One Choice That Will Change Your Life

The Smartest Way To Live

The difference between fiction and reality?  Fiction has to make sense.
-Tom Clancy

This evening I met a friend at a local bar.  She brought her laptop along so she could show me some of her latest digital art designs.  As we chatted and scrolled through her artwork, the laptop suddenly started making an unhealthy buzzing noise, then the screen flickered on and off and then cut off completely.  And as we both stared at one another in dismay, the funky smell of fried computer circuits consumed our nostrils.

I grabbed the laptop off the bar to inspect it and the problem instantly revealed itself. The bottom of the laptop was soaking wet and an empty, spilt water glass rested against the side of her purse just behind where the laptop was sitting.  In the midst of us chatting and shifting the laptop’s 17 inch screen back and forth, we somehow spilt a glass of water that the bartender had inadvertently placed behind the screen, which was out of our view.

When life throws us nasty curveballs like this, it typically doesn’t make any sense to us, and our natural emotional reaction might be to get extremely upset and scream obscenities at the top of our lungs.  But how does this help our dilemma?  Obviously, it doesn’t.

The smartest, and oftentimes hardest, thing we can do in these kinds of situations is to be more tempered in our reactions.  To want to scream obscenities, but to be wiser and more disciplined than that.  To remember that emotional rage only makes matters worse.  And to remember that tragedies are rarely as bad as they seem, and even when they are, they give us an opportunity to grow stronger.

Every difficult moment in our lives is accompanied by an opportunity for personal growth and creativity.  But in order to attain this growth and creativity, we must first learn to control our emotions.  We must recognize that difficulties pass like everything else in life.  And once they pass, all we’re left with are our unique experiences with each other and this crazy world, and the lessons we’ve learned along the way.

Life is short.  Our thoughts steer our reality.  We already know this.  The choice is ours to make.

Photo by: Gary

Productivity Advice in 5 Words or Less

Productivity in 5 Words or Less

I’m an advocate of productivity and simplicity, and I assume most readers of this blog are as well.  So today I figured I’d hit two birds with one stone and give you the best productivity advice possible in five words or less.  After all, simple, straightforward advice is often the best advice.

  1. Define realistic goals.
  2. Start now.
  3. Plan, but not too much.
  4. Do important things first.
  5. One thing at a time.
  6. Break complex goals into tasks.
  7. Disconnect yourself from distractions.
  8. Love what you do.
  9. Learn from your failures.
  10. Celebrate your successes.
  11. Be early.
  12. Handle small tasks immediately.
  13. Batch process similar tasks.
  14. Manage your time.
  15. Use a planner.
  16. Take notes.
  17. Focus more on less.
  18. Find and follow efficient patterns.
  19. Learn productive shortcuts.
  20. Tomorrow is today’s result.
  21. Organize your space.
  22. Clear clutter.
  23. Be productive while you wait.
  24. Automate tasks and reminders.
  25. Read the manual.
  26. Learn from others.
  27. Teach others to help you.
  28. Delegate.
  29. Allocate and maximize your resources.
  30. Use the right tools.
  31. Work on goals every day.
  32. Keep it fun.
  33. Establish and maintain strong relationships.
  34. Spend time with your family.
  35. Take care of your health.
  36. Get enough sleep.
  37. Delete the unnecessary.
  38. Trust your gut instincts.
  39. Face your fears.
  40. Solve problems.
  41. Make your own decisions.
  42. Take your own advice.
  43. Try something new.
  44. Follow your values.
  45. Learn to say, “No.”
  46. Spend minutes to save hours.
  47. Validate your assumptions.
  48. Follow and speak the truth.
  49. Never cheat.
  50. Never give up on yourself.
  51. Small steps add up fast.
  52. Be meaningful.
  53. Ask questions.
  54. Identify and strengthen your weaknesses.
  55. Over-deliver on your promises.
  56. Adapt to change.
  57. Pay it forward.
  58. Stay flexible.
  59. Be open to new ideas.
  60. Challenge yourself.
  61. Be positive.
  62. Disregard negative people.
  63. Live below your means.
  64. Listen more, speak less.
  65. Think.
  66. Continuously educate yourself.
  67. Lead by example.
  68. Always do your best.
  69. Don’t settle.
  70. Communicate clearly.
  71. Treat everyone with respect.
  72. Act when opportunities arise.
  73. Quality over quantity.
  74. Do the hard stuff first.
  75. Set deadlines.
  76. Reflect on your progress.
  77. Keep track of important milestones.
  78. Follow the 80-20 rule.
  79. Urgent is not always important.
  80. Done is better than perfect.
  81. Learn skills few people know.
  82. Provide tangible value.
  83. Time trumps money.
  84. Be yourself.
  85. Find people with similar goals.
  86. Reuse and recycle what works.
  87. Patience is a virtue.
  88. Ask yourself: “Why do this?”
  89. Don’t worry about the uncontrollable.
  90. Your thoughts create your reality.
  91. Complaining just wastes time.
  92. Excel at what you do.
  93. Slow and steady.
  94. Be here now.
  95. Perform tasks with multiple positives.
  96. View things from different angles.
  97. Use your imagination.
  98. Visualize your success.
  99. Smile.
  100. Keep it simple.
  101. Finish what you start.

Please expand on this list by adding your own advice in five words or less in the comments section below.

Also, I highly recommend these best selling productivity books:

Photo by: Veo

3 Communication Tips for Building Stronger Relationships

Communication Tips

This guest post was written by Karl Staib, author of Work Happy Now!

Last week I was talking on the phone with my brother, and even though we live 2,000 miles away from each other, he could still feel my sour attitude.  He asked me if everything was okay.  I was a bit surprised because I thought I was covering up my mood quite well.

I brushed off his question and told him I was fine.  He wasn’t buying it and the rest of our phone conversation struggled along.

People can feel the real message you are sending, whether you are talking to them on the phone, in person, or online.

Don’t Just Reach Out to the Fools

I’m convinced most people can smell fear and bull crap.  If you try to cover it up, they may be fooled at first, but eventually they catch on.

My subconscious usually picks up on whether or not people are sincere.  If someone is being insincere, I can feel this and I begin looking for validation.  Even if it’s just a split second feeling, I will be on the hunt to make sure I’m right.  My attention is distracted and I have trouble taking the person seriously.  That’s why as communicators (writing, speaking or body language), we have to believe that our audience is smart, savvy and ready to find faults in our message.  This also goes for an audience of just one.  It’s a problem that’s easily solved as long as you remain true to yourself.

If you believe in your message then other people will trust you.  This isn’t always easy, so I’ve devised three questions that I ask myself before I talk or write anything to anyone.

Rules for Communication:

  1. Am I telling a story?  (People connect to a story, not just facts.)
  2. Do I really believe this to be true?  (When communicating, we need to believe in everything we say.)
  3. Is this valuable?  (Will the other person find humor or knowledge in the message?)

When I first started on Twitter, I was prone to just retweeting (sending out someone else’s tweet) anything that seemed cool.  There were times when I did not even take the time to check out the source.  So wrong on many levels. One time I retweeted a link then clicked on it and it took me to a jacked-up site that gave no value at all.  It actually had animated flying pigs on it.  And they weren’t even artistic.  Just a bunch of ugly pink pigs.

The bottom line is you have to concentrate on sending out the right message to other people, otherwise you won’t be creating a likable personal brand that separates you from the wannabes.  In this day and age of social media we all need to manage our personal brands.  Future employers will be Googling your name to see if you’re communicating certain messages online that don’t mesh well with their corporate culture.

You may not be trying to be an Internet superstar, but surely you’re trying to be the best communicator you can be.  Because if you can’t get your ideas across clearly and with conviction, no one will ever listen to you.

Putting It All Together

We live in the greatest era for communication – a time when we can create our own brand and package it in a way that makes us happy.  Twenty years ago we were stuck with the channels of communication that big business gave us.  Of course we could put out a printed newsletter or ‘zine, but it was costly and its reach was limited.  Blogging, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites make it so much easier to spread our message and our brand.

You now have the ability to create your own happiness through communication of your expertise.

I write about work happiness and right now there are more people working happy than ever before because they are able to express their true selves while they work.  People like Brian Clark, Sonia Simone, and Leo Babauta (Check out Leo’s story – it’s fascinating) have communicated from their heart and now they have a dedicated following.  They did this by believing so strongly in their message that nothing could hold them back from success.

The key is knowing who you are and figuring out how to maximize your thoughts through communication.

How do you optimize your ability to communicate well?

It’s not easy, but worth your time to practice it.

Always remember the three words – Story, Heart, and Value.


Make sure you tell a story that helps people connect to a specific concept.  Even the people who gossip about others know this because usually you are already intrigued by the person they are talking about.  That’s why it’s hard not to listen.  By sharing something about a person whom you already know, you can become more connected.

Gossiping is wrong if it’s done to tear someone down, but gossip can also be positive. (i.e. a mother sharing a story about her daughter’s relationship with a friend or a manager sharing a story with her employee about another co-worker’s accomplishment in order to motivate her.) This type of communication can help us get through a tough time or find a solution to a problem.


Before you say something, always check in with yourself for a half second to see if it’s really what you believe.  Do this again and again and again.  The time you take to develop this awareness, the more comfortable you will be with communicating to individuals and crowds.

You probably think you do this, but do you really listen?  The difference between a writer who makes it and a writer who is always trying rests in their passion for the truth.  You can’t believe what you want to believe because it’s easier.  You have to communicate straight from your heart… and that takes guts.


Does this information help the person in some way?  When telling a story, try to think of it as an opportunity to teach.  I’m not talking about ‘after school special’ lameness.  I’m talking about opening a person’s eyes to new perspectives or motivating them to try something new.

When you communicate with the people in your life, you are setting the tone for future interaction.  If you create positive feelings then they will want more stories from you and more time with you.  If all you do is regurgitate other peoples thoughts and ideas, but don’t check in with your soul first, eventually the people around you will notice and stop caring.


You have to choose communication that will build stronger, healthier relationships.

How are you improving your ability to connect to your true self so you can communicate your message effectively?  Are you communicating from the deep depths of your heart?  If so, let us know in the comment section.

Karl Staib writes about unlocking and kicking open the door to working happy on his blog: Work Happy Now!  If you enjoyed this article, you may like to subscribe to his feed, follow him on Twitter or read one of his most popular articles, Creating A Project Ritual to Encourage Happiness.

Photo by: Scott Beale

How To Make The World A Better Place

Make the World a Better Place

Once upon a time, a young man and woman met, gazed into each other’s eyes, kissed, and knew – for certain – that they were supposed to be together forever.  In the subsequent days, weeks, and months everything fell into place just as they had anticipated.  He was perfect in her eyes, and she was perfect in his.

Oh, it’s the majestic certainty of young love!  When two souls who barely know each other believe they know everything that they must know to live happily ever after in their own blissful bubble.  They think this because it’s what their emotional hearts and minds tell them is true.

But you know what happens next.  It’s what always happens next in phony fairy tales like this.  For one reason or another, logic trumps emotion, their bubble bursts, and the two lovers tumble back down to Earth, bruising themselves along the way and realizing that their perfect partner isn’t so perfect after all.

Maybe he learns that she doesn’t like rock music – and rock music is extremely important to him.  Maybe she learns that he never makes the bed – and making the bed is extremely important to her.  Regardless of the specifics, our lovers are finally beginning to see each other for who they really are – imperfect human beings.  This is the turning point at which ‘falling in love’ ends and the test of ‘true love’ begins.

Either their mindset adjusts and they accept reality – that true love isn’t so much about perfection as it is about growth and patience – or they move on to the next short-term fairy tale romance in hopes of finding that one perfect soul mate who does everything just right.

Why am I telling you this story?

Because the fluctuating feelings that steer our romantic relationships are quite similar to those that steer our motivation to make a meaningful impact on the world around us.  A little passion is all that’s required to start, but only sustained perseverance makes it worthwhile.

Sure, short powerful bursts of effort and seemingly giant leaps in a single bound appear to be remarkable.  But they fade as fast as they arrive, and all we’re left with in the end is an unfulfilled void.

An enduring dedication – fulfilling promises by marching forward with one foot in front of the other, even when the going gets tough – is what true love is all about.  And it’s this kind of love, and only this kind of love, that can make the world a better place.

Photo by: Brandon Christopher Warren