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Avoiding Mediocrity: Do You Dare to Be Different?

Avoiding Mediocrity: Do You Dare to Be Different?
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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 July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    More on Building Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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