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Is There a Hole in Your Bathtub?

Imagine that you’re filling your bathtub for a nice relaxing soak. You’ve got the water on full blast at just the right temperature, and the soap suds are perfectly proportioned. Yet there’s a problem: the water rises to a decent level, but never quite tops out to where you’d like it. Despite leaving the water on and stepping away for a while, nothing changes.

Then you realize the source of the problem: there’s a hole in the drain. It may just be a small one, but it’s a hole—water disappears down it in one direction only, never to return.

What do you do? You could leave the water on full blast for the entire soak, which might not be that relaxing. Or you could try to fix the problem by plugging the hole.

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If Your Vision Isn’t Being Understood, Never Hesitate to Change Your Tactics

From Mike Birbiglia’s “6 Tips for Making it Small in Hollywood”:

"I once heard an interview where Ron Howard said that he tests the rough cuts of his movies with a ton of audiences. He doesn’t do it to be told what the movie’s vision should be, but to understand whether his vision is coming across. If not, he makes changes. Your vision is not being conveyed a majority of the time."

This relates to some other things I’ve been thinking recently.

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Should You Perform for the Audience or Just Entertain Yourself?

Link: Sir Paul on Fans, the Beatles, and Himself

When Paul McCartney goes on tour, he plays a lot of songs. A recent set list included 27 songs and stretched for more than three hours. People get their money’s worth, which is why they keep coming back.

You can think of yourself as an artist that seeks to challenge yourself by trying new things, and there’s nothing wrong that perspective. But there’s also nothing wrong with asking, “What do the people want?” and then thinking about how to give it to them.

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8 Ways to Have More Time

I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who needs only four or five hours of sleep a night. Unfortunately, I’m not—without a consistent minimum of 6-8 hours, and usually on the high side of that range, I don’t perform very well.

If you’re like me and need your sleep, and if you’re not otherwise superhuman, you may need to hack your way to greater time and productivity. Many of us are constantly looking for more time. These 8 tips might help.

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Catch Pokémon for Fun and Money: Lessons in Paying Attention

File under: entrepreneurship is everywhere.

And so are Pokémon hunters. No matter where you’re reading this, you’ve probably seen them—and maybe you are one of them, staring at your phone while walking through the streets in search of winged creatures.

Or maybe you think the Pokémon craze is silly. Personally, I think it’s interesting to see how quickly it caught on, with millions of players all over the world, as well as how it encourages people to get out and walk more, since Pokémon are clustered around parks and other walkable areas.

I enjoyed this article about how some enterprising players have set up digital shop in helping new players “level up” or catch rare Pokémon.

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Three Simple Actions to Increase Your Available Options

Even if you’re perfectly happy where you are, anything you can do to add security and increase your options will help you.

What if you had a different source of income than your paycheck? Then, even if you have a great job and no desire to quit, you’re also earning money on the side. Put it in savings, pay off debt, or put it toward meaningful experiences.

What if you had the ability to travel anywhere? That’s why you should accumulate miles & points, so that you can have a ready-made bank account to get you on a plane and into the immigration line.

Here are three simple actions you can take right now to increase your available options.

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3 Keys to Building a Successful Writing Career

Habit. If you want to be a writer, you first have to write. You can sit down and free write. You can write first and edit later (or "write drunk, edit sober" as the saying goes). You can use a timer and write for 50 minutes every morning or you can plan to write 500 words before going to bed. Whatever works for you is what matters.

Focus. This doesn’t mean “only write about one specific topic” as some people say. If you want to be the world’s leading expert on marsupials in Macedonia, go right ahead. You’ll be a hero to all five people interested in that.

Persistence. You’ve just got to do it! And you’ve got to keep doing it. Over and over. When you find yourself not writing, you have to find your way back. Continuing to work on something for a long period of time is often a strong predictor of success (except when it's not).

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Limited Time: Get a Free Guide to Online Business

Link: Ramit’s “Ultimate Guide to Online Business” (Free)

Every day I hear from new readers who pick up The $100 Startup, especially around the world as it continues to be published in more and more languages (22 at last count).

The world of people interested in creating personal freedom through entrepreneurship continues to grow. And as it does, many of these people have questions about the best next steps to take.

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Just Because It’s Supposed to Work Doesn’t Mean It Will

Dan finished his education degree without ever stepping into a classroom.

After he graduated, he realized he didn’t like teaching and wasn’t good at it. The very first day of student teaching, where the goal was to serve as an intern before accepting a full-time position, he knew that this was not the career for him.

You’re probably thinking: hey, that’s life! He just had to stick it out, and then he’d be fine. And it’s true, sometimes there’s a learning curve on the road of purpose. We’re supposed to challenge ourselves, and it takes time to gain real-world skills.

This was different, though. Dan really didn’t like teaching. It felt uncomfortable and unnatural. He knew he could probably soldier on through the internship, but he didn’t want to go any further.

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“The Success I’m Having Now Is What I Planned for Three Years Ago”

The other day I met with a small business owner. Her business is going well, she recently had a successful product launch that brought in a lot of funds and new customers. Awesome!

But what interested me the most is what she said about it: “The success that I’m having now is what I planned for three years ago.”

Three years ago, she set out to build the kind of business she has now. She settled on an area of focus and said no to other opportunities. Then, she took the actions she’d determined were most likely to lead to successes like her recent launch.

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Winners Give Up All the Time

Lesson: “Never give up” is bad advice. Real winners don’t hesitate to walk away from an unsuccessful venture.

Contrary to popular belief, if you want to win, you shouldn’t always just keep going. You should regroup and try something totally different. “Winners never quit, and quitters never win” is a lie. To win, sometimes you need to find a new game to play.

You may be familiar with this old adage, often attributed to Albert Einstein: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Einstein was right in that the real danger of going in- sane, or just failing over and over, doesn’t usually come from doing something new. Rather, the worst failures come from something that we’ve been doing for a while.

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Improve the Right Kind of Skills (They Probably Aren’t What You Think)

Lesson: Improving “soft skills” can increase your value no matter what kind of career you have.

Hard skills are things you learned through technical or academic training: how to make architectural drawings with certain software, how to properly administer medication as a nurse, and so on.

Soft skills are just as important—if not more—but aren’t usually taught in school. To be more effective (and to become more valuable), spend time improving your soft skills in writing, negotiation, conflict management, and follow-up.

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Do You Have a Side Hustle? Tell Us About It!

Out of everything I wrote about it in Born for This, readers have responded the most to two things:

  1. “Winners never quit” is a lie. Winners actually quit all the time. They aren’t afraid to walk away from something that isn’t working to try something else.
  2. Not everyone should be a full-time entrepreneur, but everyone should learn to think entrepreneurially.
On the second point, one of the best ways to learn entrepreneurial skills is through a side hustle—a money-making project you work on apart from your job.

A side hustle isn’t a part-time job, it’s something you create that you have ownership over. It’s not a hobby; it’s something that produces income.

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When You Need to Escape, Build Your Own Countdown Clock

Before my dad packed up his cubicle and moved to a beachside office, he created a spreadsheet that displayed the number of days that remained until his retirement age.

It soon became a topic of dinner table conversation: “Hey, Dad, how much longer at the day job?” I’d ask. He’d respond with something like, “Oh, I don’t know exactly . . . well, I guess I do. Looks like I have 673 days and 4 hours to go.”

When you’re trying to escape a dead-end job or any other undesirable situation, create a calendar and count down the days to freedom.

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How to Start a Blog or Any Website for Less Than $5

Link: Start a Blog for $5/Month

Since starting The Art of Non-Conformity eight years ago, I’ve been writing and posting regularly on the blog. A lot of things have changed since those early days, especially the way that people communicate on different networks, but my love of the format remains.

When you write a blog, you can publish immediate, unfiltered information to the world at large. There are no gatekeepers or censors. You can write about whatever you want, and you're free to expand your domain as you see fit. If you want to publish video or audio, you can do that on your blog too—but you don’t have to.

Starting a blog doesn’t need to be expensive. In fact, you can do it for free over at Wordpress.com. Free is fine for a lot of people and it might be fine for you, but many of us will find that it’s better to invest a small amount of money and get more benefits and features.

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