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Avoiding Mediocrity: Do You Dare to Be Different?

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Avoiding Mediocrity: Do You Dare to Be Different?
Being different

    Following the herd is a sure way to mediocrity.
    Patti Wilson

    I don’t know about you, but one of the things I’m afraid most in life is mediocrity. For me, life is too precious to be lived in mediocrity. Life is a golden opportunity, and we should use it as good as we can. Living in mediocrity means we do not use the opportunity as good as we should.

    Unfortunately, many people are trapped in mediocrity. I believe one of the main reasons is they do not dare to be different. You need to be different if you want to be above the average. The question is:

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    Do you dare to be different?

    This question might not be easy to answer, but how you answer it will make the difference between excellence and mediocrity.

    Here are some more specific questions to help you check yourself and take actions:

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    1. Do you have a dream?

    This is the first question you should ask yourself. I believe one of the main reasons people just follow the herd is they don’t have a dream. If there is nothing to pursue then why bother being different?

    But a dream is what sets you above the average. Not having a dream means going to mediocrity on autopilot.

    If your answer for this first question is “no” then start searching. I’m sure you have a dream deep inside of you. It might be something from your childhood. Maybe for long time you have been too busy to let the little voice of your dream be heard. This is the right time to heed that little voice.

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    If you have found your dream, the next question is whether or not you have the courage to follow it. Questions two through five will deal with that.

    2. Are you doing what you want or what you should?

    There are often implicit “rules” about what someone should do in a particular situation. For example, when there are two job opportunities, the “rule” says that you should take the one with higher pay.

    But is that what you want? I mean, does it help you achieve your dream? Maybe the job with less pay will help you achieve your dream while the one with higher pay doesn’t. Do you have the courage to be different and follow your dream?

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    3. Do you worry more about being loved than being what you love?

    Another reason why we don’t dare to be different is because we are trying to meet other people’s expectations. We often worry more about what other people say than about what matters to us. But living someone else’s life is a bad way to live your life. Why should you lose opportunity just because of what other people say?

    4. Do you choose what is safe rather than what is right?

    Maybe you are not trying to meet other people’s expectation. Maybe you just don’t want to take risks and therefore you choose to play safe. But this is exactly what many old people regret. When they were asked in a study about what they regretted most and what they would do differently, most of them answered: “I wish I had risked more.” Don’t let the same regret happen to you.

    5. If you had only six months left to live, would you do what you are doing now?

    You can only answer “yes” to this question if what you are doing matters to you. Doing what matters to you is a sure way to excellence since you will do it with all your heart. But you need the courage to be different and follow your heart. Do you have it? I hope your answer is yes. Life is too precious to be lived in mediocrity.

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    Donald Latumahina

    Donald Latumahina is the founder of Life Optimizer, a self-improvement blog to help people reach their full potential.

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    Last Updated on October 21, 2021

    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

    Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

    Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

    The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

    Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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    Program Your Own Algorithms

    Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

    Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

    By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

    How to Form a Ritual

    I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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    Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

    1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
    2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
    3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
    4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

    Ways to Use a Ritual

    Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

    1. Waking Up

    Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

    2. Web Usage

    How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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    3. Reading

    How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

    4. Friendliness

    Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

    5. Working

    One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

    6. Going to the gym

    If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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    7. Exercise

    Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

    8. Sleeping

    Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

    8. Weekly Reviews

    The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

    Final Thoughts

    We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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    Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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