Barking Up The Wrong Tree: Top 10 of 2013
Spoiler alert: Don’t stay in a job you dislike.
You know those nightmares where you are shouting a warning but no sound comes out? Well, that’s the intensity with which the experts wanted to tell younger people that spending years in a job you dislike is a recipe for regret and a tragic mistake. There was no issue about which the experts were more adamant and forceful. Over and over they prefaced their comments with, “If there’s one thing I want your readers to know it’s . . .” From the vantage point of looking back over long experience, wasting around two thousand hours of irretrievable lifetime each year is pure idiocy.
More advice from people wiser than me here.
One of the five increases happiness:
Every morning send a friend, family member or co-worker an email to say thanks for something.
Might sound silly but it’s actually excellent advice on how to make your life better.
The other four emails are here.
One of the eight is “Say No — A Lot”:
Warren Buffett once said: “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say “no” to almost everything.”
And that’s what gives them the time to accomplish so much.
In Creativity, Csikszentmihalyi makes note of the number of high achievers who declined his request to be in the book.
Why did they say no?
They were too busy with their own projects to help him with his.
Achievement requires focus. And focus means saying “no” to a lot of distractions.
The other seven are here.
There are a lot of science based tips in Tara Parker-Pope’s excellent book For Better.
One of the seven is: Don’t settle for a second-rate marriage. People who expect more, get more.
Dr. Baucom found that people who have idealistic standards, who really want to be treated well and who want romance and passion from their marriage, end up getting that kind of marriage. Men and women with low standards, who don’t expect good treatment, communication, or romance, end up in relationships that don’t offer those things… Husbands and wives who hold their partners to a reasonably high standard have better marriages. If you expect a better, more satisfying relationship, you improve your chances of having one.
More study-backed marriage tips here.
John Durant, author of The Paleo Manifesto, offers a solid piece of advice I follow myself:
Forget the alarm clock in the morning; set an alarm to remind you to go to bed at night.
A useful technique is setting an alarm clock—not to wake up, but to get ready for bed. Set an alarm for an hour before bedtime. When it goes off, finish up any work on the computer, turn off the TV, turn off any unnecessary lights, and start to wind down for the day.
More science based tips for great sleep here.
One of the many great insights from Bruce Feiler’s The Secrets of Happy Families:
Kids who have dinner with their families do better across pretty much every conceivable metric.
A recent wave of research shows that children who eat dinner with their families are less likely to drink, smoke, do drugs, get pregnant, commit suicide, and develop eating disorders. Additional research found that children who enjoy family meals have larger vocabularies, better manners, healthier diets, and higher self-esteem. The most comprehensive survey done on this topic, a University of Michigan report that examined how American children spent their time between 1981 and 1997, discovered that the amount of time children spent eating meals at home was the single biggest predictor of better academic achievement and fewer behavioral problems. Mealtime was more influential than time spent in school, studying, attending religious services, or playing sports.
More on how to have a great family life here.
What are the most common friendship fights about? Time commitments.
Daniel Hruschka reviewed studies on the causes of conflict in friendship and found that the most common friendship fights boil down to time commitments. Spending time with someone is a sure indicator that you value him; no one likes to feel undervalued.
More on what makes friendships survive here.
Dilbert creator Scott Adams’ new book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big explains that systems are better than goals.
This is such a powerful distinction. Losing 20lbs is a goal, eating right is a system.
A system provides a method and requires activity on a regular basis. That’s how successful people operate.
For our purposes, let’s agree that goals are a reach-it-and-be-done situation, whereas a system is something you do on a regular basis with a reasonable expectation that doing so will get you to a better place in your life. Systems have no deadlines, and on any given day you probably can’t tell if they’re moving you in the right direction. My proposition is that if you study people who succeed, you will see that most of them follow systems, not goals…
More on the path to success here.
The Behavioral Change Stairway Model was developed by the FBI’s hostage negotiation unit, and it shows the 5 steps to getting someone else to see your point of view and change what they’re doing.
It’s not something that only works with barricaded criminals wielding assault rifles — it applies to most any form of disagreement.
There are five steps:
- Active Listening: Listen to their side and make them aware you’re listening.
- Empathy: You get an understanding of where they’re coming from and how they feel.
- Rapport: Empathy is what you feel. Rapport is when they feel it back. They start to trust you.
- Influence: Now that they trust you, you’ve earned the right to work on problem solving with them and recommend a course of action.
- Behavioral Change: They act. (And maybe come out with their hands up.)
More from hostage negotiators on how to use it — and the mistakes you’re probably making — here.
In The Power of Full Engagement Tony Schwartz explains: “Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance.”
You need to work like an athlete. Don’t worry as much about time; manage your energy better for great explosions of effort and results.
Their entire lives are designed around expanding, sustaining and renewing the energy they need to compete for short, focused periods of time. At a practical level, they build very precise routines for managing energy in all spheres of their lives–eating and sleeping; working out and resting; summoning the appropriate emotions; mentally preparing and staying focused; and connecting regularly to the mission they have set for themselves. Although most of us spend little or no time systematically training in any of these dimensions, we are expected to perform at our best for eight, ten, and even twelve hours a day.
More on managing your energy to increase performance here.
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