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Why Focusing on Your Strengths is the Best Philosophy

Why Focusing on Your Strengths is the Best Philosophy
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    “Do whatever you do intensely” – Robert Henri

    Are you achieving the results you want from everything you do?

    If not, maybe it’s time to ask yourself the following questions:

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    • Are you focusing on the right things?
    • Is your energy and focus divided? Do you know what your strengths are?

    One of the many lessons I have learnt over the years is that focusing on too many things at once will not enable you to achieve your best results. But even more important than that is to ensure that your focus is on what you do best, this is when you will do your best work and get your best results.

    Positive Psychology

    Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology says that for a person to be truly happy and live a meaningful life, that person must recognize their personal strengths and use these strengths for the greater good. If we are to take Seligman’s advice, we should spend time trying to figure out our personal strengths and not waste our valuable time and life doing jobs that don’t please us and take us away from doing what we were made to do. If this is the secret of happiness, shouldn’t we all be focusing on our strengths and not wasting time with all the other bits?

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    Pareto Principle

    The Pareto Principle shows how filtering what you focus on can help towards more success. The Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule is widely recognized as a principle which holds true in many facets of life. Sales executives use it to identify their important customers. They know that 20% of their customers give them 80% of their revenue and that 20% of their products will also give them 80% of the revenue. The clever know that once they identify that 20% they should focus their attention on that 20%. In this way results will be achieved more quickly and effectively.

    If you focus most of your energy and attention on the important customers, this well reap rewards for your bank balance. Your good customers will become great customers. If you apply this principle to your whole life, if you were to focus solely on what you do best just imagine the results. If you were to stop doing the work that doesn’t add value, the work that someone else could do for you. By directly all your energy on your strengths, this will surely get your the results you aim for more quickly.

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    Happiness is the New Productivity

    Vishen Lakhiani, CEO of MindValley, says that “happiness is the new productivity”. Being in a state of flow or extreme creativity will magnify the impact of everything you do. You must have goals, but your happiness must not be tied to these goals. You must be happy in the now. You will never reach your highest success if you are not happy what you are doing. Do what makes you happy and your will create a state of flow which will bring to you everlasting success.

    So if you don’t already know, spend some time figuring out what your strengths are, what activity induces flow for you? When you know what activity it is, focus on it and do it to the best of your ability. Make sure you “only do what only you can do”, focus on your 20%, and let others do the 80% of the work that you don’t need to do. By doing this not only will you be more efficient, creative, and productive — you will be happier and more successful.

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    (Photo credit: Child Showing Off Muscle via Shutterstock)

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      Ciara Conlon

      Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

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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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