It's the classic finish to every story. The hero overcomes the odds, beats the villain, and rises victorious from the ashes of his enemy. But is that how life really works? The real world doesn't seem to support such a clear-cut approach to how we "win". My experience so far tells me a very different story, and we'd all be better off if we marched to a much different rhythm.
A few days ago, I listened to a eulogy for someone I didn't know. He was a friend of a friend, and passed away much too young. But it was clear from the message at his service that in his short life, he made an amazing impact on those around him. He was dealt a truly short hand in life, with serious obstacles, but through the words of others, his story made me, someone he never met, experience amazement and ultimate respect. His short, hard life was thoughtful, impactful, and a direct challenge to me to spend my time well. Here are my thoughts on how I plan to be remembered.
The older we get, the harder it becomes to start new habits...and break old ones. We begin in earnest, but soon we fall back; the good seem to slip, and the bad seem to creep in. The best way to keep yourself accountable is to ask yourself this simple question (looking into a mirror is optional):
Am I doing what I want?
I spent some time last week making a few DIY journals, and it made me think a bit about why I always have a stack of them filling my shelf. After looking through a few in the pile, I decided yes, they're definitely worth the effort. Here are a few reasons why.
Let your big goals be long ones.
Don't think: "I want to write a book."
Instead think: "I am going to work on a book this year, and next year, and the year after that."
It's empowering to shift your timeframes this way, and I encourage you to try it. Here's why:
Long-term goals are commitments
Short term goals are small aspirations. They're about things you want, not about the person you want to become. When you let yourself to approach something over a period of years, or even decades, you make bigger choices and commitments about who you want to be.
I used to hate when things were the same. I grew up in a family where everything was always changing. We never ate the same thing twice, we had no hallowed holiday traditions, no yearly vacation spot, no alarm clocks, no bedtimes, no church, no chore chart or laundry days. We did everything ad hoc, on the fly, winging it from sun up to sunset.
Sometimes, on a weekend morning, we'd leave the house, all of us together, with some vague destination in mind – maybe a museum or a park – and end up somewhere completely different (a cemetery or a different state). If we went out to dinner to celebrate a birthday, we usually chose the
If you're a morning person — congratulations. Seriously, we're legitimately happy for you. The ability to sleep well, feel rested, and then be ready to get going nice and early is a real gift, and you're lucky to be wired that way.
For the rest of us, mornings can be rough. Especially in the wintertime, when it's dark, and cold, and tens of thousands of years of natural selection are encouraging you to stay hibernating so you can protect your genes from freezing off.
But, of course,
I love to connect with others to hear about the gems they've mined out of life lately. But, sharing ideas and experiences isn't always easy, especially when we don't agree. When we all meet at the collective table, whether it's a family get-together or coffee with friends, some disagreement is inevitable. But just because they're missing something or making a logical leap doesn't mean you have to fight. Here are a few tips to remember the next time a conversation steers down that road.
There's lots of scientific research on why setting goals on January 1 never really works out, and by March or April, we've all backslided into our old habits. Often, it's because goals aren't specific enough, or we haven't found the best way to track the work we've done. Or, perhaps we don't actually believe we can achieve that new version of ourselves for the long term.
If you hadn't noticed, I'm kinda into quotes as of late. (See my how-to for creating a wooden desktop inspiration holder) For some reason, this season, I'm touched by the power of keeping a few mantras in the front of my mind. It's been helpful as I meet new people, work to improve old relationships, and just get through the daily grind. Here are a few of my favorites this week.
Ever thought about how a decade changes everything? A lot has changed, and I'm looking back at how that has made a huge difference in how I define success.
I turned 34 yesterday. Like many 30-something birthdays it came and went with a bit of well-wishing and then was quietly another day. Not to say I didn't enjoy it but it was a different enjoyment, a mature moment where I did what I wanted with the time and then settled back into the thrum of daily life. Of course, I use this yearly event to take a breath and look at how far I've come, and how a bit of life under my belt has changed everything.
Over the holiday weekend, as we were digesting our second plate of leftovers, we stumbled across the 1983 film, The Big Chill. My mom, being the definition of a baby boomer, had seen it countless times and could list every track name on the soundtrack. My wife, being the child of baby boomers who happened to own it on VHS as a child, had also seen it repeatedly, and was full of quotes and minor plot points. And then there was me, who simply hadn't gotten around to it.
So, long story short, we put it on, and did that combo chatting, reading magazine, and movie watching thing that families do over holidays.
The Cabinet of Invisible Counselors is a term coined by success-guru Napoleon Hill referring to the great thinkers and authors whose work he found influential, whom he would summon in his imagination to consider their opinions on the tasks before him. Similarly, you may have heard the statement that, "You are the sum of the five people with whom you spend the most time." Combining these two ideas has been one of the great decisions of my life.
A few years ago, I was attending a conference, and, as I recall, not really listening to the keynote speaker. It was one of those trying to eat-lunch-and-try-to-meet-new-people-and-I-can-barely-hear-from-the-back-of-the-room sort of things.
But, in a moment of unexpected drop in the banquet room din, I caught something that sunk in. The speaker, musing on happiness, suggested that it's all those little tasks and the clutter that hang over our heads and keep joy from settling in. That knowing you have a million little tasks to do is more stressful than actually doing those tasks. And it's not the big work projects, the term papers, the spring deep cleaning that keep us down, but the little stuff that piles up and creates anxiety about when we'll get it all done.
Six years ago, my father decided he wanted to read one biography of every American president before he dies. He’s fallen a little behind (I think he’s currently on Madison) but it’s made it easy to think up go-to presents when gift-giving holidays come around. Scouring the internet for the most definitive biography of each president has rubbed off a little and now I’ve got some serious must-reads to recommend…
Hey ... welcome back to What's Good. We're switching things up a little bit this month. I think you're going to like it (I know I did). In case you're new here, What's Good is our monthly series where we (the ManMade guys) get to talk about what we're currently into. This month, it's media, clothing, and wonderment. Yeah, you read that right. Wonderment is a thing too. Read on to get your monthly dose...
There are countless scientific and cultural studies, book summaries, and thinkpieces that come out each week, with attractive headlines about being more happy, or losing weight, or the benefits of travel or achieving crazy productivity. Most of them are sorta interesting, but ultimately disappointing, and very fun are pertinent to the discussions here on ManMade.
But, this one kinda got to me, and I thought it was worth sharing. And the reason is: