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
I don't think you're supposed to know your true passion or purpose right away. It tends to emerge as you embark on different paths.It's good that you're frustrated—it shows that you understand the importance of the search. But I think the best thing you can do is be open and explore different paths. The truest one tends to appear as you go along, not before you start. At least that's how it was for me. From a young age I felt exactly what you describe: the idea that I was just pushing my life along with no north star. Read More
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. Read More
Dear Self,Your problem is that you think everything matters. The things that you do every day, the tasks that occupy your mind and draw on your energy—you think they are helping you make linear progress towards a significant destination. And maybe you are making progress. But what if you’re just making linear progress on something that is ultimately inconsequential? 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
Broken hearts. Mistakes that changed the course of a life.
Things that went wrong through no fault of your own, and the things that were your fault.
Global problems. Poverty of all kinds. The war, the famine, the flood.
The activist chooses to believe in the ability to make all things better, sometimes in the face of reason itself. Life is full of things you can't fix, no matter how well-intentioned you are.Read More
When I started AONC, part of the message I hoped to share was that it's OK to pursue an independent dream or idea. You don't need permission from anyone to do so. I'm not interested in criticizing anyone who wants a traditional life, but I also strongly believe in supporting those who want something different. The reality is that when you pursue your own agenda instead of someone else's, it's quite likely that some people won't understand. Yet, when you truly "wake up" from a life with terms dictated by someone else, the possibilities are endless.Read More
I recently read two books about the choices people make when faced with the knowledge of their forthcoming death. The first book is called Last Acts, and was written by a doctor who worked predominantly with hospice patients. Throughout the book, people make different choices—some seek to create closure with their loved ones and prepare as much as possible to say farewell to life as we know it. Others refuse to accept the reality of their forthcoming death and try to fight as long as possible ...Read More
I do. It gets lonely out there traveling by myself, spending entire days without talking to anyone sometimes, hanging out in countries where I don’t speak the language and am obviously a foreigner. My work suffers and I make a lot less money than I could if I stayed in one place for a while;…Read More