5 great failures who later went on to become great successes

Whether it’s in a job, in a new business, in finding an agent, or in switching careers, everyone fails sometimes. In some situations, people fail a lot before they become successful. However, when you’re facing a large amount of rejection or are continuing failing, it is really, really difficult to remember that you aren’t alone in that – and, more importantly, that the fact that you are currently not succeeding does not mean that you will never succeed. When you’re facing failure, though, it can really help to that you’re in good company. Here is a list of some great failures who later went on to become great successes.

The Beatles weren’t always the Fab Four. Before they were fab, the Beatles were rejected by a whole slew of record labels, including one that infamously announced, “The Beatles have no future in show business.” Of course, the Beatles ultimately became one of the greatest rock groups of all time, at one point managing to claim all of the top five spots on the Billboard singles music chart.

Jay-Z was rejected by every single record label in the business. However, eventually he found success by going on to create his own record label. Now he and his wife Beyonce are together worth $900 million.

Bill Gates dropped out of college at one of the country’s most prestigious universities and seemed destined for an unsuccessful career when his first business, Traf-O-Data, failed. Of course, ultimately he went on to found a company whose name is almost synonymous with modern-day computing.

Although Babe Ruth is famous as one of the country’s greatest baseball players, at the time of his retirement he held the record for the most strike-outs in all of Major League Baseball. In that sense, he may have failed more than any other player of his time – but his successes have made him remembered long after many of his fellow players’ names have been forgotten.

Michael Jordan, who was once cut from his high school basketball team, went on to become one of the game’s greatest players. He is well aware of the role his failures have played in his success, as he is quoted as saying, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

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7 habits of highly creative people

Are you a creative type? Usually you can identify one when you meet them, but sometimes it’s difficult to know exactly what it is that they do differently from everyone else. Here are some traits and habits of highly creative types – see how many apply to you.

Daydreaming.

Daydreaming kind of seems like it may just be a waste of time, but it’s a casual activity that can pay dividends over time. It can cause you to make connections and get inspired in ways that you might not otherwise if you were deliberately thinking about a topic. In fact, neuroscientists have found that daydreaming involves the same neural processes connected with creativity and imagination.

They spend time alone.

Doing things like daydreaming require being alone, and to get in touch with your inner creativity you’ll need to be comfortable spending time alone. A lot of artists are portrayed as being loners, and that may be in part because creativity requires some alone time. For a lot of people, solitude is the catalyst for producing their best work.

They try to find new experiences.

Creative people thrive on the exposure to new ideas and sensations that comes with new experiences. New experiences offer excellent fodder for further creativity, and willingness new experience new things is a great predictor of creativity.

They are resilient.

See, creativity often involves many failed attempt before finding someone new and wonderful. So creative people are very resilient in the face of failure. Those who aren’t eventually start to stray away from creative efforts, so being resilient is necessary for sustained creative success.

They observe.

Creative types are usually curious about other people and their lives because they realize that other people can be a great source of ideas and inspirations. So creative people usually like people-watching, an activity that can boost creativity while also being highly amusing.

They lose track of time.

When a creative person is “in the zone,” they often lose track of time. That ability to get some deeply immersed in the act of creativity that a person loses track of time is the hallmark of a true creative.

They read.

Reading immerses the mind in a completely different world, and creative types tend to enjoy that release, as well as the connection to another’s creativity. Reading is also an excellent source of fodder for daydreaming.

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Why is empathy important for your career

Medieval knights had the benefit of suits of armor to protect them at work. We dress for success but our up-to-date fashion does not protect us from the slings & arrows we may encounter in our workday. Nor do uniforms: in fact, if you wear a uniform, you may find yourself the target of frustration and anger. The bus driver deals with short-tempered commuters. Service staff in the restaurant deal with demanding customers. Customers deal with other customers – the pushy ones confront the polite ones.

In every form of interaction, there is a chance of misunderstanding, unmet expectations, or disappointment. There are situations that try us and people who frustrate us. We can maintain our personal balance in dealing with the situations and people by empathizing with them.

Empathy is a skill, much like any other. It may also be called a talent. What kind of skill? It’s a social skill. Some people are naturals; others appear somewhat clueless and need to learn. Merriam-Webster defines empathy as “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also :  the capacity for this.”

“When we meet someone who is joyful, we smile. When we witness someone in pain, we suffer in resonance with his or her suffering,” says Matthieu Ricard (a French scientist, born 1946, who walked away from science in 1972 to devote his life to Buddhism.)

This example shows the wide sweep of empathy. Examples of empathy range from small gestures of everyday courtesy, to profound identification with a person or cause.

When we empathize with someone, we identify with that person. It’s different from sympathy. When we offer sympathy, we are separate. When we empathize, we are joined.

Regardless of where you work, you will come into contact with two categories of people: you co-workers and everyone else. You have an on-going relationship with your co-workers. You may have friendly connections with staff at the lunch counter, the coffee shop, your courier, the cleaning staff, suppliers, and your customers. Many people deal with customers in person, by phone, email, or all three.

Customer service reps get trained in how to respond to frustration, aggravation, and even insults. The language they use contains words of apology: “I’m sorry. I apologize.” They say, “I understand,” and “I would feel the same.” They offer support, reassurance, and solutions. It may be the 12th such problem they have encountered that day, but they communicate concern, and a willingness to help out.

Customer service reps know that concern is a key feature of service. They pay attention to the customer, show that they understand the issue, and offer solutions. What they are showing is empathy. You don’t have to agree. The essential element is to show that you are listening, and that you understand.

Empathy gets a lot of attention in today’s business world. Business leaders believe it is a valuable quality, which will improve the workplace, and as a result, help the business.

They are eager to climate of empathy in the workplace. One way of looking at it is, empathy opens doors that were previously shut tight. Empathy encourages communication; sparks creativity; and helps solve problems.

Empathy communicates respect and concern. Empathy requires time to pay attention to another person. Listening is one of the keys that unlock empathy. When you are with someone else, do you listen to them? What are your thoughts? Do you hear what they say, or are your thoughts on what to pick up for dinner, or which movie to order?

Empathy is the impetus for change. It is the force behind many non-profit organizations. With the growing sophistication of social media, we develop connections with people far away.

Empathy is based on knowledge – our awareness of another’s circumstances. Empathy can be a force for change on a small-scale or a large-scale social change. It enables an individual to form relationships. We now have the technology to form relationships with people thousands of miles away. We can see what they look like, and how they live. Our awareness of the reality of others’ lives is one thing. That’s knowledge. Our identification with them motivates us to act.

A brief search turns up many sites dedicated to making a difference, such as StartSomeGood, a crowd funding site “for non-profits, social entrepreneurs, and changemakers.” On this site, we learn “Empathy is so powerful that it can transform a faceless stranger, a statistic, into a unique individual with whom you now have a bond.” Corporations have their own initiatives, such as StartEmpathy at Ashoka’s Global Headquarters in Virginia. Crowd funding asks a little from many people. The combined efforts of many add up a significant resource.

Putting the spotlight on empathy marks a change in focus for workplace culture. Have you been told, “That’s business,” when you discussed a negative happening at work? It may have been that someone got the promotion you were expecting. Your company may be downsizing, or someone has been let go, seemingly for no reason. The for-profit business world has a reputation for paying attention only to the bottom line. Even non-profits, while they have high ideals, may not always carry their high ideals into their own workplaces.

People in the non-profit sector know how empathy helps them realize their goals of effecting change. It’s a powerful attribute. Even on a personal level, one individual can make a big difference. When many people join together, the effect can be earth-shaking.

Suppose you want to harness some of this power in your own life. If you are wondering about where you rate on the empathy scale, you can choose from many tests available online.

Another strategy is to watch empathy in action at your own workplace. Pay attention to how people interact. There may be one person who remembers everyone’s birthday. Someone else may cover for an absent employee on short notice. Watch not only what people do, but the reactions. Are there particular things that improve the morale of staff and the workplace climate? Do you have your own ideas of actions you could take?

You can practice to develop empathy. Social skills make relationships flow along smoothly. Much like learning to tip, or paying a compliment, at first, you may feel awkward. As you practice, you become more adept. Some people may be more empathetic, but you can learn, and you discover what feels natural for you.

There are ways to practice outside of work, and you may want to start get involved in a volunteer activity. The more opportunities you accept to encounter other people, learn bout them, and also learn about other cultures, the more you will develop your capacity for empathy. Empathy brings rewards, and in the business world, contributes to individual and group success.

There is a downside that must be recognized. We hear about work/life balance a lot. Bringing fun into the workplace and creating a climate of empathy are ways to create work/life balance. However, just as fun is not one person’s job at work, so too empathy can’t be one’s person’s response.

You may hear about a personal or work-related problem. You are not required to solve the problem on your own. Depending on the circumstances, you may want to contribute in some way to alleviate a problem. At one small office, one staff member lived in the vicinity of an explosion at a fuel depot. Staff members contributed as they could to helping out her and her family.

Being empathetic and compassionate are positive attributes: kindness, patience, and sensitivity bring positive benefits, but they can also sabotage your career. If you are in a helping profession, you run an even greater risk of feeling overwhelmed, either by the demands of your clients, you co-workers, or both. Here is where that suit of armor comes in handy!

If you are naturally empathetic, you risk taking on too much. Customer service reps hear problem after problem; complaint after complaint. They listen, but they also wear that suit of armor. They do hear insults. They do get abused. They are trained but they still need to protect themselves or their jobs would be impossible.

As a truly empathetic person, you must find a balance within yourself, or risk being burned out. Remember the reason why you are at work: your job. You have a job description. If you find you are really having difficulty, you can to back to your job description to help you set a boundary.

The powerful aspect of empathy plays a role, especially for an individual. For the empathetic person sees how effective he or she has been in dealing with tough people and tough situations. It can be difficult to stay back, or let other people handle things. If you are in this situation, you may feel you are losing by letting go. It can be a big change for you to step back, even if you need to do so to preserve you own health and well-being. Many people don’t know when to quit – they work too hard, and end up suffering, physically, mentally, or both. It’s the same with empathy. Empathy is good. Water is good too – but not if you have two feet of it in your basement.

When you are tuned in to others’ emotions, your own work can suffer. You may be distracted by people and situations that are not your concern. You may need to tune out, or turn the volume down, yet realize that you do not know how to do this. Your own feelings of concern for others blind you to your own needs. You may feel like helping, and at some point realize you have become the office “helper.” Here’s the reason why empathy is not just one person’s job: it’s too much for one person.

Empathy requires an action plan, the same as any other work-related initiative. If you are a business leader, and you want to climate of empathy in your workplace, realize that you need to provide support and resources. If these are not available, empathy can’t get established, and won’t play much of a role. It will remain a random, personal response, and it may be absent when it is needed most. People need to feel comfortable to respond appropriately in various situations. Those situations that require an empathetic response are often negative. It people are not prepared, and do not know how to respond, they may choose avoidance over empathy. This is not uncommon. “I just didn’t know what to say,” You hear. Or, “I didn’t know what to do.”

If you asked any supervisor, manager or leader what they wanted, they would say, “I want people to work together.” Some years ago a popular business buzzword was “synergy.”

It’s been awhile since we heard “synergy,” so we go back to Merriam-Webster. Synergy is “the increased effectiveness that results when two or more people or businesses work together.” That is exactly what we want! How do we get it? We’ve heard promoting empathy is one sure way.

It’s not entirely our fault we don’t empathize. At work, especially, many people are part-time, or on contract, or short-term, temporary workers. There may be few opportunities to interact with co-workers, or such interaction may have been discouraged. Also, when the society in general has a climate of loss – loss of jobs, loss of income, loss of skills, etc, people understandably focus on their own security. Factors in the workplace beyond make it difficult to empathize because we may not even know the people in the office.

A non-profit organization with many contract staff hired a consultant to conduct a survey of employee concerns, and then set-up a committee to work on specific projects. One project was an open house, which gave staff and board members an opportunity to work together promoting the organization and the work of its staff and volunteers. Securing funding was an on-going issue, and the open house gave the organization an opportunity to acknowledge the support of its funders. The same organization celebrated its 50th anniversary by publishing reflections from past presidents. Another initiative was to collect stories from members about their work, which were published in a series. The stories helped spread the word about the work of the organization, its members, and also created stronger bonds between staff and the members.

Your action plan for empathy at work—as with adding an element of fun to the workplace, creating a climate of empathy requires an understanding of the workplace culture, and choosing steps that will be acceptable to the staff. Make empathy visible. As with fun, staff needs to see empathy in action, and believe it is sincere, before they feel empowered to model this behavior.

For an individual, being empathetic helps built strong relationships. If you are not naturally empathetic, you can learn how to “turn it on.” If you are naturally empathetic, you may have to learn how to “turn it off.” Either way, you are learning how empathy can help contribute to your career success. You may still need that suit of armor, but it won’t have quite as many dents in it.

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How to work a room

Networking is hugely important, and often in ways you can never predict. You never know how someone you meet today may open the door for you tomorrow. That’s why being able to work a room is a really key business skill. Unfortunately, for many people it’s not a skill that comes naturally. Fortunately, though, it’s something that can be learned. Here are some suggestions, though, that may help you learn how to work a room:

Prepare yourself.

Think about the demographic that will be attending the event and go over some key ideas or messages that would likely interest that particular group of people. Rehearse some conversations and think very specifically about what you might say – not just in response to follow-up questions, but also in regards to the initial introduction.

Give the right impression.

Obviously, you should be dressed appropriately for the event, but it is also important to give off the right impression through your mannerisms and demeanor. That is, make sure that you smile warmly when you meet someone. Make direct eye contact and say their name. Also, as you’re talking to them, make sure you are – or at least appear to be – paying attention. Little things matter in giving the right impression – and you only get one first impression, so make it count.

Remember you’re not alone.

That is, there are probably quite a few other people who are feeling uncomfortable as well. Some shyness research has shown that 90 percent of people feel uncomfortable in group settings, especially when the group is made up of strangers.

Don’t only ask questions.

Although asking questions is a key piece of getting to know someone, just asking a series of questions make the introduction very one-sided, which is something that people tend to catch onto quickly. When you ask a question, you should also respond to the other person’s answer and reveal something about yourself.

It’s kind of okay to interrupt.

Since you’re all there to meet other people, networking events are one situation in which it’s okay to go up and join an existing conversation. You can jump into the conversation without seeming awkward or rude, as long as you aren’t actually interrupting someone who is speaking. Sometimes there aren’t people standing alone in the room, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait until you find someone who is; just approach a pair or small group and listen until you find a good opportunity to jump in.

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How to think BIG

Learning how to think big is key to reaching success in business, but just how do you do it? Here are some tips.

Find supporters.

When you think big, sometimes you will fail. When that happens, you need to have friends and colleagues there to support you. They will help give you the motivation to try again and they will reinvigorate your faith in yourself. When your self-confidence lags, they will be there to boost it back up. Supportive people will also be there with suggestions for how to improve your idea so that it succeeds the next time.

Have a likeable attitude.

Ultimately, other people play a huge role in your success. You will need people to help make introductions and recommendations and feel invested in your ideas and goals. In order to get that, you need to be likeable. Attitude is key as to whether or not someone will go out of their way to help promote you and your message.

Be a learner.

To think big you need to be willing to learn and incorporate new ideas. Learning isn’t just a process that you complete – it’s an attitude and a way of life. In order to get the right information and input that you need to think big and succeed in doing so, you need to become a lifelong learner.

Do what is uncomfortable.

When you are trying to think big, you will need to do new and unusual things. Take Lady Gaga, for instance. Nobody can accuse her of failing to think big – but in doing so, she risks constant ridicule and failure. To think big (in a less bizarre way) you will need to do things that may cause you to risk failure, so you’ll need to get comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable, both when you try new things and when the things you try fail.

Recognize that failure happens.

Everybody fails sometimes. Not every idea succeeds. There are myriad stories of famous people who failed many times before finally succeeding. However, people who are successful at thinking big recognize that failure is just a step on the pathway to success – it isn’t the final destination.

Set reasonable goals.

If you consistently fail at the goals you set, you’ll get discouraged. You can make your goals amazing without making them unattainable and, if you’re to stay motivated, it is really key that you find a balance between these two extremes.

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How to capture good ideas

Sadly, many great ideas go completely unnoticed. They almost come to light, but some little aspect of communication or teamwork stands in their way. You don’t realize it until someone else brings the idea to fruition and then you hear somebody – an employee, a co-worker, or even yourself – say, “Hey, that was my idea!” So how do you make sure that you nurture a good environment for ideas to grow? Here are some tips:

Encourage honesty and trust.

If your employees and co-workers don’t feel like they are communicating in a safe environment, they probably won’t put forth their best ideas. If they don’t expect an honest reaction when they share their ideas, they probably just won’t share them at all. If they don’t trust what you or other team members are going to do with an idea, they probably won’t put it out there. So creating a safe and comfortable work environment can go a long way toward helping to nurture the best ideas.

Know that more than one idea can be “the one.”

That may sound like a paradox, but it’s true. Sometimes, the winning idea is not a single idea but a combination of two or more ideas. Although it is good to narrow your focus and recognizing that some ideas are good and some are simply not, it is important to remember that combining a few good ideas can often make for an even better idea.

Examine past failures.

Think about times in the past where you have latched on to what seemed like a good idea but ultimately proved to be a failure. Examine exactly why that idea didn’t come to fruition or didn’t come out exactly as planned. Understanding your past mistakes is key to not repeating them – just ask any history teacher.

Be polite.

No matter how completely stupid an idea sounds, be polite in dismissing it. More importantly, make sure that your other employees understand that everyone’s ideas deserve respect. Often, the people who come up with the really weird ideas are the same people who have the creativity to come up with the really good ideas. That means that it is important to make sure that people feel comfortable sharing their ideas and don’t reflect back on past negative reactions. You don’t have to like every idea and you don’t have to act like you like every idea, but it is important that you avoid ridiculing ideas that seem ridiculous at first glance.

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8 traits of highly confident people

What distinguishes super-confident people from the rest of the pack? Surprisingly, the traits that stand out aren’t that rare – they just don’t always come together. So, you may see a few traits that apply to you on this list, but pay close attention to the traits that don’t apply and think about how to develop them.

They don’t dwell on the past.

Although it’s important to learn from the past, confident people don’t dwell on the past. If you dwell on the past you won’t be able to continue moving forward, so you won’t have a chance to apply any of the lessons the past has taught you.

They do new things.

People who are lacking in confidence often stick with the same old things that they’re familiar with. Confident people don’t hesitate to try new things, recognizing that any mistakes they make along the way will serve as excellent learning experiences.

They are humble.

Because confident people are sure of their standing and their success, they don’t feel the need to brag about it. Instead, they simply let their accomplishments and their reputation speak for itself.

They have priorities.

Confident people have the ability to say no and so they are able to make time for the things that matter in life. Being confident doesn’t mean that you have to be all work and no play – in fact, it means that you are more able to play because you have the ability to say no.

They know what they like.

Although people who are confident are not afraid to try new things, they also have a strong understanding of what they like and what they don’t like because they have developed a strong sense of self.

They don’t wait for the perfect time.

Sometimes, the “perfect” time will never come. If you’re confident, though, you will be able to recognize when the time is ripe to act and understand that there may never be a perfect time. If you’re sufficiently confident in yourself and your work, that won’t be a problem.

They don’t overcomplicate.

When a confident person wants something, they devise a straightforward plan to achieve it; they don’t get bogged down in tangential possibilities.

They trust their instincts.

Confident people have a strong enough sense of self, that they know when their instincts are correct and they don’t allow themselves to be swayed by others.

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7 secrets of most innovative companies

What are the secrets to being an innovative company? Innovation, remember, is not the same thing as success. Just because you have good sales figures and are successfully growing your company does not mean that your company is innovative. Innovativeness can be difficult to measure and, although you hope it will eventually benefit your bottom line, the boost is usually not immediately apparent. That being said, how do you become an innovative company? What are innovative companies doing that others are not? Well, here is a list of seven secrets to innovation.

Innovative companies are willing to re-invent their image.

Sometimes, when a business has been created with a particular image or primary product, it is difficult to consider changing or expanding that focus. Willingness to change a company’s focus is a key point of innovation, though. For instance, if you run a fuel oil company, an innovative and productive measure might be to expand your product line to include more eco-friendly products and remarket yourself as a general energy needs company.

Allowing space – physical space – for innovation helps companies be innovative.

Open floor designs, for instance, foster creative conversation and discussion and make the entire office into an information-sharing network. The BMW factory in Leipzig has an open layout like this, although sometimes there are more creative and visually interesting ways of making spaces foster innovation. At the Google building in the Silicon Valley, for instance, there is a gigantic staircase that has outlets lined all the way up it – and programmers are encouraged to sit down and plug in anywhere that an idea strikes them.

Successful innovators sell dreams, not products.

The new wave in innovation is to market your product or service as a means to achieving a dream. You need to understand your target demographic well enough to have an idea what sorts of dream they will achieve using your product – and then market your product accordingly. Steve Jobs once said, “Some people think you’ve got to be crazy to buy a Mac, but in that craziness we see genius.” Understanding your target demographic that well can help you understand their dreams and how to market to them – so the first step is to think about your target demographic in a different light, in terms of their dreams instead of in terms of their current needs.

Innovative companies know how to say no.

Although innovation involves a lot of risk and experimentation as well as potentially a lot of failure, that doesn’t mean saying yes to every idea that crosses your desk. You should only pursue as many innovative as you can reasonably commit resources to because if you try to explore an idea without enough resources you won’t get anywhere. Say yes to new and creative ideas – but be able to recognize when you have enough ideas on your plate.

Innovative companies understand that innovation is a commitment.

Fostering innovation requires a financial commitment; you have to be willing to invest resources into ideas that may fail. Google, for instance, encourages its employees to spend 80 percent of their time working on core projects and 20 percent working on innovation – which means that they accept that 20 percent of each employee’s salary might be going toward things that don’t immediately have a positive effect on company productivity. As with anything experimental, not every innovative effort works out as planned, but innovative companies understand that and are still willing to make the commitment to trying.

Hire people who love what they do.

In some sense, this is a no-brainer. However, if you’re really serious about creating an innovative company, you will actually learn to value passion over experience for certain positions. Generally it is not advisable to ignore experience in hiring decisions, but if what you need is fresh blood and new ideas, then passion and even a lack of experience – and thus a lack of preconceived ideas about the industry – can be an asset. Of course, it depends on your company’s needs and on the industry; you will know what is best for your business.

Innovative companies are flexible.

In order for innovation to succeed, sometimes your plans have to change mid-way through. You may need to combine two separate innovation projects or bring in different people. Your top employees are not necessarily your top innovators, so if you want to bring a more innovative touch to an existing project or plan, you may need to bring in some of your more creative employees, whether or not they are usually your powerhouse workers. Traditionally, there are certain powerhouse employees that you tend to assign to your most important tasks, but part of the necessary flexibility for innovation is a willingness to assign other employees to tasks of innovation.

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4 better ways to waste time

What? Better ways to waste time? Nobody wants to waste time! The thing is, everybody does, and everybody needs quick breaks from work to help refresh. So how can you take breaks without wasting time? Here are five great ways to utilize quick work breaks to get ahead:

Study.

The Khan Academy is a great way to tap into free, quick introductory courses to help you learn new info and expand your horizons. If you’re looking for something with a little more depth, you can check out Yale Open Courses. Even when you watch and learn things that have nothing to do with your chosen field, you never know what skills or knowledge you might acquire that can be applied to your chosen field. And no matter what, it is more productive than playing Candy Crush or watching videos of cats stealing dog beds.

Meditate.

Whether you are relaxed by just staring into space or by practicing things more traditionally viewed as meditation, the centering influence of a meditative minute can really help you power through the day. It won’t be as educating as the above option, but it may be way more refreshing and calming. Either way, it is – again – better than surfing YouTube or trolling Facebook feeds.

Plan dinner.

Check out neat dinner ideas online. When you take the time to plan a dinner in advance, you’ll probably end up being able to come up with healthier concoctions that are still super-tasty. Or, if you’re not a good cook, you can always start by watching cooking videos to learn a thing or two about it. Planning dinner can be a double escape, both because you get to take a break from work and because you get to fantasize about your end-of-the-day rest and relaxation.

Learn the constellations.

Obviously, this is a lot more relevant and engaging if you work nightshift. If you’re an overnighter, quick breaks at work can be a great time to learn about the night sky. There are some great websites that will help you track the constellations visible in your part of the globe and also tell you a bit about the myths behind each constellation.

Watch TED.

TED talks are just about the right length for a work break. They aren’t quite the same as Khan Academy or other educational talks, because they also range into motivating and inspirational talks.

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4 ways people sabotage themselves

Are you a saboteur? Self-sabotage can have a negative effect on all aspects of your life, from maintaining a healthy relationship, to experiencing academic success, to getting job promotions, and more. Here are some of the ways that people tend to engage in self-sabotage:

Having a fixed-ability mindset.

Having a fixed-ability mindset is when you say that you are just good or bad at something instead of acknowledging that prowess is acquired through incremental learning steps. Some people just tell themselves that they’re bad at things to eliminate the need to feel responsible if they fail. As Dr. Rodolfo Mendoze-Denton writes in Psychology Today, “You see, when the going gets tough … saying to yourself ‘I suck at this’ may not be great for further learning, but it sure can protect your self-esteem. By invoking an inherent lack of ability, you reduce your personal responsibility in the negative outcome, since you couldn’t have done anything about it anyway. In other words, a fixed-ability mindset absolves you, and you don’t have to think about what you did (or didn’t do!) to contribute to that bad outcome.”

Procrastinating.

Procrastinating is a sneaky type of self-sabotage. With procrastination, you can often feel like you’re doing something modestly productive, but deep down you know that you’re just procrastinating. Ultimately it’s a form of self-sabotage because procrastination lowers your productivity and decreases your work output, essentially putting limits on your growth and advancement.

Addiction.

It may seem obvious that things like heroin addiction are effective forms of self-sabotage. However, there are also more subtle addictions that can sabotage your personal and career growth. Cigarettes and alcohol are both perfectly legal addictions that can have negative effects on your health and your career. In many fields, professionals view cigarette smoking as evidence of bad decision-making and a lack of concern for oneself. Too much drinking can be an effective form of self-sabotage in any field of work. Less obvious addictions like gaming can simply rob you of your productivity much like procrastinating does.

Choosing to be unhappy.

Nobody thinks that they choose to be unhappy, but in a phenomenon known as psychological reversal, some people repeatedly make decisions that return them to misery. In an extreme and obvious example, you might think of a person who repeatedly enters abusive relationships. In less extreme scenarios, though, you might antagonize your friends or pick fights with your significant other. If you find yourself repeatedly in the same types of unhappy situations, you may need to step back and take a look at the bigger picture and figure out if there’s some psychological reversal going on.

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