybe you even wanted to quit. Perhaps you thought you didn’t have enough willpower. Maybe you told yourself that you didn’t have enough discipline.

      Here’s the truth: you just didn’t have a strong enough why.

      Simon Sinek has been spreading his message “Start with Why” across the globe.[2] In short, he says that:

      “Your ‘why’ is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you.”

      One of the biggest drains on your mental energy is pursuing a goal or a task that you don’t have a ‘why’ for. This is when we tend to look for external motivation or question our willpower, but those aren’t the issues.

      Often, we set goals because we like the idea of the goal, not the reality of the goal. Without connecting to our why, we can’t intrinsically motivate ourselves to achieve our most challenging goals.

      Find Intrinsic Motivation

      Intrinsic motivation is our innate desire to do something and it comes when we work towards something that satisfies ourselves above all else—not our parents or our bosses or our teachers.

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      Let’s say you think you want to quit smoking because you know it’s bad for you, but you really enjoy smoking. If you don’t truly want to quit smoking, it’s going to be nearly impossible, regardless of your willpower or mental toughness.

      But if you want to quit smoking because you just had a baby, and you don’t want your baby growing up around smoke, then that ‘why’ is going to give you intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is far more powerful than sheer stubborn willpower, and it’s far easier to maintain over the long haul.

      If you’re trying to develop mental toughness, connecting a why to everything you want to achieve will reduce the effort and energy it will take to achieve those things. Once you’ve found a strong why for all of your goals, you’ll find that you’ll have significantly more energy to pursue your more difficult challenges.

      3. Find Strength in Unity

      The final aspect of developing mental toughness is embracing the idea that you’re not in this alone. It’s a fact, anyone who’s ever achieved success in anything didn’t do so alone.

      Bill Gates didn’t build Microsoft alone. Oprah didn’t build her network by herself. Steve Jobs didn’t invent the iPhone without a team. Michelle Obama didn’t implement the “Let’s Move” campaign on her own.

      Behind all of these successful people were countless other people who were there offering support, mentorship, guidance, and encouragement.

      If you want to develop unmatched mental toughness, you need to understand that you don’t have to go it alone. Even the toughest Navy Seals have a team backing them up.

      If you want to stay strong in your endeavors, you need to build a team of supporters who will step in and back you up when it counts.

      Find a Mentor or Committee of Mentors

      The benefits of having a great mentor are far too many to list, but to boil it down to the basics, a mentor is someone who will help show you the path to success.

      A good mentor will help you discover your greatest strengths, spot and overcome your blind spots, and work through your weaknesses.

      If you’re struggling to deal with your internal negativity or with finding your purpose, talk it through with a mentor. Sometimes we lose the forest for the trees, and a mentor can help us take a step back and see the bigger picture.

      Here’s how to find the right mentor for yourself: How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed

      Recruit Some Cheerleaders

      If you want to stay strong, it never hurts to have a group of personal cheerleaders. Unlike mentors who are going to jump in and help you address your problems, a group of cheerleaders will help keep your spirits up.

      Even if you have a strong ‘why’ and a positive mindset, it’s nearly impossible to maintain a positive attitude 100% of the time. It doesn’t make you weak to need some help from time to time. Having a group of people cheering you on will make all the difference in the world.

      As you work towards your goals, tell a few close friends about what you’re doing, and when things get tough, tell them about it. And when they give you the pep talk you need, don’t resist their positivity or counter it with your self-limiting beliefs or your all-or-nothing attitude.

      Allow their optimism to refill your energy and use that energy to press on.

      Form an Accountability Group

      Cheerleaders are great, but sometimes we need someone to give us the kick we need to keep going. You might have a strong ‘why’ for running a marathon or losing 30 pounds, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy; and trying to force yourself to follow through is a sure way to tax your mental energy.

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      Why not save some of your mental energy by forming an accountability group?

      Find a person or a few people who have similar goals, or at the very least, the need for an accountability partner. Then, form an agreement within the group to push each other every day.

      Even if your goals aren’t the same, accountability partners are great for giving us the push we need when we need it most.

      Regardless of which relationships you choose, sometimes we have to be able to work through things on our own. Mentors, cheerleaders, and accountability partners are a great way for us to combat our naturally negative mindsets, but occasionally we have to be able to pick ourselves back up.

      4. Learn to Pick Yourself Back Up After Setbacks

      Building a strong mindset and developing mental toughness isn’t easy! Anyone who’s ever achieved massive success knows that obstacles, setbacks, and failure are inevitable, and you’re no different.

      As you work on your goals, you’re going to face many ups and downs, but this doesn’t mean that you don’t have mental toughness, willpower, or discipline.

      We all struggle. We all fail. It’s what we decide to do after we fail that truly counts.

      When you find yourself in a low spot, ask yourself these questions:

      • “Am I being too hard on myself?”
      • “Are negative thoughts such as Self-Limiting Beliefs or All-or-Nothing Thinking distorting my view?”
      • “What’s the positive side of this setback/obstacle/failure?”
      • “Why was this goal important to me? What was my purpose?”
      • “Is this goal still important to me? Do I still have a ‘why’?”
      • “Who can I ask for help? Who can mentor me or cheer me on? Who can help hold me accountable?”

      Asking yourself these questions is a great way to check in on your mindset. When we get lost in negative thinking or lose connection to our purpose, it’s far too easy to become discouraged. When we feel discouraged, we start feeling weak, maybe even a little hopeless.

      Also, this article provides some useful tips to help you get back on track: How to Deal with Failure and Pick Yourself Back Up

      Tying it All Together

      Are you still with me? I know I’ve thrown a lot at you, from developing a positive mindset and combatting your internal voice to connecting with purpose and building a committee of mentors. It’s a lot to take it!

      But here’s the bottom line:

      A crucial part of developing mental toughness is learning to recognize these tendencies and taking action to correct them early on. Developing mental toughness is not about eliminating weakness, but learning how to deal with it and overcome it.

      No one is perfect, but when we focus on the right things, we can develop a mental toughness worthy of life’s biggest challenges.

      More About Mental Strength

      Featured photo credit: Zulmaury Saavedra via unsplash.com

      Reference

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