Self-help is often thought of as a good thing, right? And, in most cases, it is. But, as I’m going to outline shortly, some pretty common self-help advice can actually mess up your goals and stop you from becoming a better version of yourself.
This is because not all advice is created equal. Some of it, although well-meaning, can actually make you go off track, and could potentially do more harm than good.
These self help myths listed below are some that you should think twice about following.
1. Shoot for Perfectionism
Now, you may think this sounds like a worthy goal to aim for.
But, you’d be mistaken.
Perfectionists are almost never satisfied with what they are working on – so they end up spending far longer to complete something that they should.
For example, I’m sure you’ve come across perfectionists at your workplace. When they’re tasked with creating a PowerPoint presentation or writing a report, they somehow manage to take two or three times longer to complete these things than other members of their team.
The problem is, they often get stuck in the murky world of details. And because of this, they’re driven to constantly re-evaluate, change and edit their work. And, the amount of time they’ve spent trying to perfect something could be better spent elsewhere… after all, nothing is actually perfect, so it’s pointless to strive for it.
Perfectionists are actually trapped in a mental prison of their own making.
If you have perfectionist tendencies, I recommend doing the following:
- Abandon the ‘All or Nothing’ mindset – instead of only doing things you know you can do perfectly, open yourself to taking actions that you’re neither good at or comfortable with. This will enable you to continually grow your skills and experience.
- Aim for 95% perfection – do this, and you’ll complete your tasks in an accomplished and professional way. And, you’ll also complete them in a timely manner. It’s seeking to make something 100% perfect that will kill your productivity and output.
- Set realistic goals – instead of dreaming too big (like wanting to be an overnight success), set your goals at an achievable level. When you do this, you’ll boost your confidence, while keeping your feet firmly on the ground.
- Focus on the big picture – as I mentioned earlier, perfectionists often get caught up in the details. To avoid this, I suggest always keeping your eye on the bigger picture. For instance, if you’re creating a document for the proposed purchase of new software, make sure that you only include the necessary details. Too much information is a waste of your time – and also the time of the other people working on the project.
Next up, is the common self-help belief that…
2. Multitasking is Key
I’m sure you’ve heard or read about the so-called power of multitasking many times in the last few years. It appears to have become quite a trend.
But, I’m not one for following trends that lead to failure.
Multitasking may appear to be the holy grail of productivity – but for 98% of workers, it’s actually the complete opposite.
That’s because these people practice defective multitasking methods that look like this:
Trying to do two things at the same time.
Constantly switching to new tasks without completing the original things they were working on.
Rapidly cycling back and forth between tasks, which gives the illusion that they are among the 2% of effective multitaskers.
The truth is, that human brains aren’t designed to do this kind of ‘cognitive shuffling’. It just leads us to a messy and confused mental state riddled with something called ‘attention residue’. This means we are distracted by thinking about one task while working on another.
There have been some interesting studies on multitasking, which have revealed that:
Constantly shifting between tasks can cost you about 40%, or 16 hours, of your working week. That’s the equivalent of losing two work days every week!
Multitasking can cause you to perform as though you’ve lost 10-15 points on your IQ score. In other words, you won’t be as smart or as effective as you could be.
In my opinion, multitasking is not just overrated – but it’s actually dangerous to your productivity.
It’s much better to simply focus on the task at hand. Complete it. And then move on to the next one.
This next tip is is one that is constantly talked about on chat shows, in newspapers and in the self-help book section…
3. Aim for Work-Life Balance
What do you think about when you hear the term ‘work-life balance’?
A dream existence where you work 20 hours per week and have the rest for your leisure and pleasure?
This is how most self-helps gurus try to sell it to you.
But, not me.
I have a very different view on work-life balance — it’s called work-life harmony.
Healthy work-life harmony should start with finding your purpose. And, once you’ve found it, you’ll naturally enjoy the work you do, and it will no longer be a case of dividing your life into:
The bad stuff – work
The good stuff – free time
With a purpose to drive you, you’ll be enthusiastic and passionate about what you do, and you’ll work whatever hours are necessary to reach your goals. And, your enthusiasm for your work will naturally carry over into your free time.
As an example, imagine that you’ve worked for 12 years in the administration department of a local insurance company. You go in every workday to process claim after claim after claim. You find the work soul destroying. But, you keep doing it, as it pays the bills.
One day, however, you decide that there must be more to life. And this sets you off on a period of self-searching, which ultimately leads you to come across what you’d really like to do with your life: traveling the world on behalf of a charity helping to help people.
After unearthing your purpose, you feel strongly driven to make it a reality. It takes you almost six months, but in the end, you land a job with an international charity organization that helps people around the world impacted by natural disasters.
The job takes you to dozens of different countries, and you enjoy every minute of your work. It’s satisfying and rewarding. And, away from work, you love to tell your friends and family all about your trips.
Your purpose has renewed you and given you the perfect work-life harmony.
The final self-help tip I want to talk about is…
4. Never Procrastinate
High-achievers are go-getters who never procrastinate.
Or are they?
In my experience of working with dozens of successful entrepreneurs, prioritizing your tasks is much more important than worrying about procrastinating.
Let me explain what I mean.
You’re working on an email to a colleague about a meeting that is due to take place next week. But, as you’re typing the words of the email, your desk phone suddenly rings. It’s one of your major clients, and they have an urgent need for your company’s assistance, and they’re happy to pay top dollar to get the work done.
In this case, do you:
A: Tell the client you’ll get on it shortly, but then go back to writing your email to your colleague.
B: Tell the client you’ll deal with their request immediately, and then come back to crafting your email once the high-priority task has been completed.
Well done! I’m sure you’ve picked the second answer. And, it’s absolutely the right thing to do.
Sure, you’ll be procrastinating when it comes to your email, but you’ll also be helping to complete a much bigger goal that has an urgent deadline.
As you can see, procrastination has its place when you learn to prioritize your tasks.
I hope my article has helped open your eyes to some of the self-help delusions that are constantly propagated. If you follow these delusions – inevitably you’ll end up feeling deluded!
Instead, follow my tried-and tested methods that I’ve outlined above. They will guide you to surefire success in all areas of your life.
As American philosopher and psychologist William James once said:
“Truth is what works.”
Article by Leon Ho, Lifehack