It’s Not How Much Email You Get, It’s the Lack of Purpose in Your Life

1194826111_0ecb951c52_b If you misidentify a problem, your proposed solution probably won’t work.

Let’s say you have a headache, so you decide to amputate your leg. You’ll probably still have the headache, and then you’ll be missing a leg as well. For more effective treatment of headaches, consider a glass of water and perhaps an aspirin.

Many other treatment plans fail for the same reason. Something is wrong, and you think you know what it is, but that’s just because you’re looking at the obvious.

You may feel, for example, that you’re “overwhelmed.” And perhaps you are. Or you may feel generally anxious, and perhaps you are—or maybe it’s something else entirely. But before you dash off to treat the symptoms, declaring email bankruptcy or a digital sabbatical, promising to return with a 28-day series of themed Instagram photos, take a look at the bigger picture of your life.

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One Year of Taking Adderall to Help with Writing & Focus

Last year I shared the story of why I got a prescription for Adderall, the brand name of the psychostimulant drug that can help you control your attention and focus. Adderall is a controlled substance in the U.S. and most other western countries. It’s known for being abused by college students—you know, when you really need to study—but it’s also one of the most frequently prescribed treatments for both children and adults with ADHD.

I was diagnosed with ADHD as a kid (whoa, look at that spaceship!) and was medicated for a while with Ritalin and other drugs, but until last year at the old age of 36, I hadn’t taken anything since I was 12 or so.

The short version of why I decided to alter my stance on ADHD meds was that things weren’t working well. I had been late on my last book manuscript, and was beginning a new one that I wanted to complete on time. I had a long list of things I wanted to do (and believed in), but it had become more and more difficult to settle down and knock things off the list.

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How to Be More Awesome: Kid President at WDS

Next week we’ll release another round of tickets for WDS 2016, a global gathering like no other!

But first, we’re rolling out a different speaker video every day. Brad Montague and Robby Novak, creators of Kid President started a movement online that has been viewed and shared more than 80 million times.

Appearing on stage at WDS 2015, they taught us some awesome dance moves and spoke about their "joyful rebellion." Check out the ultimate Pep Talk!

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“Pain Deserves Acknowledgement, Not Repair”: Megan Devine at WDS

Next week we’ll release the first round of tickets for WDS 2016, a global gathering like no other!

But first, we’re rolling out a series of speaker videos from the 2015 event. Megan Devine, author of the audio book, When Everything is Not Okay: Practices to Help You Stay in Your Heart & Not Lose Your Mind, challenged us to approach life's challenges differently for ourselves and the people we love.

Check out the video!

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Whatever Happened to the Road Not Taken?

You’ve heard the story a thousand times.

Two roads diverged in the woods, and the wanderer is forced to choose. One road has a bit more wear than the other, but aside from that, both paths look pretty good. What to do? Since you've heard the story, you probably know the ending.

After some deliberation, the wanderer chooses the road “less traveled by.” And that, we're told, “has made all the difference."

Great story! But did you ever think about what happened to the other road? Maybe it was just a common road, and the wanderer was right to place his foot on the freshly-fallen leaves where few had stepped before.

Or maybe not. I have a theory that the other road was just as good. Maybe it was even better than the road less traveled by, but in the recollection the wanderer has revised his memory to conform to the experience he's had since first choosing a path.

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“Your Heart Will Always Lead You Home”: Lissa Rankin at WDS

Soon we’ll release the first round of tickets for WDS 2016, a global gathering like no other!

But first, we’re rolling out a series of speaker videos from the 2015 event. Lissa Rankin, physician and New York Times bestselling author of popular books like Mind Over Medicine and The Fear Cure, spoke to us about listening to our heart to find our purpose.

Check out the video!

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“Most of Us Have a Deep Desire to Be Great”: Lewis Howes at WDS

In just a few weeks, we’ll release the first round of tickets for WDS 2016, a global gathering like no other!

But first, we’re rolling out a series of speaker videos from the 2015 event. Lewis Howes, host of the popular podcast The School of Greatness, shared his own story about how he found the secret to greatness.

Note: In this video, Lewis shares a number of personal stories for the first time, including one that contains sensitive information.

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The Treasure Is Still Out There: Thoughts on Adventure and Scott Dinsmore

6459439415_cfa490e755_b A few days ago I went to San Francisco to attend a memorial service for Scott Luckey Dinsmore, who recently died in a tragic accident on Mount Kilimanjaro.

The speakers were all family members and close friends who shared stories of Scott’s life.

My favorite story was about a treasure hunt. Before Scott and his wife Chelsea left on the year-long Round-the-World trip that led them to Kilimanjaro, Scott and one of his friends had planned to go on a treasure hunt. Apparently, it was rumored that somewhere in the United States, some sort of treasure was still buried and just waiting to be found.

Scott said that his biggest regret in going on the year-long trip was that he’d miss the treasure hunt. Everyone laughed when the speaker mentioned this. If your biggest regret in traveling the world for a year is that you’ll miss a treasure hunt back home, you’re doing pretty well. But that was Scott: according to the other stories we heard, he always said yes to every invitation, and he was always pursuing another crazy adventure.

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The Uneventful Days that Affect Us Forever

"Do human beings ever realize life while they live it—every, every minute?” -Emily, from Our Town by Thomas Wilder

This past weekend I went back to the city where my brother and I both lived for a while. In fact, I stayed in the small hotel where I saw him for the last time. That visit was a year or so ago, and when we said goodbye he was returning to his home in Washington, D.C. and I to Portland.

Ken had an appreciation for good whiskey, but on our last evening together I discovered that he had never heard of bourbon and ginger ale, a very basic and common drink. Following my lead, he had his first one that night at the hotel restaurant where we were staying. Then, the next morning, we had breakfast together in the same restaurant before going our separate ways.

It’s funny how experiences like those seem so trivial at the time. Imagine writing a story composed of such details: two characters meet in a bar for a drink and talk about nothing terribly important. The next morning they have breakfast together and then fly back home. There’s no plot, no conflict, no life-altering decision to be made. What a boring story!

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Warning Signs That Your Life Lacks a Consistent Vision

You don’t know what to do at the start of the day.

Someone else or some other external events determine how you schedule and spend your time. Sure, you eventually jump into something, but your priorities are not your own.

You are pre-occupied with tactics and short-term opportunities.

Instead of seeing the long-term goal, you see only 2-3 steps ahead. You are a tactician instead of a strategist, in other words.

You are disillusioned with the things that used to bring you joy.

What once made you happy is no longer sufficient. You do the same things you used to, but without the same feelings of anticipation and enjoyment.

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Only Floss the Teeth You Want to Keep

That’s what dentists tell you. You don’t need to floss all your teeth—just the ones you need to keep.

When it comes to your business, your life, or your relationships, a similar principle applies. You don’t have to pay attention to everything and everyone. But you do have to pay attention to what matters most.

It may help to identify some priorities. In my business I track only two metrics on a consistent basis:

1. Email subscribers

2. Product sales
My thinking is that if these things are going along okay, everything else will fall into place. I don't check other statistics or track anything else. Checking my bank accounts will not make more money.

This year I added a "relationship metric":

Every day I will write or call at least one friend.

It’s simple, but effective (at least for me). So far this year, I haven’t missed a day.

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“What Have I Missed in My Life?” Notes on The Novels Mrs. Bridge and Mr. Bridge

"I think the message in the book is that we all have flaws we can’t resolve." -Amazon reviewer

I recently read Mrs. Bridge, a lesser-known novel from 1959 in which nothing really happens. A boring and largely unsympathetic character ambles though normal life events, rarely seeing her equally boring husband. Their three children have normal childhood problems, and eventually grow up.

Sounds thrilling, right? But underneath the surface, there’s a lot more going on. The novel is essentially about discontent and regret, or about encountering the panic and quiet desperation of an ordinary life.

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