One Month Sabbatical: I’m Taking May Off From Writing

As regular readers know, I believe that creative genius reveals itself when you show up consistently, put in enough repetitions, and focus on the system rather than the goal. This is one of the main reasons why I have published a new article nearly every Monday and Thursday since November 12, 2012.

But I also believe in balance, rejuvenation, and the importance of play and having fun. Recovery is non-negotiable. And for that reason, I’m choosing to take a sabbatical from writing during the month of May.
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Design for Default: How to Optimize Your Daily Decisions

You might assume that humans buy products because of what they are, but the truth is that we often buy things because of where they are. For example, items on store shelves that are at eye level tend to be purchased more than items on less visible shelves.

In the best-selling book Nudge (Kindle | Audiobook), authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein explain a variety of ways that our everyday decisions are shaped by the world around us. The effect that eye-level shelves have on our purchase habits is just one example.

Here’s another:
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The More We Limit Ourselves, the More Resourceful We Become

In 1843, Soren Kierkegaard published his first major book, Either/Or (ebook), in which he tries to answer the question, “How should we live?”

During a particularly interesting passage, the Danish philosopher discusses our tendency to see boredom as a negative influence and points out that we often use boredom as justification to jump continually from thing to thing.

“One is weary of living in the country and moves to the city; one is weary of one’s native land and goes abroad; one is weary of Europe and goes to America, etc.; one indulges in the fanatical hope of an endless journey from star to star…

One is weary of eating on porcelain and eats on silver; wearying of that, one eats on gold.”
—Soren Kierkegaard

The assumption that often drives these behaviors is that if we want to find happiness and meaning in our lives, then we need more: more opportunity, more wealth, and more things.

We start to believe that moving somewhere new will remove the messiness of life. Or, that if we just lived in a new location or had a new job, then we would finally be granted the permission and ability to do the things we always wanted to do. If had more, we would be set.

Kierkegaard argues, however, that the life we are looking for can be found embracing less, not more.
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Announcing the 2015 Motivation and Willpower Seminar (Live Event on April 22nd)

Today I am excited to announce the 2015 Motivation and Willpower Seminar, which is a live online class that I will be hosting on April 22, 2015.

Spring and summer are upon us and habits have a tendency to fade away when summer vacations and outdoor activities slide back into our schedules. It’s the perfect time to re-energize your efforts and learn how to maximize your willpower and motivation for the middle of the year.

If you’re wondering, “Is this different than the Habits Seminar?” Yes, the Motivation and Willpower Seminar is a completely different class.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before I explain the seminar, let’s talk about why you would want to attend…
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How to Declutter Your Mind and Unleash Your Willpower by Using “Bright-Line” Rules

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you. Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?”
—The Miranda Warning

IN THE SPRING of 1966, a man named Ernesto Miranda was arrested in Phoenix. The police had very little to go on, but they suspected Miranda of kidnapping and raping an 18-year-old woman ten days earlier. The officers interrogated Miranda for two hours and were rewarded for their effort: Miranda admitted to the rape charge and signed a confession paper.

There was just one problem. During the interrogation, Miranda had been alone and at no point was he informed that he had the right to legal counsel.

When the case went to trial, Miranda’s written confession was used as evidence. He was quickly convicted, but his lawyer appealed because Miranda had never been informed of his rights and thus, according to his lawyer, the confession was not voluntary. The Arizona Supreme Court upheld the decision, but eventually the case made it to the United States Supreme Court.

The United States Supreme Court overturned the Miranda ruling by a vote of 5 to 4 because “The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he has the right to remain silent, and that anything he says will be used against him in court; he must be clearly informed that he has the right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer with him during interrogation, and that, if he is indigent, a lawyer will be appointed to represent him.” 1

The Supreme Court had just created a bright-line rule.
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Sources
  1. Ernesto Miranda didn’t escape prison for long. He was soon sentenced to 20 to 25 years in prison for a robbery he committed during a separate crime.

How to Stick With Good Habits Every Day by Using the “Paper Clip Strategy”

In 1993, a bank in Abbotsford, Canada hired a 23-year-old stock broker named Trent Dyrsmid.

Dyrsmid was a rookie so nobody at the firm expected too much of his performance. Moreover, Abbotsford was still a relatively small suburb back then, tucked away in the shadow of nearby Vancouver where most of the big business deals were being made. The first popular email services like AOL and Hotmail wouldn’t arrive for another two or three years. Geography still played a large role in business success and Abbotsford wasn’t exactly the home of blockbuster deals.

And yet, despite his disadvantages, Dyrsmid made immediate progress as a stock broker thanks to a simple and relentless habit that he used each day.

On his desk, he placed two jars. One was filled with 120 paper clips. The other was empty. This is when the habit started.

“Every morning I would start with 120 paper clips in one jar and I would keep dialing the phone until I had moved them all to the second jar.”
—Trent Dyrsmid

And that was it. 120 calls per day. One paper clip at a time.

Within 18 months, Dyrsmid’s book of business grew to $5 million in assets. By age 24, he was making $75,000. Within a few years, outside firms began recruiting him because of his success and he landed a $200,000 job with another company.
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The 2 Types of Growth: Which One of These Growth Curves Are You Following?

We often assume that life works in a linear fashion.

People will say, “You get out of life what you put into it.” The basic idea is that for each unit of effort you put into a given task, you get some unit of return. For example, if you make $25 per hour and you work for two hours, then you’ll make $50. If you work for 4 hours, you’ll make $100. Put more in. Get more out.

There is just one problem. Most of life doesn’t actually follow this linear pattern. Don’t get me wrong, hard work is essential. However, if you expect your life to follow a linear trajectory, then you may find yourself feeling frustrated and confused.

Instead, most areas of life follow two different types of growth. This is something I learned from my friend Scott Young. Let’s talk about these two patterns now.

Which one of these growth curves are you following?
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Do More of What Already Works

In 2004, nine hospitals in Michigan began implementing a new procedure in their intensive care units (I.C.U.). Almost overnight, healthcare professionals were stunned with its success.

Three months after it began, the procedure had cut the infection rate of I.C.U. patients by sixty-six percent. Within 18 months, this one method had saved 75 million dollars in healthcare expenses. Best of all, this single intervention saved the lives of more than 1,500 people in just a year and a half. The strategy was immediately published in a blockbuster paper for the New England Journal of Medicine.

This medical miracle was also simpler that you could ever imagine. It was a checklist.
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