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I read a lot of articles and blogs. Like, a LOT.
Maybe you do, too. And if you read like I do, you wind up skimming most of them, for a couple of reasons: 1) time is short and 2) A lot of blogs are just not that well-written (sorry if that sounds snobby!).
But by covering a lot of ground, I also find at least one thing every day that gives me pause. That makes me think. Or for whatever reason, is exactly what I needed to read that day. Can you relate?
I was scrolling through Twitter recently when I came across a retweet by the brilliant Josh Dorkin, founder of the real estate website Bigger Pockets.
Josh is one of those uber successful people whom I admire and hope to emulate: equal parts humble and confident, ethical, and not afraid to surround himself with people who are smarter than he is. He’s got an amazing team over at Bigger Pockets, and they’ve found a way to cultivate massive amounts of content while keeping it interesting, useful and – again, and always – ethical. In an industry rife with scammers, Bigger Pockets manages to weed them out.
So the point is: If Josh recommends something, I’m reading it.
He retweeted an article titled How to become the happy person you always wanted to be.
Meh, I thought. Trite. Except Josh isn’t one for trite, cliches, or hyperbole.
So the article with the seemingly trite headline wound up having some really great ideas in it. The author listed 11 rules for happiness practiced throughout the centuries.
Here are 2 of my favorites:
1. Follow the Process
Good Lord, you know what’s really, really hard to do?
Coming to peace with the idea that we don’t have control over outcomes.
Seriously. We don’t. We only have control over actions.
Holy reminder to self!
Of course we need to set goals, be specific about them, write them down, and give them a deadline. But then what? Then we plot our steps. And we start moving.
And that’s the only thing we CAN do.
And it’s also the thing that will result in greater happiness. We all need to feel a sense of control in our lives, that calming sense that we can handle ourselves and our business.
It’s one reason I make my bed every morning … it sounds silly, but that’s a tiny action, a microtask, that gives me an immediate victory to start the day.
It’s not about a neat bed (though that’s nice, too). It’s about having a task and accomplishing it, not even two minutes into the morning. It might be a small thing, but it elicits a little bit of happiness even before caffeine has entered the picture.
Controlling the process.
Here’s a bigger example: one of my side hustles is to sell on Amazon, which I do with my sister. We create sales goals for ourselves — for the year, the quarter and the month. And we discuss how we’ll get there.
We read everything we can, take courses, and follow all the right Facebook groups.
But you know what? We pretty much have no control over what happens. We can buy product today that has historically sold at “x” price and ranks well … and then for some random reason, it tanks.
Maybe Amazon jumps on the listing and the sales price plummets. Or the product becomes less popular for some unknown reason. Or the brand decides it doesn’t want third-party sellers like us to sell it anymore.
So many things can happen — and have — to torpedo our plans.
So what do we do? Keep moving. Focus on now.
Today I will source for product. This week I will purchase a certain amount of inventory that sells for a certain return.
I will study more in order to get better and reduce the number of listings that tank. We will analyze the times when sales dropped to see if we can figure out why and avoid those moves in the future.
What is your process? Are you focused on the actions you can take or the results you can’t control?
2. Don’t Be Busy
Yes, it’s true. Get over yourself and the idea that busy = productive.
Or even worse, the belief that being busy means you’re important. It doesn’t.
Here’s a great article in Forbes titled, “The Best Productivity Tip of All: Do Less.”
And the article contains a fan-freakin-tastic quote: “Don’t consider an endless to-do list a challenge to get it all done, when it’s in fact a challenge to prioritize.”
How many things do we take on that we really don’t need to do? How often do we say yes when we should have said no?
When we fill our lives with useless busyness, we lose our focus. We feel overwhelmed. And we are a lot more unhappy.
A lot of us are really, really crappy at creating effective to-do lists. Our lists are far too long and we wind up procrastinating on the things we really should have done.
(This is often the underlying, unconscious reason behind busyness, isn’t it? Whoops! Didn’t have time to get to that thing I really didn’t want to do but should have. For another good book about tackling what’s important, check out Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy.)
One last thought about being busy: if you truly can’t eliminate certain tasks, can you delegate them instead? Can you outsource?
A lot of business owners will outsource work as soon as they can afford to. You might have heard it said that you shouldn’t be doing the minimum-wage tasks of your business.
There’s a certain amount of grunt work involved in entrepreneurship, but those 80-hour weeks need to end sometime, right? Otherwise, what’s the point?
In your home life, can you find a way to delegate or hire out some housecleaning, for example? Have your groceries delivered? Prep meals in advance and freeze them? Get and use a crock pot? Or — gasp — spend less time watching TV or surfing the ‘net.
You can do it. Let’s all trade busy for productive. 🙂
Now it’s your turn. What are your keys to living a more happy life? Please comment below!
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