The Science of Productivity / How do we become more efficient at working, and spend less time working overall?

The Science of Productivity / How do we become more efficient at working, and spend less time working overall?

Made in collaboration with Sparring Mind, the behavioral psychology blog.

In today’s crazy world, productivity is on the minds of many. So what can science tell us about the human brain and productive work? How do we become more efficient at working, and spend less time working overall?

The Psychology of Productivity: A Proven Way to Get More Done (in Less Time)

Science of Productivityby Gregory Ciotti

In today’s busy world, we seem to be obsessed with the idea of “productivity” and “work hacks”.

It’s easy to see why: being able to get more done allows us to get ahead in life, and even gives us more time to do the things we love outside of work.

The problem we run into, however, is that it is easy to get motivated, but hard to stay disciplined.

This is because most of us look at productivity in the wrong way: it’s not about signing up for the latest task management tool (which, admit it, you’ll use for a week and soon abandon) or chaining yourself to your desk, it’s about understanding the science behind how your brain works, and using it to your advantage.

Today, we’ll look at what science has unveiled about the human brain and productive work, and you’ll learn how to tackle the biggest pitfalls that sabotage your ability to get things done.

 

All You Need to Know About Productivity (in a 3 Minute Video!)

My first ever video related project, get excited!

 collaborated with Mitchell Moffit of the ASAPscience team to create the above video.

 

Okay, so a 3 minute video might not be able to contain all the research I’ve compiled on the subject, but it seriously covers all of the essentials!

In it you’ll learn…

  • Why worrying about having “more willpower” is a fool’s game
  • How world class experts stay productive… and what they do differently
  • The science behind why better energy management = a more productive you
  • Big pitfalls that lead to busywork and procrastination

So go ahead and watch it, and enjoy.

Once you’ve done that, and you’re still itching to know more, scroll down: there are a dozen studies and 2000+ words waiting for you.

Abandon All Willpower, Ye Who Enter Here

The first thing we need to acknowledge in the pursuit of a more productive lifestyle is the mountain of evidence that suggests willpowerWillpower alone will not be enough to stay productive!

According to research by Janet Polivy, our brain fears big projects and often fails to commit to long-term goals because we’re susceptible to “abandoning ship” at the first sign of distress.

Think of the last time you went on a failed diet…

You stocked your fridge with the healthiest foods & planned to exercise every day… until the first day you slipped up. After that, it was back to your old ways.

To make matters worse, research by Kenneth McGraw s was able to show that the biggest “wall” to success was often just getting started. Additional research in this area (surrounding the Zeigarnik Effect) suggests that we’re prone to procrastinating on large projects because we visualize the worst parts and thus delay in getting started.

What do our brains prefer to do instead? According to researcher John Bargh, your brain will attempt to “simulate” real productive work by avoiding big projects and focusing on small, mindless tasks to fill your time.

“Big project due tomorrow? Better reorganize my movie collection!”

Perhaps worst of all, numerous studies on the concept of “ego-depletion” have provided some astounding evidence that suggests our willpower is a “limited resource” that can be used up in it’s entirety!

With all of that stacked against us, what hope do we have? What can we possibly do to be more productive?

In order to figure this out, one of our best bets is to observe the habits of some of the world’s most productive people.

Fortunately for us, numerous researchers have done exactly that, and their findings on the “secrets” of productivity will surprise you.

The Habits of Productive People

If I were to ask to describe the practice regiments of world-class musicians, you’d probably envision a shut-in artist who plays all day World classlong and then tucks in their instrument at night.

Amazingly though, research by Anders Ericsson that examined the practice sessions of elite violinists clearly showed that the best performers were not spending more time on the violin, but rather were being more productive during their practice sessions.

Better yet, the most elite players were getting more sleep on average than everyone else!

How is that possible?

Subsequent research by Anders reveals the answer: the best players were engaging in more “deliberate practice”.

That is, they spent more time on the hardest tasks and were better at managing their energy levels.

Think of it this way: if you were trying to get better at basketball, you’d be much better off practicing specific drills for a couple of hours rather than “shooting hoops” all day long.

Since deliberate practice requires you to spend more “brainpower” than busy work, how can you implement it without draining your willpower?

The first answer isn’t very sexy, but it’s necessary: the best way to overcome your fear of spending a lot of energy on a big project is to simply get started.

The Zeigarnik Effect (mentioned above) is a construct in our minds that psychologists have observed in numerous studies on “suspense”. One such study gave participants “brain buster” puzzles to complete, but not enough time to complete them. The surprising thing was, even when participants were asked to stop, over 90% of them went on to complete the puzzles anyway.

According to the lead researcher:

“It seems to be human nature to finish what we start and, if it is not finished, we experience dissonance.”

It’s the same thing that happens when we become engaged in a story in a book, movie or TV show: we want to see how it ends!

You can use this knowledge to your advantage by just getting started on that next big project, knowing that first step really is an important one in being productive.

Once you’ve gotten started though, you need better methods of staying productive and engaging in “deliberate practice” in order to avoid doing busy work.

How to Work Like an Expert

A multitude of research has shown us that discipline is best maintained through habits, not through willpower.Expert

According to Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project, most people hold their productivity back by not rigidly scheduling work & rest breaks throughout the day.

Since most of us are worried about our willpower, we don’t push ourselves to our maximum productive output: instead of “giving our all” for brief productivity sessions, we distribute our effort throughout the day, leading us back to busywork to fill our time.

What should we do instead?

Schwartz often cites a research study conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration that revealed how short breaks between longer working sessions resulted in a 16% improvement in awareness & focus.

Research from Peretz Lavie on “ultradian rhythms” matches up with these findings: longer productive sessions (of 90 minutes) followed by short breaks (of no more than 15-20 minutes) sync more closely with our natural energy cycles and allow us to maintain a better focus and higher energy level throughout the day.

Ultradian Rhythm

The best part? Both of these studies on energy management match up with the practice schedules of the world-class violinists: the most common practice regimen for the “cream of the crop” players was a 90-minute block of intense practice followed by a 15-minute break.

The moral of the story: It’s hard to be productive while trying to maintain high energy levels through your entire day.

It’s much easier for your brain to approach a 90-minute session of productivity when it knows that a 15-minute break is coming up afterward.

Instead of trying to conserve your energy for multiple hours, we are at our most productive when we break big projects down into smaller chunks and plan a recovery period right after.

For projects done on your own time, try scheduling blocks of 90-minute work sessions with a planned cool down time of 15 minutes directly afterwards. When you know a break is on the horizon, you won’t try to “pace yourself” with your work, and will be more inclined to dive into the difficult stuff.

While great for tackling the toughest parts of large projects, this technique doesn’t really address many problems related to discipline, an important part of staying productive for more than just a day or two.

Fortunately, we have research in this area that will change the way you approach discipline and that will get you to start using systems to maintain and track your progress.

The Art of Staying Disciplined

One segment of the population known for struggling with discipline are those who addicted to hard drugs.Discipline

Given their disposition for being unable to commit to many things, you might be surprised to find that during an experiment testing the ability of drug addicts to write & submit a 5 paragraph essay on time, those who wrote down when & where they would complete the essay were 90% more likely to turn it in!

These findings have some interesting correlation with those related to discipline in “normal” people: in a study examining the ability of average people to stick with a strict dieting plan, researchers found that those participants who rigorously monitored what they were eating were able to maintain far higher levels of self-control when it came to maintaining their diet.

Last but not least, Dan Ariely and colleagues conducted a study involving college students and found that students who imposed strict deadlines on themselves for assignments performed far better (and more consistently) than those who didn’t.

These findings were especially interesting because Ariely noted that students who gave themselves too generous of a deadline often suffered from the same problems as students who set zero deadlines: when you allot yourself too much time to complete a task, you can end up creating a “mountain out of a molehill”.

Since we now know that tracking our progress is a key component of productivity, how can we implement this practice into our daily routine?

One method is to use an Accountability Chart to track what work you’ve completed during your 90-minute productive sessions, similar to how the dieters tracked their food consumption.

To easily implement one into your daily routine, simply create two-columns on a piece of paper, Google Docs spreadsheet, or even a whiteboard.

  • Column 1 will list the time-span of one of your productivity sessions.
  • Column 2 will list what tasks you’ve accomplished in that limited time-span.

Accountability Chart

Don’t include any columns for your 15-minute breaks, as those times are for your own sake and means to replenish your willpower.

This seemingly simple strategy works incredibly well for 2 very specific reasons:

Tracking your progress in this way has been proven by Dr. Kentaro Fujita to increase self-control because you’ll be exposed to the work you’ve actually accomplished, and not the (inaccurate) assumption of work you might construe in your head. (Forcing yourself to write down the fact that you spent 2 hours on Reddit doing no work guilt trips you into not doing it again ;) ).

Progress tracking is also a known strategy for stopping yourself from engaging in “robotic behavior” (also known as ‘busywork’), a habit that researcher John Bargh describes as the #1 enemy of goal striving.

Productivity & Multitasking

With a work schedule, an energy management strategy and a task-tracking system in place, the last challenge we have to face is that of Multitaskingmultitasking.

The danger surrounding multitasking lies in how our brains perceive it: according to a 1999 study, we have a tendency to view multitasking as really effective from the outside… after all, shouldn’t productivity increase if we are doing multiple things at once?

The science shows us that this is an absolute falsehood: Researcher Zhen Wang was able to show that on average, multitaskers are actually less likely to be productive, yet they feel more “emotionally satisfied” with their work (creating an illusion of productivity).

Worse yet, Stanford researcher Clifford Nass examined the work patterns of multitaskers and analyzed their ability to:

  1. Filter information
  2. Switch between tasks
  3. Maintain a high working memory

…and found that they were terrible at all 3!

According to Nass:

“We were absolutely shocked. We all lost our bets. It turns out multitaskers are terrible at every aspect of multitasking.”

How can we fight back?

The best way is to simply block ourselves from distracting elements that may cause us to multitask.

When working on the computer, be sure to use tools like Controlled multi-tab browsing and StayFocusd (Chrome extensions) to block distracting sites and limit the amount of tabs you can have open.

The next best strategy is to create an evening planning ritual where you select a few priority tasks to accomplish the next day.

The reason this method works far better than planning your daily tasks in the morning is because research from the Kellogg School (not the cereal :P ) has shown that we drastically miscalculate the amount of focus we’ll be able to maintain in the future: that is, we strongly believe that we’ll be able to quickly plan our day the next morning, but when tomorrow rolls around without a game plan to get us started, we’ll likely fall back into our old multitasking ways to avoid doing any real work.

You can create an evening planning ritual with a simple pen & paper or use an online tool like TeuxDeux each night. List only priority tasks (the “big 5”) for the day and be sure to include completed tasks in your Accountability Chart when they are completed.

TeuxDeux

Last but not least, since the research has shown us that we are terrible at “winging it” when it comes to completing big projects, split large tasks up into smaller segments so your brain won’t view the assignment as something that is so large that you must multitask to complete it.

(For instance, instead of listing “Work on research project” as a daily goal, try something like “Finish introduction” or “Find additional sources” as a task you can complete)

The Instant Replay

That was a lot of research covered in quite a long blog post.Replay

(I like the sound of my own voice… er, the sound of my own typing?)

Since that’s the case, here’s a quick recap to help you get your productivity system started…

Understand that willpower alone will not save you: Your productivity shouldn’t be reliant on your sheer force of will alone. Sure, mental toughness will get you a long way, but in order to stay disciplined over time, you need to acknowledge the usefulness of systems for keeping yourself on track.

Give yourself the ability to go “all-in”: Working harder on the stuff that matters is going to drain you mentally & physically. Don’t be afraid of giving yourself multiple breaks throughout the day. It’s better to “chunk” productivity sessions into 90 minute periods (followed by 15 minute breaks) in order to keep yourself sharp and to alleviate the stress of pacing your energy throughout the entire day.

World class experts utilize this strategy, so it ought to be good enough for you too!

If it’s not worth measuring, it’s not worth doing: Okay… that might be a bit of an exaggeration. :)

Seriously though, tracking has been PROVEN to be the best way to stay diligent about your progress. Create an accountability chart to list what productive things you’ve gotten done throughout the day. You’ll see how much you’re really accomplishing.

Multitasking is your enemy: Treat it as such. Block out unwanted distractions and as Ron Swanson would say, “Never half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing.” ;)

Plan your day the night before so you won’t get consumed with the wonderful distractions of the internet when you start your day.

It’s your turn…

Leave a comment below letting me know what you thought about this research.

  1. Did anything make you re-evaluate how you view productivity?
  2. Do you particularly agree (or disagree) with any of the conclusions I’ve drawn?

If you’re the entrepreneurial type (or aspire to be), definitely don’t leave without download my (free) guide on Conversion Psychology either, because who doesn’t want to be more persuasive?

Thanks for reading, please share this article if you enjoyed it.

Written and created by Mitchell Moffit (twitter @mitchellmoffit) and Gregory Brown (twitter @whalewatchmeplz).

TWITTER: http://www.twitter.com/AsapSCIENCE
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Stop Keeping Score. Happiness is the True Measure of Success.

 

Stop Keeping Score. Happiness is the True Measure of Success.

Stop Keeping Score 
 

Too many people try to numerically measure success.  Most of these numbers relate to wealth, age, intelligence, and seniority.  The problem with trying to numerically calculate success is that it doesn’t account for personal feelings, thoughts, and general happiness.  That which makes one person happy does not necessarily make everyone happy.  Thus, the qualities that make one person successful do not automatically represent a universal measure for success.

As tragic as it is, you must keep in mind that some of the most famous, wealthy intellects fall victim to addictions and suicide.  Why?  Because even though these folks possess numerous quantifiable elements that society typically uses to measure success, nobody can accurately estimate how they truly feel about their personal lives.

Take away all the excess minutiae.  You cannot be successful if you are unhappy, and happiness cannot be measured in numbers.  It is impossible keep an accurate score of success when the game is based on personal feelings and beliefs.  The key is to realize that success is multidimensional.  Just because someone is visibly successful at something they do, does not always mean that they are successful in life as a whole.

To be truly successful you must never suck it up to being unhappy for extensive periods of time.  Life is just too short for that kind of sacrifice.

12 Universal Skills You Need to Succeed at Anything

 

12 Universal Skills

There are a lot of skills you don’t need.  You can be happy and successful without knowing how to rebuild a car’s engine, program a web application, or replace drywall.  Sure, these are useful skills to have, but they aren’t absolutely necessary.

There are other skills, however, that can’t be avoided – skills that tie into various aspects of everyday life, that are not only useful, but totally indispensable.  For instance, you can’t get far in today’s world without being able to read or write.  And today the ability use a computer proficiently is simply assumed.

In this article we’re going to skip the super basic skills like reading, driving, and using a computer, and discuss twelve slightly more advanced skills that are woefully under-taught, and universally applicable.  Let’s take a look…

1.  Prioritizing and time management. – If success depends on effective action, effective action depends on the ability to focus your attention where it is needed most, when it is needed most.  This is the ability to separate the important from the unimportant, which is a much needed skill in all walks of life, especially where there are ever increasing opportunities and distractions.

2.  Keeping a clean, organized space. – Successful people have systems in place to help them find what they need when they need it – they can quickly locate the information required to support their activities.  When you’re disorganized, that extra time spent looking for a phone number, email address or a certain file forces you to drop your focus.  Once it’s gone, it takes a while to get it back – and that’s where the real time is wasted.  Keeping both your living and working spaces organized is crucial.

3.  Critical thinking and information analysis. – We are living in the information age where, on a daily basis, we are constantly exposed to an ever growing and rapidly changing pool of information.  Being able to evaluate this information, sort the valuable from the trivial, analyze its relevance and meaning, and relate it to other information is a priceless skill with universal applicability.

4.  Logical, informed decision making. – Decision making is simply knowing what to do based on the information available.  Being able to respond quickly and effectively with the information you have in your head is essential to accomplishing anything.

5.  Using Google proficiently for online research. – You don’t have to know everything, but you should be able to quickly and painlessly find out what you need to know.  Google is a gateway to nearly infinite knowledge; it has indexed websites containing information on just about everything and everyone.  If you’re having trouble finding something using Google, it’s time to learn a few new tricks.

6. Basic accounting and money management. – It’s a simple fact that our modern society is governed by the constant exchange of money.  Money allows you to maintain a roof over your head and put food on the table each night.  Knowing how to properly manage your money – tracking and recording your expenses and income, saving and investing – is not only an important skill for thriving, it’s an important skill that helps you survive.

7. Effective communication and negotiating. – Give the people in your life the information they need rather than expecting them to know the unknowable.  Don’t try to read other people’s minds, and don’t make other people try to read yours.  Most problems, big and small, within a family, friendship, or business relationship, start with bad communication.  Speak honestly, and then give others a voice and show them that their words matter.  And remember that compromise and effective negotiating are vital parts of effective communication.

8. Relaxation. – Stress leads to poor health, poor decision-making, poor thinking, and poor socialization.  So be attentive to your stress level and take short breaks when you need to.  Slow down.  Breathe.  Give yourself permission to pause, regroup and move forward with clarity and purpose.  When you’re at your busiest, a brief recess can rejuvenate your mind and increase your productivity.  These short breaks will help you regain your sanity, and allow you to reflect on your recent actions so you can be sure they’re in line with your goals.

9.  Proficient writing and note-taking. – The written word isn’t going away; it is used in every walk of life.  Learning to write proficiently so that others can understand you is critical.  Also, using your writing skills to take useful notes is one of the most productive things you can do, regardless of the task at hand.  Writing things down – taking notes – helps us remember what we hear, see, or read when we’re learning something new, or trying to remember something specific.

10. Relationship networking. – In a world dominated by constant innovation and information exchange, relationship networking creates the channel through which ideas and information flow, and in which new ideas are shared, discussed and perfected.  A large relationship network, carefully cultivated, can be leveraged to meet the right people, find jobs, build businesses, learn about new trends, spread ideas, etc.

11. Positivity. – Research shows that although we think that we act because of the way we feel, in fact, we often feel because of the way we act.  A great attitude always leads to great experiences.  People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times.  Be positive, smile, and make it count.  Pretend today is going to be great.  Do so, and it will be.

12. Self-discipline. – Self-discipline is a skill.  It is the ability to focus and overcome distractions.  It involves acting according to what you think instead of how you feel in the moment.  It often requires sacrificing the pleasure and thrill for what matters most in life.  Therefore it is self-discipline that drives you to succeed in the long-term.

What did we miss?  What are some other useful life skills that are universally applicable?  Leave a comment below and let everyone know.

Photo by: Zack Schnepf

30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

When you stop chasing the wrong things you give
the right things a chance to catch you.

As Maria Robinson once said, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.  But before you can begin this process of transformation you have to stop doing the things that have been holding you back.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Stop spending time with the wrong people. – Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you.  If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you.  You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot.  Never, ever insist yourself to someone who continuously overlooks your worth.  And remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends.
  2. Stop running from your problems. – Face them head on.  No, it won’t be easy.  There is no person in the world capable of flawlessly handling every punch thrown at them.  We aren’t supposed to be able to instantly solve problems.  That’s not how we’re made.  In fact, we’re made to get upset, sad, hurt, stumble and fall.  Because that’s the whole purpose of living – to face problems, learn, adapt, and solve them over the course of time.  This is what ultimately molds us into the person we become.
  3. Stop lying to yourself. – You can lie to anyone else in the world, but you can’t lie to yourself.  Our lives improve only when we take chances, and the first and most difficult chance we can take is to be honest with ourselves.  Read The Road Less Traveled.
  4. Stop putting your own needs on the back burner. – The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.  Yes, help others; but help yourself too.  If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.
  5. Stop trying to be someone you’re not. – One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else.  Someone will always be prettier, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be younger, but they will never be you.  Don’t change so people will like you.  Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.
  6. Stop trying to hold onto the past. – You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading your last one.
  7. Stop being scared to make a mistake. – Doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing.  Every success has a trail of failures behind it, and every failure is leading towards success.  You end up regretting the things you did NOT do far more than the things you did.
  8. Stop berating yourself for old mistakes. – We may love the wrong person and cry about the wrong things, but no matter how things go wrong, one thing is for sure, mistakes help us find the person and things that are right for us.  We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past.  But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.  Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come.
  9. Stop trying to buy happiness. – Many of the things we desire are expensive.  But the truth is, the things that really satisfy us are totally free – love, laughter and working on our passions.
  10. Stop exclusively looking to others for happiness. – If you’re not happy with who you are on the inside, you won’t be happy in a long-term relationship with anyone else either.  You have to create stability in your own life first before you can share it with someone else.  Read Stumbling on Happiness.
  11. Stop being idle. – Don’t think too much or you’ll create a problem that wasn’t even there in the first place.  Evaluate situations and take decisive action.  You cannot change what you refuse to confront.  Making progress involves risk.  Period!  You can’t make it to second base with your foot on first.
  12. Stop thinking you’re not ready. – Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises.  Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first.
  13. Stop getting involved in relationships for the wrong reasons. – Relationships must be chosen wisely.  It’s better to be alone than to be in bad company.  There’s no need to rush.  If something is meant to be, it will happen – in the right time, with the right person, and for the best reason. Fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.
  14. Stop rejecting new relationships just because old ones didn’t work. – In life you’ll realize that there is a purpose for everyone you meet.  Some will test you, some will use you and some will teach you.  But most importantly, some will bring out the best in you.
  15. Stop trying to compete against everyone else. – Don’t worry about what others are doing better than you.  Concentrate on beating your own records every day.  Success is a battle between YOU and YOURSELF only.
  16. Stop being jealous of others. – Jealousy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own.  Ask yourself this:  “What’s something I have that everyone wants?”
  17. Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself. – Life’s curveballs are thrown for a reason – to shift your path in a direction that is meant for you.  You may not see or understand everything the moment it happens, and it may be tough.  But reflect back on those negative curveballs thrown at you in the past.  You’ll often see that eventually they led you to a better place, person, state of mind, or situation.  So smile!  Let everyone know that today you are a lot stronger than you were yesterday, and you will be.
  18. Stop holding grudges. – Don’t live your life with hate in your heart.  You will end up hurting yourself more than the people you hate.  Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay.”  It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever.”  Forgiveness is the answer… let go, find peace, liberate yourself!  And remember, forgiveness is not just for other people, it’s for you too.  If you must, forgive yourself, move on and try to do better next time.
  19. Stop letting others bring you down to their level. – Refuse to lower your standards to accommodate those who refuse to raise theirs.
  20. Stop wasting time explaining yourself to others. – Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it anyway.  Just do what you know in your heart is right.
  21. Stop doing the same things over and over without taking a break. – The time to take a deep breath is when you don’t have time for it.  If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.  Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly.
  22. Stop overlooking the beauty of small moments. – Enjoy the little things, because one day you may look back and discover they were the big things.  The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you.
  23. Stop trying to make things perfect. – The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists, it rewards people who get things done.  Read Getting Things Done.
  24. Stop following the path of least resistance. – Life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile.  Don’t take the easy way out.  Do something extraordinary.
  25. Stop acting like everything is fine if it isn’t. – It’s okay to fall apart for a little while.  You don’t always have to pretend to be strong, and there is no need to constantly prove that everything is going well.  You shouldn’t be concerned with what other people are thinking either – cry if you need to – it’s healthy to shed your tears.  The sooner you do, the sooner you will be able to smile again.
  26. Stop blaming others for your troubles. – The extent to which you can achieve your dreams depends on the extent to which you take responsibility for your life.  When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility – you give others power over that part of your life.
  27. Stop trying to be everything to everyone. – Doing so is impossible, and trying will only burn you out.  But making one person smile CAN change the world.  Maybe not the whole world, but their world.  So narrow your focus.
  28. Stop worrying so much. – Worry will not strip tomorrow of its burdens, it will strip today of its joy.  One way to check if something is worth mulling over is to ask yourself this question: “Will this matter in one year’s time?  Three years?  Five years?”  If not, then it’s not worth worrying about.
  29. Stop focusing on what you don’t want to happen. – Focus on what you do want to happen.  Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story.  If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.
  30. Stop being ungrateful. – No matter how good or bad you have it, wake up each day thankful for your life.  Someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs.  Instead of thinking about what you’re missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.