From Ray Dalio's Principles --
"The first, most important, and typically most difficult step in the 5-Step Process [of getting what you want out of life] is setting goals, because it forces you to decide what you really want and therefore what you can possibly get out of life. This is the step where you face the fundamental limit: life is like a giant smorgasbord of more delicious alternatives than you can ever hope to taste. So you have to reject having some things you want in order to get other things you want more.
Some people fail at this point, afraid to reject a good alternative for fear that the loss will deprive them of some essential ingredient to their personal happiness. As a result, they pursue too many goals at the same time, achieving few or none of them.
So it’s important to remember: it doesn’t really matter if some things are unavailable to you, because the selection of what IS available is so great. (That is why many people who had major losses—e.g., who lost their ability to walk, to see, etc.—and who didn’t narrow-mindedly obsess about their loss but rather open- mindedly accepted and enjoyed what remained, had equally happy lives as those who didn’t ever have these losses.)
Today, we bring you a veteran creative producer -- learning from his father who was a television executive back when the few networks reigned supreme, Lee Schneider has intense insights from his career in journalism, writing, documentary production, and entrepreneurship. You can find him at his Digital Fundraising School, and he's doing a GiveGetWin deal focused on key insights for creative producers on making high-quality content, building an audience, and earning a living from your art and passion.
How To Build An Audience, insights from Lee Schneider as told to Sebastian Marshall
I started in words even though I was writing for picture. I was a newspaper reporter and writer for TV shows… on TV, I wrote the introductions, intros, and outros.
I wrote for a newspaper in Texas and for A&E. This started teaching me the relationship between words and pictures. I went to writing for local television and Good Morning America. I learned how to write fast and how to write in a big noisy room, and how to write for picture. This is a key thing, the relationship between pictures and words. They get stronger as they relate, words and pictures, and sounds.
That led me to working for news magazines like Dateline NBC and a magazine for Fox, Frontpage. I was producing stories in the 8-10 minute range, and telling a story in that range of time is a very different animal than telling a story in 20 seconds like you would for a news broadcast. That led to longer form stuff; after Dateline NBC, I did Biography for A&E and started my own company doing hour-long documentaries for the Learning Channel, History Channel, and others.
About the author: Matt Ackerson is the founder of PetoVera, a professional web design company, and an avid student of the principles of creativity and self-improvement. He writes a daily article on the company’s blog.
This post isn’t really about punching holes through walls (although you can if you really want to try), and yes, “WTF” indeed, so please read on…
Imagine yourself on a journey. You’re walking to get to your destination, a goal perhaps, something you want. You walk for hours, days, maybe years.
A lack of food or water is not an issue on this journey. But at some point, you arrive at a giant concrete wall that blocks your path, even as you are certain that the thing you desire is just beyond this boundary.
If you break your wrist or your knee, it screws up your life immediately, and likely does some damage to you for the long-term. You'll probably have somewhat lower peak athletic capacity, and have to be more cautious around the once-damaged area.
That's obvious in the case of a large trauma, but less obvious are the everyday actions we take that have ripple effects throughout our lives.
Taking the time to clear the decks of distractions, clean up and either finish or officially cancel old projects, making incremental improvements to diet, learning minor time-saving techniques that add up (keyboard shortcuts, typing faster, etc)... the gains to these are largely invisible, but they have a positive ripple effect going into the future.
If you have a great idea on Tuesday, you might not attribute it to being better rested and sharper-thinking because of dietary and sleep hygiene changes you made a few weeks before. But indeed, the ideas that are most useful to us are the ones right at the edge of our problemsolving ability.
The flipside is the debt you build up from bad choices in passing. Since quitting fried and microwaved food a while back, I noticed better energy levels. How many times have I been able to avoid a stupid argument or deadlock because I was slightly healthier and clearer-thinking? I've been 100% consistent with my fitness regime. How much of that is attributable to better sleep? Or, phrase differently -- how many more arguments would I have had, and how much more often would my positive habits have broken down if I'd been eating fried foods and sleeping more poorly?
One reason that procrastination is so appealing is that it's designed to be simple and easy to digest.
Mediums like Reddit and Youtube are designed to make it easy, painless, and fun to navigate around them. The learning curve and difficulty of using computers and web applications has come down tremendously, and it's easy and pleasurable to consume on an iPad, Kindle, or through Netflix.
When you tune into one of these channels, confusion melts away. You're given an easy to use interface that plugs you right into fantastic entertainment, relaxation, or semi-productive activities. These can be quite seductive.
Or, even if you're committed to a solid workday, how easy is it to get caught into low-quality time just processing admin and email? That's important to handle, to be sure, but is it really moving your life tremendously forward?
Compare the simple forms of entertainment and low-quality busywork with actually tackling hard problems. With quite hard problems, you might spend 80% to 90% of your time confused and not able to take great action, just trying to think on how you'll tackle the challenge and make progress.
I’m not one to pontificate — and certainly not about maturity — but I feel very safe in making this statement very strongly —
A key component of emotional maturity is the ability to acknowledge, not flee from, and work through negative emotions.
I dare venture a step further and say that a large number of problems Westerners typically experience come from running from negative emotions. We’ve become so rich and developed such wonderful technologies and products that it’s almost always possible to find something to dissipate short-term negative emotions.
If your work is hard or confusing, there’s always a steady stream of entertainment around.
If you’re feeling low, there’s foods that are — quite literally — chemically engineered to ensure they have no fiber and an immensely pleasurable burst of sugars, salts, and fats to rapidly change that short term mood.
Anyone who has decided to strike off the mainstream path has experienced this: Strong admonitions and warnings against what they were doing, and pressures not do it.
It doesn't really matter what it is you're trying to change. If you're trying to become a nondrinker in a drinking culture, if you're trying to quit eating junk food, if you're trying to become a vegetarian or otherwise have a different diet, this will have happened to you.
If you decide to pursue a nontraditional career path (artist, entrepreneur, etc), you will have experienced this.
If you try to live a different lifestyle than the people around you - for instance, rising each day at 4:30AM and sleeping early instead of partying, you will have experienced this.
People will pressure and cajole you in many different ways to keep doing it the old way. Almost always, it will be phrased as though they're looking after your best interest.
I get off on telling the truth.
I mean, I love it. It's addictive.
But most people never get to enjoy this rare thing. Most people are far too afraid.
But why? I ask this. Here's my best guess...
I think people don't tell the truth because (1) They think they're a big deal, and (2) think their life is really important, and (3) are afraid that telling the truth is going to screw up their very important life.
...that could be happening today, but isn't.
Be very skeptical of people who say they'll get to something later unless there's a good reason they're putting it off.
Especially if they're not busy.
Sometimes there's a reason it makes sense to wait. But as a good general rule -
If there's no reason that it isn't happening today, it ain't happening.
What's the most money you'd pay to write a letter?
A dollar or two?
Ten bucks, if it was an important letter?
Maybe $1,000 to write a final letter to someone you really loved?
Last month, I wrote the most expensive letter of my life.