Most of us can think of times in our lives that we'd like to relive.When these moments occur in the first place—the original events that become memories—we don't always realize realize how significant they'll become in our internal story. That's only natural, because sometimes ordinary moments can take on much more meaning after the fact. Read More
I have long believed that thinking about regret is a powerful motivator for action. When you're feeling indecisive, trying to figure out if a particular step is a good one, consider how you'll feel if you don't take the step. Often this leads you to what seems like the right direction.
But while mental models can be helpful, most of them also have limits. Lately I've realized there's a flaw in the logic of focusing your attention on the avoidance of regrets. Simply put, regret is an unreliable emotion.
Think about that for a moment—what does it mean?
It means, in short, that regret is both difficult to anticipate and even harder to characterize in retrospect. If you feel certain about your choices in either direction—either looking back or looking forward—you may be basing your interpretations on selectively chosen information.Read More
A common TV trope features someone who's down on their luck and forced to borrow from someone with questionable moral scruples: a loan shark, the Mafia, a representative from Wells Fargo.As fate would have it, they fall further and further behind, until they're in an even greater bind. Soon they're being pursued by the loan shark, who threatens to break their legs, or by Wells Fargo, which forces them to remain on hold for hours. The rest of the story unfolds as the protagonist desperately tries to resolve their dilemma. What will they do? How will they get the money? "Getting the money" makes for a good plot foundation, since money is something that everyone wants. And when you don't have it, it becomes all that you think about.
But what if you didn't have to "get the money"? What if you just decided to not care?Read More
Every December for the past fifteen years, I've completed an exercise I call the Annual Review.This year is different in some ways, but then again, so is every year for one reason or another. In fact, that's one of the things that's so beneficial about the Review: in the midst of whatever craziness is happening, it helps to ground your attention and give you something to work on over the next year. This post contains an overview of the process, along with links that might be helpful for your own review. If you'd like to go waaaaay back to the original post from 2008, you can do that too. Enjoy! Read More
When we all went into this thing in March, I tried to remain as positive as possible. I still believe everything I said before, about how I want to come out of this time better than I was when it started, etc. We can only worry about what’s within our control. And of course, let’s try to be kind to one another.But then the spring turned to summer, and the summer to fall (at least in my part of the world). And nothing really got better! Quite the opposite, in fact. Now we’re all setting low expectations for standards of wellbeing. “Hope you’re hanging in there” is the new “Hope you’re doing well.” And let’s face it, lots of people aren’t doing well. So, finally, I’ve come to the point of feeling defeated about the whole year—and I know it’s not just me. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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
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? Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
You probably know the song, the one that borrows its lyrics from the book of Ecclesiastes: to every thing, there is a season for every activity under the heavens.Seasons have been on my mind lately, as I’ve been transitioning from my busiest month of the year into a time of more focused creative work. I’m grateful for both of these seasons—I wouldn’t want to choose between them—but my life and work in each of them feels very different. In my creative work season, I’m working on a new book and I take joy in writing every day. I’m able to exercise more and feel less stressed about being behind on a million things. So is this fundamentally better? I don’t think so. Because last month I visited 14 cities, speaking to readers and the media about 100 SIDE HUSTLES—and then I hosted a weeklong event in Portland for 1,000 people. All of that was fun, too. Almost every day I thought, “Wow, I can’t believe I get to do this! I feel so fortunate.” The challenge comes if you try to apply the same rules of order or general expectations to each season. Read More