Following Through
The Value of Role Models

The Value of Role Models

A role model is someone who exemplifies your ideal in some area. Though you can learn concrete skills from role models, there is something more important you get from them: an integrated sense of the kind of person you want to be. That is what is irreplaceable. When...

Dealing with Earned Guilt Loops

Dealing with Earned Guilt Loops

Guilt is the emotion that you feel when you believe you have failed to live up to your own moral standards. It is perhaps the most enervating emotion. It makes you want to curl up in a little ball to block it out and avoid it. But that is the worst thing you can do....

Learn the Words for the Time You Will Need Them

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...

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

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 Undead — Thoughts on Unfinished Projects

The Undead — Thoughts on Unfinished Projects

Years ago, I read a book by a colleague who walked the Camino, a 500-mile trek over the Pyrenees in Spain, ending at the cathedral in Santiago. He reported that the next-to-last day was the hardest. He was tormented by the thought of all the unfinished projects of his...

Two Ways to Step Up to Meet a Deadline

Two Ways to Step Up to Meet a Deadline

A deadline is the date a task needs to be finished. It is different from an estimated completion date in that there are real negative consequences for missing the target. For example, the deadline for filing taxes in the US was May 17 this year.  The penalties are...

Motivating Three Kinds of Major Goals

Motivating Three Kinds of Major Goals

Your greatest success comes from setting and achieving major goals. The biggest mistake that people make in pursuing such goals is that they don't build motivation into every step. The effort you put in needs to pay off in some way to ensure you persevere to the end....

How to Make Yourself Do Something…or Not

How to Make Yourself Do Something…or Not

People often ask me how to make themselves do something they think they're supposed to do. As a public service, I will answer that question. To make yourself do something, you need to shut out any thoughts that conflict with taking the action. That includes any...

Why Do You Resist Doing Something Easy That Should Help You?

Why Do You Resist Doing Something Easy That Should Help You?

People sometimes come to me, distressed that they resist using "thinking on paper" or some other tactic. They are sure it would help them, they know that they can take the steps, but whenever the time comes to use the tactic, they feel a wall of resistance.  This...

What to Do When You’re Waffling

What to Do When You’re Waffling

Way back in 1998, when I wrote my first article on what to do when you get stuck on a difficult thinking problem, I offered one general piece of advice: Identify the problem. As Louis Sullivan said, "the problem contains and suggests its own solution." Although I now...

How to Remember Your Commitment

How to Remember Your Commitment

Forgetting is real. It takes special work to remember an idea or an intention, particularly to remember it at the time you need it. The default is that you don't. This issue is much wider and more important than remembering names of people you meet or items on a...

How Much Time Is a Problem Worth? 3 Minutes, 15 Minutes, More?

How Much Time Is a Problem Worth? 3 Minutes, 15 Minutes, More?

The #1 general-purpose problem-solving tactic I teach is "Thinking on Paper." If you are not familiar with it, get my freebie, "Thinking Directions Starter Kit." If you are confused, overloaded, uncertain, blank, conflicted, or stuck in any way, I recommend you turn...

Keep Calm and Carry On

Keep Calm and Carry On

“Don’t Panic” “Keep Calm and Carry On” Are these two pieces of advice equivalent? No. If “Keep Calm and Carry On” is your mantra, you are more likely to maintain your equilibrium in turbulent times, such as the current coronavirus crisis. Why? First, “Keep Calm and...

Concentrating at Home

Concentrating at Home

Thanks to Covid-19, many people are being asked to work at home. I thought I'd share a few thoughts on how to concentrate at home in the present circumstances. Some of the concentration challenges at home are obvious. There are clear distractions: Your family and your...

Learn from Mistakes, not Failure

Learn from Mistakes, not Failure

People often say that you learn from failure. But I think you learn primarily from your mistakes, not from your failures. There's a big difference. You can make a good decision, based on sound reasons, and still have it result in failure. For example, there can be...

How an “Urge Jar” Can Help You Follow Through on Your Intentions

How an “Urge Jar” Can Help You Follow Through on Your Intentions

While doing a competitive analysis to build my business, I checked out the Self-Coaching Scholars program created by Brooke Castillo. It looked interesting, so I joined and have been educating myself in her methods. One of the new tools I’ve adopted is the use of the...

Four Productivity States to Manage

Four Productivity States to Manage

Some years ago I read an interesting book titled The Origin of Everyday Moods: Managing Energy, Tension, and Stress, by Robert Thayer. The bottom line from the book is you need to distinguish (and manage) four identifiable productivity states: Relaxed & Energized...

Adapting Advice to Your Own Purposes

Adapting Advice to Your Own Purposes

A friend once shared with me how her 17-year-old daughter adapted some advice for her own purposes. It's an inspiring story with several lessons. The young woman was training to become an opera singer — an ambitious, long-term goal. It was particularly challenging for...

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