Even people who’ve never picked up a self-help book in their lives are at least familiar with Tim Ferriss, the productivity guru whose book, The 4-Hour Workweek, sold well over a million copies and spent four years on The New York Times bestseller list. Ferriss is not without his critics, but devotees are convinced that his advice is life-changing. Certainly, he’ll get you thinking about the way we define success and how to achieve it, as well as how to get things done efficiently.
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1. “What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.”
Whether it’s taking a promotion you’re not quite ready for, or leaving one career to pursue another, or taking a job that involves travel when you’re not the greatest flier, doing what you fear can sometimes be the best thing for your career.
2. “A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.”
In PayScale’s Salary Negotiation Guide, we found that 28 percent of people who had never negotiated salary in their field refrained from doing so because they were uncomfortable negotiating salary. But, 75 percent of those who asked received some sort of a raise. Fear of being uncomfortable can keep you from getting the salary you deserve and the career you desire. Prepare your case, and be brave.
3. “…you are the average of the five people you associate with most, so do not underestimate the effects of your pessimistic, unambitious, or disorganized friends. If someone isn’t making you stronger, they’re making you weaker.”
Successful people flock together, inspiring each other to ask for more from themselves and from their employers. You don’t necessarily need to prune your real-life friends list like you would your social media connections, but you do need to cultivate relationships with positive people.
Also, when it comes to the people you spend time with who aren’t exactly friends – some of your co-workers, for example – don’t be afraid to minimize your contact with those connections who aren’t adding anything positive to your life. Bonus Ferriss quote: “Poisonous people do not deserve your time. To think otherwise is masochistic.”
4. “Being able to quit things that don’t work is integral to being a winner.”
Sunk costs are seductive. Once you’ve already invested X money and Y time, it’s tempting to stick with a project or plan because you can’t bear to think of wasting those resources. But there’s no sense in throwing more effort at a problem that isn’t solvable. Sometimes this means walking away from a client or job – hopefully after securing a backup plan, of course – and sometimes it means dropping a business connection that isn’t useful. Whatever the case, don’t feel that you need to stick with something because you’ve already invested in it.
5. “Focus on being productive instead of busy.”
Why do we check our phones first thing in the morning and our email several times a day? Partly, it’s fear of incurring the boss’s wrath, and partly, it’s because we’re chasing the dopamine hit. But just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you’re getting anything done. Ferriss, like most productivity experts, advises checking email fewer times a day – twice a day, if you can manage it. He even has some advice on how to get your boss on board, if that’s what’s standing between you and getting stuff done.
6. “$1,000,000 in the bank isn’t the fantasy. The fantasy is the lifestyle of complete freedom it supposedly allows.”
It feels sacrilegious in these post-recession times to continue to insist that money isn’t everything, but it’s truly just a means to an end. One study found that happiness doesn’t increase with additional pay after your household income reaches $75,000 a year. Salary is important, but it’s not the only thing that’s important. While you want to get paid fairly for your skills and experience, you don’t want to work 80 hours a week to do it. Look at culture, benefits, and work-life balance, as well as cash, when you’re evaluating a job offer.
7. “For all of the most important things, the timing always sucks. Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. ‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it ‘eventually,’ just do it and correct course along the way.”
In other words, there’s no better day to start changing your life and career than today.
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