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Why You Shouldn’t Quit Your Dream

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Why You Shouldn’t Quit Your Dream

Sometimes you just want to give up. It’s not the most popular thing to admit. But it’s true.

In life, as you strive to make things better, they often get harder. There are obstacles, frustrations, and at times the journey to success feels never-ending.

But there’s hope. You’re not alone in experiencing adversity while working toward your dreams. Everyone goes through it. Stephen Pressfield explained why this happens in his book The War of Art:

“Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”

Resistance to doing something that matters is often a sign you’re on the right track. And if you’re not vigilant, it’ll make you quit your dream. And that’s no bueno.

For a little inspiration to keep you working toward making your dream a reality, check out the stories below. They’re from some fellow dreamers who hit more than a few bumps in the road on their way to tremendous success.

1. The 4-letter word to get you through major obstacles

Born into apartheid South Africa, Nelson Mandela became a freedom fighter in his early 20s. His quest to obtain freedom for all South Africans landed him in prison for more than 27 years. But even while in prison, his commitment to and pursuit of freedom for all never wavered or ceased.

What was it that kept Mandela going even when serving a life sentence? A simple four-letter word. Hope. He noted:

“During all my years in prison hope never left me.”

After his release at 71, Mandela continued his fight for freedom for all South Africans, and in 1994, his long walk to freedom achieved a major milestone when he was elected President of South Africa. It was the first election in the nation in which citizens of all races were allowed to vote.

Lesson:

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You must never give up hope that your vision will happen. Hope is even more important when what looks like insurmountable obstacles come. So hold on to your hope and use it to keep marching toward your goal, even if your strides feel a bit small at times.

How to make the lesson work for you:

Remember the overarching purpose behind why you are pursuing your dream. For Nelson Mandela, it was freedom for all. What is it to you? Write down your answer, and refer to it often (especially when obstacles appear).

2. The secret weapon that gives you additional strength

Famed writer Stephen King has written more than 50 books. Each one has been a worldwide bestseller, and several were made into feature films. But his epic career as a published author may have never happened had it not been for his wife Tabby.

Back when King was writing Carrie, his first published novel, he got so frustrated with it, he threw it in the trash. He describes the way things went down this way:

“I couldn’t see wasting two weeks, maybe even a month, creating a novella I didn’t like and wouldn’t be able to sell. So I threw it away.

The next night, when I came home from school, Tabby had the pages. She’d spied them while emptying my wastebasket, had shaken the cigarette ashes off the crumpled balls of paper, smoothed them out, and sat down to read them. She wanted me to go on with it, she said. She wanted to know the rest of the story. I told her I didn’t know jack-sh*t about high school girls. She said she’d help me with that part. She had her chin tilted down and was smiling in that severely cute way of hers. ‘You’ve got something here,’ she said. ‘I really think you do.’”

Lesson:

You need at least one person in your life who won’t let you quit. You need someone in your circle who believes in you, even when you don’t.

How to make the lesson work for you:

Make a list of at least three people who can be your confidants as you pursue your dream. Then share your goals with them, including the overarching purpose that’s driving you.

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As you work to make your dream your reality, include your support system in the journey. Tell them about your successes, frustrations, and progress. The more they get invested in your success, the easier it will be for them to push you forward, even when you don’t feel like moving.

3. The hammer to break through glass barriers

As a soloist in the American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland is only the third African-American female to have achieved this feat.

Her success as a ballerina earned her endorsement deals with Under Armour and Coach. She also gets lots of attention outside the traditional ballet world. Like when she starred in one of Prince’s music videos.

But her journey to life as a professional ballerina was unlike that of almost all others. Copeland explains:

“I think everything that I represent, simply by looking at me shows that I’m an unlikely ballerina. I didn’t start dancing until I was 13 years old which is far too late for most to make it as a professional. I’m African-American, which is very rare to see in the high levels of the ballet world. I’m muscular, and curvy, and I have a bust, so all of those things were things working against me. I think I have broken some ideas about the way people think about ballet.”

Lesson:

Sometimes the odds will be against you. Don’t let less than optimal circumstances stop you before you even get started. Instead, tear down those barriers and destroy the preconceived ideas that have held others back. As you do, you’ll demonstrate that there’s more than one way to spell success.

How to make the lesson work for you:

Make a list of every reason why you shouldn’t pursue your dream. Be sure to include your fears, what the naysayers have proclaimed, and all the statistics that support their arguments.

Next, write down all the reasons why you should pursue your dream. Include your overarching mission, who supports you, and why your differences are a good thing. Use that information to build a strategy to help you conquer the obstacles on your “shouldn’t” list.

By building a plan to overcome the less than favorable odds, you’ll be in a better frame of mind to not let them stop your forward progress.

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4. The reason to applaud each failure

Once James Dyson put his bagless Dyson G-Force vacuum cleaner on the market, it was an instant hit. Today, his company Dyson sells more than $2 billion in vacuums and other products.

The path to creating the hit vacuum cleaners was a long one. Dyson talks of why he didn’t give up during his 15 year pursuit of creating the perfect vacuum.

“There are countless times an inventor can give up on an idea. By the time I made my 15th prototype, my third child was born. By 2,627, my wife and I were really counting our pennies. By 3,727, my wife was giving art lessons for some extra cash. There were tough times, but each failure brought me closer to solving the problem. It wasn’t the final prototype that made the struggle worth it. The process bore the fruit. I just kept at it.”

Lesson:

Embrace failures as opportunities. Each failure brings a lesson that can get you closer to figuring out your optimal path to success.

How to make the lesson work for you:

With each failure, take the time to document what you did, what went wrong, and what you learned. Then use that information to guide your decision making to improve your next attempt.

5. The way to make disaster not the end of the story

As head of a multi-million dollar empire, Martha Stewart appeared unstoppable. Then she was convicted for obstruction of justice and making false statements about her ImClone stock. As a result, she spent five months in prison.

Such a public fall from grace would have ended the careers of many. But Martha was determined not to let disaster get the best of her. Since her release from prison, Stewart reclaimed leadership of her company, has had two new television shows, and is back in the good graces of the public.

Stewart reflected on what fueled her comeback:

“When you know inside that you’re good, that you’ve done well, and that you are an honest good person, then you know that you can live through disaster. I don’t want to be defined by a moment in time. That was a moment. It’s passed. I don’t think about it anymore.”

Lesson:

You can live through disaster. And you can come back better than ever. But to do so, you have to let your actions change the narrative of your legacy for the better. If you don’t want others to focus on your mistakes, you can’t either.

How to make the lesson work for you:

Identify the lessons you learned as a result of living through a disastrous experience. Then use those lessons to create a plan for how to change the conversation people have about you.

That could mean engaging in activities that prevent others from repeating your mistakes the way Mike Vick did. Or it could mean using your talents to do good in other ways that will overshadow disappointments from your past over time.

It’s time to relentlessly pursue your dream

Don’t let anything stop you. Not the resistance, the obstacles, your self-doubt, your circumstances, the length of the journey, your failures, or your past.

If your soul has resolved that it will not rest until your dream is your reality, then don’t quit. Keep going. Put in the necessary work, get the help you need, and keep going.

Eventually, you will get there.

But only if you don’t quit.

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Are You Addicted to Productivity?

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Are You Addicted to Productivity?

“It’s great to be productive. It really is. But sometimes, we chase productivity so much that it makes us, well, unproductive. It’s easy to read a lot about how to be more productive, but don’t forget that you have to make that time up.”

Matt Cutts wrote that back in 2013,[1]

“Today, search for ‘productivity’ and Google will come back with about 663,000,000 results. If you decide to go down this rabbit hole, you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of content. I’m talking about books, blogs, videos, apps, podcasts, scientific studies, and subreddits all dedicated to productivity.”

Like so many other people, I’ve also fallen into this trap. For years I’ve been on the lookout for trends and hacks that will help me work faster and more efficiently — and also trends that help me help others to be faster. I’ve experimented with various strategies and tools . And, while some of these strategies and solutions have been extremely useful — without parsing out what you need quickly — it’s counterproductive.

Sometimes you end up spending more time focusing on how to be productive instead of actually being productive.

“The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month,” James Bedell wrote in a Medium post.[2] “They are far too busy getting things done to read about Getting Things Done.”

This is my mantra:

I proudly say, “I am addicted to productivity — I want to be addicted to productivity — productivity is my life and my mission — and I also want to find the best way to lead others through productivity to their best selves.

But most of the time productivity means putting your head down and working until the job’s done.” –John Rampton

Addiction to Productivity is Real

Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth points out that the brain can get addicted to productivity just as it can to more common sources of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, eating, and shopping.

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“A person might crave the recognition their work gives them or the salary increases they get,” Chapman told the BBC.[3] “The problem is that just like all addictions, over time, a person needs more and more to be satisfied, and then it starts to work against you. Withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, and fear.”

Despite the harmful consequences, addiction is considered by some experts as a brain disease that affects the brain’s reward system and ends in compulsive behavior. Regardless, society tends to reward productivity — or at least to treat it positively. As a result, this makes the problem even worse.

“It’s seen like a good thing: the more you work, the better,” adds Chapman. “Many people don’t realize the harm it causes until a divorce occurs and a family is broken apart, or the toll it takes on mental health.”

Because of the occasional negative issues with productivity, it’s no surprise that it is considered a “mixed-blessing addiction.”

“A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, just as an exercise addict is very fit,” explains Dr. Mark Griffiths, distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “But the thing about any addiction is that in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh any short-term benefits.”

“There may be an initial period where the individual who is developing a work addiction is more productive than someone who isn’t addicted to work, but it will get to a point when they are no longer productive, and their health and relationships are affected,” Griffiths writes in Psychology Today.[4] “It could be after one year or more, but if the individual doesn’t do anything about it, they could end up having serious health consequences.”

“For instance, I speculated that the consequences of work addiction may be reclassified as something else: If someone ends up dying of a work-related heart attack, it isn’t necessarily seen as having anything to do with an addiction per se – it might be attributed to something like burnout,” he adds.

There Are Three “Distinct Extreme Productivity Types

Cyril Peupion, a Sydney-based productivity expert, has observed extreme productivity among clients at both large and medium-sized companies. “Most people who come to me are high performers and very successful. But often, the word they use to describe their work style is ‘unsustainable,’ and they need help getting it back on track.”

By changing their work habits, Peupion assists teams and individuals improve their performance and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the overarching strategy of the business, rather than focusing on work as a means to an end. He has distinguished three types of extreme productivity in his classification: efficiency obsessive, selfishly productive, and quantity-obsessed.

Efficiency obsessive. “Their desks are super tidy and their pens are probably color-coded. They are the master of ‘inbox zero.’ But they have lost sight of the big picture, and don’t know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.”

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Selfishly productive. “They are so focused on their own world that if they are asked to do something outside of it, they aren’t interested. They do have the big picture in mind, but the picture is too much about them.”

Quantity-obsessed. “They think; ‘The more emails I respond to, the more meetings I attend, the more tasks I do, the higher my performance.’ As a result, they face a real risk of burnout.”

Peupion believes that “quantity obsessed” individuals are the most common type “because there is a pervasive belief that ‘more’ means ‘better’ at work.”

The Warning Signs of Productivity Addiction

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you think you may be succumbing to productivity addiction. After all, most of us aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.

  • Can you tell when you’re “wasting” time? If so, have you ever felt guilty about it?
  • Does technology play a big part in optimizing your time management?
  • Do you talk about how busy you are most of the time? In your opinion, is hustling better than doing less?
  • What is your relationship with your email inbox? Are you constantly checking it or experience phantom notifications?
  • When you only check one item off your list, do you feel guilty?
  • Does stress from work interfere with your sleep?
  • Have you been putting things off, like a vacation or side project, because you’re “too swamped?

The first step toward turning around your productivity obsession is to recognize it. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to make a plan to overcome your addiction to productivity.

Overcoming Your Productivity Addiction

Thankfully, there are ways to curb your productivity addiction. And, here are 9 such ways to achieve that goal.

1. Set Limits

Just because you’re hooked on productivity doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from it. Instead, you need to establish boundaries.

For example, there are a lot of amazing productivity podcasts out there. But, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all in the course of a day. Instead, you could listen to one or two podcasts, like The Productivity Podcast or Before Breakfast, during your commute. And, that would be your only time of the day to get your productivity fix.

2. Create a Not-to-Do List

Essentially, the idea of a not-to-do list is to eliminate the need to practice self-discipline. Getting rid of low-value tasks and bad habits will allow you to focus on what you really want to do as opposed to weighing the pros and cons or declining time requests. More importantly, this prevents you from feeling guilty about not crossing everything off an unrealistic to-do list.

3. Be Vulnerable

By this, I mean admitting where you could improve. For example, if you’re new to remote work and are struggling with thi s, you would only focus on topics in this area. Suggestions would be how to create a workspace at home, not getting distracted when the kids aren’t in school, or improving remote communication and collaboration with others.

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4. Understand Why You Procrastinate

Often, we procrastinate to minimize negative emotions like boredom or stress. Other times it could be because it’s a learned trait, underestimating how long it takes you to complete something or having a bias towards a task.

Regardless of the exact reason, we end up doing busy work, scrolling social media, or just watching one more episode of our favorite TV series. And, even though we know that it’s not for the best, we do things that make us feel better than the work we should do to restore our mood.[5]

There are a lot of ways to overcome procrastination. But, the first step is to be aware of it so that you can take action. For example, if you’re dreading a difficult task, don’t just watch Netflix. Instead, procrastinate more efficiently,y like returning a phone call or working on a client pitch.

5. Don’t Be a Copycat

Let’s keep this short and sweet. When you find a productivity app or technique that works for you, stick with it.

That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way or try new tools or hacks. However, the main takeaway should be that just because someone swears by the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

6. Say Yes to Less

Across the board, your philosophy should be less is more.

That means only download the apps you actually use and want to keep (after you try them out) and uninstall the ones you don’t use. For example, are you currently reading a book on productivity? Don’t buy your next book until you’ve finished the one you’re currently reading (or permit yourself to toss a book that isn’t doing you any good). — and if you really want to finish a book more quickly, listen to the book on your way to work and back.

Already have plans this weekend? Don’t commit to a birthday party. And, if you’re day is booked, decline that last-minute meeting request.

7. Stop Focusing on What’s Next

“In the age when purchasing a thing from overseas is just one click and talking to another person is one swipe right, acquiring new objects or experiences can be addictive like anything else,” writes Patrick Banks for Lifehack .

“That doesn’t need to be you,” he adds. “You can stop your addition to ‘the next thing’ starting today.” After all, “there will always be this next thing if you don’t make a conscious decision to get your life back together and be the one in charge.”

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  • Think about your current lifestyle and the person you’re at this stage to help you identify what you aren’t satisfied with.
  • By setting clear goals for yourself in the future, you will be able to overcome your addiction.
  • Establish realistic goals.
  • To combat addiction, you must be aware of what is going on around you, as well as inside your head, at any given time.
  • Don’t spend time with people who have unhealthy behaviors.
  • Hold yourself accountable.
  • Keep a journal and write out what you want to overcome.
  • Appreciate no longer being addicted to what’s next.

8. Simplify

Each day, pick one priority task. That’s it. As long as you concentrate on one task at a time, you will be less likely to get distracted or overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks. A simple mantra to live by is: work smarter, not harder.

The same is also accurate with productivity hacks and tools. Bullet journaling is a great example. Unfortunately, for many, a bullet journal is way more time-consuming and overwhelming than a traditional planner.

9. Learn How to Relax

“Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but, banning obsession with productivity is unhealthy,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax.” Don’t worry about being hyper-efficient. And, don’t beat yourself up about having fun.

“But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever?” he asks. “Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier.”

“And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation,” Leo states. “Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love when you get excited.”

But, how exactly can you relax? Here are some tips from Leo;

  • Spend 5 minutes walking outside and breathe in the fresh air.
  • Give yourself more time to accomplish things. Less rushing means less stress.
  • If you can, get outside after work to enjoy nature.
  • Play like a child. Even better? Play with your kids. And, have fun at work — maybe give gamification a try .
  • Take the day off, rest, and do something non-work-related.
  • Allow yourself an hour of time off. Try not to be productive during that time. Just relax.
  • You should work with someone who is exciting. Make your project exciting.
  • Don’t work in the evenings. Seriously.
  • Visit a massage therapist.
  • Just breathe.

“Step by step, learn to relax,” he suggests. “Learn that productivity isn’t everything.” For that statement, sorry Leo, I say productivity isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” However, if you can’t cut loose, relax, do fun things, and do the living part of your life — you’ll crack in a big way — you really will.

It’s great to create and push forward — just remember it doesn’t mean that every minute must be spent working or obsessing over productivity issues. Instead, invest your time in meaningful, high-impact work, get into it, focus, put in big time and then relax.

Are You Addicted to Productivity? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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