• This kind of self-reflection allows you to see exactly what areas you need to work on and see whether your efforts are resulting in progress.
• Depending on which aspects you identify as under-developed, you can do a lot to improve.
• To find positive mentors, reach out to others and network, or simply ask for help and advice from accomplished people.
• To develop sensory rich vision, make a goal collage or practice visualization to conjure up a vivid, five-sense image of the end you’re aiming for. To increase self-belief, actively court failure and rejection—to prove to yourself that your worth as a person doesn’t stem from these things. Meditation, mindfulness, and self-care also go a long way to cultivating self-compassion.
• To have better planning and organization, start by decluttering both your mind and workspace to cut down on distractions. Set up habits that allow you to atomate, delegate and concentrate.
• To build skills and education, keep reading. Become curious, and ask questions, learning where you can. To improve patience and perseverance, focus on the smallest, sustainable change you can make and keep up every day. To see work as play, change your language. Don’t say, “I have to do XYZ,” but instead say, “I choose to do XYZ.” Remember, nobody is forcing you to be the best version of yourself.
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Peter Hollins is a bestselling author, human psychology researcher, and a dedicated student of the human condition.
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Let’s be honest, not everyone is blessed with good role models. In fact, most of us are likely surrounded by those who have been modeling passive, negative behaviors to us all our lives, or else we find ourselves in situations where we are unable to develop into our full potential.
Luckily, we can choose. If you rated yourself quite low on this characteristic, take heart that there is a lot you can do to invite quality people into your world. There is a saying that you eventually resemble the five people you most spend time with. Whether this is true or not, there’s no doubt that our sense of identity, our habits and our mindsets are powerfully influenced by those around us. Here’s a two-step activity to try and raise your score in this area.
Firstly, try to identify anyone who is actively holding you back. You know the kinds of people—pessimistic, critical, sabotaging, or just plain mean, they are the people who will work against your efforts to improve yourself and reach your dreams. Your goal here is obvious: reduce contact or eliminate them from your life completely, if possible. Of course, critics and people who disagree are not necessarily toxic people, if their disagreement inspires us or encourages us to be better.
Next, identify those people that don’t add much to your life. Perhaps they’re there because they’ve always been there, but they neither hinder nor advance your overall goals. These people are great to have around, but you should try to prioritize spending time with those who more actively support and teach you, or who you enjoy mentoring.
Finally, the third group includes those who are on your side, and are there providing guidance, help, support or can teach you something. Even better if it’s a mutual benefit! These are the kinds of people to prioritize in life. Attend networking events, seek out people in groups or clubs who are doing the same thing as you, or even consider asking someone more advanced or accomplished to give you advice or help.
Good plans matter, but before good plans comes a good vision. Ask any creator about their magnum opus and many of them will say that they saw the vision fully completed in their mind’s eye first, long before they took the first step to bring it to life. Every innovator first sees a vision of what could be, and then works toward that.
But don’t get too attached to the word “vision”—you have so many more sense that just sight! Enlist all your senses to conjure up an image of what you want to achieve, Make it real in your mind. Dwell on every detail. The thing is, people who self-sabotage, procrastinate, and operate below their potential do this anyway—except they do it negatively.
They vividly imagine scenarios of total failure. They dwell on possibilities—but only on the negative ones. This only fosters fear, doubt, anger, and apathy. Rather than being in a curious, proactive, creative, and receptive frame of mind, you’re homing in on problems, almost setting yourself up for a bad outcome.
Set up a “vision board” where you paste collaged images that make you think of your goal. Position your board where you can see it constantly. Alternatively, spend time actively visualizing end goals, in detail. With closed eyes, focus all your attention on what it will look and feel like once you have accomplished your goal. Conjure up this sensory image with as much detail as possible. You may find that the vision is not as clear as you once assumed! Flesh out the details and you automatically sharpen up your goal—and adjust your plan for getting there.
If your self-esteem is in the dumps, you won’t sustain motivation for very long. There are three main things you can do to take better care of your self-esteem. The first is to acknowledge and face rejection and failure, i.e. become to it. The second is to know how to self-monitor and give yourself a pep talk when necessary. The third is to practice self-care and gratitude—two things that have more in common than it may seem on the surface.
The prospect of failure, rejection or criticism can be behind our fear of trying. We weigh ourselves against the challenge ahead and find ourselves lacking. But we may undervalue ourselves and overvalue the challenge, or else wrongly assume that failure is the end of the world and something we can’t possibly endure.
But is it? Rather than bolstering yourself by saying how everything is going to be okay, do the opposite: say that you might actually fail . . . but so what? You can handle it, you can try again, and failure doesn’t define you. In fact, you love failure because it’s the kindest teacher.
Mediation and mindfulness practice can help you keep a tab on your most precious resource of all—your mindset. If you notice yourself feeling doubtful or self-critical, remind yourself that you have absolute worth and value whether you succeed or not. What matters is your attitude and your actions. Keep curious, chin up, and keep going.
Finally, make sure your self-care is in order. Take enough rest. Be kind to yourself and learn to appreciate everything you have and are even as you’re on the road to something bigger and better. Gratitude and compassion can make all the difference.
Planning and Organization
This is one of the easier aspects to cultivate in yourself.
• Tidy your desk and workspace—clutter drains your willpower and your focus
• Install apps on your PC or phone that prevent you from browsing the internet during fix periods, forcing you to focus on the task at hand
• Print out a large calendar to keep track of your month at a glance
• Commit to focusing on a maximum of three tasks per day, no more. Schedule these for the time you feel most energetic and deprioritize everything else
• As far as possible, automate smaller admin tasks so you don’t have a million little things to remember and can focus on the bigger picture
• Be ruthless with paper—when you encounter a piece, act on it instantly (for example file it away) or get rid of it
• At the end of every week, sped a few moments writing down what you achieved, what you didn’t, what you did well, and what you could do better. Ask what did not help forward your mission, and make a plan to remove or eliminate it in the coming week
• As much as you can, delegate. A big part of staying organized is making sure you’re not putting too much on your plate
• Remember the 80/20 rule—around twenty percent of your actions are producing eighty percent of your results. Keep an eye on that twenty percent, and downplay everything else
• If you do nothing else on this list, STOP MULTITASKING. Instead, do “deep work” and focus—it’s better to do one thing extremely well than to fritter away time on a hundred smaller projects
Education and Skills
It’s a little ironic—human beings want to be better, to improve and expand their horizons . . . but they are also fearful of change, hate not knowing things, and don’t want to ever risk failure. Seems silly, huh?
Valuing education is about embracing the fact that if you’re alive, you’re always a newbie in some way or another. Learning involves a degree of discomfort, awkwardness, and effort. You can only access the benefits of further training and education if you’re willing to do accept these.
To foster a real love and respect for learning, you need to make an effort. Push yourself. At the end of every week or month, ask yourself what you’ve learned. What are you curious about? Make a note and identify the ways you can learn more. Who knows more than you about this topic and what questions can you ask them? What does your failure tell you about how best to try again next time?
The next time you encounter something that looks challenging or too difficult, instead of shrugging and turning away from it, assume that you can understand it, with just a little effort. Enroll in free online courses to brush up on skills. See a new word in an article? Look it up in the dictionary. If someone says something interesting, don’t pretend to know about it already to save face—ask them to tell you more. Opportunities to learn are literally everywhere—go online, get interested in a hobby, or dig deeper into those parts of your life that seem mysterious or difficult.
Oh, and there’s on sure fire way to keep learning: read. Disciplined high achievers almost always share the same habit of reading, every day if possible.