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Self Improvement

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Career advice we should ignore

The most common career tips are:

  • "Just be yourself"
  • "Let your achievements speak for themselves"
  • "Focus on your strengths"
  • "Follow your passion"

Data and research suggest that it is better to ignore this kind of advice as it is often harmful, even if it feels intuitively right.

@keviataylor

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Self Improvement

In work settings, people don't want to see your unfiltered and unchecked personality. In job interviews, people are interested in the best version of you.

What to do: In any high-stakes situation, you will be rewarded if you manage your public image and display self-control. The best approach is to read the room and work out what is expected of you. Then be emotionally intelligent enough to change your behaviour accordingly.

In the perfect world, you would not need to promote and brand yourself. But in the real world, style will get you farther than substance. Research shows that connections, impressions, and showmanship beat talent and potential.

What to do: Your brand is more important to your career success than your work. This means you should learn how to (humbly) be your loudest cheerleader. Observe people in power and try to understand what problems they want to solve. Then show and tell how you can help.

Focusing on your strengths is much easier than keeping your weaknesses in check. But this exactly what you need to do. For example, the smartest person who lacks empathy and humility will seem arrogant and cold.

What to do: If you want to adapt to the real world and make a strong impression, celebrate your strengths, but also make a point to identify your weaknesses. Knowing your shortcomings may drive you to get better at it.

This is only useful advice if your passion aligns with the job market demand. Passions are also short-lived - you may be passionate about writing, but next year you might be passionate about animation. Narrowing down on your passion and the industries you love will limit your perspective and hamper your development.

What to do:

  • In your 20s, think about matching your interests and potential to available opportunities.
  • In your 30s, shift your focus from earning short-term rewards to making a long-term impact.
  • Strong interests are "nice-to-haves," but flexibility is more beneficial.
Disconnect From Instant Feedback And Urgent Responses

During the course of working at home, we've learned to keep ourselves intact in a system that requires us to provide instant feedback and urgent responses. We have also learned to crave the feedback of notification either auditory or visual.

Our hearts race when we hear that "ping". To lessen this feeling we must learn how to de-program ourselves from being connected all of the time. Learn how to disconnect from your devices and purposefully take some time off to cool down.

When work isn't a place you leave at the end of the day, it can get incredibly difficult to stop. It is important to learn how to stop working. This is a practice that fosters the creation and development of good habits and it is also necessary because it keeps our bodies from burning out.

Try setting concrete limits with the amount of time you spend on tasks by creating a reasonable to-do list, scheduling your day based on that list, and closing your computer after finishing said tasks.

It's totally understandable that from time to time we get stuck on a worry spiral. However, getting stuck in fear and getting filled with anxious automatic thoughts is not helpful to our health and productivity.

We tackle this by being mindful of our present situation by understanding what is currently making our bodies anxious right now. After identifying the triggers then we can move on to reacting from being on auto-pilot to mindfully managing our response.

Sometimes we just need to keep our body moving and take action because when we do this it gives us a moment to feel good because we've achieved doing something wether it may be just replying to an acknowledgement email or exercising.

Choose a small and meaningful action that will help build your motivation to work and tackle bigger tasks moving forward.

If it feels impossible to finish a simple work task and you still can't get your mind to calm down, a non-work-related task can aid this feeling.

Cook hot pot, sing some songs, or doodle, after doing non-work-related tasks, be mindful of your situation and ask yourself how long can you continue until anxiety hits again. Is this specific activity able to get you in a task-tackling mood?

It doesn't mean to say to keep soothing yourself until you aren't able to do work anymore, but more so where you're able to soothe yourself well-enough to finish a task until you can't anymore.

Like all skills, it takes time to learn how to manage one's workdays anxiety. Just keep in mind to be compassionate towards yourself at all times and things will go well, eventually.

We Keep Avoiding Things We Have To Do

Tasks that are being avoided by us hang around like a dark cloud. Soon there are many such clouds hovering around us. We could start working on a task, but as soon as we think of doing something, we get lost in the cloud.

When a deadline or any other urgency makes us finally tackle the cloud-like task, it changes shape, becomes small, solid and clean. We then realize that the cloud wasn’t the actual task, but was a foggy mess of immaterial stuff. The task is the final product, the solid object which is easier to handle.

A cloud is huge and confusing, making us feel lost. Once we get our fingers into the actual task material, the workable stuff we have to do, or the first step we have to take, the whole process becomes limited and consists of doable actions.

Do not get psyched up by the large, vaporous cloud. Just get started on the clear, small task.

Personal development: a modern philosophy

Personal development is an abstract area. It can mean different things to different people and there’s no universal strategy for measuring it.

Personal development translates into those activities that help you become a better, reliable human being.

  • Discovery: We all go through periods of darkness and challenge and is where most of us discover the power of self-development.
  • Consumption: Once you discover the world of personal development, you start reading books, blogs, listen to podcasts, watch documentaries.
  • Application: At some point, you want to live what you’ve learned; you embody the knowledge you’ve acquired.
  • Teaching: Once you’ve learned and applied your knowledge successfully, you want to share it with others. Just by setting the right example, you’re inspiring others how to do the same.
Finding Your Creative Genius Takes Years

Most groundbreaking work takes at least a full decade or more to reveal itself.

For example, one study found that of 500 famous musical pieces, nearly all of them were created after year 10 of the composer's career. Similar patterns were found with poets and painters and even in the fields of science and math. This period of hard work is also referred to as the 'ten years of silence.'

Successful writers do not write elegant first drafts, nor do they feel wildly enthusiastic and confident.

Creating something useful and compelling means you have to permit yourself to let the inspiration flow. You will write a lot of junk but can then sift through it to find bits and pieces of brilliance here and there.

The act that will uncover creative genius is by forcing yourself to create regularly and on a schedule, not just create when you feel inspired.

The best thing you can do is to do a huge volume of work. Creative genius becomes visible when you work consistently to get the average ideas out of the way.

Stop researching, planning, and preparing. Just do the work.

It doesn't have to be brilliant. You just need to prove to yourself that you can produce something.

People who consistently create something will begin to judge their own work.

When you start to overjudge your work, it is natural to feel disappointed that your creation does not live up to your expectations. Practice enough self-compassion not to let self-judgment take over and prevent delivery.

It will encourage you to do your best work and will also provide feedback. You will see others connect with what you create, and will be inspired to care even more.

What seems simple to you is often brilliant to another person. You'll miss that if you fail to share.

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