Essentialism: The mindful pursuit of quality

It's been quiet around here for the past few months. Generally when things go dormant at Get Rich Slowly, that's not a good sign. It usually means that I've sunk into the depths of depression, the pit of despair.

I'm pleased to report that in this case, that's not the issue. In this case, the opposite has happened. Lately, life is grand. During the past three months, I've been diligently working to eliminate the net negatives from my life while also emphasizing those things that are essential. To that end, I've:

  • Recorded, edited, and published nearly 50 YouTube videos. These are rough, and I know it, but I'm learning from them — and having fun.
  • Given up alcohol. And recently, I've given up pot. I'm experimenting with complete sobriety for a while.
  • Lost nearly twenty pounds through simple, sensible eating (and calorie counting). This morning, I weighed in at 186.8, down 17.4 pounds since I started on July 28th.
  • Cleaned and organized nearly every space in my life, "editing" my belongings in an attempt to cut back to the essentials.
  • Worked hard in the yard. I've built a fence with one neighbor and am starting another fence with a second neighbor. Plus, I've continued our landscaping projects.
  • Begun reading again for pleasure. Yay!
  • And much, much more.

I've had a busy three months. And while, yes, I've had a few bouts of depression, they've been minor and brief. Mostly, I've been happy and productive. Continue reading...

More about...Productivity, Uncategorized

The power of focus: Why you should tackle one goal at a time

I used to be the sort of guy who loved to have a list of goals. At least once a year -- usually around New Year -- I'd sit down and make a list of all the things that were wrong with me, all of the things I wanted to change.

In 2007, for instance, I made a list of 101 things I wanted to accomplish in 1001 days. (It took me longer than three years to finish that list, by the way. In fact, I still haven't done everything on it because my priorities have changed. But now, ten years later, I see that I have completed nearly all of the ones that still matter.)

Eventually I realized that making a long lists of resolutions is a sure path to disappointment -- at least for me. There's a reason you see newspaper and TV stories every spring about how most people aren't able to maintain the resolutions they set at the first of the year. It's because most of us try to do too much. (And, I think, because we try to set goals that aren't truly aligned with our primary purpose in life.)

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The cluttered lives of middle-class Americans

Long-time readers are familiar with my decade-long war on Stuff. I was raised in a cluttered home. From a young age, I was a collector. (Some might even say a hoarder!) After Kris and I got married, I began to acquire adult-level quantities of Stuff. When we moved to a larger house, I found ways to acquire even more Stuff. I owned thousands of books, thousands of comic books, hundreds of compact discs, and scads of other crap.

Eventually, I'd had enough. A decade ago, I began the s-l-o-w process of de-cluttering.

While I still bring new Stuff into the house -- Kim would tell you I bring too much Stuff home -- I'm not nearly so acquisitive as I used to be. In fact, for the past decade I've purged far more than I've acquired. And that process continues, week by week, month by month, year by year.

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More about...Money Mindset, Productivity

Developing self-reliance: Personal empowerment lessons from 1951

Earlier this week, I encouraged readers to become proactive by developing an internal locus of control. In that article, I wrote:

You are the boss of you. You don’t need anybody’s permission to get out of debt or to buy a house or to ask for a raise. And nobody’s going to come to you out of the blue to explain investing or health insurance or your credit card contract. Take charge yourself.

"I get it," you might be thinking. "Self-reliance is great. But how do I change? How do I get from where I am to becoming a more self-reliant person?"

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More about...Productivity, Psychology

The power of personal transformation: Change your self, change the world

Note: On July 8th, I gave the closing keynote at World Domination Summit 2012. After listening to Brené Brown talk about vulnerability, Susan Cain talk about introversion, Scott Harrison talk about building wells in Africa, and Chris Brogan talk about bravery — after listening to all of these professional speakers, I took the stage. I'm just an average guy. I shared what I've learned about how to change your life. This is the text of that talk.

My name is J.D. and I am an introvert. Or at least I used to be. As a boy, my introversion created problems. I was awkward physically and I was awkward socially. I was strange.

My awkwardness only increased as I grew older. I hung around with the other strange kids. We were nerds. There was a band of us, about six boys, and as we progressed through the grades, we gravitated toward each other. In our free time, we'd hang out to read comic books or play Dungeons and Dragons. Continue reading...

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Time Sinks and Passion: More Thoughts on Time Management

One advantage of bringing back the short afternoon posts here at Get Rich Slowly is it'll give me a chance to carry on more of a dialogue with you, the readers.

For instance, there was a good conversation over Friday's post about how I've become a magician of time. One reader, Alex, is a college student, and he wants to know how to tell is something is a waste of time.

He wrote:

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A Magician of Time

It's strange sometimes to see yourself through other people's eyes. Others see things — both good and bad — that you don't see in yourself.

"I see you as outdoorsy," a new friend told me the other day, which caught me off guard. I've never thought of myself that way.

Or a few months ago, a friend told me, "Every time I see you, you're doing something amazing." Me? I love my life, but much of it seems so mundane, so boring. But I only see this friend a few times a year, and through her eyes I'm always doing something new and different, like training for a marathon or traveling to South America or writing a book. (To me, these are the exceptions and not the rule. Mostly, I sit here at this desk, typing on this keyboard, writing about money.)

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Struggling with Time-Debt

I recently found myself, late one night, staring at my computer screen with a sinking, hard feeling in my stomach and a bad taste in my mouth. A familiar bad taste. The taste of debt. But I wasn't looking at my bank statement — I was looking at my calendar.

I'd borrowed a few hours from my normal work routine to do something special with my kids, and then cancelled a date with my husband to make up the work hours, and then tried to reschedule with him but ran into a doctor's appointment I'd forgotten about.

Time-management coach Thekla Richter says I'm not alone. “Everybody has that problem,” she says. “No matter how good we are at time managment. We want to do more things than we have time to do. It just means that we have lots of desire and lots of imagination.”

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Resisting the Time Suck

I usually have an idea of what I want to accomplish once I get home from work. It goes something like this:

  • Practice yoga.
  • Get some writing done.
  • Make a fabulous, healthy dinner.
  • Work on my business.
  • Read something thought-provoking.

But I never seemed to accomplish all I set out to do. Sometimes I'd accomplish none of it. Other activities would get in the way, and my evening would go something like this:

  • Check e-mail (for the 40th time that day).
  • See some Facebook updates in my inbox.
  • Log on to Facebook to leave my oh-so-clever comment on my best friend's page. ("She is going to LOL when she reads this!")
  • Check out some random person's page who is friends with my friend.
  • Check out random person's blog, which they haven't updated since last year.
  • Remember that I hadn't checked my blog feed since this morning.
  • And on and on.

An hour and a half would pass by, and I'd realize that I wasn't going to get as much done as I had planned. I'd start to practice yoga, but with my head full of e-mails, social media posts, and random bits of information, my practice wouldn't be as fruitful. Eastern traditions refer to this as the “monkey mind” that jumps from one thought to the next, and my monkey mind would be swinging in the trees. This led to a somewhat dissatisfying practice, which made me want to speed it up because I was unable to focus.

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An introduction to time banking

In this guest post, Loretta B. describes a unique way to build social capital and to save money.

Two weeks ago my boyfriend and I enjoyed a rare night out on the town. We dressed up in our best clothes, had dinner at a special restaurant, and headed off to the symphony. This was my first time at a symphony, and we had a fantastic time. Our tickets were worth $75 a piece.

Make no mistake, I am very frugal. In fact, I fall into the "make your own laundry detergent" category of frugality. How on earth could $75 tickets fit into such a person's budget? I do something called time banking. Some refer to it an alternative currency system, a form of volunteerism, a way to build communities, and an international movement for social change. I think it's all that and more. I encourage you to watch the introductory video on the national timebank website.

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