This TED Talk by Bethany Butzer shares her background of becoming an “achievement addict”. Her reflections and subsequent research led her to the question, “can we achieve more by doing less?”
Bethany distinguishes between 2 types of effort when working for success:
- Upstream effort – where you are expending a whole lot of energy and effort but do not seem to be getting anywhere. This is where many people appear to be and we convince ourselves that ‘high effort/slow progress’ is the norm when we use phrases such as “if it was easy, everyone would do it” or “nothing comes easy”.
- Downstream effort – which is often associated with that feeling of “being in the zone”. Where you are so engrossed in what you are doing the wider world seems to fade away. Things happen with the flow of life and the effort required is not draining.
How do you enhance downstream effort to reach your goals?
The first step is to understand your values. What are the guiding principles that underpin what you do and what you want to be known for? And how do you want to feel each day.
When successful people hit obstacles, rather than working harder, they take time off. Time off to reflect and remind themselves of how they want to feel. What is the dream? What is the focal point? Depending on the challenge or obstacle, this could be as little as a minute here and there. For larger matters, this may require a bit more inner work and reflection.
Bring that into the world
Which is all about taking action and life decisions. Decisions may seem strange or “wrong” to the outside would, but if they are in line with your values and inner reflections they will feel right. And be in line with your authentic self.
Ultimately, your health, wellbeing and authenticity is more important than anything else. Bethany is advocating we stop trying hard to achieve things that don’t matter to you. Instead your time is better spent on the things you value. Sounds straightforward – but watch the 16-minute TED talk here to learn more.
Want to watch even more TED Talks we have shared. Check them all out here.