9 myths and misconceptions about success (and 10 ways you can succeed)

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Do some people really have a better shot at achieving their dreams than others? Can anyone be successful, or is it all down to luck? We’re exploring the truth about what it really takes to triumph

9 myths and misconceptions about success (and 10 ways you can succeed)

When you stop to think about success, what comes to mind? High-earning entrepreneurs, tech innovators, influential activists, bestselling authors? Success comes in many different forms, yet if we’re honest with ourselves, there are a lot of assumptions we make about how others become successful – and what’s holding us back from reaching the same heights.

Here, we’re putting some of the most common misconceptions about achievements under a microscope, to shine a spotlight on the true secrets of the successful.

Myth: Success means the same thing to everyone

In reality, there’s no single ‘look’ for success. Some people see success as having a big house or money in the bank. Others see it as how they impact the environment, local communities, or give back to charity. Focus on what you value most, and how you define it, and strive for that.

Myth: Only certain personality types can succeed

You don’t have to be an aggressive extrovert to be successful – introverts can succeed, too! From sports star Michael Jordan to philanthropist Bill Gates, success can happen for any and all personality types.

Myth: Following your passion is enough to succeed

Unfortunately, passion alone isn’t enough. Loving what you do can be a great starting point, but taking things to the next level requires hard work, too. You need a 360 approach that allows you growth in various areas – from improving existing skills or learning new ones, to understanding your market, and being open to feedback in order to see progress.

Myth: Success is dependent on your upbringing

Having a solid start in life can give you a big advantage. Knowing you have people to support you (financially or emotionally) makes a huge difference, giving you access to resources others may not have. Yet it’s not the only path to success. Oprah was born to a poor family, and is now worth an estimated $2.6 billion. Ed Sheeran, a big name in the music industry, dropped out of school and slept rough before making it big. Anything is possible.

Myth: You need luck to succeed

Luck can give you a boost, but sitting back and waiting for something magic to happen rarely leads to success. Make your own luck by working hard and seeking out new opportunities.

Myth: You can’t succeed without stepping on other people

You don’t have to be ruthless, put others down, or take unearned credit to succeed. Focus, determination, confidence, and building a strong network that you can rely on (and that can trust you) is key.

9 myths and misconceptions about success (and 10 ways you can succeed)

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What is secondhand stress and how do I get rid of it?

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Studies have shown that stress can be contagious. So, how do we get rid of – or avoid altogether – secondhand stress, before we start to feel overwhelmed?

What is secondhand stress and how do I get rid of it?

Stress. It can be overwhelming, can’t it? As a nation, as many as one in four (74%) of us have felt overwhelmed and unable to cope in the past year, according to figures from the Mental Health Foundation. With feelings of stress often surrounding financial worries, relationship difficulties, and feelings of being overworked and underappreciated, unfortunately, it’s not just our own stress that’s keeping us up at night.

Research has shown that thanks to emotional contagion, it’s possible for us to ‘catch’ stress, anxiety, and other emotions from others. Just watching someone else showing classic signs of stress can be enough to trigger a stress response in us, which can lead to further feelings of exhaustion, worry, and even starting to avoid certain colleagues, friends, family, and loved ones.

So, what can we do to spot the signs of secondhand stress before it starts to take hold of us? And how can we get rid of secondhand stress for good?

What is secondhand stress and anxiety?

The terms secondhand stress and secondhand anxiety refer to when you feel stressed or anxious because someone else is showing signs of stress or anxiety. Essentially, our minds and bodies are wired to keep an eye out for potential danger or threats. When we see someone else having a stress or anxiety reaction, we unconsciously can end up mimicking this, as a natural form of self-defence.

We’re able to pick up secondhand stress by seeing others’ facial expressions, hearing their voice frequency, and even picking up on specific scents or touches. What’s more, we’re more likely to experience secondhand stress from someone we know, rather than a stranger – meaning our colleague’s stress levels, and how they react to and express those feelings of stress, can have a serious impact on us.

How do you know if someone is stressing you out?

There are a number of different signs and symptoms of stress that we can keep an eye out for. These can include emotional symptoms (feeling frustrated, quick to anger, anxious, overwhelmed, teary, or avoiding others or social situations) or physical symptoms (trouble sleeping, feeling dizzy, excessive sweating, chest pains or palpitations, digestive problems, or seeking comfort from food, drugs or alcohol). But there are also signs you can keep an eye out for, that can indicate that being around someone else may be causing you secondhand stress.

These can include:

  • Stress eating or drinking when they are around (e.g. eating more when you’re around someone, as a way to self-soothe or cope with how you are feeling).
  • Checking your phone or avoiding eye contact while talking to others. This can be a sign that you are feeling uncomfortable with what is being shared, or are experiencing feelings of stress and overwhelm (though it’s worth noting that not everyone is

What is the halo or horn effect and how does it affect workplace culture?

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Is this common mind trap impacting your progress at work?

What is the halo or horn effect and how does it affect workplace culture?

There have been countless studies on first impressions, most likely because we can’t stop agonising over them after we’ve met someone we want to impress for the first time. While some research will tell you that people make their minds up about you within the first 12 seconds, and others will point to your appearance as the source of the impression you give, the general consensus is that, regardless of how they are formed, they do count – but maybe they count too much…

The ‘halo or horn effect’ refers to when a first impression leads someone to have a biased negative or positive opinion of someone – a bias that would then lead them to overlook any actions or characteristics that might prove otherwise. The concept has its origins in the work of 1920s American psychologist Edward Thorndike. In an experiment, Thorndike asked commanding officers to rate the physique, intelligence, leadership, and character traits of soldiers, before having any interactions with them. What he saw was that when the officer gave a soldier a high rating in one category, they tended to also give them high ratings in the others, too. He named this the ‘halo effect’. On the flip side, Thorndike went on to find this pattern was also true when it came to negative characteristics: the ‘horn effect’.

Now, while the theory may be a century old, if we take some time to ruminate on it, many of us may be able to point to examples in our own lives where snap judgements have left a lasting impression, both good and bad – regardless of any countering evidence. And, like the scenario in Thorndike’s original experiments, one place this kind of thinking is rife is in the workplace.

One person might become the star, a regular employee of the month, any slip-ups easily glossed over, while opportunities flow towards them and treatment from higher-ups is favourable, to say the least. It could be said that this person is the recipient of the ‘halo effect’. On the flip side, the other might have made a mistake, such as turning up late one day. Their negative traits have been decided: they’re lazy and unreliable. When it comes to distributing important tasks, or those which would aid career progression, they’re overlooked – perhaps in favour of those in the ‘halo effect’.

And it’s not too difficult to understand how this happens in the first place. When we don’t have all the information about a person or a scenario, our brains automatically try to fill in the gaps using the information that is in front of us. One virtuous act in isolation can lead us to apply the same standards to all parts of a person – it’s easy to make the jump when there’s nothing else trying to catch your attention. But a major problem with making these judgements is that they’re superficial. It’s exactly those countering clues that come together to form the complex people that we are. We don’t live in a black-and-white world where people can be categorised as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

Help! I’m stuck in the ‘horn effect’

If what you’ve been reading here is striking a chord, and you think you might be stuck in the ‘horn effect’, know that you’re not

9 ways to start your week positively (and productively)

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We all get that Monday feeling. Here are nine ways you can start your week with a more positive spin, and kick your productivity into high gear

9 ways to start your week positively (and productively)

That first day back at work after your weekend. Urg. Is there anything worse? Even if you love your job (and you’re a morning person), there’s something about dragging yourself out of bed and trying to get back into the work mindset that makes a surprising percentage of us feel anxious, lethargic, and reluctant to get started.

According to one survey, nearly 62% of us dread Mondays more than any other day of the week. We feel more tired, and even spend longer complaining on a Monday, thanks to making the most of late nights, no alarm clocks and weekend lie-ins (which can throw your body clock off), not to mention over-indulging in takeaways, meals out, and alcohol (which can leave our bodies struggling to keep up).

But what if we didn’t need to start our week off with a reluctant sigh and an excessively large coffee to get through the day? What if there was a way to kickstart your week with a boost of positivity and productivity, to help you actually look forward to your week ahead?

1. Set yourself up for success

Getting your week off to the right start can take a little bit of planning – but it’s more than worth it. Take time out at the end of your last working day to create a quick-start to-do list for your first morning back. This could just be a few bullet points of urgent tasks to take a look at, a couple of notes on any outstanding emails or comms you are waiting on ready to chase up, or an outline ready to prep yourself for a morning full of meetings.

The afternoon and evening before you head back to work are just as important. Sunday night anxiety can feel like it steals precious weekend hours from us, as we lose time to doom-scrolling, give in to the temptation to get a head start on emails, or lay awake late into the night, dreading the week ahead. To avoid the negative night-before cycle, try and do something physical. Go for a long walk, cycle, or swim. Exercise can boost our mood and improve our physical health, as well helping you to physically feel ready to fall asleep that little bit earlier.

If there’s an underlying feeling of anxiety, worry or dread, don’t ignore it. Take some time to think and ask yourself: What is it that is worrying me? Is this something I can fix now? Writing things down can be a big help, and can also be handy in tracking any unhelpful patterns or habits that you may way to address.

2. Take things slowly

Just because you’ve had a couple of days off, doesn’t mean you have to come back feeling 110% and ready to go. Be kind to yourself. Take time to catch up on emails or chat with colleagues to find out more about new tasks and priorities. Work through your to-do list. If you can, schedule in some planning

The new office working week: The pros and cons of remote working

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As we reflect on 2022, we take a look at the new office working week and the benefits that coaching brings for those working remotely

The new office working week: The pros and cons of remote working

Since the pandemic, the way we work has changed dramatically. With the majority of businesses and employees forced to operate remotely, we’ve seen a shift in attitudes toward working from home and its benefits, both for business and employee wellbeing. And it’s fair to say that things have changed a lot over the last few years here at Happiful, too.

As we enter a new year and look back at 2022, one trend that stands out is the idea of the ‘new office working week’, but what exactly is it? Recent research has revealed that a typical working week in the office now runs from Tuesday to Thursday, with many of us opting to work from the comfort of our own homes on a Monday and Friday - perhaps in an attempt to drag our weekends out for as long as possible.

With just 13% of people heading to the office for the last working day of the week, it’s clear that Thursday has become the new Friday, but what impact does this have on our wellbeing, and is it here to stay?

Aside from the obvious benefits like saving money on transport, whether that’s on fuel or train fares (this being particularly valuable in the current cost of living climate), there are a number of wellness and business benefits to hybrid working. It’s worth noting, however, that this approach to work doesn’t suit everyone, nor is it practical for all professions.

Let's take a look at some of the advantages of working from home:

Increased productivity

Whilst some people can struggle to find the motivation to work from home, for many, it can actually increase productivity as there are fewer distractions from the often trivial office matters. Home working means we can have total peace and quiet so that we can really focus and be present with our work. To add, many businesses are now adopting ‘flexible hours’, meaning you can work at times that best suit you and when you’re most productive.

Work/life balance

For those of us trying to balance work with busy family life, remote working gives us that extra chunk of valuable time that we’d typically spend commuting to be with our loved ones. What’s more, it allows more time to get things done around the home, attend appointments, etc. meaning you can really relax into your evening and recharge, ready for the following day.

The added ability for employees to have more autonomy and freedom in deciding how they plan their working day creates more trust between them and their employers, increasing job satisfaction.

Lessening your carbon footprint

Not only does hybrid or fully remote working cut down on transportation costs, but it also reduces your carbon footprint. Whilst doing your bit to help the environment, you’re also contributing towards a greener future.

Employee engagement

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