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You’ll Hate Yourself Later If You Don’t Get Rid Of These Habits

You’ll Hate Yourself Later If You Don’t Get Rid Of These Habits

Some people succeed and others fail. The key difference between the two groups is not talent or luck. It is what they choose to do and choose not to do. Here are seven of the key habits of ineffective people.

1. They drift.

Ineffective people drift though life with no clear goals. They approach each day in a haphazard way without any priorities. They do not have a to do list, or if they have one they ignore it. They are busy all day without ever accomplishing the really significant things they should do. They find it hard to differentiate between jobs that are urgent and jobs that are important. They do not measure progress against written objectives because they do not set themselves any objectives.

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2. They settle for second best.

These people do not lack ambition, but they have modest ambitions. They want to do well, but do not demand high standards of themselves. Deep down they know that they are capable of achieving much more in their chosen fields, but they are satisfied with mediocre attainments. Highly effective people are self-critical. They have enormous self-belief and they set high standards for themselves.

3. They avoid risk and discomfort.

Successful people are prepared to move out of their comfort zones and take some calculated risks. Ineffective people prefer to stay doing what they know they can do. They do not want to try new things at which they could fail or make a fool of themselves. They are reluctant to learn new skills; instead they are keen to keep treading the paths they know well.

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4. They are easily distracted.

Unproductive people spend time on easy, low-value activities and find it hard to get round to the really tough but critical tasks. They waste time watching TV, reading social media, surfing the web or playing games. They mean to do some important work but find that other things keep getting in the way.

5. They are indecisive.

Successful people make choices, they are decisive – and they get quite a few decisions wrong. But they move forward. When they see an opportunity, they seize it. Unsuccessful people often avoid hard choices. They defer decisions. They wait to see what will happen. They fear that if they make a decision it might turn out to be the wrong decision so they pause. They do not move forward. They miss opportunities.

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6. They do not work through people.

Successful people achieve success by asking, motivating and involving others. They network and approach contacts for help and information. Ineffective people prefer to browse the internet and occasionally meet some familiar people face to face. They do not actively network and engage others in their plans and projects.

7. They blame others.

Ineffective people have a long list of excuses. They are victims. Their parents, teachers, bosses and colleagues have all let them down from time to time. They have been unlucky. Fate has conspired against them. Successful people take ownership of their lives and do not blame others. They know that it is their actions and choices that determine their success or failure.

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If you read the biographies of successful people in different fields you find that they share some common habits. They set goals, they believe in themselves, they take risks, they work through people, they demand much of themselves, they make decisions and they take full responsibility for their careers and objectives. It is not so easy to read the stories of ineffective people because, although there are a great many of them, very few warrant a biography. However, just like the successful, the ineffective are shaped by their habits, actions and attitudes.

How can an ineffective person become effective and successful? First by acknowledging that they have some bad habits that are restricting them, and then by taking actions to break the habits. Ingrained habits are hard to break, but it can be done. That is what successful people do.

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Paul Sloane

Professional Keynote Speaker, Author, Innovation Expert

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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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