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3 Essential Things to Achieve Success (Hard Work Is Not One of Them)

3 Essential Things to Achieve Success (Hard Work Is Not One of Them)

A common adage is that you need to work harder and suffer more than anyone else if you want to achieve success.

At the most, that’s a half-truth.

From what I have learned from people who have accomplished big things in both their lives and careers, one of their most common “a-ha moments” was when they realized that working hard was not enough to succeed, and that often it was even a waste of time and energy.

Thinking from this perspective, I have collected 3 things that just are as important, or even more important, than hard work when it comes to achieving success.

1. Purpose

things achieve success

    You’ve been working down in the boiler room for so long that you may not even remember WHY.

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    If you examined every single person in the world who is considered a failure (especially by themselves), you would see that all their lives lack the same ingredient: purpose.

    They don’t know where they are going. They don’t know why they do the things they do and don’t think there can be a reason. They chase only short-term satisfactions like food or sex, and those are the only things that keep them moving.

    They are operating only out of the animal side of themselves. Thus, they are not able to practice long-term thinking or personal analysis as human beings can.

    There is no need to look at very clear cases of failure to find the disease of lack of purpose. If you are not constantly aware, you will find yourself in the middle of doing something and won’t know why you are doing it.

    Momentum can be a good friend, but is also one of those friends that will make you waste a ton of time if you don’t keep an eye on it.

    Every time you start an action, keep in mind that you are going to keep on doing it for the rest of your life. Unless, of course, something internal or external reminds you to start doing something else.

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    When you start working on something without clearly knowing the expected results, it may take you hours or days of hard work to realize that it isn’t what you should be doing, if you ever want to achieve your goals.

    Don’t be a busy, hard-working person. Be a hard-planning person who takes purposeful actions instead.

    2. Self-work

    Work on yourself 10 times as hard as you work on external elements, and you will feel that you are moving 10 times faster towards what you want.

    Almost all the hard work you have to do to succeed is focused on replacing your routines and habits with the ones a successful person would have. By deliberately changing your procedures, you change the results you achieve, the value you provide, and the way you are seen by yourself and the rest of the world.

    If you could perform the same training and habits as Bruce Lee, day after day, there is no doubt that you would sooner or later become a remarkable martial artist, right?

    And what about performing like a person whose success in business has been outstanding? What if you integrated the same routines and habits that have allowed others to unlock the power and creativity they needed to succeed in their career or life?

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    You could, literally, start performing like that today and get astounding results immediately.

    The only requirement is that you put your old habits and self-limiting beliefs aside, making space for new ones.

    You must look at them before you can let them go; if you don’t recognize the weeds amongst the flowers, you won’t be able to take them out.

    Success is not attained by fighting the old, but by letting it go and building the new in its place.

    3. Belief

    If you don’t believe it’s possible for you to achieve what you want, you can work day and night, but you will never succeed.

    Sometimes, all the distance that seems to be separating you from your goals is in your mind. If you removed those mental barriers, you would see that you could just reach out and grab what you’ve been pursuing for so long.

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    As long as you don’t believe that it’s possible for you to have it, you are going to keep creating excuses and distractions. That’s simply because it feels uncomfortable or scary to have something you don’t think you are ready to have, or become someone you don’t believe you can be.

    If you removed the negative beliefs about what YOU can have and become, your reality would change instantly.

    Conclusion

    I know that these three things also require hard work and focus, but the stress, frustration and hours of pushing and shoveling they may save you are priceless.

    Featured photo credit: Businessman looking at city through window via shutterstock.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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