How You Spend The One Hour After Work Is What D...

How You Spend The One Hour After Work Is What Determines Your Success

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How You Spend The One Hour After Work Is What Determines Your Success


At the end of the day, you’ve worked long and hard, and you feel like you have completely and utterly depleted all of your daily energy supplies. Today, just like all other days before it, you will make yourself a lazy TV dinner, watch a show for an hour or two – any show, as long as you’re watching something to distract yourself from the frenzy at work.

All sounds awfully grim, doesn’t it? Well, you can rest assured, you are not doomed to repeat such a lazy daily routine: whether you choose to watch TV for two straight hours each day after work, or just go over Facebook or Instagram until you finally fall asleep, you can actually use some of this time to do something productive!

Doing so will improve your career life, as well as your personal time.

The benefits of making good use of your first hour after work

First things first: If you spare a single hour after work on something that you count as productive, no matter if it’s learning a new language or building a car model, you will feel fulfilled, and therefore, happier. This will make a significant difference at your in work productivity. A happy worker is a good worker, and sooner or later, your boss will surely notice the difference.

Secondly, you can’t entirely count on learning something new, or practice a hobby during actual work time. Not only that you will constantly be distracted, and your personal gain from it will diminish significantly, but this can also result in an opposite effect on your work productivity, and it may even look like you’re slacking. During after-work time, you are your own boss, and you can make your own rules and channel your time in whatever way you please. It’s during this time that you should dedicate an hour to achieving your goal.

Thirdly, one hour each day can make a colossal difference in the long run. For example, in the case that you are studying a new language for one hour every day, after a year, all of those hours will have made for significant practice time, and you might even be close to full fluency by the end of the year. That makes one language every single year!

And lastly, you should always consider the fact that companies might hire, or promote you, based on what you practiced during all of those single hours. If you studied Italian, for example, to the point of near fluency, you could write that on your resume, and it may prove beneficial to you when you encounter a company that is looking for that particular language skill.

What are the problems that may arise from staying idle?

Well, therein lies the problem. Staying idle. So what does staying idle mean? Well, a person that has an idle attitude towards life cannot expect their lives to change. This means, no progression, no goals, no brighter future compared to what they have at the present. To some, they may be fine with what they have already. But if you have any goals or aspirations, then you can’t let yourself get sucked into an idle, daily routine.

A second problem that may arise is that building yourself such a strong, steady, lazy kind of routine, may affect you mentally and even push you into depression. While depression is a significant problem by its own, it will also diminish your work productivity and, as a result, deteriorate your working conditions, such as with your boss-employee relations, or your general work status.

The dedication of just one hour after work a day can make all the difference in your world.

Here’s how you can make good use of your time outside of work:

1. Read: Yes, you read it correctly. It can be anything, from fiction to nonfiction, fantasy to biography, and romance to horror. One hour of reading each day can make for one book every week. The more you read, the more you know. Not only that, but reading can be very fulfilling. It will also improve your conversation topics, and may even give you work-related knowledge that can ultimately boost your actual career.

2. Start personal projects: This one is especially beneficial if your workplace did not already provide you with one. Projects, such as building a website, or doing some volunteering work will reward you with refined personal values, such as learning the meaning of teamwork, how to meet deadlines, and how to handle feedback for your work. All are major traits for a successful career.

3. Make connections: It is well known that connections are an undeniable plus when it comes to either career or personal development. All you need to do is just to go out there and meet people! You can even schedule after-work get-togethers with your co-workers.

All of these are just a small sample of what’s in store for you. Think outside the box and follow your passions!

It’s that easy.

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How To Remember 90% Of Everything You Learn

Wish you coukd learn faster?

Whether you’re learning Spanish, a new instrument, or a new sport, we could all benefit from accelerated learning. But the problem is, there’s only so much time in the day.

The key to accelerated learning is not just putting in more hours, but maximizing the effectiveness of the time spent learning.

The Bucket And Water Analogy

Let’s say you were to fill up a bucket with water. Most buckets should not have any problem retaining the water inside, until it starts overflowing at the top.

But in reality, this isn’t how our brains function. In fact, most of the information that enters our brain leaks out eventually. Instead of looking at our brain’s memory as a bucket that retains everything, we should treat it for what it is: a leaking bucket.

While the leaky bucket analogy may sound like a negative connotation, it’s perfectly normal. Unless you were born with a photographic memory, our brains weren’t designed to remember every fact, information, or experience that we go through in our lives.

How To Remember 90% Of Everything You Learn

The development of the Learning Pyramid in the 1960’s — widely attributed to the NTL Institute in Bethel, Maine— outlined how humans learn.

As research shows, it turns out that humans remember:

5% of what they learn when they’ve learned from a lecture (i.e. university/college lectures)
10% of what they learn when they’ve learned from reading (i.e. books, articles)
20% of what they learn from audio-visual (i.e. apps, videos)
30% of what they learn when they see a demonstration
50% of what they learn when engaged in a group discussion.
75% of what they learn when they practice what they learned.
90% of what they learn when they use immediately (or teach others)

Yet how do most of us learn?

Books, classroom lectures, videos — non-interactive learning methods that results in 80-95% of information going in one ear and leaking out the other.

The point here is that instead of forcing our brains on how to remember more information with “passive” methods, we should focus our time, energy, and resources on “participatory” methods that have proven to deliver more effective results, in less time.

This means that:

If you want to learn how to speak a foreign language, you should focus on speaking with native speakers and gain immediate feedback (instead of mobile apps)
If you want to get in shape, you should work with a personal fitness trainer (instead of watching Youtube workout videos)
If you want to learn a new instrument, hire a local music teacher in your city
Ultimately, it comes down to this…

Time Or Money?

How many times have you heard someone say, “I don’t have time to do X…”

I’m certainly guilty of this myself, as I’ve made excuse after excuse about the lack of time I have in my life.

But time is the greatest equalizer of all. No matter who we are, where we are in the world, or how much we strive for efficiency, there are only 24 hours in each day. Every single minute is unique, and once it’s gone, it can never be regained, unlike money.

“You May Delay, But Time Will Not.”
― Benjamin Franklin

So if we all have 24 hours in a day, how do we explain the success stories of young millionaires that started from nothing, or a full-time student going from beginner to conversation fluency in Spanish after just 3.5 months? They learned how to maximize for effectiveness instead of only efficiency.

Let’s say person A spent one hour learning a language and retained 90% of what they learned. And person B spent nine hours learning and retained 10% of what they learned. Doing simple math, person B spent 9x more time learning than person A, only to retain the same amount of information (A: 1 * 0.9 = B: 9 * 0.1).

While the exact numbers can be debated, the lesson is clear. The way to have more time is not to go for small wins, like watching 5-minute YouTube tutorials instead of 15-minutes, but to go for big wins, like choosing the most effective method from the beginning. Or constantly relying on free alternatives, when investing in a premium solution can shave off months, if not years, worth of struggles, mistakes, and most importantly, time.

It’s making the most out of the limited time we have by focusing on solutions that deliver the most impact, and saying no to everything else.

The ability to retain more knowledge in an age of infinite access to information and countless distractions is a powerful skill to achieve any goal we have faster.

By learning how to remember more information everyday, we can spend less time re-learning old knowledge, and focus on acquiring new ones.

We’re all running out of time, and today is the youngest you’ll ever be. The question is: how will you best spend it?

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The Biggest Mistake People Make in Their Careers (and Lives)
Rather than just “starting a business,” do you believe you can create something truly important?

A Careerbuilder survey found that 49% of all workers accept the first offer given to them. For people under 35, who are far less likely to negotiate, these numbers are surely much higher.

Losing an extra few thousand dollars may not seem like a big deal. However, over a long enough period of time, small things become big things.

According to an analysis by, negotiating your initial salary and renegotiating every few years will earn you over $1 million more during your career.

Here’s the kicker, raises and future offers generally build on your current salary or position — which means your first mistake can haunt you for a long time.

I had a conversation with Jeff Goins, best-selling author of The Art of Work, about 8 months ago. I asked his advice about publishing a book I wanted to write and he said, “Wait. Don’t jump the gun on this. I made that mistake myself. If you wait a year or two, you’ll get a 10x bigger advance, which will change the trajectory of your whole career.”

Most People Can’t Wait
In the famous Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, four-year-old children were offered a treat of their choosing (an Oreo cookie, a marshmallow, or a pretzel stick). They were told they could have the treat now, or, if they waited 15 minutes and “resisted temptation,” they could have a second treat.

So, for waiting 15 minutes, the kids who waited would get a 100% increase in their reward.

Follow-up studies on these children later in life found that those who delayed gratification were more successful in generally all areas of life.

We’ve all heard this before. Yet, despite knowing about this famous study — and the loads of research on willpower and self-control since — most people are still impulsive about their decision-making.

The Wrong Motivations
The reason most people fail to make the best long-term decisions is because they don’t know what they really want.

If you don’t know what you want, of course you’ll take the best thing offered you.

In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins said, “A ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’is irrelevant if it is the wrong opportunity.” According to Collins, most companies don’t go from good to great because they lose track of their original intent.

When you start to succeed (or get a degree, etc.), more opportunities come your way. Unless you know exactly what you are and what you’re not, you’ll be easily swayed.

Because most people haven’t decided what they intrinsically want, their primary motivation becomes external validation. Thus, rather than actually being good, the objective is to look as good as possible.

Why do you really want to do what you are doing?

Ryan Holiday, best-selling author of The Obstacle is the Way, told me that people write a book for one of two reasons:

Get a book deal
Write a book that does well long into the future
Most people trying to develop a writing career, if they were honest with themselves, want to get a book deal. They’d sacrifice the long-term goal of writing a classic at the expense of merely “becoming an author.” The same is true of most people trying to start a business, or doing anything else.

The problem is, in most cases, it doesn’t go both ways. Holiday, for example, took a substantially smaller book contract for his book, The Obstacle is the Way, because the book was on an unproven concept. But he was fine with the initial pay-cut, because his goal was more long-term. He wanted to write a book that would continue to sell well years into the future.

This is the exact opposite of how most people approach their goals. The goal for most people is to be a “best-seller,” or an “entrepreneur,” or a “college grad.” It’s all about the image. The external validation becomes more important than truly doing great work.

The Benefits of Delayed Gratification
Holiday differs in one more way than most people in his space. He was offered a book contract for the book that would eventually become The Obstacle is the Way several years before he wrote the book.

Of course, he was ecstatic! He told his mentor, best-selling author Robert Greene, about it. Holiday recollects about that conversation:

“Robert was as happy for me as everyone else, but he told me he didn’t think I should do it. Not because it wasn’t a good deal, but because I wasn’t ready. You’re 22 years old, he reminded me. Are you sure you can speak from a place of real understanding about the subject matter, he asked? He told me that everyday I was experiencing new things, that I was widening my understanding and authority on the topic by living, and improving as a writer. ‘The book would be better the longer I waited’ was his nice way of saying ‘It wouldn’t be any good if it came out now.’ He advised me to pass.”

Unlike so many others, Holiday delayed gratification. He further explains that over the next few years, he’d learn things and have experiences allowing him to become the person that could write The Obstacle is the Way.

Could he have written a great book at age 22? Probably.

Would it have been a classic? Probably not.

The question is: Do you really believe you could create a classic?

Do you believe you can create something truly impactful?

Rather than just “starting a business,” do you believe you can create something truly important?

Do you really believe in yourself?

This may sound like a trite question. But it’s serious.

Of course you believe you could create something. But I’m talking about something real. Something of enduring quality. Something truly great.

Do you believe YOU could do that? Or, would you rather create something quick and inferior, but that gives you a false sense of achievement?

Said Tony Robbins: Life gives you exactly what you ask of it, no more and no less. You get in life what you’re willing to tolerate. It’s all about your personal standards.

Most people get less in life than their potential because they have low standards for themselves and those around them.

The greatest reward for delayed gratification is who you become. It’s not necessarily about the work you do. More, it’s that you became someone who could do work at that level.

Your work is a reflection of you. Who you become determines the quality of your work. The quality of your work influences the lives of other people.

You’ll Know When It’s the Right Time
An obvious objection, or question, you should be having right now is: What if I wait too long?

Waiting to act and delaying gratification are two completely different things.Perfectionism is not delaying gratification. Perfectionism is a disease that leads to procrastination and waiting.

The time to act becomes painfully obvious, not only based on intrinsic feelings, but also based on external demand. It’s not enough to feel ready. There must be clear evidence that you are ready. That can only occur by experience in the real world and not merely in your head.

80% of Life is Showing Up
In the book, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, Michael Gerber explains that the natural thing for a new business to do is grow.

Most people wonder if they will get any traction for their concept. This fear is legitimate, but besides the point. If you start a business, and work at it, it will grow.

Most businesses fail when things start growing. They get too excited by future prospects and don’t continue the technical and organizational stuff to support the growth. Of this, author and strategist Greg Mckeown has said, “Why don’t successful people and organizations automatically become very successful?Success is a catalyst for failure.”

You must balance 1) your plans for the future with 2) doing and improving the actual work (i.e., your products) and 3) keeping things well-managed.

If you keep these three things balanced, your chances of success during growth are substantially higher, Gerber explains.

If you’re willing to wait an extra year or two, the quality of your impact as well as the quality of your life could dramatically improve.

You must first know what you want. Until you do, you’ll be swayed by the first offer you get.

You must also know why you are doing what you’re doing. Until you do, you’ll be more concerned about looking good than actually doing something of lasting and significant value.

Expect that when you go into business, it is going to grow. When it does, don’t get distracted by all the “one-in-a-lifetime” opportunities that come your way.Stay the course. When needed, delay the gratification for something good in order to create something truly great.

You’ll never regret that extra 6 months, or year, or few years you were investing in yourself. When the harvest comes in, you’ll look back with a satisfaction most people could never imagine.

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Handling the “What Are Your Weaknesses” Question in a Job Interview

Handling the “What Are Your Weaknesses” Question in a Job Interview

AuthorDouglas B. Richardson
Previously, we discussed how as a job seeker, you can describe your strengths in a job interview without coming across like you’re bragging. But once you’ve successfully sold your strengths, you know what’s coming next – don’t you?

“What would you say are your greatest weaknesses?”

“If we talked with your boss and co-workers, what blind spots or soft spots would they be likely to mention?”

“Are there any problem areas or developmental needs that we should be aware of?”

“What difficulties or frustrations have you discovered in you recent employment?”

Chances are you’ve spent some time rehearsing the perfect reply to this most dangerous of all interview questions. You’ve probably read articles on “the weaknesses question,” most of which tell you to take one of your strengths, and describe it as a weakness:

“Well, I’m one of those people who can’t quit until I’ve done the best job I can do.
“When the stakes are high, I can be a very firm leader who insists on excellence in all things.”
A brief silence often follows such an answer, as the interviewer decides whether to laugh in your face or ask you if you think that they’re completely stupid. No matter how polished your delivery, the strength-as-weakness ploy usually comes across as an obvious non-answer. “I work too hard” is not a weakness – saying this patronizes the interviewer and destroys your rapport with them. Please, don’t do it.

In the past, many HR reps would let this kind of answer pass, figuring it was a conventional and harmless part of the interviewing game. But with budgets tight, companies can’t afford to make poor hiring choices. Today you’re more likely to get badgered with a foaming, self-righteous wrath designed to show that you cannot treat job interviewers like morons.

If you want to avoid getting called out by a furious interviewer (and losing any chance of landing the job), you need to have the courage and integrity to ‘fess up and try to answer the weakness question honestly. And if you’ve already incurred HR’s wrath, you might be able to save yourself by saying something like “You’re right. I deserved that. But I never know how to answer that question. It forces me to hurt my chances, and I really want this job.” Maybe this will help create a more relaxed vibe, where you can talk candidly and hopefully secure the job.

Know the Enemy

Both ethically and practically, the weaknesses question presents you with clear and present dangers. For example, you never know when a minor liability – your terrible spelling, for example – will seem like a big deal to an employer.But unless you’re starving and desperate, it’s a bad idea to lie your way into a job. Besides, if you don’t want to wind up in over your head, shouldn’t you warn a potential employer about areas where you’re uncomfortable? Ah, but how can you do that without killing your chances of finding employment?

First let’s consider the meaning of the word “weakness.” In a job interview, it can be defined this way:

A fundamental and continuing inability to perform some essential part of a job.
Note that given this definition, admitting even one weakness can disqualify you. Also recognize that you shouldn’t confuse weaknesses with developmental needs. Few of us have every skill listed in a typical job description. But if a job requires knowledge of Six Sigma or basic Spanish and you don’t have it, that can be a challenge, but not necessarily a job-killing weakness. You can learn those skills, meaning that your deficiency is only temporary.

You should also avoid repeating the word “weakness” back to the interviewer in your answer. Why wave the red flag in front of the bull? In fact, keep your answers free of any strongly negative words or phrases, such as problem, fired, failed, I couldn’t, I didn’t want to or overwhelmed. You don’t want to be too positive, but you should avoid code words that hint at performance, motivational or attitude problems. Instead, use neutral words – instead of weaknesses, they’re issues or concerns.

What They Really Want to Know

Like many interview questions, “What are your weaknesses?” doesn’t really mean what it seems. Interviewers don’t care about your personal failures, and aren’t looking to reveal some dark, secret axe-murdering tendencies. They just want to reduce their risk. Every HR rep worries about making a lousy hire and not helping the company get its money’s worth. What the weaknesses question really asks is simple: Should I worry?

Since that’s all they’re really asking, that’s what you need to address:

“I’m sure that I’m not perfect, but as I understand the needs for this job, they appear to be a close match for my skills and experience. I don’t see any reason I couldn’t get up to speed quickly and perform well in the long run.”

Note that this approach doesn’t say “I have no weaknesses,” but instead “I have no weaknesses that are relevant.” Sure, this may not really answer the question, but it does address the Should I worry? problem. Basically, you’re saying “You have my firm reassurance that you have nothing major to worry about if you give me this job.”

Backing and Filling

Of course, this won’t be your entire answer. You need to show that you don’t just think you’re perfect. How can you do this? To avoid saying “I can’t” or “I hate” but still not come off as arrogant, try framing your response in terms of a preference for one of two polar opposites, with the other pole being your weak area.

For example, don’t say, “I’m no good with numbers and details.” Instead try this:

“Given a choice between strategic thinking and a job that focuses primarily on implementation and repetitive quantitative activity, I prefer the former. I’m far more comfortable in planning and strategic positions.”

The formula is basic: given the choice between A and B, I’d prefer A. This way, you can imply “Don’t make me do B” without ever expressing a negative. This technique is easy to master with a little practice.

Be a Human Doing

Let’s say, however, that during the interview or reference check some unattractive issue or trait is bound to arise that you’ll have to acknowledge and somehow defuse. Or the interviewer may ask, “If I talked with your colleagues or the people who know you the best, how would they characterize your weaknesses?”

When asked to describe their weaknesses, most people naturally begin by saying “I am,” as in “I guess they’d say I am impatient.” This is a pretty comprehensive way of damning yourself. “I’m impatient” means I’m impatient 24/7, in all situations, with all people. A better approach is to cite behavior that occurs in a certain context. This allows you to claim that you’re aware of the potential “issue” in that setting, but that you’re also working to minimize it. Like this:

“I’m aware my tendency to make fast decisions sometimes makes some of my staff feel like I’m impatient. In situations where it’s important that they feel valued, I know I have to be careful to slow down, and make sure to be a more active listener.”

This focuses on what you do, rather than what you are. But if you use this approach, don’t end it by saying something like “and I’m working on that.” That makes it sound like life therapy, like if you ever grow up somehow you won’t be impatient anymore. Keep in mind that the essential elements of this answer are the phrases “I am aware” and “I have to be careful.” As a rule, if you focus on your behaviors instead of your personality traits, you’ll do better.

Validating the Aggressor

Let’s suppose you have an “issue” that’s so obvious that neither you nor the employer feels comfortable bringing it up. Maybe it’s your night blindness, the six years you spent in Attica, your evident shyness or your wheelchair. To defuse a delicate situation like this, you want to practice a technique called “validating the aggressor.”

With this approach, you use almost any rationale to raise the issue yourself, and ascribe any negative feelings about it to some unnamed third party. You then explain that it’s perfectly understandable for someone to have these apprehensions, but spell out why they don’t pertain to you. Just don’t turn your interviewer into the aggressor by saying something like, “I’ll bet you’re worried that my low-key style means I can’t be assertive enough with potential customers.” All this will do is produce an immediate denial: “Oh, no. Not me. I wasn’t thinking anything like that.” Always ascribe negative suspicions to some unnamed third party.

Framing the Weakness Issue

When responding to the weakness question, another effective technique is to frame your answer before leaping to your own defense. In other words, start by explaining why you’re approaching the answer the way you are:

“I’m never quite sure how to respond to the weaknesses question. I don’t want to avoid it, because I think it’s a fair question, and I think any candidate should be self-aware enough not to think they’re perfect. Having said all that, let me say I don’t think there are any fundamental issues or problems we have to be concerned about. That’s why I’m so excited about this job.”

When handled properly, rather than being a problem, the weaknesses question can be a chance to display your self-awareness, understanding of the employer’s concerns and refreshing candor. If you seem honest and unafraid, interviewers are more likely to conclude that what they’re seeing is what they’ll get. Their defenses will go down, and you chances of getting the job will go up.

Douglas B. Richardson heads the Richardson Group (www.richardsongro...rg), a nationally recognized leadership development and career management consulting firm in Narberth, PA. Doug earlier was an award-winning columnist for Dow Jones’ National Business Employment Weekly and its online successor,, for over 20 years.

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