Focus on quality

Social media “likes” are not business outcomes.  Hours at the gym is not a useful metric.  Number of friends and acquaintances doesn’t say anything meaningful about you.

Are you getting quality sleep?  How fulfilling are your connections?  How do you feel about your career?  How do you look and feel to yourself?  How quickly can you release anger?  Answers to these questions reflect the quality of your health, wealth and relationships.  Focus on quality metrics.

The brilliant Naval Ravikant says this of people who obsess over social media likes and other meaningless metrics: “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”


Using knowledge

A 358 page book advocating a specific diet needs only seven bullet-points to summarize how to actually follow the diet.  A 450-page book on mindfulness meditation contains four bullet-points outlining how to perform the meditation.

99% of self-help “knowledge” is comprised of arguing the case for “why”.  Less than 1% is dedicated to the directives (the “how”).

The challenge for those of us who are intellectually curious and always consuming, is to ensure we convert learning to action by answering “how will I use this for myself or others?”

Knowledge is NOT power, applying it is.

Building the new

How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?  Just one, but the light bulb has to really want to change. (G’nite everybody!!!!!)

Once we commit to change, it’s helpful to understand our personal triggers, weaknesses, and past mistakes.  But we get more leverage focusing energy on building our new lives than obsessing over old identities.

History does not dictate destiny.

Grading yourself

Whether or not we’re aware, we attempt to live up to our own expectations based on how we grade ourselves.  Some grade themselves by how much wealth they accumulate.  Others feel accomplished by transforming their bodies, building a business, or raising well-adjusted children.

I grade myself on how useful I can be (hopefully this blog is an example). This is my own internal measure, so there’s no right answer, reward or penalty.

It pays to be deliberate about what we choose to value.  And fortunately, once we’re out of school, we get to decide how we’re graded.

Important but not urgent

There is a useful matrix showing “important” on one axis, and “urgent” on the other.   Even without fancy charts we intuitively know that we should focus energy on items of long-term significance, and not on unimportant emergencies.

One way to deploy this is to be vigilant about managing phone notifications, email subscriptions, and everything else in your environment that forces you to pay immediate attention to things that are not critical.  Urgent does not equal important.

The purpose is to create space for intentional living, and to stop reacting to every bit of noise.  The first task is to remove as many stimuli as possible.

Perfection may be your downfall

The first thing to know about acquiring new skills or habits is that the most perfect, responsible, scientifically tested method for learning or improving means NOTHING if you quit.

The perfect diet is irrelevant if you don’t follow it, but follow a healthy eating plan only 70% of the time and it will change your life.

Don’t let perfection be the enemy of remarkable progress.  No matter what you’re trying to improve, the mediocre plan you follow is infinitely better than the perfect plan you abandon.


You and the digital you

Social media gives us the unprecedented opportunity to act like mini celebrities.

As we display the best version of our lives online, we may miss the opportunity for introspection.  It’s easy to obsess over how we feel we are viewed by others, and ignore looking closely at how we view ourselves.

I’m not preaching.  I share my accomplishments and highlights online.  But remember, you can have appropriate concern for your image (including digital), AND work on improving the real you.  It doesn’t have to be either/or.