Posts tagged: Change

The surprising power of your life story


As anyone who ever attended a high school reunion can attest, your personal identity is fluid. Hairstyles, sports allegiances, and even personalities change over time. (Cue that Simple Minds song Don’t You (Forget About Me).)

Evidence from my own yearbook includes Ryan, a sweet if wildly unmotivated friend who, at age 20, dropped out of college to be a ski bum in Colorado. Fast forward eight years, and Ryan is the CEO of a nonprofit startup dedicated to preserving ecological practices of indigenous communities in Andean South America. I spotted him in Palo Alto with a Bluetooth receiver behind an ear that he once reserved for storing clumsily hand-rolled cigarettes.

Ryan’s personal story is now a successful part of his company’s fundraising and branding efforts. He uses his evolution to demonstrate how apolitical weekend outdoorsmen can become activists. It perhaps goes without saying that his parents are especially fond of this
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Why learning new habits is better than perfecting old ones


I was pretty proud of myself after learning how to make chicken scallopini.

I had boldly decided that I wanted to learn how to do more in the kitchen than reheat frozen waffles and so when I came across a recipe that seemed like a challenge I decided to go for it. (It certainly helped that the recipe happened to involve delicious things like pasta, white wine, and lightly breaded chicken.)

I wrote out the instructions on a notecard and followed them closely, relishing the recipe’s technical steps like wrapping a chicken breast in parchment paper, flattening it with a wine bottle, and then dredging it in flour. As I watched the white wine sauce reduce in a hot pan, my mouth started watering with anticipation. The dish was an unequivocal hit, even earning praise from my neighbor who refuses to eat anything that isn’t deep fried.

I was so encouraged by my
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Why ‘sorry’ may actually be one of the hardest words


 Elton John, Chicago, Adele, and Justin Bieber all agree that it can be hard to say you’re sorry. What everybody else agrees on is that it can be absolutely infuriating when someone doesn’t apologize when you think they clearly should. Or, instead, when someone delivers one of those patently half-hearted non-apologies.

But if you’ve been on the receiving end of a lackluster apology (or never received an apology at all) for an offense, there might have been more than just stubbornness or selfishness at play.

One reason that some of us resist admitting fault has to do with the fact that apologizing can be a scary thing to do. It forces us to be vulnerable and it gives another person the power to reject our efforts to make something right. “Fear-based thinking leads us to believe that apologies are a sign of weakness,” we
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The one word getting in your way


As you probably remember from when you first heard should as a kid, that little word packs a hefty wallop. You should brush your teeth. You should go to bed at 10pm. You should finish all your homework and your broccoli.

We use it on ourselves and others, because it works. There is a guilt attached to it. Whatever you should do usually is good for you. As if someone knows better, as if you wouldn’t make a good decision on your own behalf without the insidious coaxing.

It’s so pervasive, you might not realize it’s the reason you might feel stuck.

When you’re making a decision or trying to figure out your next step, your brain can jump to the should first. Well, you know you should do this. The underlying message: There is a universal right answer, everyone knows what it is, and we’ll all also know if you don’t choose
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How to leave when you know it’s time to go


My first marriage was to someone who turned very quickly from composed, passionate, and loving into someone else. Helplessly, I watched as she struggled with countless and difficult challenges. She always perceived herself as a victim, suffered from low self-esteem, was absolutely terrified of abandonment, lived in constant chaos, and more.

How did I fall in love with and marry her? Aside from her two adorable kids, she had another complicating trait— she is a chameleon, always being who you want her to be. She became the woman I wanted to marry…only, beneath it all, she wasn’t really that someone.

It took me a while to figure out what was going on. But, at the same time, I came to love her two children; I became a father figure to them, which was something that I craved, and I thrived in that role.

Despite these reasons, it still took me three years
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How to get the most out of your next vacation


Bathing suit

Before your next vacation, ask yourself if this headline from The Onion sounds a little too familiar: “Man Returns To Work After Vacation With Fresh, Reenergized Hatred For Job.”

While it’s satire, there may be no better way to sum up how taking time off can defeat its own purpose. But, believe it or not, it doesn’t have to be this way.

As it turns out, there’s actually a science to the act of vacationing. It’s more than just picking a place to go, packing a bag, and wondering if you accidentally left the milk out once you leave the house. To best enjoy your future relaxation and to combat the post-vacation blues, we’ve assembled this handy guide to help you make the most of a break, whether it’s a staycation, a short trip, or a far-flung adventure.

First things first…take the plunge

One tragedy of our collective tendencies is that many neglect
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What to do — when you don’t know what to do


Lesley Ware

Lesley Ware moved to New York City for her dream job. As the new project manager at a national nonprofit serving girls, she envisioned working with a team of smart, liberal women to improve the world. What she experienced was slow-moving bureaucracy.

“Everything about our mission told girls to follow their dreams and learn and grow,” Ware says, “but that’s not how it felt for me in that job.” After five years of yearning to explore, innovate, and develop her skills, she knew she had to find a better fit. The trouble was, she didn’t know where to begin.

Reluctant to give up her steady paycheck without a plan, Ware decided to take baby steps while keeping her day job. It wasn’t a straight line to success, but her steady boldness paid off. Today, she is the author of two books and runs her own business. Here are the three big lessons
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20 tiny ways to kick-start a change


kick-start a change

When you’re longing for a change, it’s time to build your enthusiasm with any of these 20 change kick-starters. There’s no reason to wait — that perfect moment almost never appears.

  1. Ask yourself: If not now, when?
  2. Decide to change.
  3. Say your goal out loud to yourself or someone else. It feels good.
  4. Ask yourself: What would life be like without this change?
  5. Release yourself and others from blame. It doesn’t matter how you got where you are.
  6. Build your intolerance for how things are now.
  7. Each time you complain about things, stop and come up with a solution.
  8. Ask yourself: Who do I know who has done something like this? It’s instant inspiration.
  9. Describe who you will be after the change.
  10. Dream large about the outcome.
  11. Acknowledge what you’re afraid of. Remind yourself that it’s worth the risk.
  12. Ask yourself: What do I have control over in this situation? How can I take that control?
  13. Remind yourself of the biggest, scariest change
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Making decisions in pencil


making decisions in pencil

A few years back, I was at a career crossroads and fortunately had an insightful coach to guide me.

I’d always imagined my life as a chess game where I could see multiple moves out — if I do this, it puts me in position for that, which will ultimately land me at my goal. My crisis was that I no longer saw the chess board and I couldn’t tell how the opportunity I was considering would play out in the long
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Why are we afraid of change? How change affects our social lives


change relationships

This is part four in our series exploring the science of our discomfort with change.

In the first post of this series, when we explored how human beings handle uncertainty, I mentioned a dream job across the country that you might, or might not, apply for. I mentioned how scary it can be to consider all the unknown outcomes of such a decision, such as where you’d live or whether the job would live up to expectations. But there’s another facet to such decisions: the impact of such a major life change on your relationships. Taking a job across the country could mean leaving family, friends, and a romantic partner behind and having to start over among strangers.

When I interviewed experts in a range of fields about how human beings make decisions, break habits, and handle things like loss and uncertainty, several of them cautioned against thinking solely in terms
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