Are You a Willpower Weakling? How to Win the Battle Anyway

Win the Willpower BattleThe story of how Willard quit smok­ing is leg­endary in our family.

He had started smok­ing as a teenager in the 1950’s, pick­ing up the habit while work­ing as a caddy with his friends. They would hide cig­a­rettes in a haystack where they could pick them up on their way to the golf course.

By the time he was a young pro­fes­sional, mar­ried and work­ing as an econ­o­mist, cig­a­rettes had become a con­stant accessory. They dan­gled from his mouth or from his hand whether he was at work, at home, in the car, out with friends, or elsewhere.

His addic­tion even­tu­ally had him smok­ing up to a pack and a half a day.

And then some­thing changed in his life.

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My 7 Wishes for You in the New Year

A new day dawns over the water...It’s a new year.

Like many peo­ple, I never start a new year with­out spend­ing some time reflect­ing on the last one.

It’s an oppor­tu­nity to learn from past expe­ri­ences, to decide what to take for­ward and what to leave behind.

Usu­ally my new year’s reflect­ing is more soli­tary and per­sonal — about my own lessons learned, the things I want to cel­e­brate, the occa­sional sighs of relief as I put dif­fi­cult chap­ters behind me, my goals and wishes for the com­ing months.

But this year — I hope you don’t mind — I’ve done some reflect­ing on your behalf too.

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What’s Your Point of Comparison? The Answer Will Determine Your Happiness (and More)

Like most Amer­i­cans this Thanks­giv­ing week, I’ve been think­ing a lot lately about grat­i­tude and the many things I’m thank­ful for in my life.

(This aware­ness has been helped along by a grat­i­tude prac­tice I started recently with a group of friends. Every day we email the oth­ers a list of # things we’re grate­ful for on the #th day of the month. Or that’s the goal any­way. It gets harder as we get closer to the end of the month, so some­times we need to scale back on espe­cially busy days.)

One of the most pro­found grat­i­tude expe­ri­ences I’ve ever had was after I fin­ished read­ing Vic­tor Frankl’s clas­sic Man’s Search for Mean­ing for the first time about 15 years ago. Frankl’s accounts of life in the con­cen­tra­tion camps of Nazi Ger­many — and the scraps of beauty, hope, and pur­pose some pris­on­ers were able to find there against all odds — made me acutely attuned to the sim­ple bless­ings in my life.

At the heart of that grat­i­tude expe­ri­ence was some­thing social psy­chol­o­gists refer to as “social com­par­i­son”. It’s often just below the sur­face of our aware­ness, but we human beings are con­stantly com­par­ing our­selves to other peo­ple — even to alter­nate ver­sions of our­selves — to get a sense of who we are, how we’re doing, and what’s pos­si­ble for us. Con­tinue read­ing

Nudgemail: The Free Tool That Saved Me From Email Overwhelm

Unless you only started using email a cou­ple weeks ago, you’re more than famil­iar with email overwhelm.

It hap­pens to even the best of us every once in a while…

Hun­dreds of mes­sages piled up in your inbox: a jum­ble of things you keep mean­ing to tend to, stuff you’re wait­ing for, things you want to be able to ref­er­ence later, and mes­sages you’ve frankly for­got­ten about because they’ve become lost in the clutter.

In con­trast, I’ve had “inbox zero” as an ongo­ing goal for myself for a long time now.

What’s inbox zero?

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Feeling Stuck? Here’s a 10-Minute Technique for Getting Moving Again

I’m vis­it­ing friends in Sonoma this week, and I’m up before dark again today, my inter­nal clock still on Vir­ginia time.

Sip­ping tea in my friends’ cozy liv­ing room, lis­ten­ing to the sounds of dis­tant roost­ers and the gen­tly trick­ling foun­tain out­side, I’ve been flip­ping through my jour­nal, read­ing recent entries.

In look­ing through what I’ve writ­ten of late, I was struck by how my use of this tool has shifted over the years — and by how indis­pens­able it’s become for me as a pro­duc­tiv­ity tool at work.

I admit, it’s a lit­tle surprising:

When you think of get­ting your work done in a way that’s effi­cient and strate­gic, the first image that comes to mind is not of set­tling down with a bound jour­nal, a pen, and a mug of tea, and writ­ing long­hand about how you’re feel­ing and what you’re thinking.

But I’ve dis­cov­ered that is some­times the smartest thing I can do.

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Four Videos to Radically Transform Your Well-Being at Work and Beyond…

Often it takes a lot of hard work to make a big improve­ment in your life. Ok, let’s be hon­est: It almost always takes a lot of hard work.

But every once in a while, what it takes instead — or at least what makes it sud­denly eas­ier to do all that hard work (or to know exactly what the hard work is that you should be doing) — is a men­tal breakthrough.

A sud­den trans­for­ma­tion in the way you look at things. A fresh per­spec­tive that leads you in new, more pos­i­tive direc­tions. A pow­er­ful insight.

And how cool is it when some­thing as low-effort as watch­ing a video or movie can result in said men­tal breakthrough?

So here I present for your view­ing plea­sure four videos (or, more pre­cisely, three video-recorded talks and one doc­u­men­tary film) that have that power… Con­tinue read­ing

Help! I’m overloaded!” 5 Ways to Shrink Your To Do List

Overloaded pack muleLast week’s post was about rec­og­niz­ing over­whelm before it gets out of con­trol.

I shared a list of men­tal, phys­i­cal, and envi­ron­men­tal clues to watch for as early warn­ing signs that things are get­ting too intense.

Because not only does that over-intensity dam­age our sense of peace and well-being, it also sets us up for fail­ure. We can’t think, work, or relate to oth­ers as effec­tively when we feel like we’re drowning!

But once you’ve rec­og­nized that you’ve got­ten to that stage and des­per­ately need to take some things off your list, what do you do? Con­tinue read­ing

How to Recognize When You’ve Taken Too Much On

Blue Wall Covered with Yellow Post-It NotesI’m nor­mally a sunny, glass-half-full kind of per­son. A “gosh am I lucky to do the kind of work I do” sort of per­son. I get excited about my lat­est project, eager to dive in, and utterly absorbed by what I’m work­ing on.

So I knew some­thing was up when a cloud of gloom and hope­less­ness descended upon me recently.

Actu­ally, I knew exactly what was up. That is my clas­sic response to Too-Many-Things-On-My-List Syn­drome. Con­tinue read­ing