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Two years ago CruiseSheet didn't have individual informational pages for each cruise. Cruises are large purchases, though, so I thought that it would be much better if I could have a lot of written information, graphs, and pictures. With around 12,000 cruises on offer at any time, the selection changing every day, writing them individually would be impossible. What would it take to automatically generate an actually useful page for every single cruise? It would be a garguantuan task.
While much of our days is filled with small tasks, emails, course corrections, and tweaks, these sorts of activities merely keep us on track or trend us towards progress. To move forward in big steps, we must give ourselves huge tasks and power through them. How do you do that, feel good about it, and still produce top quality?
There would be no way to incrementally get this feature built. It would require a massive multi-disciplinary overhaul involving weeks of work and a lot of learning. And quality mattered a lot. If the pages were too similar, Google would ding me and people wouldn't want to read them. Each page needed to share a ton of useful information and present it in an inviting way.
When I first approach a task like this, I revel in the possibility of the outcome. I imagined looking at a full sales page for each cruise and how much better that experience would be. I got excited.
I think about these sorts of projects as gifts I can give myself. I literally think of it as me disappearing from the world for a few weeks, my normal life upended, and when I emerge I get to go back to normal life but I have this huge gift for myself. Is it worth massive sacrifice for just three weeks in order to have 12,000 beautiful cruise pages? The answer was obvious to me.
After getting motivated and excited, I think about the practical process. How much time should it take to do something like this? I conveniently had a 24 day cruise coming up, so I decided that I would do it in 3 weeks.
Working without a deadline is disheartening. Tasks seem like they can go on forever. Can I get into the weeds of making price graphs forever? I don't really know. Can I get through three weeks of it? Sure. I set a realistic deadline, but also had some flexibility. I knew that if I hadn't made enough progress halfway through I could reduce leisure time and increase work time.
Once you know your deadline, you must totally clear everything from that time. That's why I love working on cruises. What if you can't clear your schedule? Then, sorry, you can't do this process. Big progress forward often includes some sacrifices, so be willing to make them. Rent an AirBnb in the middle of nowhere and go drive there with some groceries. Take a cruise. Turn off your phone for a few weeks durping the day and don't leave your house.
With a nice big block of time cleared and a concrete deadline, I work backwards. What are some intermediate waypoints I should have? Well, if I can't get a rough outline of what the page should look like done in one day, I'm not working efficiently enough to complete it all. So that's one deadline. The copy part of it should be done within 1 week. Graphs can take another week total. Integrating it all should be done a few days before the deadline.
Then I attack my work like a banshee. I know why I'm doing it, I know what I have to do, and I have the time available. I equate every little task with the benefits of completing the whole thing, because I know that if I just keep at it, the rewards will be mine. I never consider slacking or about missing a day or anything like that. The benefit of the big end goal is too great.
Quality doesn't suffer because I convince myself that there's no point in doing these things unless it produces high quality work. I also plan ahead so that I know that it's possible to produce high quality within the time I've given myself. So I don't just make arbitrary goals like writing a book in a day, where quality would have to be poor. And I always focus on the end goal, which is always a high quality result. Sloshing together a bunch of cruft isn't inspiring.
At the same time, having deadlines prevents me from being a perfectionist. I gave myself a certain number of days to totally replace the floors in my house. By the end I was becoming a little less perfectionist about making the board patterns totally random. Nothing anyone else would notice, but if a board ended where one ended five rows ago.... fine.
The real magic happens once you do this once. You realize that you are capable of making a huge leap forward in a fixed slot of time. I've written the rough draft of all of my recent books in a fixed two weeks. I finished revising my most recent one in a cordoned-off 28 hours. In the 24 days I blocked off for the CruiseSheet cruise pages I fully completed the task and have barely needed to tweak it since then.
Now this ability feels like a superpower. Any time I have a large concrete task that need to smash, I am certain that I can do it. It will take a little bit of planning and a certain amount of gritting my teeth, but I know that at the end I will have produced a huge amount of high quality work in a way that was hard work but didn't leave me drained.
Photo is Waipio Valley in Hawaii
Two weeks ago, ten people came to Las Vegas to participate in my event, Superhuman 2. When I did the first one a year earlier I was nervous about how everyone would get along and how I would fill the time in a useful way. This year, even with a much longer format, my only real concern was whether or not the attendees would be as awesome as they were the previous year.
In particular, the first year's group was so open and supportive of each other, that I wasn't sure how possible it was to replicate that. I do everything I can to create that sort of environment, but really most of it is out of my hands. I suspect that even one person could mess up the environment if they really wanted to.
Also, this year three of the attendees were women. Last year it was all male, and I was a little bit worried that having women there might cause men to be more hesitant to be vulnerable.
As you could probably guess, all of those concerns were totally moot. Our group this year was absolutely fantastic. What was most interesting to me was that although no individual from this year reminded me at all of any one individual from last year, the groups felt very similar to me.
In 2017 I built a small cabin in the woods of Nova Scotia. I did almost none of the building, but did do most of the design of the cabin and am now doing the follow-up work on it.
Building a cabin is shockingly cheap. It's one of those situations where you get about 80% of the benefits of a house for only 10% of the money. Sure there's no running water and the fit and finish is a bit rustic, but that's part of the charm. At the end of the day you can have a waterproof structure that's very comfortable and useful, and can pay less than $10,000 to build it.
First you have to find some land. My friends and I bought an island together several years ago, so that part was checked off for me. There is cheap land all over the place, made many times cheaper if you can get friends to split it. For a simple cabin you don't need electricity or water, so you can buy land that's not very useful to other people.
I also have at least one friend who built a cabin on his friend's land. No one who buys many acres actually needs so much space, and they might be happy to have you have a little cabin there as well.
Sometimes I wonder if I'm annoying because I talk so much about good sleep, but even when I talk to readers about it, it seems like almost no one actually prioritizes and gets good sleep. This is amazing to me, as it's actually a pretty pleasant and easy way to get a huge boost in your life.
Rather than extoll the many virtues of getting proper sleep this time, I figured I'd share how to actually do it.
By far the most important thing is to go to sleep and wake up at roughly the same time every day with no alarm clock. If you're already doing that, you're probably in good shape.
Under these circumstances, you will naturally sleep somewhere between 7-9 hours. For me it's almost exactly 8 on average, though any given night varies between 6-10.
Maintaining a healthy relationship while traveling can be hard, but it doesn't have to be. Like anything, there are pros and cons, and by mitigating the cons and focusing on the pros, you can even make it a good thing. As someone who travels for the majority of the year, I have a lot of experience.
I'm married. My wife and I live together and travel together when we can, but we are separate for a big portion of the year, mostly due to my voluntary travel.
There are some parts of this that I really like. To some degree absence does make the heart grow fonder. After I've been gone for a month, no matter how much we communicate, we are really excited to see each other. During the periods of time that we have limited time together, our time together feels more special. I'm not sure if she feels the same way, but being apart also gives me perspective and makes me appreciate her even more.
Those advantages come with some very obvious disadvantages, though. By default, traveling a lot is probably not beneficial for a relationship. Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate those downsides.
I love planning trips for my friends. I think that it's a great way to do a service to my friends, to spend time with them, and to foster new connections between them. I believe that if all of my friends are good friends with each other, that makes my friend circle very strong.
The biggest trips I've planned for friends are two one-week train trips around Japan where I planned an entire secret itinerary. I've also planned lots of cruises where I organize the port stops as we go. Countless friends and groups of family have come through Budapest and I've taken them around.
People always thank me for organizing these trips, but it's totally unnecessary. I benefit just as much as they do, and it's a lot easier than people expect.
The hardest part is just picking some dates and making the trip happen. The best way to do this is choose a few "anchor" people and work with their schedules to find good dates. You book your flights and then start inviting other people. You will never get everyone to go at once, but if you have a few people locked in early, you know that you'll at least have a good small trip and it will build momentum.
I'm usually not all that busy, at least in terms of items on my schedule. I have infinite things that I could do, but very few of them have to happen at specific times or on specific days.
If I do have a commitment, though, I will be there exactly on time. An exceptional situation might cause me to be a couple minutes late. Of all of the coaching calls I've done, for example, I'd estimate that I call on the exact minute promised around 99% of the time.
There are a number of reasons why this is the best way to be, even for unimportant meetings. If I tell an oil change place I'll be there at 10:30, I will be there at 10:30. In fact, many of the reasons for doing this have nothing to do with the other party.
The first reason I do this is, in fact, for the other party. If I am five minutes late to something, I have wasted five minutes of that person's time. This is an egregiously arrogant thing to do, as I'm tacitly saying that my time is more important than theirs. If there are multiple people waiting, I'm telling them that their time combined isn't as valuable as mine.
People ask me all the time if I'd still be a nomad if I had kids, or they say that it's impossible or difficult to be a nomad if you have kids. I want to answer the question, but I think there's something even more important to talk about in relation to this.
The short answer is that yes, I'd still be a nomad if I had kids. A bunch of people travel with their kids, my favorite example being my friend Leo who does long single-backpack trips with all six of his kids all over the world. He's so good at it that I asked him to write a guest chapter about it in my recent travel book, Forever Nomad.
The thinking behind the question bothers me a little bit, though.
When I'm considering doing something, I give no thought to whether other people have done it or not. I don't really think about whether it will be hard or not. I don't think about what random people will think about it.
Right now I'm writing every single day, averaging around 4000 words. I have a big batch of writing I want to do, and I've broken it up over 10 days. This sounds like a daunting task, but I find it dead simple to complete, primarily due to one tactic that I often use.
I call it Do it or Nothing. The way it works is that you choose a task that you are supposed to do, and you give yourself two options. You can do the task, or you can stare at the task and do nothing. Very simple.
When you tell yourself that you have to do a task, every single option in the world is available for procrastination. There's no release valve. On a good day this doesn't matter because you just hunker down and get the work done, but on a bad day you're likely to hop around through whatever your favorite procrastination vices are.
Doing nothing creates an alternative, but a very boring one that has no stimulation, so you will only resort to it if you really need to. My options are to write or to stare at a blank text editor. That's it.
One of the most common errors I see amongst well-meaning people are errors of awareness. They're people with the ability to influence and they only want to help, but they lack a fundamental awareness of how others will react. This is particularly unfortunate because their efforts go misguided and can harm rather than help.
The biggest sign that you may be a person who makes this mistake is if your results don't match your expectations. You do something nice for someone and it seems to go unappreciated. You spend time with someone, but they don't make an effort to see you again. Or maybe someone complains about something to you that seems like it has come totally out of left field.
All of us will have these sorts of things happen on rare occasions, but if they are happening on a regular basis, you are probably making a fundamental awareness error.
Usually this is the result of not thinking about second-order effects of your action. For example, maybe you introduce two of your friends, thinking that they might want to date, but you didn't consider the fact that one of your other friends had a crush on one of them. Your intentions were good, but you didn't anticipate the side effects.