Category Archives: Lifestyle Design

39 Ways to Live, and Not Merely Exist

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Original post by Leo Babauta, however it’s just so brilliant it needed to be re-posted:

The proper function of man is to live – not to exist.” — Jack London

Too often we go through life on autopilot, going through the motions and having each day pass like the one before it.

That’s fine, and comfortable, until you have gone through another year without having done anything, without having really lived life.

That’s fine, until you have reached old age and look back on life with regrets.

That’s fine, until you see your kids go off to college and realize that you missed their childhoods.

It’s not fine. If you want to truly live life, to really experience it, to enjoy it to the fullest, instead of barely scraping by and only living a life of existence, then you need to find ways to break free from the mold and drink from life.

What follows is just a list of ideas, obvious ones mostly that you could have thought of yourself, but that I hope are useful reminders. We all need reminders sometimes. If you find this useful, print it out, and start using it. Today.

1. Love. Perhaps the most important. Fall in love, if you aren’t already. If you have, fall in love with your partner all over again. Abandon caution and let your heart be broken. Or love family members, friends, anyone — it doesn’t have to be romantic love. Love all of humanity, one person at a time.

2. Get outside. Don’t let yourself be shut indoors. Go out when it’s raining. Walk on the beach. Hike through the woods. Swim in a freezing lake. Bask in the sun. Play sports, or walk barefoot through grass. Pay close attention to nature.

3. Savor food. Don’t just eat your food, but really enjoy it. Feel the texture, the bursts of flavors. Savor every bite. If you limit your intake of sweets, it will make the small treats you give yourself (berries or dark chocolate are my favorites) even more enjoyable. And when you do have them, really, really savor them. Slowly.

4. Create a morning ritual. Wake early and greet the day. Watch the sun rise. Out loud, tell yourself that you will not waste this day, which is a gift. You will be compassionate to your fellow human beings, and live every moment to its fullest. Stretch or meditate or exercise as part of your ritual. Enjoy some coffee.

5. Take chances. We often live our lives too cautiously, worried about what might go wrong. Be bold, risk it all. Quit your job and go to business for yourself (plan it out first!), or go up to that girl you’ve liked for a long time and ask her out. What do you have to lose?

6. Follow excitement. Try to find the things in life that excite you, and then go after them. Make life one exciting adventure after another (with perhaps some quiet times in between).

7. Find your passion. Similar to the above tip, this one asks you to find your calling. Make your living by doing the thing you love to do. First, think about what you really love to do. There may be many things. Find out how you can make a living doing it. It may be difficult, but you only live once.

8. Get out of your cubicle. Do you sit all day in front of computer, shuffling papers and taking phone calls and chatting on the Internet? Don’t waste your days like this. Break free from the cubicle environment, and do your work on a laptop, in a coffee shop, or on a boat, or in a log cabin. This may require a change of jobs, or becoming a freelancer. It’s worth it.

9. Turn off the TV. How many hours will we waste away in front of the boob tube? How many hours do we have to live? Do the math, then unplug the TV. Only plug it back in when you have a DVD of a movie you love. Otherwise, keep it off and find other stuff to do. Don’t know what to do? Read further.

10. Pull away from Internet. You’re reading something on the Internet right now. And, with the exception of this article, it is just more wasting away of your precious time. You cannot get these minutes back. Unplug the Internet, then get out of your office or house. Right now! And go and do something.

11. Travel. Sure, you want to travel some day. When you have vacation time, or when you’re older. Well, what are you waiting for? Find a way to take a trip, if not this month, then sometime soon. You may need to sell your car or stop your cable bill and stop eating out to do it, but make it happen. You are too young to not see the world. If need be, find a way to make a living by freelancing, then work while you travel. Only work an hour or two a day. Don’t check email but once a week. Then use the rest of the time to see the world.

12. Rediscover what’s important. Take an hour and make a list of everything that’s important to you. Add to it everything that you want to do in life. Now cut that list down to 4-5 things. Just the most important things in your life. This is your core list. This is what matters. Focus your life on these things. Make time for them.

13. Eliminate everything else. What’s going on in your life that’s not on that short list? All that stuff is wasting your time, pulling your attention from what’s important. As much as possible, simplify your life by eliminating the stuff that’s not on your short list, or minimizing it.

14. Exercise. Get off the couch and go for a walk. Eventually try running. Or do some push ups and crunches. Or swim or bike or row. Or go for a hike. Whatever you do, get active, and you’ll love it. And life will be more alive.

15. Be positive. Learn to recognize the negative thoughts you have. These are the self-doubts, the criticisms of others, the complaints, the reasons you can’t do something. Then stop yourself when you have these thoughts, and replace them with positive thoughts. Solutions. You can do this!

16. Open your heart. Is your heart a closed bundle of scar tissue? Learn to open it, have it ready to receive love, to give love unconditionally. If you have a problem with this, talk to someone about it. And practice makes perfect.

17. Kiss in the rain. Seize the moment and be romantic. Raining outside? Grab your lover and give her a passionate kiss. Driving home? Stop the car and pick some wildflowers. Send her a love note. Dress sexy for him.

18. Face your fears. What are you most afraid of? What is holding you back? Whatever it is, recognize it, and face it. Do what you are most afraid of. Afraid of heights? Go to the tallest building, and look down over the edge. Only by facing our fears can we be free of them.

19. When you suffer, suffer. Life isn’t all about fun and games. Suffering is an inevitable part of life. We lose our jobs. We lose our lovers. We lose our pets. We get physically injured or sick. A loved one becomes sick. A parent dies. Learn to feel the pain intensely, and really grieve. This is a part of life — really feel the pain. And when you’re done, move on, and find joy.

20. Slow down. Life moves along at such a rapid pace these days. It’s not healthy, and it’s not conducive to living. Practice doing everything slowly — everything, from eating to walking to driving to working to reading. Enjoy what you do. Learn to move at a snail’s pace.

21. Touch humanity. Get out of your house and manicured neighborhoods, and find those who live in worse conditions. Meet them, talk to them, understand them. Live among them. Be one of them. Give up your materialistic lifestyle.

22. Volunteer. Help at homeless soup kitchens. Learn compassion, and learn to help ease the suffering of others. Help the sick, those with disabilities, those who are dying.

23. Play with children. Children, more than anyone else, know how to live. They experience everything in the moment, fully. When they get hurt, they really cry. When they play, they really have fun. Learn from them, instead of thinking you know so much more than them. Play with them, and learn to be joyful like them.

24. Talk to old people. There is no one wiser, more experienced, more learned, than those who have lived through life. They can tell you amazing stories. Give you advice on making a marriage last or staying out of debt. Tell you about their regrets, so you can learn from them and avoid the same mistakes. They are the wisdom of our society — take advantage of their existence while they’re still around.

25. Learn new skills. Constantly improve yourself instead of standing still — not because you’re so imperfect now, but because it is gratifying and satisfying. You should accept yourself as you are, and learn to love who you are, but still try to improve — if only because the process of improvement is life itself.

26. Find spirituality. For some, this means finding God or Jesus or Allah or Buddha. For others, this means becoming in tune with the spirits of our ancestors, or with nature. For still others, this just means an inner energy. Whatever spirituality means for you, rediscover it, and its power.

27. Take mini-retirements. Don’t leave the joy of retirement until you are too old to enjoy it. Do it now, while you’re young. It makes working that much more worth it. Find ways to take a year off every few years. Save up, sell your home, your possessions, and travel. Live simply, but live, without having to work. Enjoy life, then go back to work and save up enough money to do it again in a couple of years.

28. Do nothing. Despite the tip above that we should find excitement, there is value in doing nothing as well. Not doing nothing as in reading, or taking a nap, or watching TV, or meditating. Doing nothing as in sitting there, doing nothing. Just learning to be still, in silence, to hear our inner voice, to be in tune with life. Do this daily if possible.

29. Stop playing video games. They might be fun, but they can take up way too much time. If you spend a lot of time playing online games, or computer solitaire, or Wii or Gameboy or whatever, consider going a week without it. Then find something else to do, outside.

30. Watch sunsets, daily. One of the most beautiful times of day. Make it a daily ritual to find a good spot to watch the sunset, perhaps having a light dinner while you do so.

31. Stop reading magazines.32. Break out from ruts. Do you do things the same way every day? Change it up. Try something new. Take a different route to work. Start your day out differently. Approach work from a new angle. Look at things from new perspectives.

33. Stop watching the news. It’s depressing and useless. If you’re a news junky, this may be difficult. I haven’t watch TV news or read a newspaper regularly in about two years. It hasn’t hurt me a bit. Anything important, my mom tells me about.

34. Laugh till you cry. Laughing is one of the best ways to live. Tell jokes and laugh your head off. Watch an awesome comedy. Learn to laugh at anything. Roll on the ground laughing. You’ll love it.

35. Lose control. Not only control over yourself, but control over others. It’s a bad habit to try to control others — it will only lead to stress and unhappiness for yourself and those you try to control. Let others live, and live for yourself. And lose control of yourself now and then too.

36. Cry. Men, especially, tend to hold in our tears, but crying is an amazing release. Cry at sad movies. Cry at a funeral. Cry when you are hurt, or when somebody you love is hurt. It releases these emotions and allows us to cleanse ourselves.

37. Make an awesome dessert. I like to make warm, soft chocolate cake. But even berries dipped in chocolate, or crepes with ice cream and fruit, or fresh apple pie, or homemade chocolate chip cookies or brownies, are great. This isn’t an every day thing, but an occasional treat thing. But it’s wonderful.

38. Try something new, every week. Ask yourself: “What new thing shall I try this week?” Then be sure to do it. You don’t have to learn a new language in one week, but seek new experiences. Give it a try. You might decide you want to keep it in your life.

39. Be in the moment. Instead of thinking about things you need to do, or things that have happened to you, or worrying or planning or regretting, think about what you are doing, right now. What is around you? What smells and sounds and sights and feelings are you experiencing? Learn to do this as much as possible through meditation, but also through bringing your focus back to the present as much as you can in everything you do.

The Benefits of Telecommuting

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Today I had the opportunity to telecommute into work from home, so I thought I would put together a post about my day as it unfolds in order to journal it’s effectiveness toward maintaining a much happier and more productive employee. For those just tuning in, this is a follow-on to my earlier post detailing my average working day since I’ve moved out into the suburbs: A Word on Motivation.

The New and Improved “Commute into Work”!
As it takes me the better part of 7 seconds to walk the distance from my bedroom to my study at the other side of my house, this morning I was able to enjoy a sensational sleep in (well, by contrast to my average day). Then with time to kill, I made myself my favorite N-espresso coffee and a hot bowl of Uncle Tobys oats (it’s still winter at time of writing this), then armed with my awesome breakfast I make my way to settle in comfortably at my PC and remote into work.

Reasons Why my “at-home” Working Environment Rocks
While my work has been kind enough to provide me with two 19″ monitors, my home PC has a magnificent 3 x 27″ wide-screen high-res DELL monitors which wrap around to capture almost my full field of vision when I’m seated at my desk. They sit on a black-leather office desk which is also very spacious and I have a high-back leather reclining office chair. You couldn’t wish for a better working environment! I’m comfortable. Ergonomically seated with respect to my keyboard and mouse, and have some SERIOUS screen real-estate to work with. Next to me there is a window looking out over a quiet, suburban street – completely free of distractions and interruptions. With this scene in mind, we move onto my working day! (Picture above is not my actual desk btw).

The Benefits of Telecommuting
The first and most immediate benefit which come to mind in this arrangement is that I am considerably more refreshed with the extra sleep I was able to get this morning. There’s definitely much to be said about allowing your body to rise with its natural sleep cycles. Consequently, I was able to make some unprecedented headway through my massive backlog of emails this morning – something which back at work would almost certainly have been hampered by numerous interruptions as staff arrive at the office, greet each other, stop by for a chat etc.

The day goes on as most days do. A plethora of emails stream into my inbox, communicator chat windows popup as people throw ad-hoc questions and requests at me, and jobs roll in through our in-house ticketing system. As with most jobs I guess, I have fairly well defined responsibilities within my role, so it’s rarely the case that there isn’t much to do. One thing which did occur to me though as the day drew to a close, was that through work from home I was ideally positioned to take on after-hours tasks. The imposition of this type of work was considerably less offensive from the comfort of my own home, than were I stuck in a cold, empty workplace waiting for 6pm to roll by before being able to start. Extending this idea further, the concept of having telecommuters cover the outer extremities of rostered shifts would also provide more quality of life to those who do need to go into work and would otherwise have been stuck there until close of business day (clearly IT context here).

So with my work desk phone forwarded through to my mobile and online via the in-office communicator program and email, I made a point to ensure I was just as readily accessible as were I in work and at my desk – so much so that most of the people I interacted with during my day had no idea I wasn’t even there! Surely this has to be a positive indicator in favour of telecommuting! Then there’s also the added bonus that if I was on the phone, any incoming calls from the office now had a personal voice mail service available for the caller to leave a message on, which at work would not have otherwise been the case.

Ok so at this point we’ve established the following benefits;

  • More sleep, more rested and consequently more productive employee
  • Flexibility hours, and increased ability to take on extended hours work
  • Fewer non-work related interruptions
  • More relaxed and comfortable working environment

Next up we should probably consider the financial aspects; with the rising cost of public transport, petrol, inner city parking, depreciation on the motor vehicle as well as all the sundry expenses associated with being away from home such as lunches and coffees. There are environmental considerations too, with the ever increasing traffic congestion problems spewing tonnes of pollution into our atmosphere each day. And in a society where we are all already time-poor, the most offensive aspect of all (in my opinion at least), the completely inefficient use of our time when having to partake in this daily commute! For myself I calculated about two hours per day was being written off in transit in and out of work. Just imagine – what could you do with a 2 extra hours each day? … that’s another 10 hours per week!

Now, I should probably also give a special mention to the absolute awesomeness that is having your own private bathroom available to you. No longer do you have to suffer the moans and groans of a shared toilet experience, forced to listen to the guy next to you giving birth in his cubile while trying to mask your own bodily transgression… toilet paper on the water to “break the fall”… controlled releases of flatulence so that your “roomy” doesn’t hear you and pass judgement… nope. At home, you can just grip it and rip it. When you want. How you want. In the complete comfort and privacy of your own bathroom, and with none of the communal toilet hygiene issues.

On a slightly more cultured note, let’s also take a moment consider how much we’re paying for these beautiful homes of ours. For most of us, an average home loan is costing us anything between $1500 – $3000 in interest / rent each month (possibly even more?). Wouldn’t it be great then if we could actually get to spend some more time in them? And if the options were available and we could telecommute full-time, we wouldn’t even need to live so close to the city, creating opportunities to afford even more beautiful homes a little further out!

In Conclusion…
Let me preface this next section in saying that I am by no means blind to the merits of the conventional office environment. The social interactivity which takes place allows people to feed of the energies and enthusiasm of those around them. It creates a dynamic environment that encourages creativity, brain storming and new ideas. Problem solving through focus groups and meetings allow for arguably much faster resolutions than were these to be approached by isolated individuals. It facilitates new friendships and relationships, as well as allows people to fully embrace a team culture and all the inherent benefits of cross-skilling, mentoring and healthy competition which falls incumbent to that… however…

We are in the 21st century now and there are just too many compelling arguments in favour of offering such flexible working arrangements that it would be truly remiss not to seriously consider these. A 2009 trial undertaken as part of a QLD Transport and Main Roads Pilot study found statistically significant results that employees were not only happier but also MORE productive when working in an environment where they felt more relaxed and comfortable. Some of there other finding also identified;

  • The pilot achieved a 34% reduction in morning peak hour travel and a 32% reduction in afternoon peak hour travel amongst participants.
  • The initiative eliminated some journeys altogether through participants adopting telecommuting and compressed work weeks/fortnights
  • Of the three flexible practices offered, flexible hours were the most popular. Many participants chose to use more than one practice.
  • Both employees and employers indicated they had achieved increased productivity through working flexibly during the pilot.
  • 87% of participants reported improvement in their work-life balance.
  • There was high satisfaction with flexible work arrangements – 92% of participants expressed an interest in continuing their arrangements.

… the full report can be downloaded here: Flexible Workplace Pilot.

Couple the above with modern day broadband speeds and telecommuting technologies such as Citrix or Windows Terminal services – both of which offering high quality and secure remote desktop access… why would we still insist in forcing ourselves to endure conventional 1950’s work practices; being stuck at a desk in a budget chair that’s slowly destroying our backs, while sucking in the communal air of a shared office environment…. was that a sneeze that just exploded from the guy next to me? … followed by a violent emptying of his head into a tissue and the air all around him? But not to fear people, I’m sure THAT won’t be circulating through our internal air conditioning system… right? 😉

For the old-school operators out there, I can already hear the wailing and nashing of teeth at the very notion of this idea; “But how can you control this? What if you have employees who aren’t performing?” … Firstly I’ll say that having a little faith in your staff that they will do the right thing will go a long, long way – especially when their work performance is directly linked to them receiving such an opportunity. But in the event that they did abuse this, then you would most likely discover this in the exact same way as were they skiving off at their work desk; things start to fall through the cracks, you hear reports of them being constantly unavailable and work tasks repeated get escalated up to you for updates (as a manager or team lead). The reprimanding would then be the same as with in-office workers; privileges are promptly revoked, the staff member is placed back at their desk and slapped… with a mandatory 1-3 months sentence of intensive micromanagement to look forward to. Generally speaking though, if an employee has no work ethic to start with then they’re probably not going to be the best suited for such an arrangement anyway. That said too, these employees would probably be equally as useless regardless of where they’re seated – so in this instance, telecommuting would again serve to move the good employees away from such disruptive influences.

In summary, there are clearly many benefits offered through flexible working arrangement such as telecommuting, however a full time telecommuting arrangement risks losing out on the valuable social interactivity of a conventional workplace. So while different solutions will work better for different businesses and organizational types / structures, a balance between the two approaches would arguably serve to capture the best of both worlds. Then as a consequence of this, the organisation is rewarded with happier and more productive employees, a better performing business with a lower staff turnover!

For those interested in some extra reading on tnhi; Queensland Transport and Main Roads’ Guidelines for effective transition and management of Telecommuting arrangements, a general article on the Benefits and Drawback of Telecommuting, and 6 Organizational Benefits of Telecommuting.

Check out the full 4 days of Dilbert’s Telecommuting experience here!

A Word on Motivation…

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It’s 5:30am on a cold winters morning. It’s raining outside. You’re sound asleep, your body in that perfect comfortable position that you could just spend all morning in without moving. You dig yourself in a little deeper under your warm duvet, mentally more than ready to settle in for another solid 4-5 hours of peaceful rest and relaxation…

… then without provocation, a sudden piercing siren shatters the calm as your alarm clock goes off beside your ear. You fumble about in the dark trying in desperation to coordinate your sleeping / numb limbs to find the off button in the dark. Disgruntled, you slump back into bed waiting for your heart rate to slow back down and thinking bitterly about what must inevitably follow. A few moments later you draw up the courage to get out into the cold night and feel your way to the bathroom. Closing the door behind you, you switch on the heat-lamps which turn the dark room brighter than the surface of the sun and leaves you standing there helpless for a few moments with your eyes pressed shut while you wait for your pupils to slowly adjust under the lids… eventually you start to progress through your morning rituals once your gift of sight has returned to you.

A short time later you depart your home with one of two prospects to look forward to; 1. A commute on public transport where you get to enjoy long queues, odd smells, crowded buses and then of course the same experience again on your way home… or 2. Take the car and try to make it into the city early enough to catch the concession parking, however all the while anxious about getting caught in some freak traffic congestion which will write off your morning in a rhythmic clutch destroying exercise, only be rewarded with a full fair parking fee at the end of it all. And the insult to injury, having to suffer endless talk shows on every single radio station with not a song between them to calm the rising beast within.

… so where am I going with all this? Well ask yourself, how is this scenario in any way, size, shape or form, quality of life? I mean, how is anybody seriously supposed to spend 30-40 years of their adult working life living like this?!

But with every dark cloud, there is a silver lining…. right? Anthony Robbins talks in one of his seminars, that in order to create action or motivate somebody to implement change in their lives, they either need to feel a strong favorable emotion toward that thing, or a strong negative emotion pushing them away from it (the latter generally being the stronger motivator). And with this is born the motivation and drive to push yourself toward achieving more with the life you’ve been given. And if you’ve found this not to be true, then it simply means that pain or unfavorable emotion isn’t strong enough for you to really want to change it, or you’ve normalized it and now believe that this is just how life is and you can’t do anything about it… what I like to refer to as ‘learned helplessness’ 😛

So next time you’re annoyed or frustrated with some aspect of your life, it’s important to remember that the choices ALWAYS remain with you to make the changes you need to make in your life. Every dark cloud will always have a silver lining, even if that silver lining is little more than the reminder you need to get off your bum and do something about it.

… a little food for thought 😉

10 Simple Truths Smart People Forget

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Some of the smartest people I know continuously struggle to get ahead because they forget to address a few simple truths that collectively govern our potential to make progress. So here’s a quick reminder:

#1 – Education and intelligence accomplish nothing without action.

It doesn’t matter if you have a genius IQ and a PhD in Quantum Physics, you can’t change anything or make any sort of real-world progress without taking action.  There’s a huge difference between knowing how to do something and actually doing it.  Knowledge and intelligence are both useless without action.  It’s as simple as that.  For some practical guidance on taking action, I highly recommend The Now Habit.

#2 – Happiness and success are two different things.

I know an extremely savvy businesswoman who made almost a million dollars online last year. Every entrepreneur I know considers her to be wildly successful.  But guess what?  A few days ago, out of the blue, she told me that she’s depressed.  Why?  “I’m burnt out and lonely.  I just haven’t taken enough time for myself lately,” she said.  “Wow!” I thought.  “One of the most successful people I know isn’t happy.”

I also know a surfer who surfs almost all day, every day on the beach in front of our condo complex in San Diego.  He’s one of the most lighthearted, optimistic guys I’ve ever met – always smiling from ear to ear.  But he sleeps in a van he co-owns with another surfer and they both frequently panhandle tourists for money.  So while I can’t deny that this man seems happy, I wouldn’t classify his life as a success story.

“What will make me happy?” and “What will make me successful?” are two of the most important questions you can ask yourself.  But they are two different questions.

#3 – Everyone runs their own business.

No matter how you make a living or who you think you work for, you only work for one person, yourself.  The big question is:  What are you selling, and to whom?  Even when you have a full-time, salaried, ‘Corporate America’ position, you are still running your own business.  You are selling one unit of your existence (an hour of your life) at a set price (the associated fraction of your salary) to a customer (your employer).

So how can you simultaneously save your time and increase your profit?  The answer is slightly different for everyone.  But it’s an answer you should be seeking.  The 4-Hour Workweek is a good read on this topic.

#4 – Having too many choices interferes with decision making.

Here in the 21st century where information moves at the speed of light and opportunities for innovation seem endless, we have an abundant array of choices when it comes to designing our lives and careers.  But sadly, an abundance of choice often leads to indecision, confusion and inaction.

Several business and marketing studies have shown that the more product choices a consumer is faced with, the less products they typically buy.  After all, narrowing down the best product from a pool of three choices is certainly a lot easier than narrowing down the best product from a pool of three hundred choices.  If the purchasing decision is tough to make, most people will just give up.

So if you’re selling a product line, keep it simple.  And if you’re trying to make a decision about something in your life, don’t waste all your time evaluating every last detail of every possible option.  Choose something that you think will work and give it a shot.  If it doesn’t work out, choose something else and keep pressing forward.

#5 – All people possess dimensions of success and dimensions of failure.

This point is somewhat related to point #2 on happiness and success, but it stands strong on its own as well…

Trying to be perfect is a waste of time and energy.  Perfection is an illusion.

All people, even our idols, are multidimensional.  Powerful business men, polished musicians, bestselling authors, and even our own parents all have dimensions of success and dimensions of failure present in their lives.

Our successful dimensions usually encompass the things we spend the most time doing.  We are successful in these dimensions because of our prolonged commitment to them.  This is the part of our lives we want others to see – the successful part that holds our life’s work.  It’s the notion of putting our best foot forward.  It’s the public persona we envision as our personal legacy:  “The Successful ABC” or “The Award Winning XYZ.”

But behind whichever polished storyline we publically promote, there lies a multi-dimensional human being with a long list of unprofessed failures.  Sometimes this person is a bad husband or wife.  Sometimes this person laughs at the expense of others.  And sometimes this person merely takes their eyes off the road and rear-ends the car in front of them.

#6 – Every mistake you make is progress.

Mistakes teach you important lessons.  Every time you make one, you’re one step closer to your goal.  The only mistake that can truly hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too scared to make a mistake.

So don’t hesitate – don’t doubt yourself.  In life, it’s rarely about getting a chance; it’s about taking a chance.  You’ll never be 100% sure it will work, but you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work.  Most of the time you just have to go for it!

And no matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be.  Either you succeed or you learn something.  Win-Win.  Remember, if you never act, you will never know for sure, and you will be left standing in the same spot forever.

#7 – People can be great at doing things they don’t like to do.

Although I’m not suggesting that you choose a career or trade you dislike, I’ve heard way too many smart people say something like, “In order to be great at what you do, you have to like what you do.”  This just isn’t true.

A good friend of mine is a public accountant.  He has told me on numerous occasions that he dislikes his job – “that it bores him to death.”  But he frequently gets raises and promotions.  At the age of 28, out of nearly a thousand Jr. Accountants in his division, he’s one of only two who were promoted to be Sr. Accountants this past year.  Why?  Because even though he doesn’t like doing it, he’s good at what he does.

I could come up with dozens of other examples just like this, but I’ll spare you the details.  Just realize that if someone dedicates enough time and attention to perfecting a skill or trade, they can be insanely good at doing something they don’t like to do.  For an insightful read in this department, I highly recommend The Talent Code.

#8 – The problems we have with others are typically more about us.

Quite often, the problems we have with others – our spouse, parents, siblings, etc. – don’t really have much to do with them at all.  Because many of the problems we think we have with them we subconsciously created in our own mind.  Maybe they did something in the past that touched on one of our fears or insecurities.  Or maybe they didn’t do something that we expected them to do.  In either case, problems like these are not about the other person, they’re about us.

And that’s okay.  It simply means these little predicaments will be easier to solve.   We are, after all, in charge of our own decisions.  We get to decide whether we want to keep our head cluttered with events from the past, or instead open our minds to the positive realities unfolding in front of us.

All we need is the willingness to look at things a little differently – letting go of ‘what was’ and ‘what should have been,’ and instead focusing our energy on ‘what is’ and ‘what could be possible.’

#9 – Emotional decisions are rarely good decisions.

Decisions driven by heavy emotion are typically misguided reactions rather than educated judgments.  These reactions are the byproduct of minimal amounts of conscious thought and primarily based on momentary ‘feelings’ instead of mindful awareness.

The best advice here is simple:  Don’t let your emotions trump your intelligence.  Slow down and think things through before you make any life-changing decisions.

#10 – You will never feel 100% ready when an opportunity arises.

The number one thing I persistently see holding smart people back is their own reluctance to accept an opportunity simply because they don’t think they’re ready.  In other words, they believe they require additional knowledge, skill, experience, etc. before they can aptly partake in the opportunity.  Sadly, this is the kind of thinking that stifles personal growth.

The truth is nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises.  Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow emotionally and intellectually.  They force us to stretch ourselves and our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first.  And when we don’t feel comfortable, we don’t feel ready.

Just remember that significant moments of opportunity for personal growth and development will come and go throughout your lifetime.  If you are looking to make positive changes in your life you will need to embrace these moments of opportunity even though you will never feel 100% ready for them.

See the original article by Marc and Angel.

Steve Jobs: How to live before you die

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Steve Jobs, 2005 Stanford Commencement Address on how to live before you die.


Transcript of Steve Job’s Address;

Thank you. I’m honored to be with you today for your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. Truth be told, I never graduated from college and this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation.

Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories. The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first six months but then stayed around as a drop-in for another eighteen months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out? It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife, except that when I popped out, they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking, “We’ve got an unexpected baby boy. Do you want him?” They said, “Of course.” My biological mother found out later that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would go to college.

This was the start in my life. And seventeen years later, I did go to college, but I naïvely chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and no idea of how college was going to help me figure it out, and here I was, spending all the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out, I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me and begin dropping in on the ones that looked far more interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms. I returned Coke bottles for the five-cent deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the seven miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example.

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer was beautifully hand-calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and sans-serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me, and we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts, and since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them.

If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on that calligraphy class and personals computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.

Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college, but it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards, so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something–your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever–because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference.

My second story is about love and loss. I was lucky. I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents’ garage when I was twenty. We worked hard and in ten years, Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4,000 employees. We’d just released our finest creation, the Macintosh, a year earlier, and I’d just turned thirty, and then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew, we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so, things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge, and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our board of directors sided with him, and so at thirty, I was out, and very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating. I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down, that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure and I even thought about running away from the Valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me. I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I’d been rejected but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods in my life. During the next five years I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the world’s first computer-animated feature film, “Toy Story,” and is now the most successful animation studio in the world.

In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT and I returned to Apple and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance, and Lorene and I have a wonderful family together.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful-tasting medicine but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life’s going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love, and that is as true for work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it, and like any great relationship it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking. Don’t settle.

My third story is about death. When I was 17 I read a quote that went something like “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “no” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important thing I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life, because almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctors’ code for “prepare to die.” It means to try and tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next ten years to tell them, in just a few months. It means to make sure that everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope, the doctor started crying, because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and, thankfully, I am fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept. No one wants to die, even people who want to go to Heaven don’t want to die to get there, and yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent; it clears out the old to make way for the new. right now, the new is you. But someday, not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it’s quite true. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalogue, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stuart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late Sixties, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and Polaroid cameras. it was sort of like Google in paperback form thirty-five years before Google came along. I was idealistic, overflowing with neat tools and great notions. Stuart and his team put out several issues of the The Whole Earth Catalogue, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-Seventies and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath were the words, “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” And I have always wished that for myself, and now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you. Stay hungry, stay foolish.

Thank you all, very much.

– Steve Jobs