Writing through sheets of ice

You bought the new notebook, snagged a new pen, and listened to a motivational podcast. You’re ready to do the work!

You bought the new notebook, snagged a new pen, and listened to a motivational podcast. You’re ready to do the work!

But two things happen as you start…

1 – You freeze. The thoughts in your head never make it to the tip of the pen. The brain trips up on its own wiring of ideas. Warning!

2 – You get going but know that what’s splurging on paper is crap. You’re producing sheets of melting ice. The writing is ugly, an explosion of everything at once. Such cacophony melts your heart, deadens your spirit.

The urge to quit and give in to the resistance smatters dreams. But that’s because goals set the bar too high.

What if instead of focusing on the goal you focused on the system instead?

Systems are more powerful than fears because discipline always overrides motivation. The real work happens when you make it a habit to sit down at the desk and write hundreds of words regardless of the outcome. And only then do you get something to play with.

Writes James Clear in “The case for having no goals in your life:”

“Goals are good for planning your progress and systems are good for actually making progress.”

It takes a long time to strike the chord you seek. The rest of the time you're practicing with the intent to nail it down. Even bad sentences or bad experiences give you fresh ideas and force you into new territories. Other times it is one edit that makes all the difference.

The muse only works in your favor if you’re willing to be consistent and put in the work. “Remember our rule of thumb,” writes Steven Pressfield in The War of Art, “The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

The rest — the Moleskine notebook, the perfect pen, the dreamy goal — are excuses that trip you up.

gif via priooor


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Habits can change your life

Habits can change your life #gif #productivity

A habit can change your life.

A book can change your life.

A piece of advice can change your life.

The internet can even save your life.

Of course, inheriting good genes can also be a boon.

The closed ear inoculates someone against self-improvement. But when the mind’s vault is left open, just a little tweak — what productivity author Charles Duhigg calls a ‘keystone habit' in his book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business — can lead from one positive change to the next. Take exercise for instance:

“Typically, people who exercise, start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. Exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change.”

Small things, big change.


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Be open to change

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via giphy

You are elastic, not stagnant.

“A caterpillar who seeks to know himself would never become a butterfly.”

— André Gide

You may not be a morning person now. But you might be when you have kids.

You may not think of yourself as a meditator, but after listening to Tara Brach, you may become hooked.

You may have loved drinking chocolate milk and eating fruity pebbles as a kid. But do you still consume them as an adult?

You may order an espresso each morning until someone introduces to you the Americano or flat white.

And so forth…


You’re made to change, in small and significant ways. To think who you are today is final is nonsense, an illusion that falsely imagines the end of your own history.

“We all think that who we are now is the finished product: we will be the same in five, 10, 20 years. But, as these psychologists found, this is completely delusional – our preferences and values will be very different already in the not-so-distant future.”

Perhaps instead we should ‘practice becoming,' as Kurt Vonnegut so wisely encouraged.

Want to be happier and more fulfilled in life? Learn to be open to change


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Anxiety is a thinking problem

An illustration of man falling down into a pit of an anxiety

Anxiety is a thinking problem. It is a presence in flux, stuck in gear between looking backward and looking forward simultaneously.

To better cope with the onslaught of worry, you need stronger cognitive tools or algorithms to live by. You need some cognitive presets and habits to inculcate them.

For example, a basic tenet of Stoic philosophy is that ‘What's outside my control is indifferent to me.' Another way to step back, is to realize that imagination is always worse than reality.

If you're looking for more tactical strategies for coping with anxiety, particularly Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), please consider reading my book Rule OCD: 20 Tips to Overcoming OCD where I outline 20 tips for dealing with the doubting disease. 

Habits will change your life

If you want to get unnecessary doubts under your control, consider practicing some positive daily habits like meditation, fear-setting, or journaling. I recommend writing by hand in a daily journal like The Five Minute Gratitude Journal or if you're an artist, the ever popular Morning Pages JournalIt's these kinds of diurnal practices that reinforce affirmative beliefs like bicep curls for the brain. 

People worry as a preventative. But it's not worth worrying before it's time, inching closer to the giant sucking sound of a depressing gif loop.

“I’ve suffered a great many catastrophes in my life. Most of them never happened.”  

Mark Twain

Try to avoid looking forward into a future you can't control. The sooner you embrace uncertainty and greet your anxiety instead, the more present and happier you'll be.

Pro tip: One of the ways I also encourage people to get unstuck is to blog out their anxieties (btw, you can start a free blog on WordPress right here). When it comes to blogging effectively, you have to be a little vulnerable. Don’t tell all but don’t hide everything either, especially if your advice will benefit the lives of other people. 

gif by Robert Ek

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE SEE THE DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.


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To err is human

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gif via kidmograph

Technology evolves. Customer expectations change. Facebook tweaks its algorithm, again! All strategies and proven methods are temporary.

The pragmatist is always looking for a better way while following the practices that already work.

But there's no way to identify what works without identifying what doesn't work first. Strive a little toward imperfection.

Trial and error is the essence of survival. Consider doubling down on efforts that are showing promise.

We must remain in beta.


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Falling apart to bring it together

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We all share complex inner worlds. But how and what we think often conflicts with how we act. Such paradox calls for change.

We are a creature of rituals. It’s no surprise that when we stop drinking, smoking or acting cynical, other opportunities seem to open up. The mind and body work as an entire system; shoring up one vice motivates you to patch up the rest.

Developing self-awareness raises the flag for development. Acknowledging our vulnerabilities triggers the desire to improve. Taking care of yourself is an important job. And it starts right now.

Read Shakespeare’s Characters Show Us How Personal Growth Should Happen


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New year, new you

If you want to predict your future, scan the collection of moments from the present to the past.

Presumably, there are some things you want to change going forward in the new year. But the want is usually temporary; passion ebbs after the initial boost of interest.

The game of goal setting is tricky. Most people start too high and end up quitting. One way to counter high expectations is lowering the target to make it feel like you're winning. Do three sets of one push-up instead of five. Run for half a minute. Read for 3 minutes. Do whatever it takes to rev up the emotional engine of accomplishment.

You are improvable. You care. This is why you have goals in the first place. A mind focused on progress defeats the stress of perfection. If you can remain consistent–maybe even a little excited–everything will take care of itself.


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