The calendar year has come to a close. Hopefully you, my brainy reader, have learned a lot from this most difficult and unusual year.
However, if you’re one of the many who spent the past 365 days sobbing on the sofa; fear not! Below is a list of 5 life changing lessons I learned from some of the best books I read in 2020.
Look For “Ways Of Life” Instead Of Goals Or Dreams
Beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life
Hunter S Thompson- On Finding A Life’s Purpose
The quote is taken from Hunter S Thompson’s letter On Finding A Purpose. I stumbled across it while reading Shaun Ushers: Letters Of Note.
Put simply, cultivating a broader way of life, trumps chasing a specific dream. As Thompson says: decide “how” you want to live first. Then look for goals and careers that are compatible.
Bet On Your Strengths
The superheroes you have in your mind (idols, icons, titans, billionaires, etc.) are nearly all walking flaws who’ve maximized 1 or 2 strengths.
Tim Ferris- Tools of Titans
Tim packs two important life lessons in one quote.
First, everyone on the planet is a walking bundle of neuroses. Even powerful, successful people. Often times especially powerful, successful people.
Second, the people who achieve some degree of success, do so by doubling down on their strengths rather than dwelling on their flaws.
Self flagellation may be in vogue, but take the opposite approach. Optimize and appreciate what you’re good at.
Just Do It Already!
On the spectrum of creative work, the difference between the mediocre and the good is vast. Mediocrity is, however, still on the spectrum; you can move from mediocre to good in increments. The real gap is between doing nothing and doing something.”
Austin Kleon- Show Your Work
If there is a creative project gathering dust in your mind: Get Started. NOW! Seriously, click out of this post and get going; I won’t be offended.
If you do: remember that perfectionism is the true enemy: not mediocrity. As Mr. Kleon so eloquently put it, “mediocrity” is still on the creative spectrum. “Perfection” only exists in its own sad solitary void.
4. Do What You Want To Do In Spite Of The Outcome
If You Knew You Were Sure to Fail, Then What Would You Do?
We can begin with this: If we failed, would it be worth the journey? Do you trust yourself enough to commit to engaging with a project regardless of the chances of success? The first step is to separate the process from the outcome. Not because we don’t care about the outcome. But because we do.
Seth Godin- The Practice: Shipping Creative Work
Outcomes are uncertain. Success rare. Victory fleeting.
Invest your time in something you would do even if it were certain to fail. Let go of the outcome. Paradoxically, this is the only chance we have to get the outcomes we desire.
5. Add More Humor In Your Life… And Don’t Do Meth
Speed eliminates all doubt. Am I smart enough? Will people like me? Do I really look all right in this plastic jumpsuit? These are questions for insecure potheads. A speed enthusiast knows that everything he says or does is brilliant. The upswing is that, having eliminated the need for both eating and sleeping, you have a full twenty- four hours a day to spread your charm and talent.
David Sedaris- Me Talk Pretty One Day
Possibly my favorite quote of the year. A warning against, or veiled endorsement, of doing speed.
I’ll withhold judgement. But this quote made me laugh out loud. And that is good thing. Laugh a little more in your day to day. Life gets lighter with a little levity.