Compete with yourself

Measure your success by competing against yourself

“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others” – Ayn Rand

Competition has always been taught to us from very young age in order to become something, to achieve and to survive. We are taught the virtue of competition in every aspect of life in order to succeed and to win. When competing against another, we tend to draw on to our untapped reserves and this brings the best in us because of the inherent instinct to better the other. This very basic nature of competitiveness has always been an integral part of us from the early centuries as we had to compete for resources like food and shelter. Those who are able to compete and strongest would win the best. Competition is inevitable and being competitive is important when it comes to academics, sports and work. Those who make an effort and draw on their own strengths and possibilities turn out as winners. There are benefits to having a competitive nature like you learn the importance of setting goals, following rules, to cope with stress, to take risks,and to be committed. But is it that only competing against other can bring the best in you? Or can you do better even by yourself? Or Is it always important to define yourself in terms of being better than others?

True competition is about competing with and not against

Competition brings out both the best and the worst in us. And though it is a natural instinct, nurturing it is equally responsible. There is always a danger of ignoring moral values in favour of winning or succeeding. While competing, we learn the virtue of selfishness, being all-out egotistical, and demonstrate superiority on others. We tend to believe that true competition is about breaking others and we constantly compare ourselves to others which leads to insecurities and fears. This further leads to unfair practices like where the aim no longer remains to better yourself or to succeed, but to pull down or belittle another.

But true competitive spirit is about growing, bettering and prospering together while competing with, rather than against another. If you learn to work along with, you will be able to build better strengths and qualities to succeed. Focusing on working together to solve problems, and helping each other to get the job done can result in mutually beneficial outcomes rather than focusing on a short-term, one-sided win.

Compare to your former self and not to others

When you are competing with others, the achievements made by others makes us crave the same achievement when we believe it’s within our reach. There will be always people who are better than you. Accept and use them as inspiration for pursuing your own instead of comparing yourself to others. In other words, comparing yourself with someone else is an inaccurate way of measuring your success. How well you do depends on improved version of yourself. If you question the logic of your comparisons, most of them rather turn out to be irrelevant in their reasoning.

Instead of comparing yourself externally, redirect your comparison within. Question yourself as to how you can continue to become a new and improved version of yourself. It does not matter how you perform relative to your opponents, so long as you perform better than your former self.

Know that your only competition is you

Our natural instinct is to compete with others and not to compete with ourselves. However, if we choose to, we can also compete with ourselves which leads to our self growth. We get so caught up in the competition with others professionally and personally that it is easy to forget that to improve ourselves and reaching our potential is more important than competing against others. It is important to remember that your competitor is not other—your competitor is yourself.

why you should compete with yourself

Always running after the competition will make you less enthusiastic. When you compete with yourself, whether it’s in your learning or work, you can focus on the process of getting better each time. This small shift in your perspective allows you to progress faster and to focus on process.

True competition is not always about beating or outdoing others, but about growing and improving. You should condition to compete constructively by measuring your success not against others but against yourself.

Here are some benefits in competing with yourself than against others.

Can measure your success

If you take a look around, you come across people who made some amazing achievements in their life. Someone is always going to be better than you at something. When you learn to be competitive with yourself, you can have a better measure of your success rather than stressing out on someone else’s. You know success will come to you at the right time when you put in the right effort.

Can improve your capability

Knowing your strengths and weaknesses gives you an opportunity to assess whether or not your goals are right for you. Once you know the things you are not so good at, you can decide upon improving your weak areas in order to achieve your goals. Looking into your own shortcomings rather than outwardly at other people paves a way to improve your capabilities.

Can increase possibilities

When you are competing with others, you are only competing in arenas that others have set up for you. But if you continue to do so, you will end up limiting your possibilities. Only when you use yourself as a true measure of your success do you open yourself up to the infinite things and possibilities. These things might ultimately lead ṭo your passion and happiness.

Can be free of people’s judgment

When you compete with yourself, you are letting go of people’s measure of success. and defining your own measure of success. You are free of what they think of you and their expectations. You chose to follow whatever it is that makes you happy. This makes you answerable to yourself in doing everything you could possibly do to achieve your goals and not because of other people’s judgment.

Can intrinsically motivate yourself

While competing against others, you feel that you achieved something only because it gives you a sense of being better than what everyone else is doing. But that is not the true measure of your success and that feeling is fleeting. But when you compete with yourself, you will be intrinsically motivated to accomplish things that are true to your abilities. You can strive to improve yourself and to challenge yourself in new ways.

To conclude, although competitiveness is innate, do not hold yourself to the standards of other people, wishing you could be better than them. May be this is motivating you, but an even greater skill is to be better than yourself. How about pushing yourself to do better each day. Goal setting is a great way to compete against yourself. You select the end result that you want and that you choose. Then, it is up to you, to work to achieve those goals. Thus, you can push yourself towards your goals, rather than creating unnecessary competition against others. Develop a desire to achieve and always strive to push yourself to become better.

“The principle is competing against yourself. It’s about self-improvement, about being better than you were the day before.” – Steve Young

Embrace your inner leadership abilities

How much do you think you are in control of your inner leadership ability?

“True leadership of self and others starts with the mind and it is best thought of as a behaviour, not as a role.”

Everyday you come across your inner leader while making choices, decisions or in getting work done or in guiding others in your workplace or chasing your goals. It becomes very important to lead others in a positive way wherever you are or at whatever place you find yourself in life, be it personally or professionally. The true leader in us is always facing work reality day in and day out where we are constantly distracted by external forces, people and tasks, information overload, and are often interrupted by matters that are not in your control which needs your immediate attention. The pressure is always on as you are always drifting and trying to catchup living on autopilot without a clear sense of purpose and direction.

Whether you are aware of it or not, on some level you are continually leading and managing yourself and others. If you come under the day to day limitations and distractions no matter how expert your capabilities, skill and competence may seem, you fail to connect and inspire the people you lead in an organisation or in your personal life and would fail to value and flourish. You cannot manage or lead others if you have never learnt to manage, lead and discipline yourself. The first way to encourage the assets of others is to develop these within yourself first. In order to do this, you should be able to:

• Take yourself beyond your routine ways of thinking and behaving and lead yourself to higher levels of focus.

• Cultivate optimism, persistence, openness, high emotional quotient, and better interpersonal skills.

• Grow your inner focus which attunes you to your intuitions, guiding values and better decisions.

• Show self-restraint to inhibit your impulses and develop will-power and self-discipline.

• Have long-term goals to be able to focus on without getting distracted from all the clutter and distractions around.

• Shed your old habits, beliefs and older ways of working by asking whether the presumptions you are holding onto are true or not.

• Leave your comfort zone once you realise there is no growth and should be prepared to do or learn newer ways by adapting to change.

• Create an inspiring shared vision and the drive to achieve goals.

• Pursue a plan for improvement of self and others.

Performing right and required actions is the foundation for everything you want to achieve in life in general. You should not be predefined by what you are now, rather you should be able to recreate yourself by what you do. Your inner leadership skills further depend on achieving results in your own life or for your work place or for your people who believe in your goals. From this perspective, the ability to manage yourself and things you pay attention becomes important. By developing your awareness of self and others and applying it to manage your inner world and your relationships with others can improve your decision-making abilities and control your choice-making capabilities.

Success on the outside really does begin from within’. Here are certain qualities to develop to embrace your inner leader.

Self-awareness

In order to lead and inspire others successfully, you must be in tune with your inner leader by understanding your strengths and weaknesses. You must devote yourself to you own self growth to find meaning and live each day with purpose and intention. The more you come to know who and what you really are as a person, the more value you will be able to create. Identify what is most important and what makes you meaningfully different and authentic. Self-awareness will enrich your judgment and makes you aware of the consequences of each of your choices or decisions. This will help you to develop new strengths and have a positive impact on others.

Integrity

Your values determine whether or not you are in control of your inner leader. Align your actions to what you believe and say. Having high integrity helps you in doing right by making right choices. Sharing your values help others understand what motivates you and strive to learn and understand the values of the people you work with. This reduces the chances of future conflict and strengthens your interpersonal relationships.

Every time you avoid doing right, you fuel the habit of doing wrong. Always take a high road and make a tough and right choice based on your values rather than the easy road. Decisions aligned with your values help you to become more effective in leading yourself and others.

Right Purpose

“One cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied in doing wrong in other. Life is one indivisible Whole – M. K. Gandhi.”

When you pursue right purpose, it leads you to do things that are meaningful to you and whatever is relevant to that purpose gets priority thereby eliminating distractions. Get people around you excited about a meaningful cause that contributes to the lives of others. Make decisions that support your purpose and focus on liberating their full potential through the work they do. Align and prioritise your actions to achieve results that matter most to you and to people you work with. Your commitment to right purpose and adherence to it will improve your leadership ability.

Self-discipline

If your goal is to lead and create the most value for your organisation or for yourself, then you must be able to perform to the best of your abilities. This can be achieved by cultivating self-discipline. More often, it’s not that achieving your goals is physically impossible, it is the lack of self-discipline to stick to them that keeps you from reaching your full potential. Self-discipline improves your will-power to overcome obstacles and moves you onwards towards your goal. Every act of discipline strengthens your confidence and helps you control your impulses while staying focused on what needs to get done. The strong desire for your purpose can act as a self-motivator to discipline yourself and to channel your energies in appropriate ways.

Right Focus

“Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things.” – Peter F. Drucker

The ability to manage your attention and having right focus is the key to bring out the leader in you. Increase in ‘on task’ time could have a significant improvement in leading yourself effectively to get more focused attention. Focusing your attention on right things and directing attention toward where it needs to go is a primal task of leadership. The ability to shift attention to the right place at right time can refine efficiencies and improve yours and everybody’s performance. By maintaining right focus on goals that matter to you , you can seize opportunities and can improve yourself to be innovative and productive.

Empathy

As important it is to know yourself, to bring out the leader in you, you need to like people and should have a passion to interact, listen and understand them. Develop a deeper understanding of people around. Be empathetic and sensitive to their needs. Understand what drives them and demonstrate genuine concern for their welfare. Guide them through challenges and always be on the lookout for solutions to help them get through their personal challenges. Paying attention to others needs and listening to advice and expertise helps you make right decisions that transform fear to hope by questioning your assumptions. Learn to listen and communicate with care.

“When you start to develop your powers of empathy and imagination, the whole world opens up to you.”- Susan Sarandon

Passion

Have genuine passion and enthusiasm for the work you do. Be excited about what you do and find the best in others and surround yourself with positive people. Pursuing a vision that makes you feel worthy and meaningful and helping others ṭo liberate the fullness of their talents makes you more passionate. Being passionate opens up new possibilities, this in turn, would lead to new choices and new changes and action. Your passion becomes an anchor to keep you from drifting during turbulent times. Being passionate helps you to see good in every circumstance and creates positive attitudes to the opportunities.

“Good leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” – Jack Welch

Persuasion

Develop the ability to communicate persuasively. It’s easy to get others to do what you want them to do if you’ll see things from their perspective. Avoid thoughtless actions and look for ways to passionately stimulate and energise people and deliver right messages that motivate and reassure. Praise them for every effort they put forth. When something isn’t going right, point out the one thing at the moment that they could do better and help them find the way without making them feel small. Motivate and steer them in right direction and help them be successful too.

Flexibility

There is no singular path towards solving a problem. Rather than rigidly adhering to traditional and outdated ways of doing things, remain flexible in your thinking and in management of others by adapting to change. Adopt new habits and cultivate new attitudes to embrace change. If your old ways are not proving to be of value, it is important to have the flexibility to re-examine and change the course as needed. Sharpen your skills, develop your talents to help you turn your weaknesses into strengths.

Determination

Be determined not to give up easily when things don’t go your way. Never run yourself down. View failure as opportunity and seek to better yourself and your circumstances. Esteem yourself not with egotism but with humble, realistic self-confidence. If you possess genuine confidence and live with an unshakable sense of who you are, you can be determined to achieve your goals. Make your decisions with clarity and act despite risk and doubt.

To Summarise,

• Be inspired by great purpose.

• Remain flexible and maintain openness to change.

• Accept responsibility.

• Be resilient in the face of obstacles.

• Create a sense of direction in your life having the foresight to anticipate problems or needs before they arise.

• Increase your mindfulness by constant questioning and listening.

• Have impeccable integrity.

• Listen to advice and expertise

• Be collaborative and make decisions by consensus.

• Motivate, influence and help people in developing new strengths or refining their abilities.

• Be receptive to insights, perspectives from other people and their perception.

How to stop fearing failure

Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from realising your dreams

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston S. Churchill

We all set goals for ourselves as markers against which we measure our level of success and achieving them can be very inspiring, but there is always a fear of failure lurking around. Most of us do not know how to deal with it as we are not taught to deal with failure in school or in life. Many times, this fear of unknown, the danger of failure makes you give up on your goals either because you are scared of failing at them or because you fear other people’s judgments.

Sometimes, the dreams you had been working so hard to accomplish might take longer time than you expected. There might seem to be certain nuances or obstacles on the way in achieving them which you didn’t expect or sometimes things just don’t go the way you would like them to. It would be nice if accomplishing them was easy, but usually is not. There will always be times when you just want to give up and think that your great idea is just not going to make it if you fear failure.

Why we fear failure?

‘what if i fail?’ This sentence is a great stumbling block that does not let you try many things and take new approaches to accomplish what you want to leading to self-doubt. We fear failure mostly for two reasons. First, we see status and social acceptance as important to survival, so the thought of damaging our reputation is seen as huge danger when it comes to facing a risky situation. Second being we have learnt to accept failure as an unpleasant experience that causes feelings of shame and hurt.

Some people are in general more persistent and passionate about their long term goals. But the less gritty ones are not resilient in the face of adversity or difficulties. They give into their fears allowing them to dominate in convincing that ‘It cannot be done!’ Because of this, they are unable to stay the course when progress is not obvious and cannot bounce back after a minor disappointment.

Often, we get so caught up in facade of achieving our goals that we fail to identity obstacles that might stand in the way and do not to make plans to avoid or overcome them. However sometimes even the best laid plans can fail for any number of reasons. When things don’t go as planned, fear manifests into despair and becomes a major obstacle to progress. Because of this, you don’t put in the total effort that is required. It can be done, but you do not do it. Even though you have the ability but because you put in less than required, you cannot further overcome the failure.

With fear of failure,

• You subconsciously undermine your efforts and to avoid a larger possibility of a larger failure, you will convince yourself it’s better not to try.

• You impede your ability to address the actual problem fearing rejection.

• Self doubt makes you give up because you don’t want to feel incompetent or appear foolish.

• Fear of failure imprisons your experience in a cage that’s meant to keep the dangers out, but ends up locking you in.

• You never commit to your goals fully and avoid situations in which you don’t have control.

• You fail to capitalise on opportunities.

• You condition yourself not to set any goals as you self deprecate, devalue your worth convincing that you cannot achieve even though when they are within your reach.

How to stop fearing failure?

When you deny your goals or even give up on them fearing failure, you are rejecting who you are on the inside by fooling your subconscious. Failure is not something exclusive to you. As long as you have the will power to persevere the difficulties or failure and pick up from here, you can put up with situations that seem to be going against. You can continue to live with intent, purpose and direction.

If you use fear to understand the mechanism of failure by reflecting on your mistakes, you can stay motivated and adjust your course by learning from your failures. Maintaining high expected values for your goals over extended periods of time despite failures, setbacks and other kinds of adversity increases your endurance and tolerance.

Here are few strategies to work around your fear of failure and to persevere through obstacles.

Think Success

“Thinking is the hardest thing that is and that is why so few involve themselves in it.” and that is why the failures.

There is no disgrace in honest failure and fearing to fail. But in most cases, lack of planning and thinking that makes all the difference. Substitute failure thinking with success thinking. When you face a difficult situation, think ‘I’ll win’ not ‘I’ll probably lose’. When you compete with someone else think ‘I am equal to the best’. When opportunity opens, think in terms of ‘can’ and never ‘can’t’. Thinking success conditions your mind to create plans to succeed and overcome failure.

Learn from past failures

It might feel like failure only has negative. There are many who succeeded despite their failures. Each of them may have different reason for their failure; find out how successful people have succeeded despite their failures. Try to reflect on your past failures so as to figure out where the problem was—be it the method you applied or if your goals were unrealistic—don’t take the failure personally. Learn from past experiences and be honest about your weaknesses to move ahead. If you don’t learn from your past failure, you’re throwing away value. Use your experience to build something even better. Treat failure as simply a necessary part of your progress and rise from the past setbacks and disappointments.

Create your own version of success

Others opinion about you and they judging you should not hold you back from surpassing failure. The opinion of others has no power unless you yield it. Stop letting others dictate what you should and shouldn’t do. Believe in your unique goal and dwell on possibilities. Your beliefs have to be more powerful than any anxiety, fear or negativity you come across. There is no one prescribed way to achieve success and overcome failure. Be inspired to keep finding new ways to explore and build your own version of success.

Accept your fears

Failure can seriously dent your self-esteem and confidence. This is because we are made to believe that we are too good to fail from young age. Though it is good to build our self-esteem, but when faced with failure, we are more likely to take the escape route and allow fear, worry and self-doubt to dominate us. With failure also comes feeling of disappointment and rejection. It is important to recognise that fear that’s stopping you is just a feeling. Let yourself feel and let it pass without letting it to have an overpowering hold on you. This allows you to put everything in perspective and you can make the best possible decision to move forward.

Persevere through difficulties

It is very essential to persist through times of failures. Are you willing to go that extra mile? Are you willing to move out of your comfort zone? Are you willing to do what others won’t do ? When you are seeking your goal, don’t become impatient with the time taken or any difficulty you face. Instead consider it as a detour and devise a new way to reach your goal. Grow tolerant to put up with situations that seem to be against.

“Failure is only a temporary change in direction. Develop an inward zeal not to give up and persist in your efforts to transform it into success.”

Expect future obstacles and difficulties

Spend time on analysing what could be the possible obstacle to the goal you are pursuing, be your dream project or new career venture. Write down the worst possible outcome of facing the failure and then come up with an action plan to overcome it just in case. Think of future obstacles but don’t let it rule your decision to pursue your goal. Thinking of worst-case scenario gives you a balanced view and puts you in a positive frame of mind. You will be better equipped to tackle obstacles or solve difficult problems as they arise and you can get back with more vigour.

Grow the Action habit

Don’t wait until conditions are perfect. Action cures fear of failure. Waiting for perfect time by doing nothing about a situation will only strengthen fear and destroys confidence. Ideas of how you are going to overcome failure alone won’t bring success. They have value only when you act upon them. Thinking in terms of tomorrow, next week, later and words like this are synonymous with never. Be as ‘I am starting right now’ kind of person.

Redefine failure

We have all been conditioned to perceive success in a certain way, which then makes us believe that shifting those boundaries is failure. A way to stop fearing failure is to stop seeing it by the standards you may have been brought up with. Ignoring your small achievements will only lower your confidence in your future endeavours. Encourage yourself by celebrating every small effort you make. It may be in small doses, but it is the best way to get ahead. Don’t let the negative thoughts and anxiety hold you back. Manage them and prepare to tackle your next challenge.

Finally, don’t give up on your goal. The greater the effort you put into achieving a goal, the greater will be your fear of failure in achieving it. You face failure the moment you stop striving for. Don’t let the fear of bad decision or misstep hold you back and hamper your chances to improve. Instead cultivate a can do attitude and maintain high expected valuations for your goals despite failures.

To get out of your fixation on fear of failure,

• Focus on things that are within your control.

• Always believe that “there is a way”.

• Seek out your faults and correct them.

• Start fresh to see new solutions or new approaches.

• Learn from your past failures to make yourself strong,

• When facing difficult situation, take a step back and reconsider your perspective. Look at a problem from all angles. Break it down into small steps that are more achievable than big leaps.

• Stop judging yourself. Use failure as an opportunity to learn and grow.

• Admit your fears, identify challenges and structure your expectations to create a road to your success.

“The obstacles that are in your way aren’t meant to stop you. They’re designed to point the way to a new route, new possibilities, and new doorways.” Anonymous

Deal with your disappointments constructively

The way you manage your disappointments can have big impact on your life. Here’s how you can learn to do it right.

We all struggle with our frequent mood changes and disappointments which are an inevitable and inescapable part of life. They can be from various reasons and arise as a result of specific events or situations. They have high influence on the way we react and in the actions we take. We all have expectations like winning at something or to succeed in something that we care deeply about and so on and so forth. Each time something falls short of our expectation, we tend to feel disappointed and this leads to our mood changes. Some of the disappointments may not make much of a difference, but there are some that can make huge difference. The feelings of disappointment may last for a short while, or might hang over for long period of time depending on how we deal with them. If not dealt with properly, they affect our behavioural, cognitive, emotional and physical well-being.

With frequent mood changes and disappointments, we lose the ability to concentrate and may experience lapses in memory. Some experience irritability and prolonged period of disappointments may result in depression and sadness. Most of the times, our expectations lead to this complex and confused feeling. When faced with disappointment, some tend to attribute it to their personal failings and resort to self-blaming. They direct their anger inwards. This makes them feel they were not good enough. Others turn their anger outwardly which makes them feel bitter and vindictive.

Your mood changes can destroy your efforts

In order to avoid the feeling of disappointment, some distract themselves by turning to random, mindless activities instead of facing the problems head on. This may make them happy in short run, but does not resolve the actual problem and makes them underachievers. They tend to deny their goals by conditioning themselves not to set any expectations. This leads to self-depreciation and to a discontented life. Others seek to avoid by setting high expectations. They come under their presumptions that their expectations are realistic and when it turns out to be not true, it often leads to disappointment.

Getting caught up in your mood changes can cause feelings of isolation and low self-esteem. You avoid taking risks to prevent yourself or others from being disappointed. Focusing on your disappointments for long can destruct your efforts and have a negative impact on your confidence. When you are preoccupied by disappointment, you fail to put in the right effort. Instead if you treat them as learning experiences, they can become stepping stones for growth.

Know the reasons for your disappointments

You cannot snap out of your bad mood and feeling of disappointment quickly if you are not aware of what is causing them. Here are some reasons.

• The main reason for disappointment is the gap between the reality and your expectations. Having higher expectations can make you feel not being good enough.

• Feelings of guilt can lead to negative emotions and have a big impact on your mood.

• Rejections cause an emotional injury and thereby lead to your disappointments.

• Out standing tasks and mental to-do lists can nag at you and make feel discontented and disappointed.

• Brooding over past occurrences can get you stuck in replaying them over and over again.

• Feeling of failure and getting caught up on small annoyances can ruin your mood.

• Hanging on to false perceptions and negative beliefs like, “nothing works”, “not good enough”.

• Attachment to certain outcomes and too much fixation on your unrealistic goals.

We can deal with our disappointments constructively and more appropriately if we can differentiate between situations that fall within our control and factors that are beyond it.

Use your disappointments positively

You need not always get discouraged by your disappointments. If taken in positive way and dealt with constructively, they can strengthen you. Remember that your disappointments actually show your passion and can motivate you to succeed.

They help you manage your expectations

When we feel disappointed, our expectations fall out of line with the truth. By understanding the gap between your expectations and the reality, you can use them to correct your assumptions and adjust your expectations accordingly to achieve your goals.

They provide opportunity for growth. You can learn to deal with them in a positive manner and use them as opportunities to improve yourself. What you originally thought was sufficient to achieve your goal may not be enough and may need to increase your effort or change your approach to get the results you want.

They align you with your inner-self

Sometimes disappointments provide us with a better emotional state to get in touch with your inner self. By focusing on your underlying desire for your goal, rather than the external projection, you can create other possibilities to realise your desire.

Here are some strategies to get over disappointment and to deal with them constructively.

Put it in perspective

Often, small annoyances can become exaggerated and ruin your mood. You might feel disappointed about things you are unlikely to remember in a month’s time. If your disappointment is significant, try to focus on the larger picture and remind yourself of all the things you are grateful for. If not, it is not worth getting disappointed about.

Don’t dwell about what might have been

The more you dwell on the disappointment, the more it will hurt and disrupts your ability to focus, concentrate, solve or be creative. Give yourself a limited time to feel bad and move on. Do not internalise feelings of sadness and anger. Hanging on to these for long can make them part of your identity and deepen your emotional hurt.

Recharge yourself

Don’t be too self-critical and don’t get pulled down by your thoughts. Do not indulge in self-pity as it takes away feelings of empowerment. Look for positive activities and those that you most enjoy to recharge your consciousness to a positive level. This will help you gain some clarity and you can learn other perspectives which you may not be aware of.

Identify the next opportunity

There is always a next opportunity regardless of what disappointed you. Live in alignment with your abilities and inner desire. When you lose, use it to learn, and then go on to win next time.

Increase your possibilities

Do not limit yourself on a single goal and believe that it is the only way to make your dreams come true. There is always more than one reason why you are committed to a path. Increase your possibilities by creating other paths to realise your dreams.

Reevaluate your perceptions

Attaching yourself to a certain outcome causes anguish and prevents you from putting effort in moving on. Becoming aware of false perceptions or unrealistic expectations you are clinging on to and by releasing them, you can overcome disappointment and can move towards your goals.

Finally, Realign your focus

Don’t be discouraged by momentary disappointments.Everyone experiences disappointments. By being hard on yourself and thinking you are not good enough will not take you forward. Remember that you are much more capable at focusing on the positive than you think.

Next time, if you struggle to deal with your disappointments, try to reevaluate your expectations by asking yourself: what expectations do I have from my self?, what false perceptions am I getting hung up over?, could I have done something different to arrive at a desired outcome?. Reframe your disappointments as learning experiences. Cultivate a capacity to deal with them more constructively and start again to pursue your dreams.

“Life is not always a celebration; so be ready to courageously face disappointments when they come, and be sure to grow stronger and wiser from them.”  – Edmond Mbiaka

Disconnect from distractions

How to systematically develop your personal ability to do quality work.

The ability to produce quality work and the ability to quickly master hard things is an important requisite in today’s work environments. The process of using rapidly changing technologies requires that you hone the ability to learn increasingly complex set of relevant skills. To be able to transform these skills into valuable results, your attention needs to be focused without any distractions. But in today’s technologically advanced world, producing quality work at an optimal rate has become a difficult task as we embrace distractions at various levels and this decreases our ability to do high quality and meaningful work. The main culprit being the culture of connectivity where one is expected to respond quickly to a mail or to a message. Checking mail and social networking sites, surfing the web, and visual mediums have become major obstacles in cultivating a deep work habit.

Here are certain behaviours that distract you from quality work.

Multitasking

Trying to accomplish multiple tasks simultaneously, your attention remains divided. There will be a residue of your attention that remains when you switch from one task to another. Those who experience attention residue after switching tasks are more prone to distractions.

Constant need for connectivity

Workplaces with trends like active presence on social media might create more opportunities to collaborate but they do so at the cost of many distractions. We increasingly becoming the victims of online distractions. They fragment our time and reduce our ability to concentrate. They tend to pull your attention thereby weaken your willpower to focus on important things.

Unstructured thinking

Without any built-in goals, rules and challenges you cannot produce work of real value. When you lack planning and cannot figure out what you should be working on and for how long results in shallow work and short-term gains.

Busyness

By sending and answering mails at all hours, scheduling and attending meetings constantly, instant messaging within seconds when someone poses a query —all these behaviours make you seem busy but do not always result in high value work.

Lack of priority

Our dependence on connectivity results in paying attention to irrelevant things. When you lose focus on really important things, your mind tends to fix on what could be wrong instead of what’s right giving into frustration,stress and triviality. These shallow concerns take up most of your time thereby keeping you away from doing quality work.

Many of us assume that we can transform our working life from distracted to focused overnight and that we can switch between a state of distraction and one of concentration as needed, but once you are wired for distraction, you begin to crave it and it becomes difficult to bring your focus back with one time decision to think or work deeper. Your brain becomes accustomed to on-demand distraction and is hard to change the habit even when you want to concentrate. You will struggle to achieve higher levels of concentration unless you disconnect yourself from these distractions.

You have to make your deep work a priority to meet your personal and professional goals. By integrating the habit of doing high quality and meaningful work into your schedule and supporting it with routines and rituals, you will be able to achieve your concentration ability.

The following strategies can help you maximise your personal ability to produce quality work. By adapting to some personal work habits, you can take more effective action towards your goal of achieving real results.

Schedule your work

Scheduling eliminates shallow obligations by having a highly valued professional or personal goal. By dedicating some clearly defined stretches of time to vital tasks, you can leave the time for not so important ones. By developing routines, by making sure little bit gets done on a regular basis, you can fit deep work habit whenever you can into your schedule. To make most of your time, build rituals of the same level of strictness.

Focus on your ‘priorities’

Your work should be aimed at small number of important goals. Simplifying and focusing on priorities will improve your intensity to get valuable results. Identify a small number of outcomes to pursue with your quality work hours. Spending more time doing quality work may not generate lot of enthusiasm. Instead have a specific goal that would return tangible benefits.

Work on the ‘lead measures’

Lag measures describe the thing you are trying to improve and lead measures are the hours spent working on your important goals. Lag measures cannot immediately generate a noticeable change in your ability to reach your goal. You cannot change your behaviour as the performance that driven them is already in the past. Lead measures on the other hand, turn your attention to improving the behaviours you directly control in the near future and will have a positive impact on your long-term goals.

Keep a scoreboard

By recording and tracking the hours spent doing quality work or your lead measure, creates a sense of competence and drives you to focus on these measures even when there are distractions. Keeping track of quality work hours with simple tally of tick marks maximises your motivation. Your scoreboard can help you understand what leads to bad days of work and most important, to figure out how to ensure a good score for the days ahead. This way, you can disconnect with your distractions to keep a compelling scoreboard and can create a pattern of accountability.

Set deadlines

Set expected time of completion for your important tasks on your priority list. You can motivate yourself by setting a countdown and can work with greater intensity and with no distractions. You can plan on taking occasional break from focus to give into distractions. By providing interval training for the attention centres of brain, you can minimise the number of times you give into distractions.

Apply the ‘law of vital few’

Many different activities can contribute to you achieving your goals. According to the law of vital few, only twenty percent of theses activities provide the bulk of the benefit. By listing some of your distinct and beneficial activities for each of your life goals, the top two or three such activities only make most of the difference in whether or not you succeed. Try to list only those which are specific to your goal.

Structure your ‘leisure time’

Don’t use networking tools for entertainment when it comes relaxation as they weaken your mind’s general ability to resist distraction thereby making it difficult for you to concentrate later when you really want to. Structure your leisure time by filling your free time with something of more quality than instead of allowing your mind to be lost in unstructured web surfing and other distractions. If you give your mind a quality alternative, you’ll end the day more fulfilled and can begin the next day more relaxed.

Finally,

strengthen your distraction-resistant muscle by practicing productive meditation. You can do this when you are occupied physically but not mentally by focusing on a single well-defined professional or personal problem or a hard task. When faced with hard tasks, your mind will attempt to avoid them by looping over and over again on what you already know. By structuring your thinking, you will be able to redirect your attention to the next step and will be able to set a specific target for your attention. This way, you can strengthen your distraction-resistance and sharpen your concentration.

Conclusion

Distraction remains a destroyer of deep and meaningful work. Try and optimise your efforts and keep them structured by following above mentioned strategies.

Take back the control of your time and attention from the many distractions that attempt to steal them by making your deep goal a mental priority.