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Ask for Advice to Help Achieve Your Goals

Ask for Advice to Help Achieve Your Goals

    It’s that time of year when we’re all thinking about what we’d like to achieve in the New Year.

    Whether it’s improving an area of our lives (health or finance for example), taking a life-changing trip or embarking on a new career, chances are we have an idea of what we want to achieve, but not exactly how to achieve it.

    Even if we do have a rough plan of sorts, seeking advice from others who’ve been there before you can only help, and saves from trying to figure everything out on our own.

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    During my tenure as a journalist, I interviewed a number of high profile names who had achieved great success in their chosen field.

    Whenever I did so, my final question, though worded differently, was always pretty much the same:

    “What advice would you give to those looking to follow in your footsteps?”

    Though I asked partly to get a good quote for an article, my motives were mostly selfish; I really respected what my interviewees had achieved, longed to reach the same level of success and desperately wanted to know how they did it. Though I couldn’t always find away to apply everything I was told directly to my life, wherever I could, I did.

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    On standing out from the crowd when approaching editors in my writing career for example, a former editor of Marvel Comics once told me:

    “Don’t be an envelope, be a face, be a name.”

    I employed that line as my own personal mantra when seeking out bigger and better opportunities and certainly found that I’ve achieved more success ever since.

    Who to ask

    In his best-selling book, The 4-Hour Work Week, author Tim Ferriss discusses setting university students the challenge of seeking out high-profile successful people (the guys who created Google, for example) and asking for advice.

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    There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, and if you feel confident enough to call up Bill Gates and ask how to run a multi-billion dollar empire (or if you’re a journalist with access to the rich and famous!), then by all means go right ahead, though you’ll usually find plenty of people right on your doorstep who are happy to help.

    Look around you

    Whatever your goals are for the New Year, achieving them on your own is going to be hard work, and there’s likely to be somebody in your network who’ll be able to help.

    If your goal is to run a marathon in 2012, tracking down Paula Radcliffe for training tips might not be necessary if you, or someone in your network, is already a seasoned athlete.

    If you plan to get on top of your finances, who do you know who’s already good with money? What can you learn from them?

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    What to ask

    If there’s one thing my time in journalism taught me, it’s that, when it comes to advice, if you simply ask ‘What do I need to do to follow in your footsteps?” you’re likely to be met with little more than an enthusiastic “Go for it!” Whilst this can do wonders for your motivation, it’s hardly practical and still leaves you scratching your head thinking “Yeah, but how?”

    Instead, think about exactly what it is you want to know, and ask specific questions. To go back to our marathon example, think about specific areas you’re struggling with; how to maintain stamina, what to eat, or even which running shoes to buy. The more specific you can be with your questions, the more useful the advice will be.

    To surmise then, think about your goals for the coming year, think about not only those who could advise you, but also what you need advice on, and make contact. Then, when you find yourself being approached for advice by others, be sure to remember all the times you were in their shoes, and help them out.

    (Photo credit: Hot Keys for Advice and Support via Shutterstock)

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    Chris Skoyles

    Coach, and trainee counsellor specializing in mental health and addiction.

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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