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6 Uncomfortable things that will change your career

Are you ready to get ahead in your job? It takes dedication and perseverance, of course, but it also takes knowing what kinds of habits will help you be more productive. Here are six habits that could change your career. Some of them might sound a little uncomfortable, but they're worthwhile in the long run.

Getting up early

There's nothing uncomfortable about getting up early for all those early birds out there who somehow thrive on rising with (or before) the sun. But for many, many others, the morning routine consists of rising with exactly enough time to get ready before racing out the door.

There are many benefits to rising early, however, as evidenced by a list compiled by Among other things, Forbes reported, people who get up early tend to be more proactive, be better planners, do better on tests, spend more time exercising and, ironically enough, get better sleep.

Smiling at yourself in the mirror

At the risk of looking like a complete idiot while smiling at yourself in the mirror for no apparent reason, this habit can actually affect your mood — and therefore your work performance — for the rest of the day. The New York Times cited studies done by researchers who have examined the effect of facial muscle patterns on emotion. The researchers found that "a given expression can induce the mood it portrays."

Psychologist Dr. Robert Zajonc told the NY Times, "I'm not saying that all moods are due to changes in the muscles of the face, only that facial action leads to changes in mood."

Speaking up about wrongdoing

A person's character is tested on a daily basis in the workplace. What do you do when you hear a co-worker make an inappropriate comment toward someone of the opposite sex? What do you do when your boss struggles with working efficiently and it would be easy for you to just waste time as well?

It all comes down to integrity, which is the idea that you don't run that red light even when you know there's no one around for miles in any direction. This doesn't mean you report all wrongdoing immediately, but it does mean handling uncomfortable situations honestly. Your colleagues and employer will respect you for your character, and when it comes time for them to serve as your references, they'll pass your good reputation on to potential future employers.

Being honest with yourself

While it's a great habit to be honest with others, it's also important to be honest with yourself. Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses, holding nothing back. Don't take this as an opportunity to belittle yourself, but at the same time, don't exaggerate your talents. Realize that we all excel in different areas, which is why it takes all sorts of people to make companies and communities function successfully.

Once you have your two lists, go back through your list of weaknesses and highlight the ones that are within your power to change. Then make it a goal to turn your biggest weaknesses into strengths. It doesn't happen overnight and it works best when you focus on one thing at a time, but someday you'll be glad you took the time to decide to change.


There are a lot of skeptics of the field of meditation. After all, how beneficial can sitting around thinking calming thoughts really be? Plus, how silly might you feel if someone catches you sitting in the lotus position in a semi-dark room with your eyes closed?

For those willing to overcome their initial discomfort with the idea, however, there are many benefits to meditation. Besides being a proven stress reducer, meditation can actually increase your brain's gray matter, neural tissue that makes up the brain and is believed to affect ones' cognitive abilities, according to a recent study by Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

"We found long-term meditators have an increased amount of gray matter in the insula and sensory regions, the auditory and sensory cortex," Dr. Lazar told the Washington Post. "We also found they had more gray matter in the frontal cortex, which is associated with working memory and executive decision-making."

So why does gray matter, matter? According to, Eileen Luders, a researcher in the Department of Neurology at UCLA, believes that "the increased gray matter in the meditators' brains should make them better at controlling their attention, managing their emotions and making mindful choices."

Facing a fear

If you'd really like to make yourself feel squeamish, challenge yourself to face a different fear each week. Dread public speaking? Sign up for a class or make a presentation to your co-workers. Fear rejection? Work on caring less about what others think of you and take responsibility for your own emotions. Facing fears of all types, whether they be minor or major, can help improve your confidence and prepare you for facing even further-reaching fears in the future.

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