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What's it for?

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Does it pass this simple test: What’s it for?

That thing on your desk, that shirt or pair of shoes, this email, that sentence, this meeting…

Why are we doing it? Why do we have it? Why are we still allowing it?

If it doesn’t pass the test, get rid of it.

Because, all too often, what it’s there for is to take up space, hide, or not be clear.

So many of us do things, have things, say things because we seek validation and/or approval. We need to be heard. We want for things, get them, then want for what we had.

That’s how you get stuck, trapped, lost.

How do you escape? Start by asking: What is this for?

Your essential day

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Urgent!

It’s what takes up your day. Not going to the gym, writing your book, reading, or traveling—urgent. It’s you spending your time on other people’s to-do list (aka: email).

Here’s the problem, the urgent never stops. It will never stop. There will always be that pesky notification that directs your attention elsewhere. It never ends! And it’s a tragic short-term game.

So, what really deserves your attention? The urgent? Or the important?

Here’s something I’ve tried recently: write down your ideal day. Meaning, if you found the time, had enough sleep, felt great, what would your ideal day look like? Then ask yourself, what is something essential in my life that I’m not investing enough in right now? Then ask, what is something non-essential in my life that I am over-investing in right now? Modify your ideal, essential day accordingly. Then try to get as close to it as possible.

The inevitable

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What comes first—talking about the crisis or the actual crisis?

What if we only think we are doing ourselves a favor by predicting and taking measures to avoid the inevitable, when, in reality, it is only making that thing we don’t want to happen, happen?

I’m seeing a lot more articles about the next recession. They’re from well- intentioned economists and analysts who 1) want to propel themselves as thought-leaders and/or 2) warn and inform people so that society is prepared for what is to come. Are they doing more harm than good, though? Sure, it’s important to plan and prepare, but how we allocate our energy matters. And now, instead of focusing on earning and growing the economy, we’re pulling money from our investment accounts and worrying more about saving than earning.

If you can defend, you will certainly put yourself in the running for a championship. But if you can defend and you have a high-powered offense, you’ll be in contention every year. What I mean is, taking precautionary measures is important, but not at the expense of moving things forward.

If you are winning and winning big, don’t let your foot off the gas pedal. Play to win rather than play to not lose. If you’re spending your time worrying about the inevitable, the inevitable will happen. People can sense worry. They know what desperation looks like. And the subsequent ripple effect of hoarding and clinching is a quick race to the bottom.

Week 2 '19 reflection

I’ve given these weekly reflection posts a lot of reflection. There’s a part of me that wants to make my blog into my home-base for everything. Like go crazy with it. Make my weekly reflections super personal and include photos of the week and such. Then, there’s a part of me that just wants to stop blogging and quit social media altogether.

I think we all go through these internal crises. Or, maybe we don’t and I’m just weird.

Either way, I’m going to do more with my blog, make it more personal. My data’s already out there anyway, no sense in trying to worry about privacy, now…

Good now is better than perfect later

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This applies to sales people spending too much time researching leads rather than just calling them.

This should be the mantra for all creatives: designers, writers, producers, artists.

Most organizations could benefit from this simple (not easy) concept of setting a deadline then shipping on that date no matter what.

As individuals, we, too could use a little more good now instead of fretting over perfect later.

Time sensitive information

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What may be time sensitive for you might not be for me.

Another thing: Your lack of planning does not constitute my emergency.

Here's what I need from you

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What inspires you more—a goal that you set for yourself or a goal that someone else sets for you?

Yet, this is the trap management falls into time and time again. They set goals for their subordinates, hoping they can inspire them—or rather—poke them with a stick to make them reach those goals.

We say we want to help, but then we talk 90% of the time.

We say we want you to reach your goals, but then we give you our own goals to work toward.

Shift the conversation. Say not ‘here’s what I need from you,’ but ask: ‘what do you want to accomplish?’ ‘What do you need from me?’

Good job

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For whatever reason, things don’t work out.

Sometimes it’s because of randomness. “Wasn’t meant to be.” Other times it’s because you didn’t care enough or you were neglectful. You did a bad job.

When someone says you did a good job, it’s probably because you made a promise and kept it. There was a bar and you reached it. Good job.

And then there is something more impressive, beyond just ‘good job.’ You exceed expectations. You do something worth noting. But even these moments are often forgotten.

So, what are the things people remember? What makes people trust you, like you, believe in you? It’s definitely not just ‘not doing a bad job.’ It’s also something different than merely ‘doing a good job.’ What is this called? There’s probably a word for it.

You’re right, who cares, let’s just stick with ‘good job.’

Persuading rich people vs. philanthropists

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Know who you are selling to, who you are trying to convince.

If your trying to fund a project, don’t you think it would be more worth your time to talk to philanthropists than to rich people? Because it’s probably easier to persuade philanthropists to donate than persuading rich people to become philanthropists.

Start with the people who believe what you do.

Week 1 '19 reflection

My next blog post is going to be about setting one goal a year. And I mean it. This year I am going to set one goal and one goal only. Now, once you see what that goal is you may call it 20-30 goals, but just wait and hear me out.

I’m also taking an in-depth look at my website. I’ll be making some changes to things. I want it to have more, give more, and become a more immersive experience. Right now, I’m just highlighting my blog, but now I want my blog to highlight my other offerings.

Speaking of change and offerings. This year I’m not looking to make any major changes, but rather, small incremental changes that will (hopefully) lead to great results. I’m speaking of finally finishing those projects I’ve only talked about finishing. I’m also talking about becoming a more dedicated creature of habit—good habits.

I might pick up running, too.

Too far behind

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Does it matter, now? You’re too old to go back to school. You can’t learn a new skill. You didn’t make it into honors class. you’ve invested too much already to switch directions.

Here’s the thing, there will always be someone who has read more books, done it for longer, or has more resources; but why should that stop you? There are enough people out there who will care what you are doing to make it worth it.

So what if you aren’t seeing the kind of results you want to see, yet. Just because others are a few years ahead of you doesn’t mean you should call it quits. That shouldn’t matter. If you talk to anyone, they, too probably feel like they got a late start or are behind.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. And the one that makes the first move doesn’t always come out on top.

Deciding. Daily

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There’s something special that happens when you decide to do something, daily. You really only have to make that decision once. you’ve committed to it. No more wrestling each morning about what you are going to do. You already know.

Now, the only decision you have to make is how to do that thing you’ve committed to.

I set one goal a year

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I used to set at least 20 goals a year. The list would include the typical things like working out more, reading x amount of books, reaching certain milestones at work, doing something more with my website, learning a new skill, buying things, traveling places, and the list went on and on.

But now I set one goal a year. It’s the same goal I set every quarter, which is the same goal I set every week—that is, to make a plan every day and then stick to the plan.

See, there were times when I would look back at my year and review the list of things I wanted to do only to realize that things changed. We moved locations, so buying a new car was no longer important. I learned something new and adjusted my career direction. I grew up and different things became bigger priorities. Then, one year, I decided to try something different. I instead focused on my habits, my system for getting things done, and my attitude toward how I approach each day.

Don’t get me wrong, I love goals. And when I say I set one goal every year (to make a daily plan and stick to it), what I’m really saying is that I set lots and lots of goals every day. I break down each day into categories. For each category I have habits and actionable items. I’m updating these on a daily basis as well. Simply put, I don’t set large goals anymore. I have a vision for the type of person I want to become, sure, but I don’t set 90-day targets for myself or even monthly goals. I make a daily list (it’s a really long list) of everything I am working on or seeking to improve and I stick to it. I focus on continuous progress. Because I’m realizing that goals come and go too quickly and I prefer, instead, to set systems.

Here’s what I’ve learned and here’s how this approach has worked for me: I now get things done. When I say ‘we should get together sometime’ I log it onto my daily list of things to get done that day, I get it scheduled, and it happens. I complete projects. I get to all my emails. I’ve changed jobs, switched careers, traveled a bunch, read over 100 books, and cooked more at home. I now do things for the sake of making progress. If I want to build something, I no longer spend the next few weeks thinking about what tool I need to get it done, I just put the next action item onto my daily list and complete the next step toward building the thing I want to build.

And I’m always tweaking my approach. If something isn’t working—if something has been on my daily list for a few days, I either drop it, or (if it’s still important to me) I reflect on how I can prioritize that thing into my daily schedule, and I make it happen.

So this year, if you have already given up on your New Year’s resolutions, try something new. Focus on your system. Yes, I’m even suggesting to completely ignore the big goal in the back of your mind and instead worry about how you are going to do better today.

I’m with James Clear on this one. Check out his post on setting systems. You just might come across something that actually works.

"I had no choice"

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Which actually means “I had only one path that was easy at the moment.”

The choices we make when it doesn’t even seem like we have a choice determine who we really are. Do we respond or react? Do we act or are we acted upon?

What follows is the impact we make—or not, your choice.

What's most essential?

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When you set goals this year, ask yourself these questions:

What is something that is essential to you, but you are underinvesting in right now? At what point, what would it look like when you can say, ‘I’m now investing enough into this thing?’ What is something non-essential that you are over investing in?

For more, check out Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. Also listen to this podcast episode where Tim Ferris interviews Greg and they talk about this idea of essentialism in greater depth and detail.

I'm an expert!

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If you have to keep telling people you’re something, it probably means you’re only wishing you were that thing.

Just like real entrepreneurs are those who actually start businesses, real experts are those who prove their expertise through their actions and insights.

The undisciplined pursuit of more

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It’s around this time of year that we start thinking about how we want more. More love, more money, more friends, more time, more freedom.

We go about trying to get more in all the wrong places.

What if more wasn’t the answer?

What if less was where we needed to start?

Less complaining, less worrying, less idleness, less stuff.

If it’s true what they say that less is more, then start with less for a more disciplined more.

Work week

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This week, for many, is still considered a work week. For some, it feels like work. For others, it’s something they would do even if they didn’t get paid to do it.

So what is work? And what does it mean to ‘put the work in?’

Do self-proclaimed workaholics really work harder? Or do they just work longer? Because the notion of hard work has changed. It’s no longer about being the first into the office and the last to leave. It’s about asking the questions you don’t want to hear the answers to. It’s making decision without all the data. It’s inventing a new system. It’s telling your boss they might be wrong. It’s accepting responsibility for when you make a mistake.

The successful workers this week won’t be the ones who work longer. They’ll be the ones who work harder.

Another thing, this isn’t about working hard v. working smart. Working hard IS working smart. For working smart will still require you to navigate that problem, jump through those hoops, overcome these objections—which is really, really hard. Sure, there will be many days where you will stay in the office past 6 PM, but just because you are, don’t think you are working hard. Measure your hard work by the number of breakthroughs, difficult conversations, and innovations you have. That way the time you put in will actually be worth the effort.

Should have had hindsight

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What really happened? Did you make a wrong decision? Or did you just not follow through?

The first is an strategy issue. The second deals with execution.