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How to Win Your Life’s Own “Olympic Gold”

How to Win Your Life’s Own “Olympic Gold”


    When Missy Franklin was two-years-old, she wandered 30 feet into the ocean after a fish. The water was 12 feet deep. “I don’t think she needed to be rescued,” her father recently said about the incident.

    Even as a tot, Missy had an innate fascination with the water. Fortunately, both she and her parents recognized this passion. Today, she is an Olympic Gold medalist swimmer. Her nickname?  “Missy the Missile”.

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    When you look at the bookends of Missy’s story, it seems obvious that she would achieve her Olympic goal. After all, if she always wanted to be a swimmer, she must have known that she would succeed, right?

    It’s just not that simple. Missy Franklin, like every other Olympian, has worked her tush off. Take Gabby Douglas, for example. Now a two-time Olympic gold medalist in gymnastics, Gabby felt so weighted down by the sacrifices she made for her sport that she almost quit gymnastics altogether.

    But did she quit? Absolutely not.

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    Behind every Olympian is a story of early mornings, bad days and hard-headed devotion. Mornings in the pool, at the gym, in the rink.  Because when you want to achieve your dream more than you want anything else, those crack-of-dawn mornings and hours of tears are all worth it.

    Most of us were not made to become Olympic athletes. If you can’t handle pain or stand the thought of flipping your body through the air, you’ll never be able to force yourself to become an Olympic gymnast. Unless you want to succeed at your sport more than you want anything else, it doesn’t matter how svelte or fit or young you are.

    But that’s fantastic news!

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    The thing is, while Olympic gold is a fantastic dream, it’s far from the only one.  And I’m a firm believer that every single person has a unique set of strengths and desires that paints their passion. Not sure what your’s is? Promise me that you’ll keep searching.

    Gold comes in many forms, from becoming a reporter for the New York Times to saving lives as a world-class surgeon. Once you define your unique dream, you’ll do anything necessary to see it through.

    If you want to have your “Olympic moment”, you’ll put up with painful hours sitting on a hard chair in front of your computer screen, waiting for inspiration to strike.

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    • You’ll put up with the jitters in your gut while receiving a critique on a project that you spent all night perfecting.
    • You’ll put up with the dirty dishes piling in the sink when you spend every spare minute working towards your dream.
    • You’ll put up with the strange looks from the other people at the dinner table when you say “no” to desert for the thousandth time.
    • You’ll put up with all of it, because your eye is on the prize – a shiny golden box of glory that makes you blind to anything standing in your way.

    Go get ’em, tiger.

    (Photo credit: Gold Medals via Shutterstock)

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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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