Welcome back to life planning month here at Optimize Your Life!
As a foundation, we’ve learned how to live a better life. We’ve learned who we want to be. We’ve figured out what we want to do.
For practical steps, we’ve learned the importance of balance in our planning and we’ve learned to set smaller goals.
But what happens when a small change isn’t the answer? What do we do when we need to consider a big change to our lives?
Maybe the best way to get more balance in your life is to get a new job. Maybe the best way to save more money is to move to a different state with a lower cost-of-living. Maybe you’re considering going back to school to increase your earning potential. Maybe you’re debating whether to expand your family and have a kid.
These aren’t small changes. They aren’t easily translated into daily habits.
They’re also scary.
When approaching big decisions like these, how do you analyze the risks? How do you weigh the pros and cons?
Today we dive into these questions. Continue reading “Making the Leap”
Most people don’t stick to their New Year’s resolutions.
Have you noticed how crowded the gym is every January? Try comparing your January experience at the gym to your June experience. It is night and day.
Last month I could go down to the gym at any hour and use any machine without waiting. This month all of a sudden the place is hopping.
Each month for the rest of the year it will get less and less crowded until we start over next January. We see the same thing play out every year.
People set ambitious resolutions every January and then gradually drop them all over the course of the year.
There are a number of reasons for that (including failure to set good goals) but today I want to focus on one particular problem. Continue reading “Set Smaller Goals!”
Stoicism has gotten a bad rap.
These days, when people think “stoic,” they think “emotionless.” “Indifferent to pleasure and pain” is now literally a definition of the word “stoic.”
That’s not what the Stoics were going for.
For the Stoics, the goal is not to avoid all emotion. It is to minimize negative emotion. I can see where people get confused, though.
I am often accused (usually jokingly, but often enough to take the hint) of being emotionless.
I disagree with this assessment. I feel plenty of emotions. I just try not to dwell on negative emotions.
And I try not to act on them, either. Continue reading “How to Control (and Minimize) Negative Emotions”
Gretchen Rubin wrote a book on forming habits called Better Than Before.
There are a few other good books on habits (I recommend Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit), but Rubin’s big innovation was identifying different personality types. Some habit-building techniques work for some people, but there are very few universal approaches that work for everyone. Rubin divides her readers into four groups and then provides tips specific to each group.
Under Rubin’s framework, I am a Questioner.
“Questioners question all expectations, and they respond to an expectation only if they conclude that it makes sense. They’re motivated by reason, logic, and fairness. They wake up and think, ‘What needs to get done today, and why?’ They decide for themselves whether a course of action is a good idea, and they resist doing anything that seems to lack sound purpose.”
Beyond habit-building, this is a pretty good view into my permanent mindset. I ask “Why?” about pretty much everything, and if the answer is any variation of “Because that’s how we’ve always done it” then I’m out.
Continue reading “Why You Should Ask Why”
Some articles have been making the rounds on Facebook about a new study on the effects of flu shots on pregnant women. The headlines are bold:
Miscarriages Linked to Flu Vaccine
Annual Flu Shots Linked to Increased Risk of Miscarriage
Alarming Study Links Flu Shot with Early Miscarriage
Could Flu Shots Lead to Miscarriage?
Continue reading “When Clickbait Kills”
Today I want to explore a quick tool called an 80/20 analysis that can help you achieve better results in a shorter period of time.
The 80/20 analysis is based on the Pareto Principle. This principle was named for Vilfredo Pareto, who found in the late 1800s that 80% of land in Italy was owned by 20% of Italians in the same way that 80% of the peas produced in his garden came from 20% of the peapods. This finding was one of many analyzing inequality and examining how the few end up with so much in our economies.
From this and similar findings of the tilting of economic benefits, Pareto decided that democracy was an illusion and a ruling class would always emerge from the 20%.
In modern parlance, this extreme conclusion has been ignored and the Pareto Principle has become more of a rule of thumb applied to a wide range of areas.
While my interest in politics and economics would push me to examine the implications for modern income inequality and the policy proposals to address it, this blog is about providing tools and information that is helpful to individuals.
So instead, we’ll be looking at the modern version.
(Don’t worry. I’ve found other excuses to talk about bigger issues of politics and economics.)
Continue reading “Getting Better Results in Less Time”
If you want to make or save more money, you’re going to need to spend your time.
Side hustles and in-depth investment strategies take time. Cutting coupons and comparison shopping take time.
Most methods for making more money or for saving more money cost you time.
When is that exchange worth it?
Continue reading “When is More Money Worth Your Time?”
Much of the research that I read and write about is geared towards achieving more success.
We work on time management and productivity so that we can accomplish more. We study investing and personal finance so that we can be more successful with our money.
There is a major focus on success in our culture and not much attention paid to failure.
But maybe that’s wrong.
Maybe we should be failing more.
Continue reading “Why We Need To Fail More”
This is an article that I have had kicking around in my head for quite some time.
It was originally an uplifting and positive article. The context has changed, though. The world has changed.
The idea centers on a Kurt Vonnegut quote.
“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be very careful what we pretend to be.”
This is a very powerful truth. One that I firmly believe we should harness to become better people. Continue reading “Act Like the Person You Want to Be”
It is easy to become overwhelmed with choices.
We live in a world of options, and decision fatigue is a real problem to which many people succumb.
Sometimes we just don’t have the willpower at the end of a long day to make good decisions
Often we defer making decisions entirely. Sometimes it feels like the easiest option is just not to make a decision. Or, a variation on this, we make a decision that we will decide at some other point in the future.
The thing that we often forget is that when we fail to make a decision, we are implicitly making a decision to stick with the status quo. Continue reading “Not Making a Decision is Making a Decision”