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8 Things Successful People Sacrifice For Their Success

8 Things Successful People Sacrifice For Their Success

Four years ago, I went through one of the most difficult times of my life. I’d recently given birth to my third child. I was breastfeeding up to 6 times in a night. My husband was working night shifts. I was also trying to get my writing career off the ground. I would often feed my daughter and type with the other hand. I had broken sleep for months on end and still took my other two children to school on time. I made many sacrifices to follow my dreams. And every single one of them have paid off in the end. If I hadn’t made those sacrifices, my writing career wouldn’t be where it is today.

In order to achieve what we really want in life, we have to make sacrifices. Here are 8 things successful people sacrifice for their success.

1. Time

I am often asked how I juggle being a mother of three young kids, with work and study. I often jokingly respond with, “Lots of coffee.” But in reality, it’s how I make use of time. Truth is, there are so many things to do in a day – it’s not about having enough time, it’s about making use of your time. We all have the same 24 hours and we all have the opportunity to use our time wisely. When we sacrifice time, we’re prioritising a certain task over another one. That task and all the others we accomplish – are the key to our success.

I write to-do lists every day and I stick to them. I set my own deadlines. I try my best not to procrastinate. But if I do, I don’t beat myself up about it. Negative self-talk and thinking, “I wish I had more time” simply takes away the time you still have! You can think, “I only have 20 minutes to do my work.” or you can think more positively, “I have 20 minutes to do my work. If I use this time wisely, I’ll be 20 minutes closer to finishing the task.” If we don’t make better use of our time and achieve our small goals, then we’ll never achieve the bigger ones that are most important to us.

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2. Stability

My family has always been on one main source of income. Although my writing pays, it doesn’t provide us with the stability of a second income that we require. In order to follow my dreams, we are sacrificing stability and leaving ourselves with unpredictability. There are weeks in which we earn more money than others. There are weeks in which I have no articles to write and others in which I have two to write several every day.

It’s not the most ideal way to live your life, but it’s a sacrifice I have to make to move my career forward. Successful people have to deal with instability, financial or otherwise, and their life can feel like a rollercoaster. But the good news is, roller coasters go down but they also come back up. If we don’t risk instability, we’re giving up the chance to make our lives better.

3. Personal life

I have been happily married for almost 7 years, but we’ve had our challenges. There are times where I have sacrificed time with my husband to finish an article on time. There are times where I postpone a playdate with another mother to a more convenient time. When we are determined to succeed, we have to make changes in our personal lives – in our friendships and our relationships. It’s not about neglecting your loved ones – it’s about working around your personal life.

Each one of us has their responsibilities and sometimes we simply have to compromise with other people. If we don’t learn to say ‘no’ or give up a night out with friends to study/work, we are the ones who suffer. These are the moments in our life when we have to think of our needs, be sensitive to our loved ones’ feelings and hope that they’ll understand that we need to do what’s best for us.

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4. Sleep

There are nights in which I plan to take a break from writing and I fall asleep on the couch. As much as I’d love to be in bed cuddling with my husband, I know that things will not be like this forever. When I’ve had a much needed nap, I wake up feeling very refreshed. It’s late at night, everybody is asleep and I’m feeling energised. Some nights I really push myself but I always try my best to sleep 6 hours a night. And if I can’t, I make up for it another night.

Sometimes, no matter how productive you are during the day, you need those extra hours at night. Without those extra periods of peace and quiet, you may not be able to get everything done. For those wanting to achieve success, the rewarding feeling they get when they’ve accomplished their task always makes the reduced amount of sleep worth it.

5. Health

The reality is, when we’re determined to achieve our goals, we might start to neglect our bodies and our minds. We start to eat less healthy, do less exercise or maybe reduce it to none at all, we might even put our emotional and mental health at risk. It may not be the most ideal thing to do, but those determined to be successful know that it’s only a temporary solution.

We may not be able to put our full attention into our physical, mental and emotional health but we have to be aware of when our body is being overworked. Successful people may start to neglect parts of their life in order to improve other parts of their life. But this can only last for a while. Sooner or later you have to live a healthier life or you’ll regret it in the future.

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6. Quiet times

My life is pretty jam packed at the moment. I’m often rushing around trying to fit everything in. My husband and I want to move to a bigger house. We want to give our kids more room to play in, more room to entertain their friends, a more comfortable house for them to grow up in. So this is why my life is so busy at the moment.

I work from home to support my husband’s income. I study from home so when our kids are at school full-time next year, I can have the qualifications to look for a job. I always keep in mind that I need to cherish the moment, but I know that I need to plan for the future as well. Successful people know that the busyness will not last forever.

7. Sanity

There are days when I’m feeling more stressed, tired and overworked than on others. There are days when I question whether what I’m doing is really worth it. But I know it is. Working hard towards our big goals in life was never meant to be easy. These goals and aspirations for the future are meant to test us, challenge us, and help us to realise how badly we really want them.

Maybe your family and friends call you crazy for working so hard. But you need to do what’s right for you. Don’t forget to take breaks, to relax when you really need to, to take time out for yourself. But know that in those temporary crazy moments, you are a step closer to having what you truly want.

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8. Immediate desires

There are so many things that each of us wants right now. Things that might encourage us to procrastinate when we really shouldn’t. We might want to do something simple like check our Facebook feed. We might want to do something more significant like buy a new car. But the question is – what is most important to us? We have to make the choice between our immediate desires and the needs that will propel our dreams forward.

Fact is, it’s not wrong of us to have these immediate desires, these temptations to choose the ‘easier’ option’. It’s normal to feel that way. However, when we sacrifice what we want right now, we are saving our time and energy for something more important. Something that will bring us one step closer to our real goals. Something we truly want, not just something we want right now.

Maybe we don’t want to sacrifice our time, stability, personal life, sleep, health, stillness and sanity. Maybe it just feels too difficult. But I’ll tell you right now, I’ve sacrificed every one of these things at one point or another. I wouldn’t have gone from writing on a personal blog to working as a freelance writer/journalist, if I had chosen the easier option. I wouldn’t have grown as a person if I hadn’t made those sacrifices either.

If you want to be successful and achieve what you really want in life, you’ll have to make sacrifices. But when you reach the end of that mountain, you’ll be so very glad that you never gave up the journey.

Featured photo credit: Close up of handsome young businessman via shutterstock.com

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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