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You Should Cheat

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”Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” – Salvator Dali

Before you start insulting me, let’s make something clear, I’m not talking about relationships. Let me explain myself. We all do things that doesn’t fit in our ideal life. The best examples are eating fast food, drinking alcohol, taking load of caffeine, watching TV, browsing the internet, playing video games or being lazy. The list could be longer, but you see the point. Tuesday, I’ve received my copy Fallout 4 by Amazon. For those, who don’t what I’m talking about, Fallout is post-apocalyptic video games. The game is huge and can easily suck you in for hours. I took my copy and put it aside. I wanted to make a simple experiment. I told myself that would only play saturday (for the whole day) if all the important stuff I wanted do would be done (gym, writing, reading and projects). Without committing myself, I would have easily spend all my free time playing and I’m not joking. To my surprise, I was way more productive that way. What I can see about that…

  • My gaming experience was even better because I’ve delayed the reward. I was awaiting that moment all week.
  • I wasn’t ashamed to play for my whole Saturday, because everything I wanted to be done, was finished.
  • I did way more during my week by avoiding anything related to TV. I felt more satisfied about myself, therefore I was more happy and less stressed.

Cheating can also help you build habits. I love to drink Red Bull. I know it’s bad for the health. I remember in my college years, drinking 2 cans a day. Nowadays, I avoid it as much as possible. The best way that I used to stop was to let myself cheat once or twice a month. I’ve avoided the pain of removing what I like from my life, but at the same I’ve reduce so much the quantity I drink that it doesn’t have significant impact on my life.

Trying to be perfect is impossible. It’s a recipe for frustration. Let yourself deliberately cheat, not too much, but just enough.

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Along the Way

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”If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.” – Neil Gaiman

Last monday, I finally had the chance see Spectre. I was astonished at how the critics were brutal with that movie. It’s a step down from Skyfall and Casino Royale, I admit it. But, it’s not worse than Quantum of Solace. When I look at the big picture, I remember the Pierce Brosnan’s years. Die Another Day is still a nightmare I want to forget. Spectre is a league above that movie. People forget fast, the James Bond’s franchise was down the sinkhole 10 years ago.

My goal here isn’t to talk about movies. I thought that the Bond’s example was perfect to make my point. Progression will never be linear. In whatever you’ll do, you will hit obstacles, plateaus and you will have set backs. The idea that your progression must be a straight line going upward on and on is simply not real life. A multitude of factors will always influence your performance. You can hit 70 push-ups as a record, but it doesn’t mean you’ll be at 80 next month. It’s possible that you’ll go back down at 63, before going back up again. The idea is that you keep doing it, keep trying.

You cannot have your best day everyday. It’s the same for the Bond movies. The next will probably be better. In the end, we must look at the big picture. Can we see a global improvement? That’s the real question that must be answer. The only way to make that question relevant is to at least attempt something.

Those Bullshit Excuses

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”The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”Jordan Belfort

We always have excuses. Not enough money. Not enough time. Being too old. Being tired. Not having the skills. I could go on and on. I could find a thousand of bullshit excuses. During the last 4 months, I’ve postponed writing something for the simple reason that I was telling myself that I didn’t have enough time.

Really? In all honesty, I had time to watch tv, play video games and lose my time on internet. In the end, we choose what we really want. We choose that we are too tired. We choose that we don’t have the skills. The universe doesn’t use magic against us. It’s all us. It’s our damn choice.

Leap of Faith

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“Too late, I found you can’t wait to become perfect, you got to go out and fall down and get up with everybody else.” – Ray Bradbury

The whole idea of this post came to me while I was struggling writing. I didn’t know where to start after nearly a month off. I was searching for the perfect topic or the perfect idea. That fucking blank page. All the result of the fear of judgment. All that time, the only thing I should have done was to go with my guts. Write the damn thing and press publish. It might be shit. It might be good. It might be average. It doesn’t matter in the end, if I don’t press publish, it will never exist. Resistance will build up. The only solution? Doing it now.

The Next Chapter

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“Without change something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.” – Duke Leto Atreides (Dune)

Deep inside, we fear change. We are afraid of going out of our comfort zone. Why do we feel that fear? It’s because what comes next is unknown. We can’t predict the future, therefore we cannot anticipate the chaos and turbulence that could happen in consequence. Still, it’s critical for each individual to embrace change.

Societies has evolved through time with revolutions, inventions, wars, new ideas and big changes. We aren’t where we are today because of stagnation. We are here because some people did it. They went beyond their threshold to make the human race evolve.  Without changes, we would still be in the stone age.

It’s the same for each and every one of us. We need to confront fear. We need to go beyond the comfort zone. That’s the only way to grow. Stagnation was never the answer. Make the next chapter happen, whatever it is.

How to Read 50 Books in a Year

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“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.” George R.R. Martin

I never thought that one day I could have a “realist” goal of reading 50 books in a year. This is happening now. I’ve been asked by a few people how I read that much (I don’t think 50 is a lot, when some people a reading a hundred in a year). I don’t use fast reading techniques. You won’t find any hacks or shortcuts below. I’m actually a slow reader. I think anyone can do it with the proper mindset. Here are a bunch of ideas that could help you boost your reading in the next year.

*The first thing you should do is to make reading a priority. You probably watch TV for a few hours every week, play video games or browse internet (Facebook, Reddit, etc.). Instead of doing these activities, make reading your default option. I’m not saying don’t watch TV at all, but you can surely be creative and make more time for reading.

*One thing I do that help a lot is taking reading appointments. Whenever I have free time during the week, I’ll plug a 2-3 hours of reading in Google Calendar. Doing that will make you commit to do it. An other option would be to make a habit out of it, like reading 40 pages everyday. I don’t use that option because my days are never equal. But, I can see how it’s a great way to read much more.

*I suggest that you either always carry a book with you or one on Kindle (iPhone/Android). Dead times are underestimated. You easily lose few hours every week doing nothing. Read when waiting in line at the grocery stores, between gym sets, when waiting for meetings, in the metro or at any other dead times.

*I personally read 2 books at the same time. Usually 1 fiction and 1 non-fiction. Why am I doing that? Sometimes you won’t feel like reading a certain book. When you are tired, it will be way easier to read a fiction for example. You increase your chance of wanting to read something.

*It’s important to read stuff you like. If you don’t like what you’re reading, chances are that you will stop right at the middle. If you don’t like it, throw it away. As simple as that.

*I would say that one of the most important thing is to have a goal. Not aiming for an objective will make you fail. I know that I have to read 50 books before the end of the year and the goal is clearly inside my head. I track my progress and list each book I’m reading. I use a countdown to see where I’m at. It’s useful because you’ll know when you’ll have to read more. It’s just like project management, the closer you get to the deadline, the more time/effort you’ll put into your work.

*I think focus is mandatory. You need to make your reading a fun and relax activity. I usually make myself a coffee during the day or an herbal tea in the evening. Put your cell away. The last thing you want to do is check it every 2 minutes. And every time you stop, you’ll need to get your concentration back. I don’t use music when I’m reading, but some people like classical music.

Don’t know where to start? I did a bunch of book reviews if you need some inspiration: Moneyball, You Are Now Less Dumb, Steal Like an Artist, The Dip, 7 Years in Tibet, The Old Man and the Sea and Appalachian Trials.

Man With a Mission

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“Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.” – Seneca

Alexander The Great had a mission, he wanted to conquer the world. We can attack or defend his motives, but this isn’t the goal here. The one thing we can be certain is that he had one clear purpose and he didn’t deflect from it. Only death stopped him.

In each part of our life, we have a mission: work, community, relationships, education, hobbies and the list goes on. Those missions are different from one individual to another. Some people will have only one mission, others will have more. There are no rules about that.

What are your missions? It’s important to ask the question. It’s the only way to have a clear picture. It’s the only way to know if what we do matter or not. Missions will evolve. Some will stay. Some will go. But, you need to know them.