Plan Your Better Life

I set out to make 2018 a year of intentional improvement.

Here at the blog, that is manifested in devoting each month to a different theme. We’re looking at all different angles of life and how to make it better.

Map out your life planTime seems to be moving quickly and we are coming up on the end of January, which is life planning month.

To close out, I want to run through the things that we’ve learned and the action steps we can take as well as the steps that I will actually be taking in my own life. The former will be the subject of today’s post, while Tuesday will be a discussion of the latter.

I hope that you’ll share your takeaways and any action steps that you plan to take. We can keep each other accountable. Continue reading “Plan Your Better Life”

Making the Leap

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?

A path to a better lifeMaybe 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”

Set Smaller Goals!

Most people don’t stick to their New Year’s resolutions.

Stop setting goals that are too large!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!”

Successful Careers and Failed Relationships

My last article addressed how to map out a path to a better life.

Never forget the importance of balance in a good lifeIn it, I recommended systematically going through every area of your life and analyzing each individually. Where are you right now in your financial life? Where do you want to go? Where are you in your relationship with your spouse? In your career? In your hobbies? In you physical health? Mental health and intellectual endeavors?

If you are trying to learn to be successful by looking at what people at the very top of their fields have done, my approach may seem counter-intuitive.

As someone who has read a lot of biographies of successful people, I have found that one of the defining factors of these characters is a singular focus and drive. They are obsessively focused on one aspect of their life and they use that focus to push them to the top.

I’m not going to tell you that that won’t work for you.

I’m going to tell you that it might, but you shouldn’t do it anyway. Continue reading “Successful Careers and Failed Relationships”

Who Do You Want to Be?

Our journey to a better life starts with one of the more existential and abstract questions out there.

Who do you want to be?Who do you want to be?

If you are a long-time reader, then you know that this will go somewhere far more practical soon. If you’re new around here, (welcome!) I promise we’ll get to nitty gritty by the end of this article. Bare with me.

It’s easy to skip over the abstract, big-picture questions as we rush to the practical application. Life hacks are popular for a reason. We don’t think we have the time or capacity for the deep thinking and introspection required to address big issues.

I’m not judging! I’ve been there. Hell, I’m still there most of the time. But we’re going somewhere else for January. We’re going deeper.

So here we go. Continue reading “Who Do You Want to Be?”

Getting Better Results in Less Time

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”

The Three Fuels of Productivity

I read a lot of self-improvement books. Most of them are garbage.

Sure, they may have useful tips and tricks, but usually they contain about enough useful information to fill a blog post. This is then surrounded by fluff, anecdotes, and flowery language to meet the word count for a book.

This is what I expected when I picked up Chris Bailey’s The Productivity Project. I anticipated some helpful tips, but mostly fluff.

That is not what I got.

This book is one of the rare finds that actually has a lot of useful information. Continue reading “The Three Fuels of Productivity”

Why We Are More Productive When Our Schedules Are Full

On leaving high school, I made an interesting observation: My grades were higher when my schedule was busier.

It was easy to make the distinction between busy semesters and less busy semesters. You may have guessed based on reading around here for a bit that I’m a nerd. Befitting that, I was in the marching band in high school.

A marching band that was regularly the number one band in New England.

For those of you who have not been in a competitive marching band, it is very time consuming.

We practiced for three hours after school two days a week and practiced all day on Saturday.

Once competition season started, we would bus out to competitions on Saturday and Sunday each week.

That’s a lot of hours.

Continue reading “Why We Are More Productive When Our Schedules Are Full”

Lessons Learned from Lives Well-Lived

On Tuesday I wrote about the recent death of my grandfather. I was planning to write and post that article earlier, but could not convince myself to write after that event was followed up a week later by the death of my other grandfather.

After going most of my life without having to deal with many deaths of loved ones, there have been quite a few packed into the last few years.

This has been hard. I continue to remind myself that death is what gives meaning to life. It is natural and necessary. It is important.

It still sucks. Continue reading “Lessons Learned from Lives Well-Lived”