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. Read More
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. Read More
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.Read More
I often enjoy the personal finance columns by Carl Richards. In a recent one, he explains how to create an “emotional balance sheet” to quantify (or at least tally) your non-financial assets.
Carl tells the story of how he and his wife Cori made the choice for her to become a full-time mom, despite the fact that the family would lose more than $1 million in earnings over the next twenty years.
He’s quick to point out that the moral of the story isn’t “all mothers should stay home with their children”—which is good, since presumably many readers would make different choices. The lesson is a) to be clear about your intentions, and b) learn to value non-financial assets.Read More
My name is Billy and I’m a writer and photographer from Portland, Oregon. In 2014, I completed the first phase of what has become an ongoing quest: I visited 10 tiny houses across America, did in-depth interviews with the people that designed, built and live in them, and shared their inspiring stories. I met people in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, New Mexico, Texas, Ohio, New York and West Virginia, and learned how choosing an unlikely home changed their lives.Read More
What’s the worst thing that can happen? What’s the best thing that can happen? How do I feel about this choice? What doors will close if I pursue this choice? Why am I hesitant or indecisive over making this choice? If I don’t make this choice, will I always regret it? *** A few other…Read More
From Robert Genn’s recent letter to artists: Choreographer Twyla Tharp’s Creative Habit, describes her morning routine of rising early and going through the same morning rituals; same coffee, same bun. She puts on the same leotards, goes down the same elevator to the same street corner, puts her arm up in the air and gets…Read More
Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels. Often, that’s a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don’t want to. But other things are harder. Try it: “I’m not going to edit your résumé, because it’s not a priority.”…Read More
You may have heard that there is no such thing as a free lunch. This is untrue on every level, and also a terrible lie. Over and over throughout our short lives, all of us have been given something for nothing. We don't deserve free lunch, yet it continues to arrive on a regular basis. No charge, ma'am. This one's on me, sir.Read More
This week I've been reading Turning Pro, a new call-to-arms by Steven Pressfield. Here's an interesting section on making a choice:
Sometimes, when we're terrified of embracing our true calling, we'll pursue a shadow calling instead. That shadow career is a metaphor for our real career. Its shape is similar, its contours feel tantalizingly the same. But a shadow career involves no real risk. If we fail at a shadow career, the consequences are meaningless to us. Are you pursuing a shadow career?Read More
What if you could flip a switch and go back in time?
It's right up there with flying and invisibility—the ability to travel in time, to revisit the past and alter the future.
What if you could return to some point in the past and do something different?Read More
I recently posted a question to readers about what to do in an uncertain airport situation. This was the scenario:
You arrive very late at an airport you haven’t been to before. Security takes forever, but the flight is on time—which means you’re even more rushed. You walk into the terminal and look for your gate: A70. Damn … you’re currently at A18. Above you is an “Express Train” that runs between A1 and A75 with an unknown number of intermediate stops.Read More
A long time ago, I sent a thick packet of information to Yale, explaining in considerable detail how awesome I was and why they should accept the honor of my giving them tens of thousands of dollars a year. They sent me back a short, polite letter, saying that while they were happy to accept my initial contribution of $75, they had plenty of other applicants, even more qualified and more awesome than me, all willing to pony up the tens of thousands of dollars for the next few years.Read More
Here's the scenario: you arrive very late at an airport you haven't been to before. Security takes forever, but the flight is on time—which means you're even more rushed.
You walk into the terminal and look for your gate: A70. Damn ... you're currently at A18. Above you is an "Express Train" that runs between A1 and A75 with an unknown number of intermediate stops.
You know if you take the escalator up to the train and catch a ride it could be faster—but remember, you're unfamiliar with this airport.Read More