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Tear It Up and Start Again

Build on what worked

When a plan or resolution fails, don't dismiss it to try a new, equally rigid resolution. Build on what worked.

When your plan fails, the best you can do is to look back and see which parts of it worked; which parts you found fun and easy and which you couldn’t handle even when you were full of enthusiasm.

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Tear It Up and Start Again

Tear It Up and Start Again

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/09/smarter-living/tear-it-up-and-start-again.html

nytimes.com

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Key Ideas

Naive expectations

In relation to self-improvement, we often create idealized systems with unnatural rules and regulations. We also naively believe that we will find a way to stick to our rigid plans when life gets random and hard.
The problem isn’t that plans fail because crises appear; it’s what we do when they fail that matters.

Build on what worked

When a plan or resolution fails, don't dismiss it to try a new, equally rigid resolution. Build on what worked.

When your plan fails, the best you can do is to look back and see which parts of it worked; which parts you found fun and easy and which you couldn’t handle even when you were full of enthusiasm.

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

“I never lose. I win or learn.”

Fail and learn

All of us fail at meeting our goals at some point in life. That is not a problem. The problem appears when we fail and we are not learning from our mistakes.

That keeps us in the brutal cycle of making the same resolution every year and never achieving it.

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The first draft

The first words you write are the first draft. Writing is thinking. You'll rarely know what exactly you want to say when you start writing.

The time you put into editing, reworking and re...

Common errors

Most writing mistakes are widespread, but good writers just get better at spotting them. Some things you'll learn to watch for are:

  • Overuse of jargon and business-speak, like "utilize" or "endeavor" instead of "use" or "try."
  • Clichés are stale phrases that have lost their impact and novelty through overuse. If you are used to seeing it in print, don't use it.
  • The passive voice. The subject of the sentence should be the person or thing taking action, not the thing being acted on. "Harry wrote this article," is better than "This article was written by Harry."
  • Rambling. When you are not sure what you want to say, it is easy to phrase it in three or four different ways. A single concise sentence is generally better.
Give it some space

When you write something, you get very close to it. It is nearly impossible to distance yourself from it straight away to edit properly.

The longer you can leave a draft before editing, the better. Half an hour to two days is enough of a break to edit well. When you do edit, read your work out loud. You'll catch more problems and get a better feel for how everything flows.

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The Impostor Syndrome
The Impostor Syndrome
  • A feeling of being unworthy and secretly cheating your audience/employer or followers is common and natural, especially in the field of writing.

  • 70 percent of millennia...

Illusory Superiority

This is a form of false confidence, when we believe that we are above average in just about everything.

Some people form a ‘halo’ around themselves at being extremely competent while being the opposite, as they are unable to measure or even see their shortcomings. This is known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

Realistic Goals

Writers who are confident set realistic and controllable goals to overcome the impostor syndrome.

Focusing on days or weeks of progress, with regular review/tracking gets us to know our productivity with supporting data, as opposed to our feelings that are unreliable.

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Revising a paper
Revision starts once you have a finished first draft of your paper. As you reread what you have written, you might notice a few places wher...
Tips for Revision
  • Give yourself time between writing the first draft and looking at it again for revision. A few hours can give you enough time to see it with fresh eyes that are more likely to spot trouble areas.
  • Read your paper out loud. Sometimes speaking the words helps you get a better feel for the flow of a paper.
  • Do not worry about the editing yet. Get the big ideas down and leave the details for later.
  • Make sure your paper is organized in a logical way. Make your thesis statement and follow it up with arguments, quotes, and evidence in a way that makes your purpose clear.
Editing a paper
It happens once you have a draft you are confident in as a whole. In this process, you are going to look for the details that may have slipped by you during the writing process. Spelling errors are often caught by spellcheck but do not trust this tool to catch everything. Word usage is also a common problem to catch in editing. Is there a word you use repetitively? Or did you write there when you meant their? Details like this seem small on an individual basis, but as they pile up they can distract your reader. 

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Urgent ≠ Important

Time management can be tough. What is urgent in your life and what is important to your life are often very different things:

  • going to the gym today isn't urgent, but it is imp...
Eliminate half-work at all costs

Examples of half-work:

  • You start writing a report but stop randomly to check your phone for no reason or to open up Facebook or Twitter.
  • You try out a new workout routine. Two days later, you read about another “new” fitness program and try a little bit of that. You make little progress in either program and so you start searching for something better.
  • Your mind wanders to your email inbox while you're on the phone with someone.
Do the most important thing first

Decisions and choices that you make throughout the day tend to drain your willpower. You're less likely to make a good decision at the end of the day than you are at the beginning.

If you do the most important thing first, then you’ll never have a day when you didn’t get something important done.

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SMART Resolutions
SMART Resolutions

Pick a goal that is meaningful and doable, making sure it's coming from inside you, not imposed by others.

Make specific, realistic plans for your New Year Goal using the time-tested SMART Te...

Creating a Plan

Chances are you won't just wake up one day and suddenly change your life. To go where you want to go, you have to chart out a plan.

Quitting Bad Habits
If you want to quit a bad habit, start by identifying its 3 main parts: the cue, the routine, and the reward. After you check the cue and your routine that follows it, you can swap the routine with something good (or less bad) to do.

For example: If you feel the cue of smoking, replace the smoking with some other activity like having a cup of coffee.

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Output comes from input

If you want to have a lot of good ideas, you need to expose yourself to good ideas.

This means reading books, having conversations with interesting people, seeking out new experiences,...

Have a capture mechanism

Creative ideas often come to you when you’re not deliberately trying to solve a problem, when your mind is relaxed.

That's why your creative process must include a system to capture ideas when you have them, so you can work on them later. The simplest mechanism is simply to have a list where you keep ideas.

Incubate your ideas

Regularly review your ideas lists. Incubation helps because just as a spontaneous connection can generate an idea, an incubated idea can spontaneously mature into a plan of action if you take care of it.

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Why a Night Routine Matters

A night routine is the things you do immediately prior to going to bed.

Three benefits of having a decent night routine:

  • You’ll have a more restful and higher-quality sleep....
Before You Head Home…
  • Get rid of caffeine after 4:00 pm. Caffeine stays in your system for up to six hours.
  • Stay hydrated. Dehydration can make you feel sluggish and tired when you want to be awake.

  • Decide when the workday ends. Establish a cut off time for work-related emails and phone calls as well.

Immediately After Work…
  • Avoid alcohol. Alcohol may make you drowsy, but the sleep you get won’t be restful. Stop consuming it at least two hours before bed.
  • Have a healthy dinner. 

    When you need a snack closer to bedtime, reach for something light and healthy.

  • Take time to tidy. Waking up in an orderly space will work wonders for your mood.

  • Prepare for tomorrow. 

    When you don’t have a million things to do upon waking, it’s easier to fall asleep.
  • Take time for yourself. Perhaps you watch an episode of your favorite show or play video games.

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Writing is intimidating. There’s this expectation of artful precision, mercurial grammatical rules, and the weird angst that comes with writing for other people. You start with a tidy nu...
Writing is Deliberate
Choosing the words to describe your work means you’re doing it on purpose. 

You’re going on the record as someone who thinks about why they do what they do, and understands how each decision affects the results. And developing this knack for critical thinking will also make you better at what you do.

Struggling To Build Healthy Habits
  • We tend to bite off more than we can chew, go too fast too soon, and then get overwhelmed too quickly.
  • We’re conditioned these days to expect and receive instant gratification.
Your “Big Why”

As you’re determining the habits or resolutions you’re trying to set, make the habit part of a bigger cause that’s worth the struggle.

You’re not just going to the gym, you’re building a new body that you’re not ashamed of so you can start dating again.

Healthy Habit Building 101

There are 3 parts to a good or bad habit: Cue (what triggers the action), Routine (the action itself), Reward (the positive result because of the action).

You have trained your brain to take a cue (you see a doughnut), anticipate a reward (a sugar high), and make the behavior automatic (nom that donut). 

Compare that to a cue (you see your running shoes), anticipate a reward (a runner’s high), and make the behavior automatic (go for a run!).

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