Curing Acne

I had acne through my teenage years and early 20s. It sucked. It wasn’t as bad as some kids, but I had a lot. I tried so many different products and ‘get rid of acne now’ schemes but sadly nothing worked!

I won’t list all the failures. Suffice to say, many of the products made my face super sensitive or completely dry out. Sure, flakey skin may be cool for mummies and zombies, but not for a high school geek like myself.

I found benzoyl peroxide to work well for spot treatment. However, it all pales in comparison to the following:

  • Completely removing bad food from my diet. Seriously, stop eating greasy, fried stuff and only drink water and tea (i.e stop drinking soda-pop). Oh, also, for good measure: eat more greens. Changing what I ate cleared up my acne ‘like a boss’.
  • Moisturize. I thought my skin was super oily (after all, that’s why I got acne right?) According to some stuff I read at the time, the oil is produced because my face recognizes it’s dry. So, if I preempt my face sensors (bare with me here), by moisturizing my face, it won’t create all that oil. What about blocking my pores? Well, I don’t really know how to explain it, but I’m telling you, it worked for me. I still use the all natural Aveeno moisturizer.

Also, please take solace in the fact that things do get better :) Also, life isn’t all about looks ;)

How can I live a supercharged lifestyle, with constant improvement and avoid the potholes along the way?

Whenever I talk or think about self improvement I fill myself with so much energy and excitement for life, alas dear reader, that bright inner light slowly dwindles. I’m not consistent and I end up improving in some areas, and failing in others. Next, I usually spend an obsessive amount of time trying to think, write, and learn from those failures. That’s my pattern.

So, today, I’m writing my thoughts on how I can live a supercharged, ‘high on life’ lifestyle with constant improvement and avoid the potholes along the way (ending relationships, losing motivation, and wasting time).

What lessons have I already learned?

I wrote a code of conduct a year ago. The core principles were dress nicely, be in control at all times, and give everyone the respect they deserve, and guard / invest your time, it’s the most important thing I have.

This year gifted me with four exceptionally valuable lessons:

1) Minimize all noise and clutter in my life. This idea is embodied in the French phrase “mise en place”, which describes the set up process chefs use in their kitchens before dinner service. It’s a meticulous process of gathering and prepping all the requirements before hand, so when it’s time to cook, every pot is in it’s place, and every ingredient has been measured and is waiting in a bowl. I try to apply this to my life (my room, my workspace, and my decisions) as much as possible.  I keep everything uncluttered and make most decisions before the deadline, in a low stress environment, instead of making split second, rushed decisions. Let’s take the example of choosing what to wear: I make the decision the night before, when I’m relaxing before bed, heck, I’ll even iron everything the night before too (super relaxing). Now, in the morning, when I’m slightly pressured, I’ve already made that decision. I plan my meals before I go shopping (X for dinner on monday, leftovers for lunch the next day) so there is no waffling on what to cook for dinner. You get the idea. I also regularly remove clutter, physical and mental. “If you can’t define it or act upon it, forget it”, that’s a nice gem by Tim Ferriss, and it helps me remove my mental clutter. Regular cleaning during short breaks helps me remove physical clutter.

2) Regularly check what assumptions I have, and more importantly, test those assumptions. I wear my rose colour glasses a lot. I strive to have a positive outlook on everything, and sometimes I get carried away. So, taking time to regularly asses my assumptions is important. Hands down, the most effective way I’ve found to start this inner discussion is to spend some time in an isolation / sensory deprivation tank. As a lesser alternative, I have conversations with myself. I find talking out load makes me more focused and less likely to have unrelated thoughts pop up.

3) I am the culmination of the 5 people I spend my time with. I wrote about this briefly here: http://nickbreen.ca/blog/the-most-important-concept-ive-ever-learned/. To summarize, when I surround myself with highly productive people, their highly productive tendencies rub off on me.

4) Everything must be done in moderation. The age old investment advice is to diversify your portfolio, I’ve adapted that idea and applied it to my happiness. I’ve been the most happy and least sad (which are two different measurements) when I diversify my sources of happiness and success. When I have multiple options to make myself happy, I don’t crash as hard if one of them stops. As a real life example, I recently stopped dating a girl. I felt pretty crappy because I depended on that relationship for a portion of my happiness, but, I compensated by spending more time on other activities (reading and doing yoga), which brought me back to my cheery self in record time! (yay, personal best: recovery from breakup).

Okay, so, we’ve taken a high level summary of my thoughts from the past few years. A lot of that was pretty high level, let’s dig a little deeper.

What tricks am I currently using to stay productive, focused, and start uncomfortable (but ultimately useful) tasks?

  • I’ve found a pretty effective pattern to combat procrastination. If I’m in an awesome, successful state I can accomplish anything! I do something simple (make my bed & tidy my room or do the dishes) and pivot that small success to tackle a harder task.
  • Similarly, I try to tackle the most uncomfortable task first. When I finish it (and realize it was so much fun!) I have the courage to do other stuff on my list!
  • When I’m stuck on a problem, I find taking a step back, physically and figuratively, is the best thing to do.
  • Have different types of work to do during the day. Let me be clear, I don’t mean multitasking, work on one thing at a time.
  • Physical activity, healthy food, and a good nights sleep. I’ve found all of these keep me in balance.
  • Long meals, isolation tanks, and bottles of wine or scotch & cigars with friends. Taking a step back from everyday life and talking about hugely ambitious dreams, aspirations, or the infinite wisdom of Calvin & Hobbs comics is so important for my happiness. A 3 hour conversation & meal with friends, or a comfortable, intimate house party have magical rejuvenating properties. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, and you leave near SF, send me an email (nick at nickbreen.ca) and you can come to my next one.

 

“There is magic in thinking big. But it is so easy to forget. When you hit some rough spots, there is danger that your thinking will shrink in size. And when it does, you lose.” ~ Dr David Schwartz

 

He makes a great point, so with that in mind, I’ll end this post with a safeguard routine and set of behaviours that I’m implementing. It’s setting me up to win.

  • Constantly remove negativity from how I think, write, and talk. I can’t change my past, but I can take the lessons I’ve learnt from my past and spend energy on improving my future.
  • I need to constantly surround myself by positive, successful, interesting people that remind me to evolve and improvement. I constantly compare myself to others, and if they are better, I improve myself to be at their level, wether it’s fitness, ambition, etc. To bring this down to a more tangible level, I must have one good conversation with someone every single day (easy wins are phoning my grandparents, they are lovely people). I must have one ‘long meal’ once every two weeks.
  • Every month, read one book on improvement to have the idea of self improvement be at the forefront of my thoughts. Recommendations for my readers: The Magic of Thinking Big by Dr. David Schwartz, Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk, Any of the Four Hour series by Tim Ferriss, Rework by Fried and DHH, and Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi
  • Workout once a week and yoga once a week. Ideally I’d like to go more, but I’m starting with small, achievable goals.
  • Reflect & meditate for 10 minutes a day (again, ideally I’d do more, but slow and steady). I really enjoy ‘figuring shit out’ during or immediately after I meditate. It’s a super relaxing, non judgemental, non emotional state. During this time I’ll check any assumptions I’m making and organize my life for moderation.

Now it’s your turn! Comment below or send me an email and share your ideas. I always get excited hearing from y’all!

Onward and upward.

I taught my first class today and this is what I learned

  • Stop rambling. I ramble and talk a lot. I get excited and keep on talking. I need to continually remind myself to be concise. (This is a daily practice and one of the main things I focus on when writing this blog… oh, and I’m rambling now!) I noticed that some of the students were tuning me out. I shouldn’t fill every quiet moment with more words.
  • Have a bigger goal for the lesson, so the quick students have something to work on while you’re helping the students who are stuck. Some students learn faster than others and the ones that are done early get bored and usually goof off. I can’t teach at a fast pace because the students who are stuck will feel overwhelmed, constantly feeling rushed to catch up to the rest of the class. Having a larger goal in mind when teaching is helpful, that way, the students who finish early can go back to chipping away at that larger goal. To put this in context, I was teaching a tutorial on making websites with WordPress. The larger goal for this class was to create a website explaining and promoting a video game. Ideally, if someone finished a task early, she could go back and create more content for the website. Unfortunately  I lead the class in a lesson manner, jumping from one lesson to the next. I noticed when a student finished something early, she became bored, because she was just waiting for the next lesson.
  • Frame the lesson. Tie the instructions together and make them building blocks to an end goal. Codeschool does this very well. Every instruction and example should have been framed as another step towards creating the website for the video game. Every image I uploaded, or piece of copy I wrote, should have been about the particular videogame. In reality, I wrote a lot of: “testing copy” and uploaded an image of a cat.
  • Having a teaching assistant is very important. One person leads the class and the TA walks around the room to field minor questions. If some of the students are having the same issue, the helper can see this and address the whole class.
  • Plan for an extra hour of teaching. I guestimated how fast our students would learn, and my guestimation was wrong. I planned an extra hour of content, and we went through all of it!
  • You may have to explicitly ask: “How can I help?” some students won’t ask for help. Also, asking: “Do you have any questions?” doesn’t work because sometimes they won’t know what to ask!
  • Have more class participation. This keeps students engaged and keeps an open dialogue.
  • Have fun. I was nervous, excited, but never frustrated when prepping for or teaching this class. Everything is more enjoyable when you’re happy. I was happy to share my skills.

Alright, now I have a question for you. I didn’t know what to do when I asked a brainstorming question and no one responded. I eventually caved and supplied answers. Should I have singled students out? Should I have waited until someone gave an answer (I hated when my teacher used to this!)? Please, give me suggestions in the comment section.

I’m a student, and I know I’ve got a lot to learn. This was my first teaching anything to a class and it was a lot of fun. Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing your opinion below :)

The most important concept I’ve ever learned

Ready for it?

You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.

Seriously? Yeah, seriously.

First, let me say this, I am not a psychologist, however, I think mimicry is a pretty interesting, and a lot of psychologists think it’s pretty cool too. (This paper has a good summary of some of the better known studies, read the first paragraph of section 2. Social influence Effects of Mimicry). Long story short, according to psychologists, humans mimic other humans.

Why is this useful to you? I’ve found when I hang around with pedantic people, I become nit-picky. When I hang around with happy people, I become overjoyed and excited about the future. Maybe this isn’t the same for you, but the change I saw in myself when I recently moved from Chicago to Ottawa was astounding. I completely changed my social circle and that changed everything. My internal monologue, my interests, my health, all changed.

Want to change your outlook on life? Spend more time with people who have traits you idolize. You may be thinking: “Why would they want to spend time with me?”, bullshit, people aren’t that cruel. Invite them over for a dinner party or a house party, everyone loves being genuinely invited to a fun evening. Go overboard too! Read up on whatever topic you think might make interesting conversation.

I’ll end this here. You get the jist: You are who you hang out with.

Onward and upward my friend.

 

 

Become less shy and more confident

I used to be shy and I lacked common social skills. I’ve been improving for 4ish years and I’m now goofy and confident. I’ve been where you are right now and I’ve travelled to the socializing promised land. Let’s get a few things clear: I’m not asking you to become an extrovert, however, I’m hoping you’ll aim to be an ambivert (intro + extro = ambi).

Being able to talk to anyone, about anything is a lot of fun and is the easiest way to create amazing experiences. I still love time to myself, but when the opportunity arrises for adventures in socializing, I’m now fully equipped.

Easy wins

  • Smile. Forcing yourself to smile tricks your mind into being happy (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prefrontal-nudity/201207/smile-powerful-tool).
  • Change your perspective and mental state. You get nervous thinking about talking to that sexy guy and/or girl at the <insert place here>? Great! Think about it this way: Feel your pulse, feel the nervousness, you’re ALIVE! Harness all that magnificent pent up energy to say Hi.
  • Focus on the positive and start your morning with 3 things you’re grateful for. (Tony Robbins can help with that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smhzRqHkpZs)
  • Improve your posture to build confidence. You’ll feel more confident and others will be impressed by your sexy form. Kelly Starett’s http://www.mobilitywod.com/episodes/ is a great, free resource.
  • Start having genuine conversations with people. Pickup lines and empty compliments make poor conversation. Talk about what you’re passionate about, ask about their passions. Make a real connection with someone and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Everyone has hopes, and fears, so stop talking about minutia  Sounds exciting? Never Eat Alone (http://keithferrazzi.com/products/never-eat-alone) is an excellent book about forming genuine, vulnerable relationships.
  • Upgrade your appearance (I wrote about this: http://nickbreen.ca/blog/small-improvements-to-radically-change-how-other-perceive-you/).
  • Flood your system with endorphins! In other words, go do anything physical like: lifting weights, air squats, pushups, any form of yoga, or running. Remember to use GOOD FORM. Highly recommend Tim Ferriss’ Four Hour Body: http://fourhourbody.com/

Deconstruct why you’re shy. What are you avoiding? Do you really like being alone with your thoughts, or is it a convenient excuse?

Want to take the first step? Say hello to me. Let’s have a chat.

Small improvements to radically change how other perceive you.

Nick with Dreadlocks

Nick with more reputable hair

I have worked for a lot of different employers and have had many different looks, this blog post is my advice for improving the impression people have of you and perhaps improving the impression you have of yourself. I wear buttoned up dress shirts; most of my colleagues wear t-shirts and hoodies. This post is not about submitting to the corporate behemoth, loosing your individualism or style. How you look is important; everyone judges everyone else on how they look and this post will help you look your best.

First impressions are made almost instantly. Off the top of my head, impressions are made based on:

  • How you look
  • Your current state & how you feel
  • How you verbalize your thoughts

This post will only focus on attributes that you can positively start enhancing today, so that means plastic surgery and hair implants are not an option. Also, I will not be addressing the last subtopic of how you will verbalize your thoughts in this post. Finally always remember this rule: Don’t make excuses, find results.

How you look

Hairstyle

Dreadlocks are very polarizing; either people love them or think they are dirty. I would know because I had them for a year and unfortunately, people tend to think the later. In my opinion the best hairstyle for you is the one you can consistently maintain with a minimum amount of effort. If you want to invest your time in having longer or extreme hair and maintaining it, be my guest. Your hair should always be clean and neat. Having a consistent and well-polished image demonstrates that you are an adult. I write about what I actually do, I used to have dreadlocks, now I don’t. It is a lot easier and older people don’t cross to the other side of the street when they see me.

A few thoughts on balding: embrace it and realize that it not a big problem or shave your head completely and embrace that. As far as I know there is no cure, so don’t spend time or money on them. Most importantly, don’t spend time worrying or trying to cover up your balding, you have much more important things to do.

General Appearance

Even if no one recognizes the time you invest in your general appearance it will pay off because you know you are investing time in it. Do you clean and cut your nails instead of biting them? Congratulations, you have accomplished something 25% of the adult human race cannot resist.

Perhaps you have acne, dry skin or incredible amounts of body hairy? Cool, it is time to find a solution. If you have been trying creams and lotions all of your life and you still have a problem, perhaps it is time to try something else. I had terrible acne as a teenager and tried a number of things. My solution was to stop eating chocolate, stop drinking pop, start drinking water and apply a small amount of benzle peroxide cream. I truly believe my acne steamed from my gamer days of eating crap foods and guzzling down pop (side note: I’m thankful energy drinks weren’t as mainstream and popular when I was a teen). Is that the reason why I had acne? Perhaps, or perhaps my acne reduced thanks to the placebo effect. The end result is I no longer have acne. Start experimenting with your general health problem and find what minimizes it. Easier said than done, I know, I’ll write a post on motivation soon.

Clothes

If you want to improve what people think of you, the easiest way I have found to do this is dress for success. Dressing up once a month for that special presentation is stupid; dress up for every day because every day is a presentation to the world. I know, it sounds corny but it is very true.

Take a look at how the seam rests perfectly on the shoulder

My definition of dressing up does not mean wearing a suit and tie. I want you to dress slightly above your peers and colleagues. I want you to be noticed but not too much. Think clean and concise instead of loud and seeking at
tention. You don’t need expensive clothes to look good; you need clothes that fit. You have been wearing clothes that are size medium for all of your life? Have you ever tried a small or a large? Clothes fit differently, so you need to spend some time picking out your clothes. A small in one store is a small in another. My number one rule I would suggest to you: the seam of all shirts must fall on the top of your shoulders .

This is my number one rule. If I find a shirt/sweater/jacket that I like and it doesn’t follow this rule I don’t buy it. That’s the end of it. Don’t buy clothes that are too small for you. You can walk that line carefully if you are lean but it is obvious when you are trying to fit into a smaller shirt in the same way that an oversized t-shirt looks ridiculous. Find clothes that fit correctly and for NOW don’t worry if you’re a size 32 waist or size 42.

Also, I’ve found clothes in the dryer either shrink too much or don’t shrink at all. Don’t believe that if it’s a little big it will shrink to fit in the dryer. On that note, don’t ever dry clothes in a dryer. Hang clothes outside for that fresh air smell or hang clothes inside on hangers. Dryers degrade the clothes quality.

Do not fret about what clothes match what, sure it may look marginally better but you should first spend your time improving other parts of yourself first. Also, don’t trust the sales associates, they are out to upsell you, everything looks good on you according to them. Trust the advertisers, see what the mannequins and models in the picture advertisements are wearing and try that exact combination on. For all things we want to try and find the balance between: quick, simple and efficient. Also, never, ever wear something that is dirty, smells odd or has a hole. If you think about hiding a stain with a sweater or think that no one will notice it, think again friend. Don’t do it. It is messy and undoes all of the work we have done up to this point.

The average person has too many clothes, some of which don’t fit! If you won’t wear some of your clothes on a first date why do you still keep them in your closet? I’m not recommending you completely change your wardrobe, quite the opposite. Find your favorite pieces of clothes (that fit) and wear those exclusively. You want to look awesome every day. No exceptions.

Upkeep

Always have access to breath mints, lipbalm and tissues. When I break this rule I always regret it. Want to impress someone after you’ve had a lunch somewhere? Offer them a breath mint afterwards, so simple and yet it subliminally suggests you are prepared for any situation. Lipbalm prevents chapped lips. You know how annoying it is to have chapped lips and you know it doesn’t look pretty. Put an extra 1 minute into your routine and prevent this. Having a travel sized packet of tissue is also important since sniffling or using your sleeve is annoying, repulsive and not appealing.

Brush your teeth, floss and clean your tounge with a tongue brush & scrapper. 80 to 90 percent of all cases of bad breath is from bacteria on your tounge. It also gives you the added bonus of feeling awesomely clean. Is it weird that I have a toothbrush in my desk at work? I don’t care, it means I have fresh breath.

Clean out your wallet on a weekly basis. Have a harsh look at everything in your wallet. Trim the fat. If you’re a receipt hoarder like my Dad, stop it. At the very least, keep the receipts at home and out of your wallet. At the time of writing this article I have in my wallet: 150 Euros, my health insurance card, my American credit/debit card, five of my business cards, a condom, and my student card. My wallet also contains my Canadian credit card that I should remove and two train ticket receipts that I will recycle at my earliest convenience. Since we are on the topic of wallets, don’t ever sit down with your wallet in your back pocket.A wallet in your back pocket hurts your posture and can cause back, neck and shoulder pain.

Your current state and how you feel

Finding your ideal state of mind and killing anxiety

Read this paragraph and follow the instructions, I will soon ask you to take a second, close your eyes and think to yourself. How would you feel if you had no debt, no stress, no annoying tasks or appointments you are dreading, had your ideal body type and a loving family or significant other who brought you flowers randomly to put on your desk? Okay, click this link, it will open a new website window to Rainy Mood and play some nice relaxing, soothing rain music. Go ahead, press it and take a few minutes to yourself thinking about your ideal lifestyle.

Did you notice how your shoulders dropped, maybe you felt a little less stress, maybe you let out a fresh of breath air? Try and find this state as much as possible during every waking moment of your life. Its tricky sometimes I know, but there is no benefit to feeling negative.

“Anxiety is needless and imaginary. It’s fear about fear, fear that means nothing…Anxiety doesn’t protect you from danger, but from doing great things.” –Seth Godin

You are anxious because you don’t know the outcome of that presentation, or that question you ask, or maybe there is a big event that is about to happen whether that be the birth of your first child, a family or friend who is dying or moving for a job promotion. Congratulations, you are experiencing life! You aren’t sitting on your sofa watching T.V or going through the motions of monotonous life. You are expiring life and all of its complexities. You will feel a range of your emotions and hopefully have enough time to reflect and realize how minute arguments or deadlines you were worried about pale in comparison to this event.

Diet

I’m not here to tell you to find the ideal body type and work towards it, because if I did I would be a hypocrite. From September – December I was travelling through the USA and in Europe with little exercise and haven’t seen the inside of a gym for 6 months. In a future post I will discuss my current life goals and one of them is radically increasing my body mass, but until them I can’t lecture you on working out.

However, what I can lecture you on is drinking water and tea. Stop drinking pop and try to stop drinking coffee. It is an artificial replacement for sleep and a natural zest for life. Water helps you feel less sluggish, is incredibly healthy for your body and it helped clear my skin. Tea is not only tasty but it has several health benefits i’m sure you’ve all heard before.

Sleep, nap and breaks

Now you know what to drink, let us spend some time talking about why you needed so much caffeine in the first place: a lack of sleep. Under sleeping and over sleeping sucks. You can maintain an insanely high level of concentration with proper napping and breaks. Want to learn more about optimizing your sleep? I suggest you do some research into polyphasic sleep. Polyphasic sleep is the sleep strategy of having naps strategically throughout the day which allows for less total sleep time and feeling just as good as a full eight hours. Right now I’m experimenting with Biphasic sleep and lucid dreaming. There will be more to come on that once I have results. As a personal anecdote I wrote a portion of this blog post on a train in Germany and I was yawning profusely since I had approximately 6 hours of sleep the night before. (In my own words at the time I said:) I am now going to close my laptop and have a 20-30 minute nap. See you soon.

That’s it! A few simple lifestyle changes to dramatically improve your happiness. Summaries are great for remembering so here is what you just read:

  • Having a consistent and well-polished image demonstrates that you are an adult.
  • Dressing up once a month for that special presentation is stupid, dress up for every day because every day is a presentation to the world. Have clothes that fit, don’t use the dryer and prioritize your clothes and donate the ones that are taking up space in the back of your closet.
  • Always have access to breath mints, lipbalm and tissues. Brush, floss and clean your tongue.
  • Get rid of things in your wallet that you do not use on a weekly basis, with the exception of a condom if you feel so inclined. Receipts, that old stick of gum, whatever.
  • Relax. Chill out. Those issues you are fretting and wasting so much energy over may not be as big as you think. Don’t make mountains out of mole hills.
  • Drink water and sleep for a proper amount of time.

The one hour blog post. Decreasing Stress NOW!

I haven’t posted to my blog for a while, I regret that. I want this blog to have excellent pieces of writing, however, I now realize I spent too much time finding that ‘perfect topic’ and didn’t spend enough time writing.

This is my first one hour blog post. I sat down at my computer and I have exactly one hour to publish a piece of writing you (my reader) will find interesting, on a topic that I (the author) find very interesting.

I have been thinking a lot about how… I have to pause. I just received an email from a recruiter I have been talking to. I obviously need to deal with this, however, since life is all about little interruptions I will continue to stick to the hour rule.

I have been thinking about the most effective and efficient ways to improve one’s life and why people prefer to continue with the somewhat happiness when a large increase in happiness is just within their grasp. I have spent the last few weeks applying the ideas I will discuss to my own life, trying to nudge myself out of bad, old habits into ones that I think will drastically improve my smile count, help me to have a larger spring in my step and have me jumping out of bed in the morning with excitement to start the day.

I have divided life improvements into a few of categories:
• Decreasing stress
• Positively increasing how others perceive you
• Have more time and do more things that you truly enjoy

This first hour blog post will deal with the first issue. Stress is a big deal and major drain on some people.

Well, the most obvious way to reduce stress (for me) is stopping or reducing the activity which is causing the stress.
First, you need to clearly define what the issue is. You need to find the root issue and not the vague gut instinct. I do this by constantly defining my current state; in fact this is a favorite activity of mine. Defining my current state helps me prioritize daily tasks and is a form of introspection. Grab a notepad and you can follow along too.

Stress-busting activity (example below)
Step1: Write down a basic emotion you are feeling. Negative, stupid, lonely, angry, whatever. Why are you that way? You can find out by playing the ‘why game’ (I first heard about this as a creativity exercise for stimulating creative thought during my creativity class at UW taught by https://twitter.com/#!/lccarson). You continually ask the question WHY and drill down to the core issue. Make sure you don’t get caught up in a loop, continually try and drill down in the issue instead of repeating yourself.

Step2: So now we have drilled down to an issue, instead of this vague feeling of agitation, we have an issue we can tackle. GREAT! Remember! An issue that you can fix is something that is within your control! Do not stop the ‘Why activity’ until you have something you can control, it is useless to waste your time and energy fretting over situations you can’t control. Restate the issue so you have it clearly defined. Also define an ideal goal and focus on that vision and direction.
Step3: Okay we have an issue, now we need a solution. In my opinion, find the easiest and most basic solution to implement and try that first and correct along the way. Obviously this doesn’t work in all situations, but a lot of people (myself included) make mountains out of mole hills. They fret and worry about some confrontation or issue and build it up in their mind, and in most cases the solution is simple and easy to do! Everyone is living life, its one big adventure for us all, make decisions and correct course along the way.

Example
Next, I will work through these Steps using the common issue of not getting along with a co-worker:
Step1:

I am feeling agitated

Why?

I dread going into work

Why?

I don’t like this person I work with

Why?

This person is always short with me and makes me feel inferior

Why?

That’s her personality; she is concise and maybe unaware how her comments affect me

Why?

I haven’t said anything to her

Step2: AHA! Remember! You can’t control this person’s personality but you can control how it makes you feel and you can control your own actions. This issue is: “I haven’t spoken to my coworker about how her comments negative affect me.” The ideal goal is to have a positive working relationship with my co-worker.

Step 3: Find a solution! Try to find a solution on your own however, if you are truly struggling recruit a friend or get a second opinion from a family member. I would advise against recruiting a co-worker for this example because you don’t want to blow the situation out of proportion or start gossiping. Both situations are not ideal and gossiping is useless. As you know, in my opinion, the easiest and most basic solution should be tried first and you can correct along the way. Obviously take this advice with a grain of salt and your mileage may vary, but instead of talking to her manager and formally filing a complaint, in passing say “Hey ___, Do you have a moment to sit down and talk, I feel that our professional relationship could use some work I’d like to discuss some things to improve it”.

Seriously, it’s as simple as that. Don’t think: ‘what if she says this’ and prepare for a million different scenarios, simply define your issues in basic, simple language and ask her to have the conversation, that way she doesn’t feel ambushed and you two can have a real conversation.

Times up! My next one hour blog post will deal with the other categories I have outlined on how to improve life:
• Positively increasing how others perceive you
• Have more time
• Do more things that you truly enjoy

I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or shoot me a tweet or email.

All my best.
-nick
(initial draft completed at 2:10pm, final editing completed at 2:24pm)