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Why Do We Always Find Ourselves Doom Looping a Mistake?

Why Do We Always Find Ourselves Doom Looping a Mistake?

Whether it’s the friend who keeps falling for the wrong person, the employer who can’t seem to make things better at work, or the individual who won’t stick to a healthy routine, we all know someone caught in a negative cycle. The concept of the vicious cycle is nothing new. In yogic philosophy, the repeating patterns that manifest in our lives are called samskaras.[1]

Samskaras can be positive or negative. They are reinforced by repetition until they become second nature. Some yogis use the imagery of a butter knife running along a pat of butter as a way to explain samskaras. The knife leaves tiny ridges on the butter, and as you continue to run the knife along the same pattern, the grooves become deeper. When we develop positive patterns, they become easier to maintain over time. When our samskaras are negative, we enter into what is referred to in systems thinking as “doom looping.” Doom looping is as ominous as it sounds–problems compound and initial solutions don’t seem to have a positive effect.

It really isn’t easy at all to get out of a doom loop.

It’s easy to get caught in a vicious cycle. Imagine, for instance, a person trying to lose weight. This person may vow to exercise daily and eat better food. The morning begins full of commitment to the goal of living a healthier lifestyle, but then the person encounters a big pile of doughnuts in the break room at the office. This individual, feeling the mid-afternoon energy-slump that is perpetuated by their unhealthy body and schedule, eats a doughnut or two. He or she gets through the work day on a sugar high, but after arriving home, there’s dinner to cook, the sugar buzz has worn off, and ultimately the person becomes too tired to exercise.

Despite all those good intentions, the individual reinforced a negative pattern that will be harder to break tomorrow. Tomorrow when they get up, they will feel the cumulative effects of poor habits plus their recent failure to stick to a goal. Thus, they have initiated the doom loop.

But breaking the vicious cycle is the only way to stop negativity from coming back.

Employee turnover, poor health, and unhappiness are a handful of the many symptoms of being caught in a doom loop. In some cases, struggle may feel so natural that it is the only condition that people know. The cycle of poverty is a classic example of this.[2] Even though people in this situation understand that there are better possibilities, they lack access to them because of a series of compounding factors. This sort of cycle must be broken at a systemic level, and is not likely to be resolved through the power of a single individual.

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In other cases, businesses or entities may become reactive to problems instead of performing a proper causal analysis. They respond to an immediate need without fully understanding the problem. A company may notice that employee turnover is high, which leads them to increase their benefits package. This may draw new workers, but they fail to address the root of their issue, which is the tyrannical manager that makes every day a challenge for employees.

A school with a poor performance record may develop a turnaround plan that involves firing most of the teachers. Such drastic measures fail to yield results that districts desire in most cases.[3] In this instance the environment has been further destabilized by the reactionary policy.

Whether you are personally affected by doom looping, or you are watching it play out for someone else, there are steps that can break the cycle. The results may not be instantaneous, but they will be sustainable.

Sometimes we are so close to the problem that it can be difficult to see where we’re going wrong. The actions that lead us to this place feel normal to us, after all. Negative cycles can rob us of our power. You may be able to recognize the problem on your own, but there’s no shame in reaching out for help if you feel that you can’t resolve the issue alone.

Here’s a powerful way to stop circling the drain.

One of the main reasons that people fall into doom cycles is that they don’t take time to perform a causal analysis on their situation. If you attempt to tackle a problem without fully addressing its roots, you are putting a bandage on a broken arm. Our fast-paced world values quick results. Self-reflection, the key to breaking the vicious cycle, has become secondary to ideas that provide instant gratification.

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To get to the root of the problem, you can use the “5 Whys” method.[4]

At its most basic level, this method involves naming the problem, and then asking yourself why the problem is occurring five times.

For example:

  1. Employee turnover is high. Why?
  2. Workers are unhappy. Why?
  3. Their work-life balance is poor. Why?
  4. Their manager expects them to take work home with them. Why?
  5. As a company, our goals for this quarter are too ambitious for our staff. Why?

As you can see, this reflective line of questioning can yield some insights into what has led to such a high turnover rate for the company.[5] After this causal analysis, leaders may decide that they need to re-evaluate their quarterly goals so that they do not put inordinate pressure on the manager. By rethinking their strategy, they may be able to keep the manager from asking employees to take work home with them, which may make them feel better about their jobs.

A second way to break out of the doom loop involves using the following line of inquiry:[6]

1. Name a symptom of the problem. What is something that seems to be getting worse for you as time goes on?

I struggle to pay my bills every month.

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2. Choose three immediate and independent causes. What are three things that lead to the symptom you described above.

My job doesn’t pay me very much. I buy things on impulse. I feel social pressure to keep up with everyone else.

3. State the consequences of the causes. How are your behaviors impacting your life?

I’m stressed all the time. My cupboards are always empty. People think I have more money than I do.

5. Demonstrate how the consequences perpetuate the causes. How do the consequences of your actions enable the symptom to continue?

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Since people think I have more money than I do, they expect me to lead a certain lifestyle that involves spending lots of money. This keeps me from saving and causes me to dip into my rent and grocery money.

Break your chains!

Samskaras are a natural part of our existence. When vicious cycles arise from negative patterns, it is up to us to break them. Causal analysis should always begin with self-study. Whether you choose to use one of the methods listed above, employ the assistance of a life-coach or therapist, keep a journal, or engage in mindfulness exercises, persistence will allow you to identify the core of the doom loop.

Don’t allow yourself to be a prisoner to unhealthy mindsets and habits. You are the driver of the change that you want to see in your life.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] Yoga Journal: Stuck in a Rut
[2] NPR: One family’s story shows how the cycle of poverty is hard to break
[3] Educational Leadership: Research Says… / Drastic School Turnaround Strategies Are Risky
[4] iSixSigma: 5 Whys
[5] iSixSigma: Determine the root cause: 5 Whys
[6] Systems Thinker: Identifying and Breaking Vicious Cycles

More by this author

Angelina Phebus

Writer, Yoga Instructor (RYT 200)

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Last Updated on June 25, 2019

100 Motivational Quotes That Will Guide You To Massive Success

100 Motivational Quotes That Will Guide You To Massive Success

Below are the 100 most motivational quotes ever. Read them and get motivated for success, and share this post to help your friends get success too!

1. All our dream can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. – Walt Disney

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    2. Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude. – Zig Ziglar

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      3. The Man Who Has Confidence In Himself Gains The Confidence Of Others. – Hasidic Proverb

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        4. What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.– Napoleon Hill

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          5. For me, life is continuously being hungry. The meaning of life is not simply to exist, to survive, but to move ahead, to go up, to achieve, to conquer. – Arnold Schwarzenegger

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            6. What you seek is seeking you. – Rumi

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              7. It is never too late to be what you might have been. —George Eliot

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                8. Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once. —Drew Houston

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                  9. The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus. – Bruce Lee

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                    10. I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have. – Thomas Jefferson

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                      11. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. – Lao Tzu

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                        12.The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me. – Ayn Rand

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                          13. Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. – Mahatma Gandhi

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                            14. The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it. –  Jordan Belfort

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                              15. When you can’t change the direction of the wind, just adjust your sails. – H. Jackson Brown Jr

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                                16. Security Is Mostly A Superstition. Life Is Either A Daring Adventure Or Nothing. – Helen Keller

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                                  17. Identify your problems but give your power and energy to solutions. – Tony Robbins

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                                    18. We become what we think about most of the time, and that’s the strangest secret. – Earl Nightingale

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                                      19. Double down on whats working. Cut the rest. – Tai Lopez

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                                        20. The best revenge is massive success. – Frank Sinatra

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                                          21. Tough times never last, but tough people do. – Dr. Robert Schuller

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                                            22. Stop chasing the money and start chasing the passion. Tony Hsieh

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                                              23. I’ve been blessed to find people who are smarter than I am, and they help me to execute the vision I have. – Russell Simmons

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                                                24. The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes. – Benjamin Disraeli

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                                                  25. Patience, persistence, and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success. – Napoleon Hill

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                                                    26. If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much. – Jim Rohn

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                                                      27. People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do. – Rob Siltanen

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                                                        28. Poor people have big TVs. Rich people have a big library. – Jim Rohn

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                                                          29. A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship. – John D. Rockefeller

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                                                            30. The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. – Walt Disney

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                                                              31. The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks. – Mark Zuckerburg

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                                                                32. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do that the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain

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                                                                  33. Everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask. Everything you want also wants you. But you have to take action to get it.”– Jack Canfield

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                                                                    34. If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything. – Malcolm X

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                                                                      35. Nobody ever wrote down a plan to be broke, fat, lazy. or stupid. Those things are what happen when you don’t have a plan. – Larry Winget

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                                                                        36. Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning. – Robert Kiyosaki

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                                                                          37. If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you’ll achieve the same results. – Tony Robbins

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                                                                            38. Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly. – John F. Kennedy

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                                                                              39. Reading is to the mind, as exercise is to the body. – Brian Tracy

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                                                                                40. The best reason to start an organization is to make meaning; to create a product or service to make the world a better place. – Guy Kawasaki

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                                                                                  41.You must expect great things of yourself before you can do them. —Michael Jordan

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                                                                                    42. Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great. – John D. Rockefeller

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                                                                                      43. Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping-stones to success. – Dale Carnegie

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                                                                                        44. The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself. – Mark Caine

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                                                                                          45. Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago. —Warren Buffett

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                                                                                            46. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real, it is possible, it’s yours. – Ayr Rand

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                                                                                              47. If you are willing to do more than you are paid to do, eventually you will be paid to do more than you do. – Anonymous

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                                                                                                48. Make each day your masterpiece.  – John Wooden

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                                                                                                  49. You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down and it has made all the difference in my life. – Steve Jobs

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                                                                                                    50. Knowing Is Not Enough; We Must Apply. Wishing Is Not Enough; We Must Do. – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

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                                                                                                      51. If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete. – Jack Welch

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                                                                                                        52. People who succeed have momentum. The more they succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed. Similarly, when someone is failing, the tendency is to get on a downward spiral that can even become a self-fulfilling prophecy. – Tony Robbins

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                                                                                                          53. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. – Wayne Gretzky

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                                                                                                            54. You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it. – Margaret Thatcher

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                                                                                                              55. If you want to make a permanent change, stop focusing on the size of your problems and start focusing on the size of you! – T. Harv Eker

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                                                                                                                56. Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment. – Stephen Covey

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                                                                                                                  57. Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone. – Pablo Picasso

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                                                                                                                    58 – Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment. – Oprah Winfrey

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                                                                                                                      59. I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine. – Neil Armstrong

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                                                                                                                        60. A goal is a dream with a deadline. – Napoleon Hill

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                                                                                                                          61.You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. – John C. Maxwell

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                                                                                                                            62. The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate. – Oprah Winfrey

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                                                                                                                              63. The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. – Mark Twain

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                                                                                                                                64. Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else. – Les Brown

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                                                                                                                                  65. Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work. – Stephen King

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                                                                                                                                    66. A strong, positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success. – Joyce Brothers

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                                                                                                                                      67. If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. – John Quincy Adams

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                                                                                                                                        68. If you’re not stubborn, you’ll give up on experiments too soon. And if you’re not flexible, you’ll pound your head against the wall and you won’t see a different solution to a problem you’re trying to solve. – Jeff Bezos

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                                                                                                                                          69. Imagine Your Life Is Perfect In Every Respect; What Would It Look Like? – Brian Tracy

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                                                                                                                                            70. First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win. –  Mahatma Gandhi

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                                                                                                                                              71. Do one thing every day that scares you. – Eleanor Roosevelt

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                                                                                                                                                72. Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential. – John Maxwell

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                                                                                                                                                  73. It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop. – Confucius

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                                                                                                                                                    74. If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs. – Dhirubhai Ambani

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                                                                                                                                                      75. A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him. – David Brinkley

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                                                                                                                                                        76. Learn to value yourself, which means: fight for your happiness. – Ayr Rand

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                                                                                                                                                          77. When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us. – Alexander Graham Bell

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                                                                                                                                                            78. Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. – Albert Einstein

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                                                                                                                                                              79. The number one reason people fail in life is because they listen to their friends, family, and neighbors. – Napoleon Hill

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                                                                                                                                                                80. Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people. – Eleanor Roosevelt

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                                                                                                                                                                  81. The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

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                                                                                                                                                                    82. If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary. – Jim Rohn

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                                                                                                                                                                      83. Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. – Winston Churchill

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                                                                                                                                                                        84. The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. – Henry David Thoreau

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                                                                                                                                                                          85. Take one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, and live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success that is the way great spiritual giants are produced. – Swami Vivekananda

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                                                                                                                                                                            86. Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. – Henry Ford

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                                                                                                                                                                              87. It always seems impossible until it’s done. – Nelson Mandela

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                                                                                                                                                                                88. Be so good they can’t ignore you. – Steve Martin

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                                                                                                                                                                                  89. If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward. – Martin Luther King Jr.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    90. In the end, we only regret the chance we didn’t take – Lewis Carroll

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                                                                                                                                                                                      91. Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world… if you do so, you are insulting yourself – Bill Gates

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                                                                                                                                                                                        92. Small daily improvements are the key to staggering long term results – Unknown

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                                                                                                                                                                                          93. Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up. – Thomas Edison

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                                                                                                                                                                                            94. Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going – Jim Rohn

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                                                                                                                                                                                              95. The best way to predict the future is to create it – Peter Drucker

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                                                                                                                                                                                                96. It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up. – Vince Lombardi

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  97. The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    98. Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today. – Will Rogers

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      99.You learn more from failure than from success. Don’t let it stop you. Failure builds character. – Unknown

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        100. Optimism is the one quality more associated with success and happiness than any other. – Brian Tracy

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          You made it to the end! Are you feeling motivated? Awesome, now share this post with your friends to help them achieve success too.

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