Category Archives: Life Hacks

Adjusting Course: A User’s Guide For People and the Places They Work

I just turned 30 this past April.  As my birthday was approaching, I spoke to lots of people who had gone through their 30s, and all the feedback I received centered around one thing: Your 30s are a time of change, and will be much more awesome than your 20s were.

To that end, I thought I’d share some self-reflection strategies for those times where change needs to happen that just happen to be carefully worded so that they can apply to business as well.  Wasn’t that clever of me?

 

CGC Eagle

I. Accept the reality of your situation.  Go ahead, give it a shot.

 

Chances are, things weren’t what you thought they were – If the bottom has fallen out of your situation, consider for a moment the prospect that you may have been judging the reality of your situation inaccurately to begin with, and that the new realizations and trends can serve as a reality check and give you a new place to work from.

Rethink, don’t combat – There is the tendency when we feel attacked both as people and as professionals to want to strike out in anger against those we perceive are doing the hurting (e.g. See: RIAA suing its customers, the venom with which traditional print media regards bloggers, blaming society/our parents/ex-girlfriends for our current situations).  Often, those people are not actually the root cause of the issue, but rather are symbolic of a deeper, more internal issue.  This is a perfectly natural reaction, but once you’re done throwing a tantrum, it’s time to look within and see exactly what led to this behavior.

The goal is to rebuild, not to regain – Take this opportunity to look at what’s not working and change it, rather than trying desperately to get things ‘back to the way they were’.  Things will never be the way they were, because the world and your place in it is fundamentally different at this moment than it has ever been. Accepting this can free you to decide where you ultimately want to end up.

II. Figure out where you want to go

Identify and embrace core values.  Figure out what they’re not, then figure out what they are. – Get back to basics.  What do you stand for? Be as specific as possible.  In thinking about your core values, throw out all the mottos, taglines, things people have complimented you onand phrases that you’re used to parroting back into the world.  If it helps, write them all down on paper and cross them out with a big pen.  Those are not your values. It’s time to get real.

Your core value statement is what sets you apart as unique in the world, it will need to be specific enough that you can measure every action you take against it to see if you are aligned or not.

Start from scratch, sort of – OK, so take those core value statements that you came up with, and consider: if you had the chance to reset yourself, without being beholden to all your current baggage and learned behaviors, what specific values and activities would you embrace?  What would you  immediately leave by the side of the road? What would you take out back and stomp on repeatedly? How would you interact with others? What kind of impression would you want to make?

III. Identify barriers to getting there

Figure out why you’re not there already – An important step in being able to take action is to look at why you haven’t yet done so.  Accept that some of the reasons may be emotional in nature and therefore not objectively rational.  The important thing is to get as many of them ‘down on paper’ as possible, so you can evaluate whether they should continue to be able to hold you back.

Identify the consequences of not doing anything – Chances are, if you’ve read this far, you are at least considering addressing change.  However, to really drive the point home, it may be helpful to take a look at what might happen should you continue on your current course. Just keep in mind that not making a decision is, in fact, a decision as well.

IV: Do something about it!

Yes, this is the scary part.  Hopefully parts I-III have given you enough preparation and data so that you can be aware of what you need to do, how to gauge whether you’re being true to you core goals.  If you’ve made it this far, you are ready to act.

Don’t try to do it all at once, but do something. – Take some small steps, measure, adjust.  Try something new, do something differently than you have in the past.  Put yourself out there in a way more aligned with your real goals. Commit yourself to ramp up the process.

Measure, measure, measure –  As you get more comfortable with the action -> measurement -> adjustment loop, you will find that opportunities for change begin to present themselves in a way that they haven’t before.  As with the actions you took when ramping up, it is critical to test new opportunities against your core goals and values.  If they are in alignment, then act, measure, adjust accordingly.  If not, dont do them.  When reviewing, always remember to ask yourself whether you getting where you want to go.

Build momentum, but be mindful of your speed – One of the things that may have gotten you to the place you were was years of momentum.  If we aren’t careful to be mindful of our goals and values, our momentum can take us down disastrous paths.  Remembering our high school physics, it takes much more energy to stop and reverse direction than it does to always be adjusting your course.

Accept setbacks, ignore haters, keep to your path as much as you can. – This is pretty self-explanatory.  Whether we’re talking about you or your company, there are going to be wrong moves, there are going to be people who are waiting for you to fail, or fudge a result or have your adjustments be ‘all an act’.  Those people are easily ignored.  Stick to your guns and your values, and the vast majority will appreciate the improvement!

So there you have it.  Jeremy’s not-so-concise guide to handling change, both personally and in business.  I’m looking forward to seeing what my 30s have to offer!

Dear Reader: #YouMatter.

[Note: this post was written before a follow-up called Deflating The Balloon: Addressing the fight against numbness and depression, which takes a  significantly different approach.  Although I think there is definitely some value here in this essay, if I was writing it today, I’m not sure i would approach it in quite the same way.  That said, I think it provides an interesting viewpoint and hope it is of value to those folks out there struggling with constant self-doubt.]

Are you sitting down? I have something very important I need you to know.

Ready?

You matter.

There are people out there, many of whom you’ve never met and may never meet, who would not be where they are it wasn’t for you.  Do you get that? Does that sink in?

Who you are and what you do affects people. You have a place in the world that is uniquely your own, a perfect you-shaped hole that only you can fill.

You are curious and interested. You inspire these things in others.  You have passion to share, even if you have no freakin clue what it is yet.  It’s there, waiting to explode out into the world. By virtue of you reading this post, I know this much about you.

Beijing bouddhist monk 2009 IMG 1486You have every right to be proud of yourself. You have every right to love who you are. I’m giving you permission.  In fact, you have an absolute responsibility to do both of these things.

You know that inner voice? That voice with its arms folded right now, shrugging and saying “Yeah, but so what?” or “This guy doesn’t even know me” or “What is this nutjob on about!” ?

That voice hates you. That voice desperately needs you to think that you don’t matter, that you’re not good enough, that you’re not really a part of the world, that when people say something nice about you they dont really mean it, or they don’t really know the real you, or whatever.  That way, that voice wins, and gets to be smug, and be right, and have control.

Here’s the secret.  I have a feeling you already know this.  That voice is a liar. All that stuff is 100% fiction.  Because you matter.  You have a place in the world that is uniquely yours.  Whether you’re out feeding the homeless or home on the couch watching TV, that you-shaped hole can only be filled by you. And look at you, you’re already doing it!

That very same voice inside my head has controlled me for a long time.  I’ve bought into it. I thought “Yeah, I’m smart, so what? I didn’t have anything to do with me being smart, it’s just how I am.”  That voice got to win. I don’t blame myself, nor do I think I’m a victim of it, it is simply a statement of fact. But now I’m writing this to you, because I’m geting the sneaking suspicion that what I’m saying in this letter is true. And that I need to tell that voice “Thanks for your input, but you’re wrong, and I don’t have to listen to you anymore.”  And that you do, too.

I know it’s easy to discard this letter as saccharine nonsense or empty words. People don’t tell each other that they matter very often.  Sure, it’s implied by a smile or a hug or a tweet or an IM or all that stuff that’s easy to file in a place where it doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme.  I think this needs to change.

Here’s what I want you to do.  This is absolutely essential. Chances are, if I’ve communicated what I want to say effectively, there’s someone in your mind right now who you know that matters to you, and needs to read this.  I want you to pick up the phone, write them an email, meet them for dinner, mail them a letter or even send them a tweet and tell them strongly and directly “Hey, I wanted you to know that you matter to me.”  Don’t qualify it with a particular reason or accomplishment or what they’ve done for you. Just leave it at that, and mean it. If you’re on Twitter and feel comfortable doing so, consider using hashtag #youmatter.

Okay, so that’s what I wanted to make sure you knew.  Letter over.

With all possible love and admiration,

Jeremy Meyers

[this letter was inspired by several conversations had at and around Podcamp Boston, and by a few people who matter to me very much.]

Things I Am Learning About Life: 2005 Edition

Came across this in my Documents folder.

  • I am the only one who ultimately controls my emotions and situation, and the only person whose habits I can change. Trying to change someone else’s habits is fruitless and frustrating.
  • I am entitled to feel whatever I feel whenever I feel it, and to love and be loved in return. Anything else is selling myself short.
  • I am entitled to pay attention to my own needs. This does not have to lead to a fight, and does not invalidate my needs if It does.
  • I am entitled to fulfillment, and for people to treat me well.
  • There are many things that I am good at, and I should feel proud of them.
  • I don’t have to feel trapped by life. When I do, I can change my responses to behavior in order to not feel trapped.
  • Identifying patterns that are destructive or no longer productive is the first step to improving my quality of life.
  • Growing up is a process that is not easy, takes time and requires patience and courage. I have more of that than I think I do.

See Also: Jeremy’s Rules For A Better Life

Jeremy’s rules for a better life

OK, so this was originally posted in my private journal, but I sent it around to a few friends and they seemed to enjoy it, so here we are.

Please note that I am certainly not attempting to take credit for these concepts, as they’ve been stolen from various bits of psychology, spirituality and the like. They are simply a list of 10 rules that I’ve tried to follow and have found to be very helpful in decreasing my stress levels and enjoying my life more.

I’d love to hear any feedback from the (literally) DOZENS of people reading.

So without further ado, here’s the list.

  1. You get back from the world what you put out into the world.
  2. Get everything out of your head (write it down, say it out loud, sing it)
  3. When presented with new opportunities, say yes more than you say no
  4. Avoid attention whores and emotional vampires, they are people with nothing to offer.
  5. Pay regular conscious attention to how you are treating yourself. If it’s not at least as good as your closest friend, do something about it.
  6. Ask for what you want, when the worst response is a “no”
  7. Spoil yourself when you can, but remember that material goods are background noise in a fulfilling life.
  8. When you feel down, sit down and make a list of the good things that have happened to you in the last week. “There haven’t been any” is not an acceptable answer.
  9. Don’t stress what you can’t control. Ever.
  10. You can’t change other people; all you can do is be the kind of person that other people want to change in order to be.

[Update 1/27: Some other good/duplicate ideas at Hack Yourself]