December 30, 2017

Don’t Be Noble When Choosing a New Year’s Resolution

If the new year’s resolution you choose feels noble, that should be a red flag, a sign that you have almost surely made a mistake.

December 29, 2017

Getting Unstuck, Literally

I wrote about getting unstuck, and I thought I might lend extra emphasis to my point by providing a physical example. It often pays to consider the literal meaning of words when you’re trying to get at the true meaning. A vehicle is stuck when one or more of the tires is on a surface so slippery, whether by snow, ice, mud, or something else, that the ordinary mechanism of driving forward no longer suffices to get over the next small obstacle.

As long as you are stuck in this fashion, you can’t make any progress until you get unstuck. To get a vehicle unstuck, you may have to go backward or attempt some other alternate strategy just to move the next few inches forward, after which you may be able to proceed in a normal fashion.

December 28, 2017

Getting Unstuck

People usually don’t set new year’s resolutions because they have just completed big, momentous changes in their lives and they are on a roll.

I am sure that happens sometimes, but more often when people set new year’s resolutions it is because they feel stuck. Things have been the same for so long that they need a gimmick to get going again. The process of imagining a future that is different might do this. The hope is that resolving to change in specific areas will provide the fresh perspective that gets them unstuck.

This hope is one of the reasons people set so many new year’s resolutions. If one resolution can provide the jolt that you need, then maybe five resolutions, five separate, unrelated goals, will provide a bigger jolt that gives you a stronger chance of getting unstuck — or so you might imagine.

Yet if you try this, it doesn’t quite feel right. There is a problem with this approach. When you use a goal as a way to get unstuck, you might get unstuck or you might not, but you almost surely will not achieve the specific goal you had in mind.

August 27, 2017

Downsizing Tips

Minnesota Public Radio offers an interview summary mainly for the children and grandchildren who might be helping older adults pare down their possessions. Often this is in preparation for a move to a smaller place.

July 29, 2017

The Retest

Most of what you know about yourself is wrong. It is worth taking a few hours to find out how wrong you are.

The ideas you have about your strengths and weaknesses are based on thinner evidence than you could ever imagine. A quality you say you have held all your life, something about yourself you’ve told people a hundred times, might be an opinion formed from a small number of episodes that occurred in your childhood. Maybe there were five stories that seemed to confirm this idea, or maybe just one or two. They happened a long time ago. You can’t remember them accurately. You’ve changed in the years since. They’re hardly enough to hang a self-image on.

July 19, 2017

Eventually We Will Get Something Done

Suspense had a moment in social media yesterday. One of the biggest catch phrases of the day was “Eventually we will get something done.” This happened after a news organization attributed this statement to a prominent U.S. political figure. I don’t know if it was an accurate verbatim quote or just a summary of a position, and it’s fair to guess that most people repeating the line hadn’t checked either, but it scarcely matters. It’s a rip-roaring statement if you take the liberty of reading it at face value — “eventually” implies that so far and on most days, we don’t have a prayer of accomplishing anything, while “we” implies the hope that someone else will step forward to do the heavy lifting.

Nothing will change, in this view, until future good luck and better circumstances finally allow action. Coming from a man who sees himself as a leader, this kind of statement is practically an abdication, and that’s where the humor in the statement lies. Imagine yourself saying something similar about your own life, though, and the humor vanishes. The feeling of waiting and waiting, while not doing anything, is all too true to life.

April 01, 2017

Clutter-Busting Alchemy

I don’t have to look around to see that there is more space in my house after the month of clutter-busting known as March of Trash. I marvel at the change as I breeze past on my way from one part of my house to another.

March 30, 2017

Clutter Spotlight #10: The New One

Here is my new cutting board. It was hand-made in Cameroon, the tag tells me. It couldn’t be clutter, could it? Not in my kitchen! I will be using it every few days.

Logically, though, if I am using the new cutting board, that means there must be an old cutting board I won’t be using. That is another paddle cutting board, made of bamboo rather than wood. After years of use, it is too ugly to show here. The old bamboo cutting board will be going in the fire. Whenever you’re happy with a new purchase, think of the old item it displaces — that might be one you are ready to get rid of.