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Self Development

10 Uncomfortable Deeds That Will Make You More Successful

The very act of stepping outside of your comfort zone is critical to your success and well-being.

Travis Bradberry

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uncomfortable-man

T.S. Eliot was clearly onto something when he asked, “If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?” The very act of stepping outside of your comfort zone is critical to your success and well-being.

Our brains are wired such that it’s difficult to take action until we feel at least some stress and discomfort. In fact, performance peaks when we’re well out of our comfort zone. If you’re too comfortable your performance suffers from inaction, and if you move too far outside of your comfort zone you melt down from stress.

Optimal perfromance and stress

Related: 4 TED Talks To Help You Deal With Stress And Anxiety

Peak performance and discomfort go hand in hand. Stepping outside of your comfort zone makes you better, and it doesn’t have to be something as extreme as climbing Mount Everest. It’s the everyday challenges that push your boundaries the most, none of which require a flight to Nepal. Step out of your comfort zone and embrace these challenges.

1Get up early

Unless you’re a morning person, getting up earlier than usual can take you way out of your comfort zone. However, if you get up well before you have to start getting ready for work, it’s worth it. It gives you an opportunity to collect your thoughts and mentally prepare yourself for the day ahead, rather than just dashing from one activity to another. It also gives you the opportunity to eat a good breakfast and exercise, both of which have well-known health benefits.

2Accomplish an “impossible” goal

Few things compare to the exhilaration of accomplishing something that you didn’t think you were capable of. These achievements fall so far outside of your comfort zone that they seem impossible. Maybe it’s running a marathon or giving a keynote speech at a convention.

These accomplishments are worth every bit of suffering you endure to achieve them because once you finally do it, you feel invincible and carry that triumph with you forever.

3Meditate

Meditation-advice

It’s easy to get stuck in your comfort zone when you’re so busy that you don’t slow down enough to really think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Meditation is a great way to break this cycle and also happens to be very good for your brain.

Harvard neuroscientist Sara Lazar found that meditation creates important physical changes in your brain. It increases brain density in areas responsible for self-control, focus, problem-solving, flexibility and resilience. Best of all, these changes are lasting.

4Focus on one thing at a time

Focusing completely on a single task is a big risk – the risk of failing at something to which you’ve given your all. That’s why it’s so uncomfortable. The alternative –multitasking – is a real productivity killer. Research conducted at Stanford confirms that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time.

The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.

When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully. When you spread yourself too thin and chase after every bright, shiny thing that catches your eye, you’re missing out on an important opportunity for personal growth.

Related: 4 Time Killers You Need To Eliminate

5Volunteer

It would be great if everyone volunteered for purely altruistic reasons, but we all have demands on our time and have to set priorities. The problem is that after a long workday, volunteering can get pushed down somewhere below watching “epic fail” videos on YouTube.

Volunteering is a powerful experience that feels good and expands your network at the same time. Have you ever met anyone who made volunteering a priority and wasn’t changed for the better by the experience? Neither have I.

6Practice public speaking

You’ve likely heard that the majority of people fear public speaking more than death. In fact, 74 percent of Americans have glossophobia (the fancy word for a fear of public speaking). So, yes, it’s a challenge. It’s also worth it. Whether you’re addressing five people around a table or an audience of five thousand, becoming a better public speaker can be a huge boon to your career.

7Talk to someone you don’t know

Unless you’re an extreme extrovert – or a politician – talking to new people probably makes you at least somewhat uncomfortable. Do it anyway. Social interaction is good for your mood (even when you don’t like it), expands your network, exposes you to new ideas and boosts your self-confidence.

8Bite your tongue

quiet-mouth-bite-your-tongue

Sure, it can feel so good to unload on somebody and let them know what you really think, but that good feeling is temporary. What happens the next day, the next week or the next year? It’s human nature to want to prove that you’re right, but it’s rarely effective.

In conflict, unchecked emotion makes you dig your heels in and fight the kind of battle that can leave you and the relationship severely damaged. When you read and respond to your emotions, you’re able to choose your battles wisely and only stand your ground when the time is right. The vast majority of the time, that means biting your tongue.

Related: How To Be A Political Optimist

9Say no

Research conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, showed that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout and even depression. Saying no is indeed a major challenge for many people.

No is a powerful word that you should not be afraid to wield. When it’s time to say no, avoid phrases such as I don’t think I can or I’m not certain.

Saying no to a new commitment honours your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them. When you learn to say no, you free yourself from unnecessary constraints and free up your time and energy for the important things in life.

10Quit putting things off

Change is hard. Self-improvement is hard. Scrounging up the guts to go for what you want is hard, and so is the work to make it happen. When things are hard, it’s always easier to decide to tackle them tomorrow. The problem is that tomorrow never comes. Saying you’ll do it tomorrow is just an excuse, and it means that either you don’t really want to do it or that you want the results without the hard work that comes along with it.

Bringing It All Together

Staying in your comfort zone means stagnation. Just as an oyster only makes a pearl when it’s irritated by a grain of sand, no one has ever accomplished anything remarkable when comfortable.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Award-winning co-author of the best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the co-founder of TalentSmart -- a consultancy that serves more than 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies and is a leading provider of emotional intelligence tests, training and certification.

Self Development

6 Mental Barriers You Must Tear Down To Succeed

The world has few obstacles as formidable as the ones in our own mind.

Timothy Sykes

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Mental Barriers

Have you hit a slump in your career? If you are finding it difficult to get ahead, it could be because you’re inadvertently holding yourself back in ways you don’t even realize.

Many of us have unhealthy habits and behaviors that stunt our career growth. By becoming aware of them, it’s possible to begin facing these obstacles head-on so that you can remove potential roadblocks to your future success. Here are 6 surprising things that are holding you back:

1. You don’t know the basics

What if you were to build a house on top of a weak foundation? It might be fine for a while, but one day, it would inevitably cause problems and affect your quality of life. Similarly in your career, if you don’t take the time to form a strong foundation of knowledge in your field, it may keep you from advancing and growing later on. Therefore, it’s vital to learn (and sometimes to re-learn) the basics.

There’s no shame in hitting the books and learning the basics or re-learning them, even well into your career. You know how when you re-watch a movie or re-read a book you pick up on things you didn’t notice the first time around? It’s very much the same in career education. So whether you’re a baker or an investor or a manager, make sure to develop a strong foundational knowledge of your field of work. It will serve you in many ways as your career advances.

Related: Purposeful Work: The Six Barriers To Fulfilment In The Workplace

2. Vague goals

Setting clear and specific goals is one of the major building blocks of career success. On the flip side, without specific goals, you’re more likely to suffer from lack of motivation and aimlessness in your career.

Want proof? Consider the work of Dr. Edwin Locke, who released a still-relevant article in 1968 entitled “Toward a Theory of Task Motivation and Incentives.” In this research-based article, he determined that employees were most highly motivated by clear objectives and specific feedback.

Working toward extremely specific goals provided a major source of motivation to actually reach the desired end result, which improved performance. Moreover, specific and difficult goals led to better task performance than vague or easy goals.

3. Caring too much what others think

According to Aristotle, “There is only one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” Are you too much of a people pleaser? If so, this tendency could be holding you back from finding the success you deserve.

No matter what you do, you’ll never please everybody. Yes, you should always make your best efforts in any endeavour, and you should always try to be respectful of the opinions of others. However, don’t let other people’s opinions affect your every move. If you do, you’ll constantly operate from a place of fear and will never achieve great things.

4. You’re trying to figure out everything without a mentor

 Bill Gates, Bob Dylan, Oprah Winfrey. What do these people have in common? They’re all crazy successful…and they all had mentors.

Many people suffer from the belief that to become successful, they have to do the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest alone. However, this mindset is likely stunting their career and slowing down success. Truthfully, seeking out the guidance of a mentor is both a brave and smart career move. A mentor who is further along in their career than you can help advise you, point you in the right direction and help you avoid common pitfalls. There is so much to gain from having a mentor; why hold yourself back by trying to do everything alone?

5. Poor time management

Without a doubt, pursuing a new career or business endeavor takes time. Many people claim that it’s impossible to work toward their dreams because there’s just no time. But is this really true?

The fact is, nobody’s ever going to gift wrap extra time and give it to you like a present. It’s your responsibility to make time. It might involve changing some of your habits like bingeing on Netflix or getting lost on Facebook for hours on end. Or, it might mean that you wake up early in the morning like Apple CEO Tim Cook, who gets up at 3:45 so he can answer emails and take some time for himself before the responsibilities of the day descend. There are always ways to make time for what matters if you’re truly driven to succeed.

Related: Is Your Business Prepared For The Worst? How You Can Stress-Test Your Business

6. You stopped learning

Lifelong learning is a trait of the most successful people. Don’t you want to be one of them? If you think you know everything, then there’s no possible way for you to continue moving forward in your career or even your life.

As Malcolm X famously said, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” When you approach the world as if you can learn from every experience and every person, you’ll reap many benefits. You’ll be able to keep improving, you’ll be able to remain mentally nimble, and since you won’t be a know-it-all, people will probably like you a lot better. Never stop learning if you want to keep growing.

Are any of these things secretly holding you back?

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Self Development

(Infographic) How 9 Creative Minds Got Their Ideas

From doing headstands to drinking 50 cups of coffee a day, check out the quirky things that these nine creatives have done.

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Coming up with new, creative ideas can be tricky. That’s why it’s important to find a way to get inspired. After all, it’s our own unique rituals that can bring mental clarity and creativity. That could be a quirky habit or routine such as doing headstands or wearing lots of hats.

Igor Stravinksy did headstands, which he believed helped to rest his head and clear his brain. Author Dr. Seuss felt that wearing lots of crazy hats helped inspire his creativity and overcome writer’s block. However, those aren’t even the strangest routines that some of the world’s most brilliant minds have utilised. Steve Jobs bathed his feet in toilet water to reduce stress levels while Honore de Balzac drank up to 50 cups of coffee a day.

Check out Business Backers infographic below to learn the weird ways that nine creative minds got their ideas.

1533319920_unusual-inspiration-infographic

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Self Development

15 Traits Of Unstoppable People

Unstoppable people keep their inner fires burning by developing the characteristics necessary to become successful.

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successful-people

Unstoppable people are like warriors. They are always ready to take on the world. They are guided by a light from within, full of boundless energy and unwavering in their goals. They have learned to activate their natural talents and develop the skills necessary to achieve whatever they aim for.

How do they do this? Where do they find the stamina and strength to keep going? Unstoppable people keep their inner fires burning by developing the characteristics necessary to become successful. Here are 15 traits that will help you go from being a solid achiever to being a truly unstoppable person.

Do you have any yet?

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