Consider a painting by one of the European masters. Somehow you’ve discovered this painting in your grandmother’s attic. It’s worth a fortune, or so say the appraisers who come to your house to inspect it.They’re going to take it away for auction, but before they do, you insist on keeping it on your mantle for a month. Every day you look at it with pride. This painting has been in your family for centuries! Soon it will bring you wealth, but first it brings beauty and elegance to your living room. The painting is spectacular, with thousands of careful brush strokes and just the right blend of colors. The artist had clearly spent decades mastering his craft. Of the dozens of his paintings that were still known to exist, you sense that this was one of his favorites. Except for one thing. Just off-center, in the midst of perfection, lies a single black spot. The spot isn’t huge, but it’s not tiny either. When you look at the painting, there’s no missing it. How did it get there? Surely, you think, it was a rare mistake. Perhaps the painter was tired at the end of a long day and accidentally splashed a dash of black in the midst of all the color. Or maybe some well-meaning apprentice came along later to retouch the painting and ended up making a mess. Read More
*My brand-new book, Born for This, is all about helping you find the work you were meant to do. This series explores some of these lessons.Lesson: There’s more than one possible path. Use the Joy-Money-Flow model to find the best one. There are plenty of things you could do with your career, but the people who are most successful have found the perfect combination of joy, money, and flow. They’ve won the career lottery by finding this combination—and they don’t have to choose between their money and their life. Read More
“3 Encounters That Changed My Life”: How a Corporate Employee Gained a New Perspective through Travel
Imagine this typical scene on the London Underground: A business man reading a newspaper, a teenage boy damaging his eardrums listening to loud music on his headphones, a girl painting her nails while playing on her phone. They all regard conversation as a contagious disease. When I was London, I was exactly like them — and I didn’t even know it until I started traveling. On the road, I learned that travel doesn’t necessarily make me a better person. We've all read touching stories on how traveling helps you find your true self, opens your mind, and changes you. This is certainly true some of the time, but I’ve learned that traveling can also bring out the worst parts of my personality.Read More
Dear Self,Your problem is that you think everything matters. The things that you do every day, the tasks that occupy your mind and draw on your energy—you think they are helping you make linear progress towards a significant destination. And maybe you are making progress. But what if you’re just making linear progress on something that is ultimately inconsequential? Read More
New research reveals that situational happiness or sadness may relate partly to age.
"Long ago, when I was 30 and he was 66, the late Donald Richie, the greatest writer I have known, told me: 'Midlife crisis begins sometime in your 40s, when you look at your life and think, Is this all? And it ends about 10 years later, when you look at your life again and think, Actually, this is pretty good.' In my 50s, thinking back, his words strike me as exactly right. To no one’s surprise as much as my own, I have begun to feel again the sense of adventure that I recall from my 20s and 30s. I wake up thinking about the day ahead rather than the five decades past. Gratitude has returned."Read More
Imagine two scenarios that each require you to take on a monumental task.In the first scenario, your task is to run a 50-mile race. You’re not quite out of shape, and you exercise regularly, but you’ve never ran anywhere close to that distance. It’s a daunting challenge, likely the most difficult physical activity of your life, and you haven’t even had breakfast yet. Despite the tremendous challenge, you set off, determined to overcome the odds. You draw on whatever motivation you can muster. Maybe someone told you that you could never run a single mile, so you think of those comments as you place step over tired step on the ground, one foot in front of the other. Maybe you picture your arrival at the end of the race, with a crowd of supporters cheering your accomplishment. Read More
The other day I was cleaning out my home office, and I found some old notes. The notes were from more than eight years ago before starting this blog. At the time I was planning to undergo some big changes and attempt a new career as a writer.As I looked through the notes, I smiled in recognition of many of the items I’d listed so long ago. I’d been to about 70 countries then, and was officially beginning the quest to go to all of them (193/193). I achieved that goal almost three years ago. Read More
Jonathan Fields sent me this short audio story as an example for recording my own 5-10 minute one. I intended to listen to a minute or two and then go off to write whatever I was going to say. But I was intrigued by the promise... so I kept listening!Read More
Recently I’ve been noticing that I haven’t been taking enough risks. I don’t want to be complacent! And I always want to be challenging myself.I’ve also been saying that I don’t feel like I have a big idea or am doing something hard. For a long time, I could immediately identify a major goal I was pursuing that required a lot of attention, investment, and sacrifice. But in trying to move forward and make some changes, I think I’ve been making a mistake: taking risks and doing hard things are not necessarily the same. Read More
I recently went to see Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict, a curious film in the sense that it focuses much more on the subject’s love life than it does her love of art. Still, it was good overall and I’m glad I went.The film showcases the development of several abstract and other non-traditional artists, including Jackson Pollack. I've always liked Pollack’s work, but I don’t think I understood the audacity of it until seeing this new film. I often feel inspired when I hear about larger-than-life figures who pursued big ambitions. People like Pollack, and Peggy Guggenheim, did big things. Then I went home and I thought: “What big thing am I doing?” Read More
And…. once more, with feeling! Today’s post is all about the future.In keeping with this unusual year, the format for this post is a bit different than I’ve done before. I noticed that I was feeling some resistance in writing it, so I finally decided to just sit down and start, without worrying about trying to adhere to a specific style. Previous Posts
- 2015 Annual Review Process & Template
- Lessons in Life, Success, and Loss
- Lessons in Entrepreneurship & Unconventional Work
- Travel Roundup
Every year I set aside a long block of time, typically the better part of a week, to look back at the year that’s ending and look ahead to the next.And so we begin the 2015 Annual Review. I try to live an active life and pursue a lot of different challenges and adventures. Pretty much every time I begin the review, I think, “What a crazy year it’s been!" In the case of 2015, I began the year fairly well, had the worst thing imaginable happen in the middle, and then managed to close out on a relative high note. As I sat down to write these notes, I have to confess that I wasn’t feeling super excited. My mind continued to drift toward the negative emotions, revisiting the things that have made me sad. As usual, though, I discovered that there were several good things from the year that I’d completely forgotten about. Read More
You’ve heard the story a thousand times.
Two roads diverged in the woods, and the wanderer is forced to choose. One road has a bit more wear than the other, but aside from that, both paths look pretty good. What to do? Since you've heard the story, you probably know the ending.
After some deliberation, the wanderer chooses the road “less traveled by.” And that, we're told, “has made all the difference."
Great story! But did you ever think about what happened to the other road? Maybe it was just a common road, and the wanderer was right to place his foot on the freshly-fallen leaves where few had stepped before.
Or maybe not. I have a theory that the other road was just as good. Maybe it was even better than the road less traveled by, but in the recollection the wanderer has revised his memory to conform to the experience he's had since first choosing a path.Read More