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4 Things That Hold You Back from Success

4 Things That Hold You Back from Success

Imagine you are walking down a street in your local neighborhood. Suddenly, your eye catches a breathtakingly beautiful rose garden on your right. It is vibrant, bursting with a variety of bright colors, and emits a heavenly scent. You notice how beautifully manicured it is, with bright, colorful roses lining the garden and yellow sunflowers poking their heads out in the back.

But then, suddenly, your attention gets drawn to the garden directly next to this. It is an awful sight, completely overgrown and wild. The garden is dull and full of weeds with many ‘unwanted plants’ that have grown. It looks sad and miserable.

Life is very much like a garden. Each garden looks very different and every garden holds within it unlimited potential. What have you been sowing in your garden?  What are the results you have reaped?

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Perhaps you have been trying your best to create your ‘dream’ garden but you are just not seeing the results you want. Is there too much sun, too much water or too much shade? Getting a successful garden to grow, is not easy and you may be doing a few things that are holding you back from having success.

1. The law of weeds

What are you planting exactly? If you don’t plant flowers, weeds will grow for sure. In other words, if your thoughts and actions are not geared towards success, they will bring you results you don’t want.

Identify the weeds in your garden and spots the wild shrubs that are strangling the roses from growing. Every bad habit, limiting thought or action, does not only hold you back from success, but reinforces what you are not happy with, making it harder to change each time.

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2.  A half-grown garden

What will your garden look like if you only spend a few hours a week gardening? Some roses might grow here and there, but it will most likely be teetering between success or failure. Most people want to have more success in life but they don’t want to actually work for it. You can see it every day, people put comfort before results and that is definitely going to hold you back.

You also have to do some things you don’t like and no half jobs. You are going to have to prep the soil, get your hands dirty, etc. Put results before comfort, success is not about staying in your comfort zone.

3.  Always digging up your seeds

You need to be patient to see the results you want and to be successful. When you plant a flower, you believe and trust that it will grow. You don’t dig it up every day to see how much it has grown. Sometimes we don’t give ourselves enough time to produce the results we really want or we half halfheartedly try something and we give up too easily. We live in a world where instant gratification is possible and we assume this means every area of life. Patience could be your missing link to success.

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4. Every flower is different

Every flower is different, unique and special in its own way. Just like you. Most people struggle to have success in an area because they are too influenced by outsiders. Do you feel torn between doing what you want and what others say you ‘should’ or ‘need’ to do; you must look, act and talk a certain way to be successful. Ironically, it is when we don’t give ourselves permission to be ourselves completely that we actually fail.

You cannot separate who you are from the success you achieve and you need to give yourself permission to do it ‘your way’, you already know what is right for you.  You need to remain impartial sometimes to other people’s words and actions and how much you allow them to influence your success.

Lastly, if you really feel that you have been spending hours gardening, and you have applied what you have learnt, but your garden is still not growing, how can you identify why your garden is struggling?

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It isn’t easy to see your blind spots, so asking yourself similar questions to these could be your best next step

  • If you viewed things from another person’s point of view, what new information would that perspective give you?
  • How do you normally sabotage or hold yourself back – and what will you do differently this time?
  • What might you have to give up in order to be more successful?

We tend to focus more often on what is going wrong, rather than what is going right and sometimes we forget our small successes. Remember that success is a journey, not a destination!

To your success!

More by this author

Kirstin O´Donovan

Certified Life and Productivity Coach, Founder and CEO of TopResultsCoaching

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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