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Three Speeds of Self Improvement

Yesterday I got a good question from a reader. His email was too long to paste in full, but the gist of the question was that he was trying to do a lot of self improvement stuff at once, and his attention seemed to be too spread to really made a big impact in any one area. How do I manage to make a lot of progress, he asked?

Over the past dozen years or more I've tackled a huge number of self improvement projects. Not all of them have been complete successes, of course, but generally I've been satisfied with my progress. Through that time I've come to classify these projects into three different categories, which helps me coordinate them all.

The first category of self improvement projects are instant changes, which I wrote about here. These are mainly habits that binary, meaning that whether or not you're doing them is very easily measured. Either you're waking up early in the morning or you're not, either you're smoking or you're not, either you're eating healthy or you're not. The process of tackling these sorts of improvements is easy-- you come up with a compelling reason why you MUST switch ("If I don't quit smoking, I will die ten years early and miss seeing my grandchildren") and then you just do it. We have a natural inclination to draw these things out and make them into big deals, tapering them and scheduling them, but I find it much easier to just start now and do it completely. The biggest changes I've made in this category are waking up early, always being on time, and not eating unhealthy food.

When attempting instant changes, do one at a time unless two are complementary. For example, you could quit soda AND sugary food since they're related, but I wouldn't try qutting sugary food and waking up early at the same time. Will power is a strong force and can be harnessed for really impactful permanent change, but it works best with its attention undivided. So make a big instant change, wait 20-30 days or so until it's effortless (possibly more for some habits) and then move on to the next one.

Why and How to Learn German Incredibly Quickly

On Ideas in the Making

On my first Trip to Europe Germany was the country that most surprised me. I had expected it to be overwhelmingly industrial and cold, with the people having a penchant for systematic and logical problem solving.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

Berlin was teeming with young, exciting life, the rural areas were filled with trees and beautiful vistas, and the people were endearing and happy. Most of all I was even more surprised at how well Germany was doing economically, politically and socially compared to other European nations. Even in the midst of the recession, Germany managed to pay off it World War 1 debt, keep unemployment flat, and keep its GDP to debt ratio in a good standing. Germany's infrastructure and social policy were equally impressive, with clean parks, water, good health care, and amazing roads being widely available. Germany seemed like a dream world.

But what really drove me over the edge? The real reason I started learning German?

Oneword: Startups

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