The trouble with self-help advice is that it’s often based on barely any evidence.
For example, how many times have you been told to “think positively” in order to reach your goals? It’s probably the most popular piece of personal guidance, beloved by everyone from high school teachers to best-selling careers experts. One key idea behind the slogan is that if you visualise your ideal future, you’re more likely to get there.
The problem? Evidence suggests that the opposite is true. Recent research found evidence that fantasising about your perfect life actually makes you less likely to make it happen. While it can be pleasant, it reduces motivation because it makes you feel that you’ve already hit those targets. We’ll cover some ways positive thinking can be helpful later in the article.
Much other advice is just one person’s opinion, or useless clichés. But at 80,000 Hours, we’ve found that there are a number of evidence-backed steps that anyone can take to become more productive and successful in their career, and life in general. And as we saw in an earlier article, people can keep improving their skills for decades.
So we’ve gathered up all the best advice we’ve found over our last five years of research. These are things that anyone can do in any job to increase their career capital, personal fit and, therefore, their positive impact.
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