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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

How to Do What You Love Successfully

How to Do What You Love Successfully

These days, we are becoming more aware of the importance of self-care and pursuing what makes us happy, leading many to create the lives they want. However, we can still see the culturally ingrained image of the individual who is stuck in a life that they don’t want simply because they need to do certain things to survive.

In fact, you may know people who do exactly this or you may lead a life like this yourself. You may feel the pull of rewarding activities that bring a smile to your face while doing the things that provide little spiritual value to your life.

In all of the intricacies of society, we tend to forget one simple truth: life is meant for living. We only have so much time on this planet and we should waste as little time as possible on things that don’t make us happy. But how does one get started in their search for unbridled happiness?

If you feel relatively unsatisfied with your life and want to start doing more of what makes you happy, you will find the tips you need to do what you love and develop the life you dream of in this article.

1. Understand That Life Is All About Balance

The first major misconception that comes with building a positive life is that everything has to be positive. People are very quick to throw out the things that are negative and unenjoyable but learn just as quickly that this is simply not a realistic or sustainable way of living.

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Why? Life is about balance. You can’t just do what you love because it is not possible. You are going to have to tackle things that aren’t fun in order to do what you love, and there are also aspects of that you love but are probably not fun as well. You are going to have to deal with things that are unpleasant while you seek out the positive.

To enjoy the sweet fruits of your labor, you have to do the labor first.

The overall goal is to create a life in which you can do as much of what you love as possible. However, it is important to know that there are still going to be things you have to do that are not so fun and that is absolutely okay.

2. Know That You Can’t Be Positive All the Time

Another misconception is that one can be positive all the time. We see a lot of people promoting this lifestyle that is all happiness. A life void of sadness, darkness, and pain.

The truth? Life can be dark. You are going to deal with things that are painful, trying, and difficult. It is an unavoidable part of living life. You have to open your heart and soul to live a life worth living and this means opening it up for everything that could come its way.

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Rather than trying to escape, you need to build resilience to help you deal with these things and you need to learn to cultivate a positive mindset that helps you see the light in the darkness. You can’t avoid the dark aspects of life but you can embrace them and turn them into a learning experience that contributes to your personal growth.

Building a life you love is an extensive process but one that is extremely rewarding. Here are some ways you can start working towards that higher standard of living.

3. Learn What You Love Personally and Professionally

You can’t build a life you love if you aren’t completely aware of what you love and driven towards that passion. The first aspect of life that you will need to focus on is what you want to do during your leisure time, as this will be the easiest part of your life to change.

Make a list of things that you want to do more of during your free time. Whether that involves spending more time with certain people, engaging in hobbies that make you lose track of time when you are doing them, or focusing on improving different aspects of your life such as your fitness or your financial situation, there are plenty of ways you can better utilize your free time by focusing on doing things you enjoy.[1]

The second area of life that will take longer to build but is just as important is the professional part of your life. More often than not, we end up in career paths because of the money or security that they provide rather than because we love doing them. Does this hold true for you?

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If it does, you are going to have to ask yourself, what do you want to be doing? What is something that people would pay you for that also brings you joy? What is something that you could do for the rest of your life that you wouldn’t tire of? Regardless of what that may be, it is important to keep that in mind as you work towards making the transition from your current employment to your desired career path.

Here’s a guide to help you find what you love in life: How to Find Your Passion and Live a Fulfilling Life

4. Set Goals That Lead You Towards Your Best Life

Part of being human is wanting to have everything now. We all want to have the lives we want at the snap of our fingers. While there are some things we can incorporate into our lives in the moment, we are going to have to work hard for the other, bigger things.

One invaluable skill that will take you far in life is learning how to properly set goals. If you have things you want in life, you are going to need to track your progress and continually move forward and accomplish things to carry you to your end goal and keep you there.

Although there are a myriad of tools and resources out in the world that will help you build upon this skill and become more productive and efficient in your day-to-day life, the concept of goal-setting is quite simple. All you have to do is develop a clear, specific picture of what you want, learn what you have to do to get there, break your goal down into small, achievable steps, and set a deadline for your goal. Learn more about goal setting here: How to Makes Lasting Changes with Smart Goal Setting

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Of course, goals are only as effective as you are. You will have to make sure that you are following through on what you say you are going to do. Otherwise, creating the life you want can become a longer, more painful process!

5. Live Your Life With Intent

Part of the reason why we end up in lives that we aren’t excited about is not that we are necessarily okay with the lives we are leading but, because we have fallen into certain habits. Once we are accustomed to doing things a certain way, we continue engaging in those activities. The only way to get out of them is to realize that these habits are present in our lives and break free of them.

Living a happy life means living a life with purpose and intent. Every decision that you make should ultimately be what you want and help you work towards the things that you are searching for.[2] This means that you are going to need to create a life that allows you to break these cycles and help you develop healthier habits that are beneficial to you. You can do this by making simple changes such as eliminating distractions and setting up simple reminders and motivators that drive you to change.

Once you’ve developed new habits, you can then become more mindful of the habits you are engaging in, so that you can begin taking on that which only serves your growth and happiness. When you start living your day-to-day in the way you want, you are going to get much more out of what life has to offer.

Bottom Line

Doing what you love means living a life you love and when you think about it, shouldn’t that be everyone’s goal?

Getting started is as simple as realizing what you want, getting rid of what you don’t, and setting yourself up for success, three tips that you can learn more about with the guide above!

More About Living Your Dream Life

Featured photo credit: Štefan Štefančík via unsplash.com

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Dylan Buckley

Dylan is Lifehack's Motivation Expert specializing in self-development, with extensive experience working for life coaches and startups.

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Last Updated on July 3, 2020

Positive and Negative Reinforcement: Which Is More Effective?

Positive and Negative Reinforcement: Which Is More Effective?

It has been said that rarely am I short of words, and yet I’ve rewritten this article on positive and negative reinforcement five times. Why?

It’s not as if I have a lack of thoughts on this subject. It’s not as if I don’t spend my days enabling people to communicate powerfully and get what they want in life. So why the rewrites?

I’ve found myself thinking about the diversity of people I’ve coached and how different we all can be. Usually when I write for Lifehack, I’m able to see instant commonality in the subject that means I could share some ideas that would resonate wherever you are in life, whoever you are, regardless of what you were looking to achieve or what adversity you may be facing.

However, with this, it’s a “How long’s a piece of string?” answer, i.e. I could probably write a whole book’s worth of words and still have ideas to share.

Let’s look at some key points:

  • You will have times in your life where you need to get someone to do something.
  • You will have times when someone needs you to do something.

Let’s look at how positive and negative reinforcement would work. In both of these situations, you can face some big obstacles:

  • Someone may resist your desire for them to change.
  • Someone may challenge your authority or leadership.
  • Someone may be at risk of getting hurt.

The important thing to remember is that, in life, we all have to be influenced and influence those around us, and some ways will help us get the result we want, and others won’t. However, that may differ on where you are, who you are talking to, and what you want to see happen!

So, how do we know when positive reinforcement is effective[1], and can there ever be a time when negative reinforcement is good?

Worryingly, if you get positive and negative reinforcement wrong, you can risk your career, your business, your relationships, your reputation, and your brand.

Positive and negative reinforcement each have their merits, so it’s imperative to know when to employ them. Interestingly, despite a ton of evidence to the contrary, we still rely on the wrongs ones in society, business, and even in parenting.

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The 4 examples below showcase the use of positive and negative reinforcement, and whether they personally apply to you right now or not, they will resonate and be very useful to you personally in every area of your life.

For each we will look at:

  1. What’s the problem?
  2. What have you tried?
  3. Now what?
  4. The results!

The Boss

Okay, you may not be a boss, but everyone will have times in their life where they need to get people organized and working together to get the best result. Often, leaders say things like this to me:

  • “I’ve told them until I’m blue in the face not to do that!”
  • “They constantly refuse to use the new system.”
  • “They just don’t listen.”
  • “They don’t respect me.”

What Did the Boss Try?

Often, I hear “We’ve tried everything!” No matter who is reading this, trust me, you’ve not tried everything. (That’s the first thing to accept.) When you accept that, you then need to look at what you have tried to move forward.

The boss has tried:

  • Giving the person training.
  • Spending time with them and showing them how to do it.
  • Telling them it wasn’t good enough.
  • Telling them we aren’t doing that any more.

Now What?

The above situations create tension between the two as you constantly battle to maintain your position on the situation. If you are looking to get someone to do something, and they constantly resist, you need to stop and ask yourself some questions:

  1. What have we tried? This helps you to understand what they are good at, so you can utilize that in the conversation.
  2. From their viewpoint, what could prevent them from doing what I’ve asked? What could they fear, and how will we allay those fears?
  3. What do they want? Seeing their viewpoint enables you to use their terminology and language so they feel listened to.
  4. What do they believe? Do their beliefs prevent them from seeing the benefits? Beliefs can be changed but not by force—coaching is very powerful for this.
  5. How do these answers differ from my beliefs and views? Bridging the gap helps you to see both views and communicate more powerfully.

In my experience, rarely does a boss or leader need to say the word “No.” If someone is not doing what you want them to, the quickest way to see results is to ask questions and listen. Often, when you really listen, you discover a big gap between what you think you are saying and what the other person is hearing.

The reasons why someone is not doing what you want can include:

  • They don’t know how to do what you’ve asked them to do.
  • They are scared to get it wrong.
  • They fear what people will think of them.
  • They don’t have the confidence to come and tell you they need help.
  • They are scared that someone will tell them off.
  • They don’t understand where the boundaries are.

People tell me, “But I said that to them!” If you are too close to the situation, then how likely are they to take notice from you? Here’s what you can do:

  • Get out of your usual environment – Neutral environments make difficult conversations easier. They can take you both off your guard, which can be good.
  • Start by making that person feel safe to say anything. Start with ground rules like “This is a confidential conversation” and “I won’t make any judgement on what you say, I just want to understand.”
  • Be prepared to say “I’m sorry” or “I didn’t realize.” When you do this, positive and negative reinforcement can be used.

Learning how to coach people instead of tell people is key. Enabling the other person to see the benefits of what you want for them (and not you) is quicker than trying to dictate action.

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  • Lay out expected outcomes.
  • Create boundaries.
  • Explain what support and help you will provide.

The Results

This style of reinforcement is about utilizing both positive and negative reinforcement. It enables someone to feel safe to explain why they’ve not been taking action and helps them to overcome the limitations they feel while safe in the knowledge that they will get the support to change with the positive results explained in a way that matters to them.

The Young Child

If you’ve ever found yourself on the wrong end of a relentless tantrum of a small child, you will know it can feel impossible to get through to them. While many elements of The Boss scenario could work, there are times where you may need some negative reinforcement.

What’s the Problem?

My children are now 15 and 18. I can honestly say that, while we have had some challenging behaviors, our parenting means I have two children I’m very proud of–great communicators, great work ethic, kind, funny, considerate. The point is that, for my children, this stuff works. And, to be honest, when I’m with other people’s children, they often say “How did you get them to do that!”

Young children are amazing. It’s like they’ve just woken up in a new body and have been told to go touch, feel, experience everything–every emotion, every taste, smell, experience, texture, the lot! They are curious and keen to know more. They sap up everything, and a lot of that we don’t want them sapping up!

When they go to put a pencil in an electric socket, or let go of your hand as you cross the road, it’s imperative they get the learning and knowledge they need fast. I once was talking to a parent that said I was wrong to say no to my children. I asked, “At what age would you like me to introduce them to that word?” to which they had no answer.

While I agree that there are usually a lot more words than just no for children, “no” is a word that kept you and I safe when we were small.

What Have You Tried?

While young children are incredibly intelligent, explaining the merits of your preferred course of action is not going to keep them safe. Tying them to your waist isn’t working. Punishing them and telling them there’s no more park time until you walk next to me doesn’t work either. So how do you say no and keep them safe?

Now What?

Sometimes negative reinforcement is essential[2]. For instance, my son (who adored Bob the Builder when he was little) was playing with his plastic tool kit and discovered an electric socket…I didn’t stop to explain the merits of how that could be dangerous. I said calmly, “No, that’s dangerous!”

Here’s the important point: It’s not just about your words. With young children, it’s important that your body language clearly says the same.

The Results

I did feel like the luckiest parent on the planet to have two children sleeping through the night, but that didn’t tell the full story. I can remember spending a few weeks calmly picking my daughter up with no eye contact, no overly big hug, no conversation, just saying, “Sorry darling but now’s bedtime, so back we go.” And yes, being the strong-willed girl that she is, there was sometimes a good hour of that until she got the message that Mum really isn’t going to play, turn into a dinosaur, sing, or read a story.

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The thing with positive and negative reinforcement is that you need to have faith it will work, and you are doing the right thing.

Of course, when I went in to get her from her cot the next morning, I had a big grin on my face that said, “Wow, what a grown up girl you are staying in your bed all night!” I used positive reinforcement to get the day started.

The Teenager

What’s the Problem?

If I’m honest, I don’t have problems with my teenagers. However, I think that is in no small part to my style of communication. Having respect for them is key, and appreciating how much change is happening in their lives really helps–as someone who helps large teams of people deal with change, I know how hard it can be.

However, when I wrote the article How to Enjoy Parenting Teens and Help Your Kids Thrive, I was inundated with stories of hellish behavior from other parent’s teenagers, tales of staying out all night and not phoning home, abusive behavior towards parents and teens–I really felt for all involved.

What Have You Tried?

The problem with teens is they know exactly how to wind you up like a little clock-work toy. And if you’ve had a tough day, the last thing you want is to have to deal with someone who can’t even communicate with words, let alone put their dishes in the dishwasher.

Losing it is never the option, but it can easily happen. Shouting, bribery, and doing it yourself because it’s just easier really don’t work in the long run.

Now What?

If you consider everything we’ve covered, you can see that you need to communicate using positive and negative reinforcement. In life, there are consequences to all actions, and teens have a ton of stuff to learn to become effective, successful, happy adults.

Before you embark on any course of action, consider how the other person perceives the world. What are they going through?

You may have loved being a teen, but that doesn’t ensure your children will. Likewise, in life, there are things you love that others will loathe–seeing the world through other people’s eyes really helps you to understand the best way to communicate.

The only big difference for teenagers is to use emotion with caution. I personally let my children see all emotions–I’ve not hidden my tears when I’ve lost a loved one as it’s a perfectly normal thing to do. However, if a teenager in a foul mood can spot a weakness, they may just take advantage of it.

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The Results

My kids love to tell everyone I’m a scary mom. I’m not, I just have high standards, and I’m not prepared to drop them.

We shy away from telling people what we expect and then wonder why we are getting as stressed as the other party because no one knows where they stand.

I’m happy for my children to take over the TV room and eat far too much sweet stuff and binge on a box set. Just don’t put cups on the carpet, we have places for drinks. It’s having the confidence to say this is the rule.

People think negative reinforcement is a bad thing. However, how can someone change if they don’t know what they are doing wrong? And that’s the issue: so many of us are fearful of saying “Stop doing that!” If you lack confidence, find your voice because people aren’t mind-readers.

Final Thoughts

Before you start considering whether positive or negative reinforcement is best for others, ask yourself what you respond better to.

Personally, I respond far better to negative reinforcement–I can improve and be more successful and happier if I know what I’m doing wrong. Furthermore, I know that sometimes negative reinforcement works better with some clients who really don’t want to look at the issue–but it’s always done with respect and love.

Coaching people is also a great representation of when positive and negative reinforcement is best. We are looking to find ways to increase the positive action with positive reinforcement and ways to reduce the negative results with negative reinforcement–and usually my clients keep those changes for the rest of their lives.

More on Positive and Negative Reinforcement

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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