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9 Lies You Tell Yourself That Keeps You Away From Success

9 Lies You Tell Yourself That Keeps You Away From Success

“Stop lying to yourself. When we deny our own truth, we deny our own potential.”
-Steve Maraboli

We all make excuses and tell ourselves lies to avoid success. I should add, we do that to avoid the challenge, the blood, the sweat, and the tears. It is really taking the easy way out but that is denying us the chance of fame and power. The lies are barriers to achievement and fulfillment. Here are 9 lies that you probably tell yourself to avoid success.

1. I must never fail

People are afraid of failure. They are right. It ruins everything. You tell yourself that failure is not on the agenda.

The truth is that all the greatest entrepreneurs know about failure. They have all experienced it, although they may not talk much about it. But those who do all have one message. Failure was a learning experience.

Just look at J.K. Rowling, the creator of the Harry Potter books. She was at one point suicidal as she feared she could not make enough money to feed her children! Yet, she persisted and now she has sold over 400 million books and is the second richest woman in the UK. Think of each setback as a building block to success.

Richard Branson has a string of failed projects to his name. Just think of Virgin Cola, Virgin Cards, Virgin Clothes, Virgin Vie and Virgin Vodka!

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“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
–Michael Jordan

2. I just need a lucky break

As you tell yourself this, you visualize success. The problem is that the chances of this lucky break happening are about the same as winning the lottery. There is another issue here. You are deceiving yourself in thinking that the winners have always had it easy and have never had to struggle. They got lucky and they never had to deal with grinding poverty, unfair competition, and backbreaking hard work.

The reality is a lot different. It takes nerve, determination, persistence, and a vision to succeed. The lucky break may come but waiting around is not going to make that happen.

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”
–J.K.Rowling

3. I do not have the courage

You are basically scared and are not prepared to make that courageous leap. You lie to yourself that fear is holding you back. If you are a manager, you may be avoiding staff problems because of a lack of courage. Your business may suffer. When you are in a relationship, fear may hold you back from expressing your real feelings and emotions. You may lose your partner because of this.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.”
–Eleanor Roosevelt

4. I must do everything myself

If you deceive yourself about this, you will never be able to surround yourself with top level team members who will really make a difference. If you persist in this, you are likely to end up micromanaging. You will never be able to delegate because you do not know the skill set of each of your team members. You will never win their loyalty, trust, and confidence. This does not only apply to your team but also to all your business contacts. This is one of the reasons why Richard Branson is a regular attendee at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“To be successful in business, you need to connect and collaborate and delegate.”
–Richard Branson

5. I must wait for the right moment

You think that there will be the perfect niche and you will know when to pounce on it to make it into a roaring success. You just have to wait until the time is right and you keep putting things off.

If Gutenberg had persisted in that belief we would never have had the printing press. Nobody wanted books then!

“Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday.”
-Napoleon Hill

6. I am not clever enough

So you think that successful people are really intelligent? You might be shocked to know that their IQ accounts for only about 25% of their success. The other 75% is due to their ability to network, their optimism, and their emotional intelligence.

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If you are telling yourself this lie, try to assess what your networking abilities and EQ are before beating yourself up about your lack of intelligence or formal qualifications. Common sense and social interaction skills will beat an MBA any day of the week.

“Hope is a talent like any other.”
-Storm Jameson

7. I haven’t got the right personality

If you think that personality is so important, think again! Look at the greatest success stories on this planet. Bill Gates is an introvert, Barack Obama has been described as aloof while Mark Zuckerberg is shy.

There are some fascinating insights into the personalities of people who have had enormous success. Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. is well worth a read.

Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, measure your self-esteem. This is what really counts.

“He is shy and introverted and he often does not seem very warm to people who don’t know him, but he is warm,”
-Sheryl Sandberg talking about Zuckerberg to The New York Times.

8. I never have enough money

You probably lie to yourself that all these successful people had loads of money to start with so they had it real easy. But throwing money at a project is not going to make it work. Instead of blaming the lack of funding, think of all the other factors that can make a project work. This may include planning, setting goals and objectives, team building, just to mention a few.

“The manager who comes up with the right solution to the wrong problem is more dangerous than the manager who comes up with the wrong solution to the right problem.”
–Peter Drucker

9. I know what works so I will continue with that

This is a fallacy because it can lead to stagnation. It is a dangerous lie too. The world is changing every minute. There are implications for your competitors and your markets. It also reduces your possibility of saving money on a more efficient solution or at looking at innovation. This is the dynamism of the business world. If you get stuck in a rut, you will never achieve success.

We have seen that success rarely falls into the lap of a person, unless they are born into a rich family. Even that is not a guarantee of achievement. The above examples show that determination, persistence, courage and vision are what really count in success. Time to stop lying to ourselves.

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”
-Lao Tzu

Featured photo credit: Lies/Ged Carroll via flickr.com

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More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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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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