Things You Need to Know to Achieve Career Success at Any Age

1. Learn to love doing the things you hate

Don’t you love to procrastinate? Sure. Everyone does. But procrastination is the #1 barrier to success, even more so than self-doubt.

We procrastinate most about the things we dislike – everything from doing the dishes to doing our taxes. But putting off the things we hate improves nothing and impregnates our minds with the dread of having to do it anyway.

When you learn to find amusement or joy in doing what you hate, you quit hating it and quit procrastinating too.

But how do you find joy in unlovable tasks? Two elements are important:

First, search for how the task adds to your overall connection. For example, many tech leaders have no love for accounting until they learn how those numbers help them to monitor the success of their operations or anticipate changes in their markets. Knowing how the unlovable fulfills the lovable is a large first step.

Secondly, find joy in the intricacy of the task itself. This is a bit Zen in nature, but focusing intently on the task at hand detaches you from other concerns. Consider focusing intently on unwelcome task as a vacation from other worries.

2. Start the day doing the “Tough Things First”

No matter what you are trying to accomplish, list what needs doing that day and put the hardest, most difficult task on the top of the list – or as I like to say,

“eat the ugly frog first.”

This makes you happier, more energized and about 20% more productive.

The easy way to achieve this is simply write down the ten most urgent and important things that need doing, then sort that list starting with the least enjoyable – the ugly frogs.

Don’t even think about task #2 until task #1 is finished.

3. Watch your health

Good health and good success go hand-in-hand. Nobody does well when they don’t feel well, so get a good night’s rest, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and don’t stress small stuff.

Many successful people I know like to exercise in the morning. By making this a priority, they build-in an activity that aids in good sleep and is known to help with stress reduction.

It is also a good time to mentally create your list of ten urgent and important tasks.

4. If you are young, think old; if you are old, think young

Youth may be wasted on the young, but old age is wasted on the elderly too. It is the intersection of wisdom and exuberance that makes really great things happen.

The young can learn the wisdom of their elders, and the old can always find something new to try. Embrace every facet of your journey, throughout your journey.

Thinking old when you are young is quite easy and starts by finding a mentor. Everyone needs a mentor, even if it is just calling “dear old dad” and asking for advice.

For entrepreneurs, you reach out to experienced business people, most of whom genuinely love helping.

For older folks, thinking young is a bit trickier. Foremost, keep your curiosity well fed. Youth is all about adventure, experience and learning, and none of that happens unless you are curious. A good way to stay curious starts with assuming you don’t know everything and unlearning old falsehoods. Start your day (after your morning exercise and ugly frog eating) challenging an assumption you are ready to speak and do so by asking a question.

5. Be a good listener

Success comes from learning, and you can’t learn when you are talking. Seek to understand before being understood, listen actively, ask questions and absorb. This will garner you all the information you need to make better decisions.

The right way to listen is to do so actively. Concentrate on every word the other person says, ignore your internal monologue, and suppress the natural desire to form your next statement in advance.

6. Dress one level better than required

Mark Twain allegedly once joked that:
“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.”

It doesn’t matter if the occasion is a job interview, a date, a business meeting or a social gathering. People who underdress underwhelm.

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