My work – studying, writing – is all self-directed. Which is nice because I get to be in control of my time, but it also means I have to be very strict about maximising my days and mindset in order to Get Things Done. These are the mistakes that were really hindering my progress.
1. Only working when I ‘felt like it’
By relying on the whims of “feeling like it”, I was holding myself back. I had to learn to push myself to work even when I’d rather be doing something else. Looking back it seems very immature of me to have operated in this way, and yet it was a serious lesson I had to learn!
2. Comparing myself to others
I kept holding myself up to others and worrying that I wasn’t “keeping up”. What I eventually realised was that everyone does things differently and comparing myself to other people is pointless. In using other people as my standard (instead of my own mind and my own potential) I was holding myself back.
3. Doing What I Thought I ‘Should’
This is similar to the comparison, in that I was looking around at others and in using them as a standard, I would then do what I thought I should be doing instead of what I was best at doing. I think it’s just a part of growing up; we eventually find what we are good at and what we want to do. Following the lead of others did help me develop in some ways, but ultimately I had to acknowledge it was holding me back. When I began setting my own standards my productivity skyrocketed.
4. Not Defining Success
I wanted “success” but I didn’t know what kind. I didn’t know what “success” really looked like for me, which I think is a problem for lots of ambitious people. We have a drive to achieve, but sometimes we aren’t actually sure what. In not clearly defining where I wanted to go and who I wanted to be I was following a very chaotic, unproductive route. Taking some time out to really set out some preliminary ideas helped keep me on track.