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
Creative people usually have no shortage of ideas of things they'd like to do. The greater challenge is: how do you know which ideas are worth pursuing, and which should be abandoned or just put on hold for now?Here’s one way: consider the amount of time you spend thinking about the idea, even as you go on to other things. I don’t just mean when you have an idea and you think about it a lot the same day. I mean when you have an idea, and you think about it for a while before putting it aside... and then it comes back to you the next day. Then a week goes by, and you realize you’ve thought about it almost every day. Read More
At some point, most of us end up settling in a major part of our life. We compromise and make tradeoffs.We can’t always get everything we want, of course. We can’t always be in total control. But we can certainly get a lot of what we want, and if we prioritize what's most important to us, we can probably get the top things on the list. Just because we can’t always be in control doesn’t mean that we're never in control. This truth presents a natural question: when should we compromise, and when should we hold our ground and keep fighting for what we really want? Read More
At one of the stops on my current tour, the bookstore host introduced me by saying in part “... and Chris earned a master’s degree in International Studies from the University of Washington.” It surprised me a little because no one else has ever mentioned that in any introduction that I can recall.Sure, it’s public information, but who cares? No one reads my blog because I went to college. No one buys my books or comes to an event because I earned an advanced degree, or any degree for that matter. 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
File under: awesome travel advice. On any given week I spend at least several hours in making travel plans. I constantly go back and forth over the various options, sometimes becoming plagued by indecision. I talked about this recently with my friend and fellow wanderer Stephanie Zito, when we were riding around in a taxi…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
I received a copy of the new book Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath, two brothers and co-authors responsible for the previous bestsellers Switch and Made to Stick.
I've always enjoyed Chip and Dan's work, so when our mutual publisher asked me to share an excerpt of their new book, I was happy to do so.
Check out the excerpt below, or pick up the book for full reading.Read More
Have you ever pulled up to a stoplight and waited ... and waited ... while there was no other traffic in sight?
Three minutes later, the light finally changes, and you pull away ... with no other traffic in sight?
A couple of years ago, this happened to me late at night while I was traveling in the midwest. I sat there and kept thinking: what a useless stoplight. What am I waiting for?Read More
Much of the time, we don't actually want to make decisions. We want to defer or postpone them, allowing another person or some external event to determine our future. In that case, see how to put off making decisions about your life.
But what about those times when you really do want to make a decision, but you aren't sure of the right one?
Here are three approaches ...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
Everyone hates making decisions, especially ones that are important and determine the course of their future.
Thankfully, there's often no need to make such decisions.
Instead, you can simply put them off, often indefinitely. By shifting your life to autopilot, you'll be in good company, since many people prefer to let things come their way instead of making things happen.Read More