You’d think that in order to be successful at your career, you need to do more. Like work harder, put in the extra effort and go all out to make sure your boss notices your efforts.
Sometimes though, it pays to not do something. There are certain things that are universal which will make you more successful but there are some that may actually be counterproductive if you keep on at it. And we have successful people as proof!
If you’re doing any of the four below, it’s time to give them up if you want your career to progress.
#1 Give up on gym time or early morning workouts
It’s hard enough to pull yourself off your bed to get to work but to wake up earlier just so you can squeeze in some workout time? Just give you the snooze button already! Besides, everyone can do with more sleep and rest, right? Not dissing the extra shut-eye but if you notice, a lot of CEOs have one thing in common: They tend to wake up earlier than the rest of us to hit the gym, go cycling, have a couple of laps around the pool, hit the road running. In fact, rising early is key to their success! Apple CEO Tim Cook is at the gym by 5am, Unilever CEO Paul Polman is hitting the treadmill at 6am, and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is already out for a bike ride when you’re sleeping.
There must be something about these early mornings workouts. For starters, exercise is the first step to better health and if you want to achieve anything in life, you need to have good health first. Second, it takes a huge amount of discipline to wake up before the crack of dawn to go for a run and because of their drive, successful people seem to be able to do this quite easily. So if you too want the same discipline in your life, you can start with that early-morning run and eventually apply the same to the rest of your working life.
And finally, even if you don’t wake up early to go for a swim, having that extra hour or two earlier each morning means you get more hours in a day. If you were to get up just one hour earlier each morning you would gain 15 days in a year. Just think about that!
#2 Say yes when you really want to say no
We get it – it’s hard to say NO to your boss. But you know what, highly successful people didn’t make their way to the top just by agreeing to everything! Like Steve Jobs said, “It’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” Another reason why you should think twice about saying yes? Research by University of California shows that the more difficulty you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout and even depression.
It’s a no brainer – if you are saying yes to everything you’re tasked towhen do you have the time to do it all? Say you’re already busy with one project and then your boss or colleague drops another one on you? You say yes… and end up compromising on the quality of your work because you don’t have the time and focus to do one project right and do it well! Saying no gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfil your existing commitments so don’t be afraid to use this powerful word if it means that you’ll be better at your current task.
#3 Wait for the perfect opportunity
Salvador Dali said it best: “Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” That’s the thing with the perfect opportunity – what defines it as perfect and how will you recognize it when there’s really no definition of what perfect is? Which is why you don’t see successful people just sitting around waiting for that perfect opportunity (if they did, a lot of the things they’ve accomplished won’t happen!).
If you’re still waiting for that perfect job or the perfect moment to show what you’re capable of, you might be waiting for a long time or never get to it. The reason why many of us say we are waiting for that perfect moment is simply because we are afraid to take risks. Which is how you lose out on opportunities. That’s another thing that successful people won’t do – be afraid of taking risks. It is only when you open yourself up to new ideas and challenges when you learn new things that will take you far in your career.
#4 Do many things all at once
Multitasking – is it good… or is it bad? Well, according to successful people, it’s what’s preventing you from actually achieving your true potential. Science backs it up too – according to research, multitasking actually lowers your IQ! A study by the University of London found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced an IQ score decline similar to those who have stayed up all night. Their IQ lowers so much sometimes that it leaves them with the average IQ of an 8-year-old child – not exactly what you want to be at work!
Notice how some people want to do it all but end up not doing much, while the ones who really achieve are the ones who just focus on one thing and then beat it into submission? Regardless of whether it is a business idea, an exercise activity or in the work scope, just trying to meet that deadline, when you put your entire focus and attention to one thing, you’re bound to get it done because you are fully committed. And that’s the recipe to success.
Or take heed from this Winston S. Churchill nugget of wisdom: “You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.”
Photo by Karen Lau and The Creative Exchange on Unsplash