The Simple Trick to Make Your Dreams Come True

And it doesn't involve clickbait headlines!

I recently discovered a simple productivity hack that’s help me beat procrastination.

I’m already angry that I wasted time clicking on this.

I’ve previously written about how to organize your life to ensure that you address every one of your goals. But if it has a weakness, it’s that some of your goals get buried so far down your list that by the time you get to them, you’re too exhausted to address them. Sure, you get to them sometimes, but all too often you end up skipping over them. I get it, it’s frustrating as hell. You feel lazy or inadequate when you can’t address all the items on what seems to you to be a simple list.

Did you call me lazy?!

But fear not, for there is a simple modification you can make to your daily routine in order to maximize your productivity.

Does it involve not reading anymore of your dumb-as-hell posts?

It involves you declaring a single priority you want to focus on that day. This should be decided either in the morning or the night before. You’ve probably heard variations of this a dozen times before, though usually the advice is to list three things you want to accomplish that day. Three is a little too ambitious for me. While I know I will accomplish at least that many things overall, having three specific things in mind just brings me back to where I was before: feeling overwhelmed.

By focusing on just one thing, you greatly increase the probability of you accomplishing it.

But how does that work in practice?

Suppose writing is on your daily list of activities, but it’s far down your list. Maybe after laundry, paying bills, and feeding the llama. If you declare writing to be your one priority for the day, then you are telling yourself that you will address that priority as soon as is feasible. 

So for example, if writing for 30 minutes is my priority for the day, then I will do so as soon as I can as opposed to waiting until I get to that item on my ordered list. So that might look like me writing during my lunch break, or as soon as I get home while I still have energy.

Now it’s time to get off the internet and time to start prioritizing!


Why Your Anxiety Can Make You a Better Person

We generally believe that having anxiety is bad, but the truth is more complicated.

We often feel that social anxiety is somehow a defect of character, or the result of a malfunctioning brain. This is a perfectly reasonably conclusion when you consider the negative effects it can have on our lives. Left unmanaged, it can cripple our ability to interact with others and reach our full potential.

None of this is news to me.

There is another side to all of this. It has been shown that socially anxious people also tend to exhibit high levels of empathy. And if you’ve seen the news lately (or at any time, really) you know that the world’s supply of empathy is lower than California’s water levels.

How long did you work on that joke? Whatever the answer is, it wasn’t long enough.

The truth is that the world needs socially anxious people. In a group setting, they’re the first ones to notice when someone is uncomfortable or otherwise not having a good time. They’re also more likely to consider how their actions will affect others. The trick is to not let your social anxiety become so overwhelming that you can’t function in groups in the first place.

Empathy is great and all, but isn’t there such a thing as having too much empathy?

Absolutely there is. People who have an overdeveloped sense of empathy often find themselves experiencing the emotions of others whether they choose to or not. The effect is stronger if the person you are empathizing with is a relative or close companion. This can lead you to feel that whatever is happening to them is also happening to you, and you can consequently fall into the trap of trying to fix whatever problem they are experiencing in order to sooth your own emotions.

Instead of going down this path, try to take a step back and have a more objective view of your friend’s situation. What advice would a neutral observer give this person? This approach will benefit your friend more in the long run, because the drowning can’t save the drowning.

Don’t Force Yourself to do Things You Don’t Want

Sacrificing your happiness to please others is self-defeating

Forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do is a losing proposition. It leads to resentment both for yourself and for any people you blame for your predicament.

I resent having to read your banal blog posts.

Exactly! Thank you for that great example. You’re forced to read my posts because I created you and didn’t give you a say in the matter.

In the future there will be laws against this sort of thing.

A lot of our unhappiness is due to us living in the past or the future as opposed to living in the present. But that’s a subject for a later discussion.

What does that picture have to do with the topic, anyway?

I don’t know, maybe the kid didn’t want to be forced to leave his home?

Anyway, sometimes we’ll agree to attend a social event out of a sense of obligation, or because we feel guilty for saying no. Other times the mere thought that we might receive such an invitation causes us to avoid people altogether. We don’t have to feel guilty about saying no if we never get invited in the first place. This kind of avoidance behavior can ultimately be self-defeating, as we can also start to feel guilty about avoiding people in general.

In these instances, we can relieve some of the stress involved by simply reminding ourselves that we don’t have to do anything we don’t want to.

I really don’t want to have to read any more of this post.

A Simple Confidence Booster for You

5 minutes a day can make you a more confident and productive individual.

Confidence has many definitions—

Uh, not really. I’m pretty sure it’s clearly defined in the dictionary.

I just mean that its definition can depend on the context in which you are using it, such as how to think about confidence in a way that helps create it for you.

So what’s your definition of confidence, smart guy?

Confidence is your belief in your ability or your potential to accomplish something. I think this definition is useful for a couple of reasons. For one, it eliminates the black and white notion that either you must succeed at something or fail at something. We sometimes fight our battles with a predetermined conclusion that we are definitely going to either win or lose.

There are of course highly successful people who will tell you that they 100% believed that they would succeed at something before they accomplished this. Athletes, for example, may tell you that they were completely convinced that their team was going to win the big game. If they do in fact win, then it seems like vindication that they were correct in their belief. Of course, the reality is that the possibility of them losing was very much on the table, and the result could have been the exact opposite of what they believed was inevitable.

I believe that no one is going to finish reading this article.

Well, let’s hope you’re wrong.

So get to the point already.

I want you to take out a sheet of paper and write down everything you have accomplished in life. Break it up into categories  (e.g. work, things you’ve created, people you’ve helped, number of knives you can juggle). Go back through your entire life for material and make note of it all. I think you’ll surprise yourself when you discover that you’ve done a lot more than you initially believed.

Take your compiled list and transfer it to the notes section of your smartphone. Or if you hate technology, you can fold up the paper and carry it in your pocket. Spend 5 minutes a day reviewing this list. I recommend going over one category per day, so you can really give each area the attention it deserves. It may feel silly and self-serving at first, but if you keep this up for a couple of weeks your confidence levels will skyrocket.

You Owe it to Yourself to do This

I get it, sometimes life is overwhelming.

You get nothing, John Chambers.

 Hear me out. A life that’s overwhelming can feel like a tidal wave bearing down on you. And there are sharks in the tidal wave, and they’ve all eaten people who look exactly like you. Did you know that sharks can live a really long time? In 2016, a team from the University of Copenhagen discovered a nearly 400-year old Greenland shark in the sub-Arctic. That’s not exactly relevant, but it is cool.

Anyway, I was going to say that the next time you find yourself wondering whether or not you can handle something, remember to trust yourself! Trust that you will make the best possible choice given the information that you have. That’s all we can really do in the end. Also, don’t swim with sharks.

What in the good God are you talking about?

Can you imagine living for 400 years? That would be a lot of memories to have to integrate and make sense of. On the plus side, you’d have plenty of time to go back to school and change vocations multiple times.

Why are you still yammering on about sharks?

I’m talking about you, now. Sharks can’t go to school, obviously.

The only person you can really count on in life is you. You will of course encounter others who do in fact have your best interests at heart, but they also have to take care of themselves and may not be there for you 100% of the time. And even if they are, you still need to be able to rely on yourself.

Trust that you will make good decisions. Trust that you will also make bad decisions, but that you will learn from those mistakes. Above all, trust yourself.