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Working Hard at Something That Doesn’t Matter

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“Our greatest fear should not be failure but succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.”

Last year, pre-pandemic, I went to a three-day yoga retreat in Arizona. I'd never done such a thing before and was thinking of signing up for a longer one, so this seemed like a safe introduction.

The yoga itself was good. I enjoyed the classes and met a few nice people.

Among the group of one-hundred or so attendees, I noticed that several of them spent a lot of time working on their selfie game. Some even had a pro photographer in tow, who documented their poses, attempts at acro yoga, and bikini collections.


The Steps Before the First Step

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If you try to tackle a big project and end up getting stuck somewhere along the way, it might mean that some steps are missing.

Imagine trying to complete a difficult, 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. Even though it has a thousand pieces, finishing the puzzle requires to complete more than a thousand steps.

You need to spend time sorting, grouping, and looking for edge pieces. You also might have to undo some parts of your work as you go along—which adds more steps, since now you need to override previous tasks that you thought had been completed.

This is all logical enough, but a) it takes time, and b) if you haven’t ever done a large puzzle before, you might get frustrated. You might give up along the way, leaving your puzzle half-finished and sitting on the kitchen table for weeks. Finally, you push the pieces back into the box, swearing off puzzles until the next family holiday gathering or global pandemic.


The Courage to Change Your Mind

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Here's a helpful filter to know when to worry: does something sound too good to be true, or does it sound so bad that people give up and stop thinking for themselves?

Either way, when everyone around you agrees, it's worth asking some questions. Questions like: "What’s really going on here—and who is threatened by disagreement?"

Consider it an opportunity! When it comes to Coronavirus life, an astounding amount of groupthink is currently taking place. It’s as though everyone is taking the collective temperature (no pun intended...) before deciding what they believe and how they should act.


If You Find Yourself Dreading Appointments You Made Long Ago, Start Asking “Would I Do This Tomorrow?”

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You know the feeling you get when an appointment approaches on your calendar and you’re not looking forward to it? Maybe you’re even dreading it?

Ugh. I totally forgot about that, you think. But I guess I need to to do it, since I agreed long ago.

We've all been there. Some of us find ourselves there all the time. The good news is, there’s a trick to make that happen less and less.

It comes from understanding that when someone asks you to do something you don't really want to do, you’re more willing to agree if it takes place far into the future. You tend to think, “Oh, that’s a long time from now. I’m not thrilled about the idea, but sure, I can do that.”


The Real Imposter Is the Part of You That Hesitates

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Hesitation What holds people back from making a bold choice or following a dream?

When you ask, often they’ll point to the lack of knowledge. They simply aren’t sure what to do, so they wait for someone to give them a step-by-step plan.

Other times, they mention a lack of resources or some kind of access—perhaps they need money, or maybe they're holding out on a specific connection or certification.

After writing and sharing online for more than a decade, however, I’m pretty sure that these cases are the minority. Instead, the thing that stops more people than anything else is internal resistance.


How to Write a Novel

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First up, thank you so much for your support of THE MONEY TREE! Despite the numerous challenges of current events, the book is getting out to lots of people.

Now that it's out, a number of readers have asked me to explain more about a big change I made. Specifically, my new book is unlike any of my six others: it’s fiction. I created an imaginary world of characters, and did my best to bring them to life.

It started partly because I wanted to do something new. The more I thought about it, the more nervous I felt ... which of course is often a good sign. A sense of nervousness and even feeling a little afraid can be helpful in showing you what you need to do next.


The Second Best Thing You Can Do Right Now

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Wondering what to do during this time of chaos? I have a proposal.

First, the best thing you can do is what you already know about: keep people safe by washing your hands, refraining from gatherings, etc.

But unless you’re on the front lines (THANK YOU to everyone who is), most of those actions are passive. When you’re sitting at home with clean hands, what can you do besides turn on Netflix?

This is my proposal: the best thing you can do is be safe, but the second best thing is to be productive.


The Cost of Unnecessary Worrying

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I hope you’re holding up okay in the new world order. Instead of talking to you about social distancing (I’m guessing you’ve heard about that already), today I’ll just give you a personal observation: Since I've started trying to worry only about things I can influence or change, I’ve been a lot less anxious.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t worrisome circumstances out there. It just means that, aside from what you’ve already heard about, there isn’t a lot you can do to change them.

Meanwhile, unnecessary worrying has a cost, without providing any benefit. Worrying about something you can’t control doesn’t make that thing any better.


Opportunity Waits in the Time of Uncertainty

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Wow, what happened to the world in the past week?

I’m writing to you from my sanitized desk in an underground bunker ... well, it’s not quite like that. But what a difference a few days makes.

All of a sudden, millions of people have found themselves working remotely or not working at all, unexpectedly arranging childcare because the schools have closed, and running over neighbors in the toilet paper aisle at Costco.

Well, guess what: I’m not going to say “life goes on” (even though it will) and I won’t claim this isn’t a big deal (it is). We should take COVID-19 seriously and do what we can to stay safe.

That said, there’s only so much you can control. Sure, you should wash your hands more often, but ultimately what happens next is out of those same hands.

If there's any good news, it's this: with uncertainty comes opportunity.


Habits of Highly Effective Real People

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Humans are not machines, and we don’t all want the same things. But we do want to do something purposeful, to use the time we have to the best of our ability—and we also long to discover our authentic selves.

If our lives consist of a series of choices, how do highly effective real people make them? Here’s a short list of characteristics for your consideration.

First and foremost, they know what’s important to them.

I’ve been saying for a while that the greatest productivity hack is to love what you do. It is much, much easier to be both productive and satisfied when you spend most of your time on something you find meaningful.

I often go back to this principle as a compass point. It really does no good at all to become efficient at the wrong things. On balance, it’s actually negative because the more efficient you become, the more likely it is that you’ll continue on the wrong path. Therefore, it’s better to fail quickly at the wrong things, so you can discover the right ones.


Coming April 7, 2020 – THE MONEY TREE: Finding the Fortune in Your Own Backyard

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Big news today! I wrote a new book! It's called THE MONEY TREE, and it comes out April 7th. 💰🌳⁠

I'm very excited to share this sneak peek of my first *full-length story* that will be published in the U.S. and Canada in April. Yes, it's fiction! Something I've never done before, but I got inspired and started outlining and ended up making something that I really like.⁠

The subtitle is "A Story About Finding the Fortune in Your Own Backyard." We decided to be as literal as possible with the cover. 😀

The Money Tree_front cover


Start Your Resolutions on January 6th

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Resolutions can be powerful, and they don’t have to begin on any given day.

If you want to form a new habit, just start doing it. The important thing is sticking with it, not when you start.

Just imagine: if you began an important new habit on January 6, and then managed to stick with it the rest of the year—wouldn’t that be much better than one you began on January 1, only to drop off within a few weeks?


New Year, Same You

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What if, instead of “New Year, New You,” you decided you were satisfied with the course you had already set?

What if you're already happy with who you are?

This doesn’t have to mean you have to stop improving. Change and growth are healthy. It just means: if you were already doing the right things in the “old” year—wouldn’t you want to keep doing them?

For me, challenge is one of my values. I want to set big goals and attempt hard things. But it's not a new value; it’s one I’ve had for a while. If I ever lose interest in challenging myself, I suppose that would be a new me. It’s just not a version of myself I’m remotely interested in.

Two years ago, I was in a dark place and feeling uncertain about a lot of things. Since then, I’ve made a number of changes in my life, both large and small. Many, many times in the months that have passed, I’ve looked up from whatever I’ve been doing with a sense of wonder.

I can’t believe I’m here, I think. I’m so glad I was willing to walk through that dark place.


All The Things You Didn’t Do

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Once upon a time, you had the chance to be brave. Your name was selected, your number was called. You were the chosen one, at least for this particular moment on planet Earth. All eyes were on you, and the stakes were high.

It was a big moment. So what happened?

Not to put too fine of a point on it, but what happened was ... you caved. At the critical moment, you turned your back on the task at hand.


Placeholder Celebration

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Placeholder Celebration On Friday, I hit a milestone of sorts: Side Hustle School, my daily podcast, published Episode #1,000. Whoo hoo!

I started this project—999 days earlier—by making a commitment to do it every single day for a year. At the end of the year it just made sense to keep going ... so I did.