The 3 Stages of Failure in Life and Work (And How to Fix Them)

One of the hardest things in life is to know when to keep going and when to move on.

On the one hand, perseverance and grit are key to achieving success in any field. Anyone who masters their craft will face moments of doubt and somehow find the inner resolve to keep going. If you want to build a successful business or create a great marriage or learn a new skill then “sticking with it” is perhaps the most critical trait to possess.

On the other hand, telling someone to never give up is terrible advice. Successful people give up all the time. If something is not working, smart people don’t repeat it endlessly. They revise. They adjust. They pivot. They quit. As the saying goes, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” 1

Life requires both strategies. Sometimes you need to display unwavering confidence and double down on your efforts. Sometimes you need to abandon the things that aren’t working and try something new. The key question is: how do you know when to give up and when to stick with it?

One way to answer this question is to use a framework I call the 3 Stages of Failure. Click to continue reading »

Footnotes
  1. This quote is typically attributed to Albert Einstein, but there is no evidence that Einstein actually said it. For now, the original source remains unknown.

The Evolution of Anxiety: Why We Worry and What to Do About It

Let’s pretend for a moment that you are a giraffe.

You live on the grasslands of the African savannah. You have a neck that is 7 feet long (2.1 meters). Every now and then, you spot a group of humans driving around on a safari taking pictures of you.

But it’s not just your neck and their cameras that separates you from the humans. Perhaps the biggest difference between you and your giraffe friends and the humans taking your picture is that nearly every decision you make provides an immediate benefit to your life.

  • When you are hungry, you walk over and munch on a tree.
  • When a storm rolls across the plains, you take shelter under the brush.
  • When you spot a lion stalking you and your friends, you run away.

On any given day, most of your choices as a giraffe—like what to eat or where to sleep or when to avoid a predator—make an immediate impact on your life. You live in what researchers call an Immediate Return Environment because your actions deliver immediate benefits. Your life is strongly oriented toward the present moment.
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Make Your Life Better by Saying Thank You in These 7 Situations

I don’t say “Thank You” as often as I should and I doubt I’m the only one.

In fact, I’m starting to believe that “Thank You” is the most under-appreciated and under-used phrase on the planet. It is appropriate in nearly any situation and it is a better response than most of the things we say. Let’s cover 7 common situations when we say all sorts of things, but should say “Thank You” instead. Click to continue reading »

Upgrade Your Brain: How to Spot a Common Mental Error That Leads to Misguided Thinking

Human beings have been blaming strange behavior on the full moon for centuries. In the Middle Ages, for example, people claimed that a full moon could turn humans into werewolves. In the 1700s, it was common to believe that a full moon could cause epilepsy or feverish temperatures. We even changed our language to match our beliefs. The word lunatic comes from the Latin root luna, which means moon. Click to continue reading »

The Akrasia Effect: Why We Don’t Follow Through on What We Set Out to Do and What to Do About It

By the summer of 1830, Victor Hugo was facing an impossible deadline. Twelve months earlier, the famous French author had made an agreement with his publisher that he would write a new book titled, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Instead of writing the book, Hugo spent the next year pursuing other projects, entertaining guests, and delaying his work on the text. Hugo’s publisher had become frustrated by his repeated procrastination and responded by setting a formidable deadline. The publisher demanded that Hugo finish the book by February of 1831—less than 6 months away.
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My 2015 Annual Review

Each year, I conduct my Annual Review and share it publicly. I do this because I find it helpful to review the successes and failures of the previous 12 months, but also because I think it is important to hold myself publicly accountable.

Similar to my previous Annual Reviews, I will answer 3 questions in my 2015 Annual Review:

  1. What went well this year?
  2. What didn’t go so well this year?
  3. What am I working toward?

2015 was an incredible year for me, but I also failed on several fronts. The good stuff is in Part I, the bad stuff is in Part II, and the future is Part III. I hope you find it useful and interesting.
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The Value of Time: How Much is Your Time Really Worth?

Not all uses of time are equal and this simple truth can make a big difference in life.

People who spend their time doing more profitable work make more money. People who spend their time investing in others build better relationships. People who spend their time creating a flexible career enjoy more freedom. People who spend their time working on high-impact projects contribute more to society. Whether you want more wealth, more friendship, more freedom, or more impact, it all comes down to how you spend your time.

If you’re like me, you probably want the things listed above (friendship, freedom, impact) and others too (health). But you can’t have everything at once, so you need to understand how to effectively manage the tradeoffs that you face on a day-to-day basis.

This article explains how to figure out what your time is worth and use that information to spend your time more effectively. Understanding how to get the most out of your time starts with knowing—in exact terms—what your time is worth.
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