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Sometimes It Doesn’t Work, But You Still Have to Try Anyway

You always hear about the people who took a chance that paid off. You always hear the try, try again stories—those case studies of overcoming what seems to be an insurmountable challenge.

You know how the story goes: so-and-so encountered failure a dozen times, but on the thirteenth attempt, they made it!

Then so-and-so says, “Thanks, everyone. I’m so glad I kept going. Victory was never guaranteed, but look at me now."

Sometimes, though, you head into a situation knowing that there’s a high likelihood of failure. I'm not talking about the possibility of failure, I'm talking about odds that would make a free-wheeling Las Vegas roulette player back away from the table and head straight for the buffet.

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“There’s Nothing You Could Have Done … But What If There Was?”

15812627982_fe477f8cce_z Last week I wrote about the unexpected loss of my brother, Ken. I mentioned that when terrible things happen, people tend to say, “It will all be okay,” but unfortunately this isn’t always true. What’s okay about a premature death? There’s no way to bring back a loved one, and that’s just not okay.

Another thing people say is “There’s nothing you could have done.” But just like saying, “It will be okay,” this isn’t necessarily true either.

When you come to a situation you can’t change, it’s only natural to look back and think, “What if?”

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A Story of Friendship and Values

Two friends were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face.

The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand: TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE.

They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him.

After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone: TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SAVED MY LIFE.

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Where I’ve Been Over the Past Few Weeks

Hi, everyone. Thanks for your patience and concern during the first blogging + social media hiatus I’ve taken in seven years.

I know a lot of people have been wondering what happened, so I’ll tell you.

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WDS 2015: Initial Batch of 1,200 Photos Now Online

Hi, everyone! I’m still on blogging hiatus but am looking forward to getting back to daily writing very soon. Thanks for your understanding.

Here in Portland, WDS week has come to an end and you can view more than 1,200 photos in the official media albums.

I'll be sharing more about WDS in the weeks to come, and I'll be linking to posts written by our attendees. For now, here are just a few highlights.

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A Short Note to My Amazing Readers

Hey everyone,

First, if you read the blog: you really are amazing. Thank you.

Second, I’ve written here for more than seven years without a break—and I'm not anywhere close to being burned out. Why put a pause on something you love and find meaningful? Breaks are boring.

This week, though, my family experienced an unexpected loss that has left us all shaken. While I would like to keep publishing posts without missing a beat, the reality is that I need to step away from the blog for a bit.

How long is a bit? I’m not entirely sure right now. It will probably be at least 2-3 weeks, and possibly longer.

I promise to be back as soon as I can. I love this work and will miss it while I’m gone.

In the meantime, WDS is coming up in full force in Portland. We’re extremely excited to welcome thousands of people to town for our fifth annual celebration. If you’re coming, know that we have a highly capable team ready to welcome you. (And I’ll be there every moment too, of course.)

Until we meet again, grace and peace be with you all.

Chris Guillebeau

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A Simple Thing You Can Do To Improve Any Relationship

What if there was one thing you could do to be a better friend, partner, or spouse?

It's pretty simple: to improve any relationship, honor the other person’s dreams.

Figure out what they want to do, to become, or achieve, and then help them do it. Don't do it for them—it's their dream, after all—but show interest and offer tangible support.

How can you do that today?

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Don’t Make a Bucket List; Make a List of 100 Dreams

OK, it’s kind of like a bucket list. But it’s a really big one! From Laura Vanderkam:

In 168 Hours, I recommended creating something called a “List of 100 Dreams.” This exercise, which was shared with me by career coach Caroline Ceniza-Levine, is a completely unedited list of anything you might want to do or have more of in life. It’s like a bucket list, but most people don’t get all the way to 100 when creating a bucket list. The point is to really think about what you might like.

I also wrote about these lists a lot in The Happiness of Pursuit. I call them "life lists," on the theory that the lists should be well-rounded and not only consist of adventure travel kinds of goals.

But hey, whatever you call it, make a list! I love the challenge of trying to get to 100 items.

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Three Things I Know Are True: Taking Risks

I’ve been attempting to find “true north” in a lot of things lately. This series explores what I’ve found to be true in my own life. Your answers will probably differ; the point is to find what’s true for you.

Today’s topic is taking risks. Here are three things I know are true.

1. Most risk is perceived.

For example, it’s not any riskier to work for yourself than it is to work for a company, and it may actually be less risky. Why would you trust someone else with your well-being? Self-employment is actually a very safe and conservative choice for many of us.

Therefore, it’s very important to rethink the role of risk in your life.

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Going to the Movies by Yourself

I’m a big fan of doing things alone. I eat in restaurants alone, I go to faraway places for my birthday alone, and I generally work alone more often than not.

That’s why I’m naturally predisposed to like new research that shows that when you’re by yourself, you shouldn’t just stay at home and avoid activities that you might normally only do with someone else.

"People decide to not do things all the time just because they're alone," said Rebecca Ratner, a professor of marketing at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, who has spent almost half a decade studying why people are so reluctant to have fun on their own and how it may lead to, well, less fun overall. "But the thing is, they would probably be happier going out and doing something.”

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Three Things I Know Are True: Exercise

12200575735_0a3e958bf1_z I’ve been attempting to find “true north” in a lot of things lately. This series explores what I’ve found to be true in my own life. Your answers will probably differ; the point is to find what’s true for you.

Today’s topic is exercise. Here are three things I know are true.

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The Self-Addressed Envelope We Send to Ourselves

"Every day is like a self addressed envelope we post to ourself. Be careful what you post in it.”
I went through a phase as a kid when I collected autographs from baseball players. It was a pretty short phase—I don’t care much for baseball now—but for a few moths, I spent all my allowance on baseball cards, then consulted a book that listed the addresses of retired players. I’d send off a card to five or ten of them a week, including a note asking for an autograph, along with a self-addressed stamped envelope, then wait to see what happened.

As I recall, the results were pretty good. It took a while, but on average about half of the players returned my envelope with an accompanying autograph. It was fun to get mail, and the response motivated me to send out more batches of requests so I could await the returns in future weeks.

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Three Things I Know Are True: Writing Books

I’ve been attempting to find “true north” in a lot of things lately. This new series explores what I believe in different areas of work and life. Your answers may differ; the point is to find what’s true for you.

Today’s topic is writing books. Here are three things I know are true.

1. The basic process is easier than most people think.

As I’ve explained before, it’s not that hard to write a book. A book is composed of a number of chapters and words. If you break down the process in a logical manner, you can see approximately how many words are required on a daily or weekly basis to achieve the goal in whatever time period you set.

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