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You Should Pick Up These After-Work Habits of Highly Successful People

You Should Pick Up These After-Work Habits of Highly Successful People

Motivational tips don’t have to be limited to your career! Check out these after-work habits of highly successful people, and see how you can change your life when you’re off the clock.

1. Explore your creative side.

Leave behind the restrictive clothes, desk, and computer when you leave the office. Wear your favorite comfortable clothes and get ready to explore your creative side! Do you like to draw or paint? Spread out on the table or floor and spend some time sketching and shading. Are you working on the Great American Novel? Take an hour or two after work to write a chapter. Practice an instrument, film silly videos, do whatever strikes your fancy! Taking time to explore your creative side will make you feel more in touch with your true self as opposed to your work self, which will in turn make you feel more refreshed and motivated when you’re at work the next day.

2. Spend time outdoors.

Fresh air and exercise will help you feel great after a day cooped up in the office. Both of these things will get your blood flowing and keep you from crashing on the couch as soon as you get in. The increased blood flow and heart rate will also inspire you to work on other things once you get home, whether it’s chores, creative endeavors, or just spending time with family.

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    3. Play a physically demanding sport.

    Spending time outside is fine by itself, as is exercising. But playing a physically demanding sport challenges other parts of you. Most physically demanding sports are partner or team sports, like tennis or basketball, so you’ll be socializing and working together as you play.

    4. Get more sleep.

    Who doesn’t love an afternoon nap? Getting more sleep will make you feel more refreshed later in the day, and even make getting up the next morning that much easier. Whether you have to go to bed earlier or slip in some short naps throughout the day, make sure you’re getting your full eight hours of sleep a day. 

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    5. Catch up with your family.

    Family time is something that often gets rescheduled because you know they’re always hanging around. Instead of taking this for granted, make time to be with your family. Even if you have to plan days in advance to have dinner together or watch a movie, do it and don’t let anything change these plans. Spending time and talking with some of the people who know you best will make you feel rejuvenated.

    6. Plan a vacation.

    What’s more refreshing and invigorating than going on vacation? Knowing you get a break from the daily grind is enough to get you through the most difficult week at work. It might sound silly, but even just planning a vacation might help you get a hint of that freedom. Research places you’d like to visit, check hotel availability, see what sight-seeing tours and museums the town offers. Even if you can’t take the trip right now, you’ll have the excitement of planning it, and you can save your notes until you get time off!

    7. Read a novel.

    Reading is a great way to unwind because you’re escaping your own life to read about someone else’s. You can travel to other countries and live there without leaving your couch. You can learn new things about other cultures and lifestyles without even realizing it because you’re having a good time reading.

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    8. Enjoy cooking dinner.

    Cooking dinner can seem like a hassle when you have to do it after putting in a long day at work. You have to plan the meal, cook it, serve it, and clean up afterwards. Instead of thinking of this as a hassle, enjoy the experience! Plan a meal that’s healthy and satisfies your cravings. Get your family to help with tasks so it gets done more efficiently, and you get to spend time together. If everyone helps with cleanup, dinner won’t be a hassle – you’ll get to be with each other and enjoy a delicious meal while doing so! 

    9. Meditate.

    It can be hard to completely clear your mind, but the more you practice, the better you’ll get at it. Take time in the morning before work and in the evening before you go to bed to sit by yourself and let the day wash over you. Don’t dwell on what did or didn’t happen. Don’t think of everything you have to accomplish tomorrow. Just be in the moment, see where your thoughts take you, and relax.

    10. Make your mornings about you.

    No one likes to hear their alarm blaring in the morning, but making mornings about you can make that sound a little sweeter. Take your time waking up, enjoy coffee and a good breakfast so you have the right start to your day. Don’t get bogged down by what you need to do that day, don’t assign chores or let your family members nag you. Encourage everyone to be quiet and calm when they wake up, and see how that helps set the tone for your day.

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    Featured photo credit: L’eau Bleue via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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