Hard work can work against you

Work ethic is a value we’re taught to respect, as we should. But working hard on the wrong things is counter-productxive.

I would argue that hard work applied to fixing a horrible, toxic relationship or job is mis-applied. If we put energy in monetary terms, it would be like spending $2,000 to repair a $500 laptop. Put your effort into finding the right relationship, job, boss, accountant, mentor, or new laptop.

Working hard to climb the ladder is admirable, but do the harder work of making sure the ladder is leaning up against the right wall.

What will they think of me?

We often place the heaviest emphasis in making important decisions by answering the internal voice that asks “what will they think of me?”

Even if your decision will cause others to have (or worse, VOICE) negative opinions of you, they’ll be short-lived and likely exaggerated. Our egos delude us into thinking that people are climbing on each other’s shoulders just to get a better view of us. They’re not. Look around. Their heads are down looking at their phones.

Recognize and replace this with a better question: “is this decision in the best interest of myself and those closest to me?” If you make decisions for good reasons, those that matter don’t care, and those that care don’t matter.

What we want vs. what’s on offer

Most of us don’t think about what we want in terms of a blank canvas.

Ask a middle-aged man what he REALLY wants to do in his career and he’ll restate his resume, telling you what he thinks the market will allow him to do.

It’s unfortunate that we make decisions about our career by how we think people view us, or by the job offers we got; the kind of person we want to date by only considering one of the people who asked us out; where we want to go on vacation by what we think we can afford today, and what we really want to eat tonight by the handful of restaurants we’ll pass on the way home.

Asking “what do I really want?” doesn’t cost anything, and allows you to consider that there’s more on offer than the menu right in front of you.

30-second guide to successful networking

Here are two core concepts and strategies that should guide your approach to networking with other humans, regardless of your career or personal goals.

1) The time to build a network is before you need it. Don’t start networking because you need something from the world now.
2) The most effective way to build a network is by ALWAYS looking to add value: Connect two people who will mutually benefit. Recommend a business you love. Volunteer. Help someone get a job without the thought of payback. Mentor someone. Walk into a party or networking meeting thinking “how can I be helpful?”, and not “how can these people benefit me?”

Successful relationships are not transactional. Play the long game. Build relationships like you’re running a marathon, not a sprint.

Action breeds confidence

There is one outcome that cultivates intrinsic motivation: and that is progress.  Your psychology fundamentally changes when you believe you are moving forward.

Moving forward implies moving.  And moving means taking action, which breeds courage.  Your business plan or novel idea will not survive it’s first contact with customers or the public.

Contemplate less.  Do more.

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll still get run over if you just sit there.”
– Will Rogers

What you want vs. Who you want to be

If you are motivated based on what you’ll have, you are much less likely to achieve a goal than someone who seeks to change who they are.

Researchers followed West Point attendees and found that those whose initial motivation was to “have” a prestigious degree were four times more likely to drop out before completion than those who envisioned themselves “becoming” more educated or valuable.

Focus on what you want to be first.  The “haves” will come. It rarely happens the other way around.

Happiness and Success

No matter where you are in the world, you’ve likely been led to believe that success – no matter how it’s defined – leads to happiness.  It turns out that the opposite is true:  happiness leads to success.

The question is: can “happy” be your default state – even before anything happens?