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What stops us from achieving our professional goals? It’s often down to our mentality and routines, whether daily...
What stops us from achieving our professional goals? It’s often down to our mentality and routines, whether daily or long-term. The following lifestyle habits can help you excel at your career and live a happier life.
Try to live up to your own expectations about your career and not other people’s. No one cares about your professional life as much as you do. You’re also the person who is most aware of your own progress towards your goals. Keep track of these goals, focus on your achievements as well as the future, and stick to your schedule and/or routine.
According to New York University Professor of Psychology Gabriele Oettingen, optimism creates a strong commitment to goals, facilitated by contrasting the present with the desired future. The combination of contemplating the present and fantasizing about the future can provide the necessary energy and dedication for achieving objectives.
Psychologist Gail Ironson of the University of Miami argues that being optimistic can reduce anxiety and energy loss as well as increase the ability to cope with — and adapt to — stressful situations. Negative thoughts, on the other hand, can drain energy and cause you to associate tiredness and stress with working towards your goals.
Positivity doesn’t just refer to your own attitude either: It helps to spend time with other positive, happy people who are more relaxed and open. They will encourage you to be more positive as well. By the same token, don’t be afraid to remove negative, miserable people from your life. This doesn’t mean that you should abandon loved ones who are going through a rough patch, but rather that you should be careful to not get dragged down into the negativity of others.
Perfectionism can become a stressful vicious cycle that leads to depression and low self-esteem. Perfectionists fear rejection and criticism. If you don’t allow yourself to make mistakes, you end up not trying and missing important opportunities.
Take the advice of legendary surrealist painter Salvador Dali, who said, “Have no fear of perfection — you'll never reach it.”
Avoiding perfectionism doesn’t mean you should never be strict with yourself. Give yourself time limits for achieving your goals and finishing projects. But be realistic: your goals should be achievable and measurable. Otherwise, instead of leading to feelings of satisfaction, failing to achieve unrealistic goals can lead to stress, anger and even depression.
It’s tempting to delay things as it avoids the anxiety that accompanies beginning challenging projects or activities. Research by Laura J. Solomon and Esther D. Rothblum at the University of Vermont maintains that the temporary feeling of relief that procrastination can bring is fleeting. Other research (Lindsley, Brass & Thomas) shows that procrastinating ultimately leads to more anxiety and guilt, as well as depression. Completing your goals on the other hand, results in feelings of satisfaction, pleasure and self-worth.
While setting goals for the future is helpful, it’s also important to focus your attention on the present. Living in the moment means noticing the world both outside and within. Stay sharp and be aware of life’s events as well as your own internal dialogue. This means noticing your thoughts, feelings and choices on a daily basis. Being mindful helps to maintain a positive and healthy lifestyle by realising our own limitations while at the same time recognising our abilities and achievements.
Why waste time in job you hate when you don’t have to? You’re much more likely to excel doing something you actually like and can derive satisfaction from. Pursue a career that interests you and provides you with pleasure. This is perhaps the most important habit of all, as well as the most self-evident. As Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”