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7 Stupid Ideas That Are Holding You Back From Being Your Best

7 Stupid Ideas That Are Holding You Back From Being Your Best

“The problem is that the people with the most ridiculous ideas are always the people who are most certain of them.” (The Decider, July 21, 2007) – Bill Maher

In my life I have had seven definite ideas that have held me back from being the best person I can be. When I think about what Bill Maher says about ideas, mine were ridiculous, but I believed them to be “true.” If you feel you are not living your life to your fullest potential, keep reading! Because if you nod yes to one or more of these seven stupid ideas, then maybe you need to change your ideas.

1. I don’t deserve success, it is unachievable so I wont try.

This is an idea that is based on a limiting self-belief, and that actually says you have no hope inside of you and therefore don’t believe you deserve to be successful. Your mind is using a truck load of energy focusing on the negative elements of you — it’s very draining! Instead  focus on the positive elements in your life and I guarantee you will feel so much better about yourself.

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2. Others will think I am stupid if do this.

Here’s another limiting self-belief and the words of Ellen DeGeneres say it all about this stupid idea:

“Start thinking positively. You will notice a difference. Instead of ‘I think I’m a loser,’ try ‘I definitely am a loser.’ Stop being wishy-washy about things! How much more of a loser can you be if you don’t even know you are one? Either you are a loser or you are not. Which is it, stupid?”Ellen DeGeneres, The Funny Thing Is…

Surround yourself with people who make you happy, who support you, believe in you and who see you at your best. They are the people who will stop you from thinking you are an idiot and stupid. I do, however, like what Ellen says about being more definite in saying you are a loser rather than saying you think you are!

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3. It’s too late for me to change or to do what I want to do.

This is just an excuse to accept our lot in life. The older we get, the less opportunity we believe we have to follow our dream. It is never too late — it is only because we choose to believe it is too late. The power of choice sits with us.

 “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, either way you are right.” – Henry Ford

If you are a mid-lifer like me, then you will be surrounded by people who believe that it is too late and are waiting to retire. Go surround yourself with young people just starting out on their journey and absorb their energy and positivity about life. Hopefully that will ignite you to go and do what ever it takes to follow your dream.

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4. I tried, but it didn’t work out as I expected, so I am not doing that again.

This is a stupid, negative idea that focuses on your failure. This idea could so easily be turned around to an idea that says, “I gave it a go and it didn’t turn out as I expected, but wow what a journey! I learned heaps and next time I will be more aware of…”  Which idea feels better to say? I am guessing that it is the second idea that feels better. So why focus on negative thoughts when they make you feel yuck? Failures are part of the package of life, so embrace failure, learn from your failures, adjust and keep going.

5. I am actually comfortable with how things are at the moment.

Not only is this idea stupid, it is dangerous and it is tricky. Because to be your best you have to be courageous and uncomfortable at times. I too like the safety of comfort and contentment, but after a while it does get boring. You start to feel worse and even more discontented. I find that once I take up a challenge and push myself out of my  comfort zone, life becomes a good-scary and exciting! If you choose to step out of your comfort zone and you don’t feel energized and excited, then you haven’t stepped out far enough!

6. To be my best requires too much hard work and energy and I don’t have that right now. Maybe later…

This crazy idea suggests that you maybe lack a vision of what it is you want. You actually don’t know what your best looks like and therefore you will find an excuse for not doing what it takes to be that. If you lack clarity about what you want to be, then the desire and motivation are nonexistent. I know that, personally, I have to be clear about what it is I want and what success looks like for me. If I can feel it, smell it and visualise it, then I will do what ever it takes. If not, I will find any excuse as to why I can’t do it.

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If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” – Jim Rohn

7. It’s too overwhelming and I am scared.

To be our best we actually have to change who we are and what we think. And yes, it is overwhelming and scary! If being our best was easy and not scary, then we would be going for it and living our life to our fullest potential. Life is not like that and this stupid idea illustrates how fearful we are of change. Life is not a straight line, it’s full of twists and turns and tough times. However, if we choose it to be, we can live a life full of joy, happiness and love. To be the best  person you want to be embrace change and your vulnerability.

When I watched Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability, it was like a whole new world of thinking opened up to me. Once I stepped into my power of vulnerability, I stopped being scared and overwhelmed and became free of my fear and my stupid ideas.                                      

So get rid of your stupid ideas, embrace change, take up the challenge and go for it!

More by this author

Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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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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