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It’s Okay to Schedule “Real Life” Into Your Calendar

I’m looking for people who have their "Dream Job" or career to nominate themselves as case studies for my next book. Is that you? Let me know.

I saw a great quote from Kaitlin on one of the initial survey forms:

"I've accepted that it's okay to schedule 'call parents' in my calendar so long as it helps me actually do it. It doesn't make me a bad person for scheduling real life into my calendar.”

I completely agree with this. You shouldn’t feel bad about “scheduling real life.” If you thrive on business goals and struggle with relational ones (that was me all last year), try being intentional about the relational goals.

One of my relational goals this year is to write or call one friend every day. So far I’m well on track—and having it written down as a stated goal is what makes it happen.

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“In spite of everything, I still believe people are really good at heart”

From The Diary of Anne Frank:

"In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death.

I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.”

Part of why I believe this too is that the alternative is too depressing to consider. So what happens when people hurt us, or when someone else does something to us that's totally unexpected? I guess we have to think about context, try to see it from their perspective, and so on.

And even when we’re wronged, I think we have to have grace. Again, what’s the alternative To refuse grace only hurts us in the end.

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Lessons from Don Miller: Success Is More Difficult to Manage than Failure

Don Miller is the kind of guy that I implicitly trusted the first time I met. Not to psychoanalyze too much, but in general I’m not a very trusting person. I believe that most people are good, but I don’t necessarily trust a lot of people. With Don, though, I felt comfortable discussing personal stuff right away.

After a recent lunch meeting, he wrote me an email with more advice. I asked him if I could share part of it, and he agreed. Maybe it helps some of you, too? Here's Don:

"Rapid success is much more difficult to manage than failure, I believe. It's just like walking a tight rope. I think the thing is, success changes you radically, but nothing around you from the old life changes, so now you're a different person and to some degree larger than the small walls you've been living in.

But it's all a bunch of tricks and lies. What matters in the end is taking the folks who loved you early with you into the new life as gingerly as possible."

Don has a new book out this week.

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The Insane World of Underground Bike Messenger Racing

File under: I had no idea this was a thing.

This mini-doc on the world of “underground bike messenger racing" might seem a little slow in the beginning, but if you stick with it you'll be like, “Holy @!*%! I can’t believe they did that!”

Even if you don't like the concept, consider the below quote, taken from about nine minutes into the video. It can apply to a lot more than illegal bike racing:

"There are totally different ways to think about these kinds of situations, in this traffic, all these vehicles stuck idling in my way. You get to decide how you’re going to see it. If you really learn how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know you have other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred—on fire with the same force that lit the stars."

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7 Alternative Ways to Evaluate Your Life Every Day

As regular readers know, I’m all about setting goals and working toward big projects over time. When you have a big goal, especially one with a clear end point, it’s easy to know when you’ve achieved it. But most big goals take time, and—as I’ve been learning—our lives consist of more than just a series of work-oriented projects that occupy our time.

No, to truly define success, we need to think of both these long-term goals and the actions we take every day. We also need to ensure our lives are in proper order. The challenge lies in the middle: how do we accomplish all of this?

Therefore, it may be more helpful to create an alternative method of evaluating ourselves as we go along. Here are seven different ideas to consider.

5549123_dd3e6c2b3f_z 1. At the end of the day, ask yourself, “Did today matter?”

Sure, you could spend a long time thinking back on your to-do list and reviewing your calendar. And what were all those emails about? But when you ask yourself this question, chances are you’ll know the answer intuitively.

Did today matter? If so, great. Do more things like it tomorrow. Can't remember anything in particular that made a difference? Well, better change it up.

Before you hit the ground running, take a few moments in meditation or thoughtfulness to decide what you’d like to see happen by the end of the day. Again, be sure to prioritize: it would be great to make a ton of progress on everything, but you probably won’t. What's most important? What is realistic to achieve?

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“Acceptance Isn’t Agreement”: A Lesson from Chris Brogan

I’ve been listening to a “Brave New Year” program by Chris Brogan (not an affiliate link; I purchased it for regular price).

Normally I’m not an auditory learner and have a hard time paying attention to lectures or podcasts. In this case, though, I was able to go through the whole thing.

I particularly liked what Chris had to say about the subject of acceptance. Here’s an excerpt:

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A Reader’s Experience of Taking Adderall To Help With Focus

When I decided to undertake a trial run of Adderall, a prescription drug that has both helpful and harmful uses, I also decided to share the story with our community. I figured if I’m struggling with something, I’m probably not the only one:

A Reader's Experience

Hey Chris! We haven’t talked in a while, but I read this post and wanted to provide an experience from someone who’s been doing this for a while. Here’s the short version:

  • I've been prescribed Adderall for the past 3 years or so. I started taking it around age 27
  • I'd experimented with it (as well as Concerta & Vyvanse) before during college, getting some from friends
  • Looking back at my formal schooling years I could see it might have been very helpful then...

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An Honest Conversation About Debt in America

"Debt is publicly enforced and highly stigmatized, but is almost always privately experienced."

After filing for bankruptcy herself, photographer Brittany M. Powell is traveling across America to interview other people struggling with unexpected debt. I love this multifaceted, non-judgmental project (originally on Kickstarter -- now closed after a successful end).

Debt Portrait #28, Detroit, MI 2014 88a282cf5ab0f7c6-DebtRamon-4578 Through the camera, Powell is starting a conversation about debt—something many people experience alone but never talk about because of the shame and stigma that can be attached to it. How does debt effect us and our daily lives? Are people as alone in this struggle as much as they feel?

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What Does It Mean to Be Rich?

When you’re a kid, you don’t have much concept of what true wealth is—so you tend to relate it to experiences, or at least I did. In my case, I understood wealth in the context of fast-food restaurants. I used to eat at my favorite restaurants, McDonald’s and Burger King, as often as I could.

I’m writing from the W Hong Kong, where I just arrived after beginning my latest Round-the-World trip. The W here has one of the best hotel breakfast buffets in all of Asia, which for all practical purposes means all of the world.

My breakfast is comped, thanks to my elite status with Starwood. As best I can tell, it costs approximately 10x what a meal at McDonald’s would. But if it wasn’t comped, I’d gladly pay. It’s so good! And I’m having so much fun waking up early, drinking unlimited macchiatos, and thinking about the world.

The lesson? Well, I’m jet-lagged, so you might have to wade through the muddle. But aside from not eating fast food, I think the lesson is to figure out what makes you feel rich—and it’s best if such a thing is somewhat obtainable.

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Annual Review 2014: A Big Batch of Reader Reports Is In!

Hey everyone! Thanks as always to all who read the blog and all who participate in some fashion. The December 2014 Annual Review was a long one. I spent 6,000+ words compiling a ton of lessons from the year, as well as plans for 2015. You can catch up on some of the posts here:

Reader Reviews: What Did You Have to Say?

We've gathered together a collection of awesome annual reviews from our community. First up, check out this email I received from a high school student, Evan Twarog:

Hi Chris, At the start of 2014, I did a review, and because of it, it was by far the most successful year of my life. Writing it as a junior in high school, I knew that 2014 was the year for me to create a foundation for my future success. Some of the highlights of the year include:

*Traveling to El Salvador for a service project through Interact *Winning the Rotary Global Essay Competition and traveling to India for a week *Interning as a high school student at CHA Consulting, a civil engineering firm *Racing on the Elm City Velo Cycling Racing team as its only junior racer *Receiving an appointment to the United States Coast Guard Academy

I love this report. Well done, Evan!

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Writing With Adderall: A Personal Case Study

Short version: I recently started taking the prescription drug Adderall (the brand name for amphetamine and dextroamphetamine) to help with an increasing inability to focus. Overall, it’s been working great, and here’s the whole story of my experience. If you’re in a similar situation, this might help you, but don’t skip the details and disclaimers.

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A Man Saw a Ball of Gold In the Sky

A man saw a ball of gold in the sky; He climbed for it, And eventually he achieved it — It was clay. Now this is the strange part: When the man went to the earth And looked again, Lo, there was the ball of gold. Now this is the strange part: It was a…

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Arbitrary Numbers, Part II

After publishing yesterday’s post, I realized I also wrote about arbitrary goals in The Happiness of Pursuit. Here’s the story: I use an app on my phone to track my running, especially the longer runs that I do most Sunday mornings. On a recent eight-mile run, I noticed that my pace was consistently around 8:34…

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