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11 Items Successful People Have at Home

11 Items Successful People Have at Home

Success is more than a measure of someone’s achievements. It’s an indicator of their habits, their productivity, and the choices they’ve made. So it’s no wonder that successful people tend to have many of the same habits.

In particular, those individuals tend to have certain items in their homes—tools that make them more productive, layouts that help them connect with their family, or resources that keep them focused on their most important goals.

Here are eleven of those items and why having them in your home as well might offer the boost you’ve been looking for to jumpstart your productivity.

1. Simulated Sunrise Alarm Clock

The alarm clock is one of the most hated and yet most necessary items in anyone’s home. It’s the first thing you hear every morning, but certainly not the first thing you want to hear.

Part of the problem is that human beings, like most diurnal creatures, respond to sunlight. Ever try to sleep in on the weekend with the shades open? It’s really hard to do. Your body goes into overdrive when the sun rises and tells you “it’s time to wake up!”

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A simulated sunrise alarm clock will slowly brighten as the time to wake gets closer, and just in case you can’t wake up on any particular day, it has a traditional, sound-based alarm built in.

2. The Means with Which to Exercise

I won’t advise you to buy an overpriced exercise bike or treadmill, but one thing all successful people have in their homes is SOME means with which to exercise.

Whether it’s a yoga mat, a large open space, some free weights, or a jump rope, have something in your home you can turn to for exercise when needed. There are days when the gym is too far and the weather too nasty—don’t let that be an excuse to fall into bad habits.

3. Books That Motivate and Inspire

Even the world’s most successful people sometimes need a pick me up, and a good book can do just that. Filled with stories of successes achieved, failures learned from, and obstacles overcome, good business and lifestyle books will motivate you to get the most out of your day.

There are numerous articles about books you can read to fill that gap—from ones that will make you think by Malcolm Gladwell, to motivational stories of extreme productivity from Tim Feriss. Here are a few more to help you get started.

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4. Isolated, Quiet Space for Working

Successful people inevitably have to work at home sometimes—it’s a necessity. But when they do, they have a space that is separate from the rest of the house. One that allows them to shut out distractions and focus on the tasks at hand.

This is good for a couple of reasons. One, it allows them to get that work done faster. Rather than sitting on the couch working for four hours between distractions, they shut an office door and get the bare necessities done in 1–2 hours—much faster and better for the work-life balance.

5. A Handwritten Notebook for Setting Goals

There are three types of goals. Long term goals like those you’ll set every year in January, short term goals to complete specific projects or hit certain milestones, and daily goals to just plain get things done.

Successful people have efficient systems in place to set and manage all three of these, and the best way to handle it on a daily basis is with a handwritten notebook you can check. I recommend moleskine notebooks that fit in your back pocket.

6. Hardwired Telephone and Internet Connections

This is a basic productivity tip but it’s a must. If you’re working at home, you need to know that your phone and Internet connection will be reliable. Wireless connections, whether a cell-phone that can get choppy or drop calls or WiFi Internet, are neither reliable nor the highest possible quality. Install hard lines wherever you are working.

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7. A Standing Desk or Versatile Working Space

You’ve read the articles about the dangers of sitting. But forget the fear of being unhealthy for a moment and focus on the many benefits of being upright for longer periods of time each day. A more active body leads to a sharper mind and more productive output. Even if you don’t plan on getting a standing desk, look into other versatile working space options.

8. A Visual Representation of Goals

In my home office I have a white board and a cork board. On the former I will draw diagrams showing how much work I have left to achieve a specific goal—at any given time I can create a reminder that I’m getting closer to my goals. On the cork board I will pin successes as they occur. This means printing out metrics from a recent project, putting up the business card of someone I met at a conference, or posting the most recent article I wrote as a reminder of what I am working towards.

9. A Fridge Full of Healthy, Lifestyle-Oriented Foods

A healthy diet is a must, and successful individuals know this and live their lives by the maxim that a healthy body, well-cared for will fuel a healthy mind.

So toss the junk food and beer and work towards a better balanced, healthier, and generally better balanced lifestyle that will allow you to think better and have more energy on a daily basis.

10. A Dining Room or Kitchen Table with No TV in Sight

Successful people tend to have a better handle on the balance between work and life, especially in the 21st century as the psychological and emotional benefits of doing so have become so apparent.

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To foster this, make sure you have a dedicated space where you and your family can sit and eat dinner together, discuss your day, and bond outside the realm of work.

11. A Hands-on Hobby without a Screen Attached

Screens are everywhere. On average you will look at a screen 45 out of every 60 minutes during the day. So a hobby that involves playing a computer game or watching movies isn’t the best way to rest your mind.

Instead choose a hobby that uses your hands and puts those hyperactive neurons in your brain to rest. Painting, playing a musical instrument, gardening, woodworking—whatever you enjoy that doesn’t require a screen can be great post-work therapy.

Without fail, the most successful people in the world will have some or all of the items listed above in their homes in some form or another. The key is to maintain balance, seeking success at work while enjoying peace and love at home. With the right balance or productivity and family, you can do the same.

Featured photo credit: success/Grinapple via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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