The Missing Step That Keeps You Flailing

Flailing is my word for a particular pattern of unproductive effort: you try, and try, and try — harder, and harder, and harder — and you still don't achieve your goal. Some people call this hitting your head against the wall. It sure feels like it when you're...

Learn the Words for the Time You Will Need Them

An "affirmation" is a positive statement about your own knowledge, skill, or values, which you memorize in some way. Some common examples are: I am a good person. I know enough to do this job. I can take the next step. Some self-help books recommend you collect such...

A Rant on Creativity

Courses and articles on creativity drive me crazy. None of them get at what I see as the real issue. They all focus on brainstorming quantities of ideas instead of explaining what creativity really is and how to direct it. For example, you may have participated in a...

FAQ: How does a central purpose make you happy?

In the last few articles, I've argued that a central purpose integrates your life, that it fits into a real life, that it needs to be a long-range productive goal, not something else, and how to identify your central purpose. I've asserted that it is important to a...

How to Find and Commit to a Central Purpose

Working out your central purpose is one of the most selfish things you can do. It has the biggest effect on your future and your happiness. It’s not a quick process. If you already have a general direction but need to clarify the personal significance for yourself,...

How a Central Purpose Fits Into Your Real Life

In the last article, I described a central purpose as a long-range productive goal that is stylized and utterly selfish. I gave a few examples of how different people in the same profession could have significantly different passions. And I argued that everyone, from...

How a Central Purpose Integrates Your Life

A central purpose is your top productive goal. It’s stylized and utterly selfish, not just the name of your profession. One lawyer might have as her central purpose to defend companies against frivolous lawsuits. Another might want to get innocent people out of jail....

FAQ: Should You Fit Your Work into a Defined Time Block?

Most advice on time management needs qualification. This caveat applies to the oft-heard advice to decide how long you will take for a task and then just do it in that time. This idea sounds appealing. Consider how much easier your life would be if you could simply...

The Power of a Virtuous Cycle to Motivate Long-Term Goals

To achieve a long-term goal, you will need to put in effort across weeks, months, and even years. That requires motivation for the long haul. If your motivation flags, you need to get strategic. You need to create a virtuous cycle of effort so that you are naturally...

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