You have something we want to do but don’t because you feel there is a big risk involved. You think: what if I fail? If you fail you fear you will a) be covered in shame b) lose out big c) have other bad things happen to you that you can’t even imagine you can cope with. No wonder you have been putting it off.
First of all, you can cope with pretty much anything. Second of all, there is a good and painless way to approach that thing you think is risky. It’s outlined nicely in this article and in that diagram. The article uses opening a restaurant as an example, but it could be applied to any big goal you have, from taking on a new job position to running a marathon.
In my own job, we deal with managing risk every day. We plan to deal with risk by taking the same method and applying it over and over. It is very effective professionally. It can be effective for you personally. Keep iterating until the thing that once seemed very risky now seems much less so.
(Image from a link to the article.)
I liked this piece: Where Did My Ambition Go?
I suspect many people will suffer this problem, wondering why be ambitious at your work when for many jobs the opportunities to succeed are decreasing.
The whole piece is worth reading, but the ending (below) was noteworthy:
At the same time, my ambition for my community and the wider world has gotten bigger and broader. I don’t know exactly where I fit in it, but I do know that I want all workers to be treated with dignity and respect — a small, humble ask that requires an unending amount of work. And I want all people who are unable to work or unable to find work to also be treated with dignity and respect. I want to become more active in organizing, I want to be a resource for those looking for guidance in their careers — at least while we’re living under capitalism — and I want to make enough money to be able to throw some of that money at the world’s problems. My medium-size dreams for myself may be getting smaller, but my ambitions for the greater wide world have to be enormous. It’s the only way to get through.
If you are ambitious in this way, you will achieve things beyond what you could achieve through your job. Wanting to succeed and achieve something of value is a good thing to want. Don’t limit that desire to just your work life: make it a desire for your whole life. That is truly ambitious.
Alex Vermeer has a poster that might be the thing you need: How to Get Motivated: A Guide for Defeating Procrastination
According to this article, you need to:
- Acknowledge what you are grateful for.
- Label those negative emotions you feel.
- Make decisions.
- Touch people more (appropriately, obviously).
Lots of references in the piece, so read it and get busy and get happier.
There are times to think about your life, and times not to. Austin Kleon has a very simple rule to help him decide:
I have a very simple rule that serves me well: Don’t think too much about your life after dinnertime. Thinking too much at the end of the day is a recipe for despair. Everything looks better in the light of the morning. Cliché, maybe, but it works.
I first agreed with this. Afterwards, I concluded it depends on each individual. For me, I found a good time to think about my life was between midnight and two. It’s quiet then, I am tired but also relaxed. There’s no distractions, nothing else left to do but sleep. If I accomplished things in the daytime, it was especially good to think about what’s next in my life. Likewise if I had a good weekend, the best time to think about my life is Monday morning: I’m rested, energized, and feeling I can get a lot done during the week.
I found the time to not think about my life was any time I am really tired or sick or having a very bad day. Then the goal is not to reflect but to recover.
If anything, my rule is: if I need to recover, then I should not be reflecting.
I think we should all find times to reflect upon our lives and assess ourselves and where we’re heading. We just need to find the right times to do it, and do it then. And find the wrong times to do it and not do it then.
If you are like most people, you don’t get enough sleep. Also, you likely wish you could get more sleep. If you fall into both of those categories, why not read this guide right now: The 2-minute guide to getting better sleep – Vox. (It will take you 2 minutes: you have time). Take some notes, then make this weekend your goal to get more sleep.
Get some rest; improve your life.
Social media bombards us with opinions. Such bombardment tugs at us to form our own opinions, but this is is a trap that leads us to be unhappy. As this piece (Free Your Mind by Having Fewer Useless Opinions) argues:
The more opinions you have, the more time and energy you end up wasting to defend those opinions, and the more small amounts of stress you accrue. But the less you have, the more time and energy you have to focus on the deep opinions you have.
I think this is a great idea. There are lots of reasons not to have an opinion on things: you don’t have knowledge on a topic, you don’t have interest on a topic, you prefer to focus your thoughts on other topics. Much of popular culture can be dismissed this way, as can many political scandals.
So let others spend their time fretting and fussing over such things and spend your time focusing on the things you think matter.
If you suffer from the Sunday blues, whereby you spend Sunday evening dreading the upcoming week, I recommend you read this: Skip Monday Blues with Sort-Your-Life-Out Sundays – 99U. It is one way to hack your time and enjoy it more.
Another good hack is the making Thursday night the start of the weekend. Consider some of the things you enjoy doing on the weekend and schedule them for Thursday evening. Even people with jam packed weeks can do this occasionally. You still have to go in to work on Friday, but you feel you already have gotten a start on the weekend. It makes the weekend seem less stressed, at least for me.
Finally, if you feel every week is one busy day after another, try making Wednesday a night of putting everything down and just relaxing. Either pare back the things you’d normally do on Wednesday, or shift some of it to another day.
Ultimately you want to figure out how to do less throughout the week in order to enjoy each of the days in themselves, be they busy or slow. If you do that, the days you have to do things will help you enjoy the days you do not.
Pace yourself and enjoy yourself.
From dealing with difficult people to doing things better, here’s dozens of pieces on how to live better.
- Don’t treat love or leisure like a job | Life and style | The Guardian – good advice. I found that non-work activities that I treated like work became less enjoyable. If this sounds like you, read this.
- MJ Ryan Mantras For Dealing With Difficult Times – everyone can use this at one time or another in their lives
- End the Tyranny of 24/7 Email – The New York Times – what goes for email should also go for social media, Slack, etc. Improve your life: get offline more often.
- 7 Rules That Keep My Life Simple : zen habits – simple is often
- Relationship Problems? Try Getting More Sleep – The New York Times – sometimes the best approach is to start with the basics: sleep, diet, exercise.
- How to Write a Book: 10 Ridiculously Simple Steps – well, not exactly. But a good reminder on how the mechanics of book writing are important.
- Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier. – The New York Times – if not grateful, then appreciative.
- Pmarchive – Guide to Personal Productivity – odd, but interesting.
- Achieve Goals By Gamifying Them – 99U if you like games, a good approach
- A psychologist explains the limits of human compassion – Vox – a reminder to give yourself a break if you are beating yourself up for not doing more
- Turning Negative Thinkers Into Positive Ones – NYTimes.com – this is good.
- Inbox Zero trick: How to clean out your inbox on Gmail and start the year fresh. | Cool Mom Tech – smaller inbox, happier life
- 10 Life Lessons to Excel in Your 30s | Mark Manson – 30 somethings, take note
- The Alan Kazdin Method for Making Your Children Behave – The Atlantic – advice for parents
- I’ve started responding to recruiters with this list of requirements · GitHub – how to deal with recruiters. Good idea.
- Résumé tips for Wall Street internships – Business Insider – I can’t recommend this, but for those who want that life.
- How to Start Running – Well Guide to Running for Beginners – Well Guides – The New York Times – plenty of good resources for new and experienced runners here.
- Make Yourself Note-able – who writes, rules.
- What Productivity Systems Won’t Solve – good advice, especially for those busy yet feeling stuck.
- 11 Ways to Write Better | The Minimalists – I am surprised the minimalists had this many 🙂
- Biggest goal setting mistake people make, according to Amy Cuddy – Business Insider – if you feel goal setting isn’t working, read this.
- Better Together – Kara’s Inspiration | Oiselle Running Apparel for Women – inspiration from one of my favorite athletes.
- How I Got My Attention Back | WIRED – in the Internet era, your attention is valuable. Keep hold of it.
- How to Be a Stoic | The New Yorker
- I Have 15 ideas To Change Your Life. Do you Have 5 Minutes? -sure you do. So read this.
- Tips for Minimal Living and Decor | Apartment Therapy – good advice on how to live minimally.
- The Life Balance Wheel: A Printable Tool to Find Harmony at Home | Apartment Therapy – a good technique. Replace things on the wheel with things you value most.
- You Should Work Less Hours—Darwin Did – see? now you have a reason to do this.
- How to Get to Know Someone: 53 Great Questions to Ask — Gentleman’s Gazette – for those of you that find getting to know people hard.
- Actually, we can buy happiness | Oliver Burkeman | Life and style | The Guardian – a good contrarian take on things
- Do These 5 Emotionally Intelligent Things Within 5 Minutes Of Meeting Someone – also good.
- When an Argument Gets Too Heated, Here’s What to Say – good to know.
(Image from Wikihow)