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by Jonathan Morrow

view source: http://www.copyblogger.com/bad-writing-habits/

What is good writing?

Ask an English teacher, and they’ll tell you good writing is grammatically correct. They’ll tell you it makes a point and supports it with evidence. Maybe, if they’re really honest, they’ll admit it has a scholarly tone — prose that sounds like Jane Austen earns an A, while a paper that could’ve been written by Willie Nelson scores a B (or worse).

Not all English teachers abide by this system, but the vast majority do. Just look at the writing of most graduates, and you’ll see what I mean. It’s proper, polite, and just polished enough not to embarrass anyone. Mission accomplished, as far as our schools are concerned.

But let me ask you something:

Is that really good writing?

I think most good writers listen to the way English teachers want them to write and think, “This isn’t real. It has no feeling, no distinctiveness, no oomph. You’re the only person in the world who would willingly read it. Everyone else would rather chew off their own eyelids than read more than three pages of this boring crap.” And they’re right.

Compare an award-winning essay to a best-selling novel, and you’ll notice that they are written in almost completely different languages. Some of it has to do with the audience, sure. It’s natural to write differently for academics than you would for everyday people. But my question is: who are you going to spend more time writing for?

My guess: everyday people — your family and friends, your blog audience, your boss at work, maybe even a Letter to the Editor every now and again. None of them are academics. None of them want to read an essay.

Personally, I think good writing doesn’t have to be educated or well supported or even grammatically correct. It does have to be interesting enough that other people want to read it. Much of what comes out of high schools and universities fails this test, not because our students are incapable of saying anything interesting, but because a well-meaning but flawed academic system has taught them a lot of bad habits.

Let’s go through some of them.

1. Trying to sound like dead people

It’s a sad state of affairs when the youngest writer on your reading list has been dead 100 years, but that’s the way it is in school.

I don’t know who exactly decides what’s worth reading and what’s not, but they (whoever “they” are) believe in reading the “classics,” and most of those classics are centuries old. What’s worse is that many teachers hold up the classics as examples of what good writing is, and they expect you to mimic those writers with your essays.

Sure, Chaucer and Thomas More and Shakespeare were the stud muffins of their day, but you don’t see them on the New York Times Bestseller List now.

Not because they aren’t good (they were freaking great), but because people can’t connect with them. By mimicking their style, you might make a few teachers happy, but you’re essentially handicapping your writing in the eyes of the public.

If you want to make a connection, you’re much better off studying the hot writers of today — like Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and Seth Godin. Watch what they do, and play with using some of their techniques in your own writing.

Yes, you’ll still be mimicking the work of another writer, but at least you’ll be mimicking something people want to read.

2. Expecting someone to hand you a writing prompt

Looking through the eyes of an educator, I can see why telling students what to write about would be useful. You have a bunch of students who couldn’t care less about your curriculum, and making them write a paper about the assigned readings is a great way to force them to read the material.

Makes sense . . . but it doesn’t make it any less damaging.

One of the biggest challenges of writing is figuring out what to write. Whether you’re writing a memo, an article, or a letter to your mother, the process is always the same: you start out with a blank page, and you decide what to put on it.

Sure, that involves considering what your audience will want to read, but no one but you makes the final decision of what to put on the page. That act of deciding is what writing is all about.

3. Writing long paragraphs

Once upon a time, it was acceptable to write paragraphs long enough to fill multiple pages with big blocks of text.

Not surprisingly, that’s the way most of us were taught to write: long paragraphs, topic sentences neatly organized, lots of supporting evidence in between assertions. It was the “correct” way to write.

Not.

Any.

More.

Nowadays, most paragraphs should be a maximum of three sentences. It’s also a good idea to include some shorter paragraphs with only one or two sentences, using them to punctuate powerful ideas.

It’s not so much about having a “correct” length as using paragraphs to give your writing rhythm.

4. Avoiding profanity at all costs

I admit it; this is a controversial one. Many excellent writers still hold that profanity has no place in a professional publication, while others curse like a lovable two-dollar, er, paid companion.

The rest of us sit around feeling uncomfortable and wondering whether it’s okay to express ourselves “that way” or not.

So who’s right? Well, I think Stephen King says it best:

Make yourself a promise right now that you’ll never use “emolument” when you mean “tip” and you’ll never say John stopped long enough to perform an act of excretion when you mean John stopped long enough to take a shit. If you believe “take a shit” would be considered offensive or inappropriate by your audience, feel free to say John stopped long enough to move his bowels (or perhaps John stopped long enough to “push”). I’m not trying to get you to talk dirty, only plain and direct.

‘Nough said.

5. Leaning on sources

Most kids I knew hated digging up sources and quoting them in their papers, but not me. No, the sneaky little bugger that I was (and still am), I realized that sources were an escape route from creativity. With enough quotations from other writers, I could fill up an entire paper without coming up with a single original thought of my own.

And I was rewarded for it. From kindergarten to getting my degree in English Literature, I got an A on all but like five papers.

Here’s why: a lot of teachers care more about solid research than original ideas. They don’t want to see daring and inventive arguments, challenging the foundation of everything we hold to be true and arguing boldly for a new worldview. To them, it’s much more important that you understand the ideas of others and be able to cite them in MLA format.

But real life is the opposite.

Go around citing the sources of all of your ideas and people will start avoiding you, because it’s boring as hell.

They don’t care who said what, and they aren’t interested in hearing the chronology of an idea. What they want to hear is a new perspective on a favorite topic.

If it comes from you, that’s fine. If it doesn’t, that’s fine too.

6. Staying detached

We are taught that good writing puts the focus on the subject, not the writer. It’s unemotional. It gives equal attention to opposing points of view, presenting them all without singling out one as best.

And sometimes, it’s true. If you’re a scientist, engineer, or a doctor, then maintaining your role as a detached observer is a great idea.

For everyone else though, it’s a disaster.

Have you ever read the stuff scientists, engineers, and other so-called “detached observers” write? It’s boring! Outside of their exclusive circles, you couldn’t pay people to read it.

If you want people to want to read what you write, then you should do the opposite. Be more like Oprah Winfrey, Howard Stern, Gary Vaynerchuk. They are opinionated, have a unique style, and are prone to emotional outbursts.

It’s no coincidence. That’s what makes them interesting.

7. Listening to “authorities” more than yourself

Who am I to criticize the writing habits you learned in school?

Well . . . nobody.

Yes, I’m a professional writer. Yes, I have a literature degree. Yes, other writers have paid me up to $200 an hour to edit their work, and they’ve been amazed when all I did was correct the above mistakes.

But that doesn’t mean I’m right. In fact, that’s probably the most important lesson you can learn about writing:

No one but you is an authority on your writing.

Not me. Not your English teachers. Not Strunk and White and their highfalutin Elements of Style.

The longer you write, the more you’ll realize that other writers can’t tell you what to do. You should listen to more experienced writers, sure, but never more than you listen to yourself.

Great writers don’t learn how to write by sitting in writing courses, reading writing blogs, or browsing Barnes & Noble for yet more books on writing.

They learn how to write by coming to a blank page, writing something down, and then asking themselves if it works.

If it does, they keep it. If it doesn’t, they don’t. Then they repeat the process until they finish something they feel is worth publishing.

Sadly, most writers don’t know this

They labor under the mistaken assumption that there is an invisible standard of good and bad. And they worry that the Writing Police are going to show up at their door any minute, handcuff them, and haul them off to jail for failing to measure up.

If that was true, you wouldn’t see a single writer walking the street without one of those blinking bracelets around their ankle.

The truth is that you’re in charge. You. The blank page is sitting there, and you can fill it up with whatever the hell you want.

So stop sitting there, silly.

Go for it.

About the Author: Jon Morrow is Associate Editor of Copyblogger and Cofounder of Partnering Profits. Get more from Jon on twitter.

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view source: http://www.dumblittleman.com/2009/11/how-to-become-more-intelligent.html

5 Ways to Become More Intelligent

  1. Read Often
    Do you realize that through reading you can learn in a few hours what took someone decades to learn? Readingnot only informs, but it also increases your capacity for learning, thereby increasing your intelligence.

    Although knowledge is not the summation of intelligence, it is the foundation of intelligence, so it’s crucial that we cultivate the joy of reading.

    It’s an amazing thing, people who become successful write down how they did it, and then sell that information for a few dollars. For a few dollars and a few hours you can literally pick someone’s brain; you can buy a piece of theirintelligence.

    Reading gives you insight into great minds and sharpens your intellect. This allows you the ability to make greater logical connections because reading gives you more pieces of life’s puzzle. By reading from a multiplicity of sources, you gain the wisdom of many.

    Reading (blogs like this one) is a great way to increase your intelligence. Remember, readers are leaders, and leaders are usually intelligent.

  2. Teach Others

    “Those that understand, teach.”- Aristotle

    Teaching increases your capacity for reasoning, a critical aspect of intelligence.
    Anyone who’s ever successfully taught anything realizes that teaching increases your capacity to reason. When you teach, you’re often required to view what you’re teaching from a variety of perspectives.

    “I’ve always felt that a person’s intelligence is directly reflected by the number of conflicting points of view he can entertain simultaneously on the same topic.”-Abigail Adams

    When you teach, it’s often essential that you question what you believe in order to deal with objections and oppositions that are sure to arise. Teaching is often more beneficial to the teacher than the student.

  3. Get Into Action
    Action increases your capacity to understand a subject. As the old proverb goes, “In all thy getting, get understanding.”

    You can have information, and you can teach what you know, but you will never fully understand a subject until you put it into practice. If you want to significantly increase your intelligence related to cooking, don’t just watch the Cooking Channel and don’t just tell someone how to cook; you must master cooking yourself by trying, failing, and perfecting the act of cooking.

    You will always understand things better when you do them yourself. Knowledge gives you the pieces of the puzzle; understanding helps you put the puzzle together.

    “A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.”-Henry David Thoreau

  4. Master One Subject
    Mastery is a sign of intelligence. Mastery comes from focusing on one subject until you fully understand it. If you can fully understand one subject, it will help you to better understand other subjects. In other words, mastery will increase your aptitude for grasping truths. If you can master playing the piano, you will better understand music ingeneral.

    Additionally, if you can master any subject, you will understand what it takes to succeed.

  5. Bonus: Watch More Television
    You probably didn’t see this one coming.

    By watching more television, you can become more “well-rounded.” Of course I’m not referring to watching more of the The Simpsons, I’m talking about watching television shows that offer an educational message such as political shows or shows on The Discovery Channel or The History Channel. These shows can increase your capacity forlearning, reasoning, and understanding as long as you don’t choose educational shows that also stress you out.

By putting these principles into practice on a consistent basis, you will begin to take on the characteristics of an intellectual. Your capacity to learn will be stretched, your reasoning skills will be utilized, your understanding will increase, and you will master at least one subject.

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Keeping Yourself Motivated

Staying motivated isn’t easy – we often convince ourselves not to be. We often give ourselves excuses, allow other people to put us down, or look at the success of others and think, “That’ll never be me.”

There are two basic types of motivation: intrinsic motivation, and extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation comes from the feeling of self-achievement inherent in the task or project achieved, i.e. solving a puzzle, completing a school assignment, or finally publishing that website you were working on for a client.

Extrinsic motivation is the reward you get from others – or outside “forces”. This includes money and other financial or tangible rewards, such as a free vacation for achieving your sales targets, a trophy for winning first place at the Olympics, or even the crowd cheering as you overtake car #2 in the last stretch of the race. This explains the “home team advantage” methodology.

Extrinsic motivation (namely money) is often the primary basis for our motivation. Everyone needs money, and wants as much of it as possible. That’s no secret. However, I believe the feeling of self achievement is equally important when it comes to staying motivated.

When you’ve finished the design work for a client, what feels better? Getting paid or seeing your client smile, succeed, and receive brand recognition partly due to your efforts? If you picked getting paid, try thinking about it this way:

A small, startup company seeks your help in setting up their identity (logo, business card, website, etc.). The company is completely unknown but happens to take off. All of a sudden the company is everywhere – the NY Times, TechCrunch, CNN, a trending topic on Twitter, you name it.

Do you still feel the same? Okay, that might have been a bit of an exaggeration, but hopefully my point was made.

But what about the money?

There are many ways that you can use money and your personal financial status to keep yourself motivated. Here are a few ideas:

  • Reward yourself: decide on an amount (that doesn’t cut into your bill paying or savings) and reward yourself after a job well done. Of course you don’t want to spend every hard penny you’ve earned on your favourite hobby, but if it’s all work and no play you’ll get burnt out. Reward yourself as a reminder of what you’re working towards.
  • Financial status: do you want to put a down payment on your own place in 2 years? Pay off the house in 7? Have children and send them to private school? Remind yourself how much money you need to earn each month in order to support your desired lifestyle. If you’re not quite there yet figure out the steps needed to get there and write them down.
  • It takes money to make money: do you have any business plans that require startup capital you don’t currently have? Do you plan to buy and rent properties? Invest? These are other good ways to remind yourself to keep at it.

What else?

Networking. It’s easy to meet other people in your industry on the internet these days (especially if you’re a designer). If you don’t already have a blog, consider starting one. Sign up for Twitter and get out there! Meeting other people in your line of work helps you to learn the language and communication styles that are effective in your industry.

If you know a lot of designers, for instance, they can refer clients to you when they’re overbooked, or when a client requires something beyond their expertise.

It’s also a good idea to try to network in person. It’s refreshing to get out of your home or office and meet people face to face. People will often share more in person than they will on their blog or via Twitter. Escaping your workstation every once in a while will give you that added fuel you need to move forward when you return from your mid-day vacation.

When all else fails, I tend to go on a “success story” binge. Take an hour to watch a few TED Talks, read a few articles about people on the Forbes 400 list, or poke around the Small Business Success Stories page on BusinessWeek.

Stay motivated – and if you can’t, try something new.

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The Art of the Paragraph

View source article: http://www.copyblogger.com/art-of-the-paragraph/

by Jonathan Morrow

Anyone can write a paragraph, but not everyone knows how to write one that other people want to read.

You’ve seen it:

You open a book, and the whole page is one long block of text.

Each sentence in the paragraph makes exactly the same point, said in a slightly different way, and you wonder why they didn’t just say it once and be done with it.

Every paragraph is the same length (five lines, maybe?), whether it makes sense or not, and it gives the piece a monotonous rhythm.

The paragraph makes a point without telling you why that point is important, and you can’t help thinking, “So what?”

Like a little island, the paragraph doesn’t connect to any ideas that came before it or after it, and it seems vaguely out of place.

We all hate paragraphs that make these mistakes. Those of us who are in the National Society of Writing Snobs (raise your hand, if you’re a member) even get a weird sort of thrill from pointing them out.

Yet, somehow, they keep showing up.

Not just in the work of third graders, but in the writing of people who call themselves professionals, including yours truly.

It’s like Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss in the movie What about Bob? — every time you think they’re gone, you open the door, and there they are again, grinning and happy to see you.

The question is: what are you going to do about it?

It’s okay to write a bad paragraph, but publishing one will only endanger your bond with your readers. Before showing your writing to anyone, you should always go back through and check your paragraphs to make sure they are in tip-top shape.

Here are some questions to guide you:

1. Does it pass the Guy Kawasaki test?

You know how we all have blogging mentors who we look up to?

Well, Guy Kawasaki is one of mine. Three years ago, he wrote a post passing on some of his blogging wisdom, and one of his pieces of advice stuck with me:

. . . Imagine that there’s a little man sitting on your shoulder reading what you’re writing. Every time you write an entry, he says, “So what? Who gives a shiitake?” If you can’t answer the little man, then you don’t have a good blog/product.

It’s true. Every time you write a paragraph, stop for a moment and see if it passes the “Who gives a shiitake?” test. If you don’t have a good answer, then delete your paragraph and start over.

2. Is it a two-headed baby?

Babies are adorable. Two-headed babies, on the other hand, are something you would see on the cover of National Enquirer. It’s just . . . wrong.

Paragraphs work the same way.

A good paragraph has one head. In other words, it has one point, one idea, and all of its sentences work together to support that one idea. Do it right, and it’s adorable in its simplicity.

If you try to stuff more than one idea into a paragraph, however, you’ll transform it into a monster. Grown men will shy away from it. Small children will burst into tears. English teachers will clutch their chests and fall over dead.

Okay, maybe not. But you will confuse readers, and that’s serious business. Don’t do it.

3. Is there an echo in here?

Some writers have what I call an “Echo Problem.”

They start with an idea, and then every sentence in the paragraph echoes the same idea, although in a slightly different way. For example:

I hate green beans. Every time I think of them, I feel nauseous. Green beans are the absolute worst. If you put any green beans on my plate, I won’t eat them.

This paragraph only has one idea: I hate green beans. Every sentence in the paragraph just echos the same idea. They’re unnecessary.

When you write a paragraph like this, it feels like you’re expounding on your original point. But you’re not. All you’re really doing is adding fluff and boring the reader.

A good rule of thumb is to read every sentence in your paragraph and ask yourself, “Could I remove any of these sentences and retain the same meaning?” If you can, then by all means, get rid of them. It’ll make your writing tighter.

4. Are you writing in a monotone?

Ever listened to a speech, and the speaker used exactly the same vocal inflection from beginning to end?

It’s annoying, and it’s not just because humans are predisposed toward rhythmic language. When we’re listening, we also depend on the speaker to use vocal inflections to tell us what’s important. For instance, if they’re speaking quickly and then suddenly start drawing out their words, we know to pay attention. The change in inflection means something important is happening.

Makes sense, right? But did you know it’s also possible for your writing to be a monotone?

Paragraphs are the vocal inflections of the written word. Good writers vary the length of their paragraphs to show the reader what’s important. Some paragraphs will be 3-5 sentences, but every once in a while, they’ll throw in a one-sentence paragraph in order to emphasize a particular point. It stands out, and it tells the reader to pay attention.

Try it for yourself.

5. Are there on-ramps and off-ramps?

So far, we’ve talked about the paragraph (singular), but it’s time we dedicate some time to paragraphs (plural).

Lots of beginning writers treat paragraphs like little islands unto themselves, floating in the great ocean of ideas without any connection to anyone or anything. It’s jarring. Sometimes you can see how the paragraphs relate to one another, but sometimes you’re also left scratching your head.

It’s far better to look at paragraphs as if they are towns along a highway. Yes, they are separate, but they also have on-ramps and off-ramps that make it easy for people to get back on the highway and get to where they’re going. Similarly, good paragraphs use connector words and grammar to help the reader move on to the next idea.

We could do a whole post on this topic (and probably will, in the future), but the best rule of thumb is to look at each of your paragraphs and see if it’s possible to understand them without reading any of the others. If it is, think about adding some connecting on-ramps and off-ramps. It’ll make your writing more readable.

Are these rules that you must follow?

No, they’re just guidelines.

The point is to consciously think about your paragraphs and the way they affect your readers. Next to sexy topics like headlines, link building, and SEO, it’s easy to forget about them.

But don’t. Like most things, it’s the little nuances of your writing that add up to create a profound impact on the reader. Your paragraphs are one of those nuances, and if you’re serious about your writing, it’s important to learn how to use them.

About the Author: Jon Morrow is Associate Editor of Copyblogger and Cofounder of Partnering Profits. Get more from Jon on twitter.

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View source: http://www.fuelyourcreativity.com/don’t-stick-with-what-you’ve-been-taught-you’re-a-creative-so-get-creative/

What is Creativity?

Wikipedia describes Creativity as this;

“Creativity is a mental and social process involving the generation of new ideas or concepts, or new associations of the creative mind between existing ideas or concepts. Creativity is fueled by the process of either conscious or unconscious insight. An alternative conception of creativeness is that it is simply the act of making something new.”

I believe anyone can be creative, I believe all people have a creative bone in their body but some do not see the need to use it or have the inclination to do so. At the end of the day if it is not in their interest to do so they’re not going to be happy whilst being creative.

Creativity doesn’t start and end with design, you can be creative building a stone wall, writing an article or even herding sheep if that is what you’re into.

Exploring creativity from an early age

As I said earlier, I believe all people are born with a creative bone, it is their choice if they wish to develop that bone into a full pixel blooded body. We at one point in our life would stand in front of an easel or at the kitchen table with a pack of crayons and design the largest mess your parents had ever seen, but to you it was perfect. That block of orange and pink mixed together was like your version of the Mona Lisa. These were the days before you were taught to draw straight lines and even write your name, but for now you loved every minute of making that mess because it was your masterpiece.

Schooling and Universities

You grow up going through various schools with different teachers and along the way you decide whether you’re going to be an artist and carry on developing the pink and orange Mona Lisa you started so many years ago or you decide that graphic design is more your desired route. In England especially Graphic Design and Art are part of the National Curriculum where you have to choose one to do as part of your exams. I personally chose Graphic Design as I was more inclined to pick up a pencil and ruler and develop something more along the lines of a good looking magazine.

I wasn’t influenced by my peers or by my Graphic Design teacher. My teacher who I looked up to for guidance rather than influence was called Mr Beecroft and I still remember him to this day as the man who guided me through the early years of my development, we got on well and he would never try and influence what I was trying to create, he would more often than not tell me to go and research what I was trying to do and say,

“Find out what others are doing, see what they’re doing wrong and produce something that in your eyes is right…”

The GCSE Graphic Design qualification was the only design related qualification I’ve ever gained. I decided to stay clear of University as I didn’t see the need, I am who I am, student debt and 3 years of my life was not going to help me progress. I ventured down a different career path whilst still designing and working within various Internet related jobs before setting up freelance and then becoming the Creative Director at Carrot Media.

I soon realized that designers I met along the way who had been to college or university had been directly influenced by their teacher. The normal traits of their teachers design had shown up in their own works. The creativity that they personally might have had before their course was diluted with what they’d been shown and instead of the teacher or examiner nurturing their talent they had in fact changed them completely.

My belief is that from a teachers point of view you can point of pupil in the right direction but you should never out rightly tell a pupil you have to design in a certain way. A creative individual should be able to take direction and use it to their best advantage.

I have seen some pupils listen to direction and produce some astounding work and I’ve watched others produce work that have been directly influenced and it is less aesthetically pleasing. Granted design is subjective so one person may like it and another not but you can certainly tell the difference.

Stop, Look and Listen

Going through your early years you can stop, look and listen to produce your own creative work. Too many people look at other work and are again directly influenced by what they see. I say look at other mediums that are not directly linked to your own, look out for works of art that you could indeed work with for colour palettes. Look at beautiful brochures that could be linked to a new blog design, the world is your oyster.

Learn from others

Gregory Wood from Erskine Design and Jason Santa Maria are taking web designs to a different level. A very arty creation on the web is taking their work in to new realms. That said, it is easy to look at others but certainly don’t copy what they’re doing. You’ve got that creative bone for a reason and it’s to create work that is unique to you, people will recognize your uniqueness and style and you could gain new clients just for that. Matt Brett is often realized as the grunge king, he has true talent in that area and seems to gain clients because of that area of work.

Trial and Error

Everything is trial and error through life, at the end when you’re old and grey you’ll look back and have two folders in front of you. The two folders will have different names, one will be ‘DO NOT TOUCH!’ and the other will be ‘Work Completed and I’m bloody proud of it!’ Don’t worry about the work that never made it, you created it, you didn’t like it and you realized why. The progression through trial and error will make you a better creative; if we never get negative feedback we’ll never learn how to do things in the future. Always take criticism constructively, remove emotion and remember it’s work.

Get creative

If you’ve produced something that you’re not sure on build up a trusted group of friends where you can go to for quiet feedback, you could even pluck up the courage and produce something live.

People, don’t stick with what you’ve been taught, you’re creative so get creative.

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View Source: http://www.dragosroua.com/100-ways-to-live-a-better-life/

1. Accept Your Mistakes

You’re human. We, humans, are making mistakes. Accept what you did wrong and try to do better next time. No need to punish yourself forever. In fact, accepting your mistakes is the only way to make them disappear.

2. Accept Your Friends Mistakes

Maybe you got hurt by somebody. Happens. Just accept it and deal with it. People are making mistakes and if you can accept that for yourself, accept it for your friends too. In the end, all you need from them is their love.

3. Create A New Habit

We’re doing a lot of stuff on autopilot. Try to integrate in this category new things you want to attract into your life. Habits are powerful. Harness their energy for your own good. Start by creating a habit in 15 days.

4. Build Self Discipline

Don’t wait for other people to impose discipline on you. Start early. Create your own discipline. Although it sounds a little bit harsh, self discipline is a facilitator for many things in your life. It’s hard to get but great to have.

5. Make New Friends

Reach out. Don’t be afraid. Establish new contacts. The worst thing that may happen to you is to be rejected. Well, if that’s the case, move on. The reward of having true, long-lasting friendship is worth all the potential rejection.

6. Get A New Job

Shaking your comfort zone will often create a lot of value in your life. If you’re not satisfied with your job, just get a new one. The pitfall of not having money for a limited period of time is temporary, get over it.

7. Start A New Diet

You are, in a vast proportion, what you eat. Trying a new diet would often be the only needed change for a dramatic boost of your health and energy. Don’t necessarily have to be raw food, or even vegetarian, whatever works for you.

8. Keep A Journal

Write down you feelings, your ideas, your goals, your activity. Journaling is by far one of the most useful things I’ve done to change my life for the best. It works in such a silent, yet effective way. All you need is pen and paper.

9. Create And Keep A Morning Phrase

Whatever you say to yourself in the morning, it will most likely come true during the day. Why not taking advantage of it? Create a simple morning phrase and say it to yourself first thing in the morning. Is that simple.

10. Travel Far Away From Your Home

Traveling long distance is incredibly rewarding. It’s so exciting and full with unknown events. I only recently started to travel really far away from my home, but I do wonder how could I ever made it until now without this.

11. Learn To Take Risks

Your life may be so boring and fade because… err, you made it like this? When was the last time your tried something really difficult? When was the last time you challenged the odds doing something risky? Do it now.

12. Start Your Own Business

Be your own boss. Work your own hours. I know, it sounds so shallow, for you, who hate your job but still have to stay there because of that mortgage. Well, unless you make the first step, nothing is going to change. That’s for sure.

13. Change Your Work Space

Clean up your desk. Re-arrange furniture. Add some color to that space. Make the place where you work really enjoyable. So enjoyable that work there won’t be perceived as work anymore. It will be something you love to do.

14. Learn A New Language

Challenge your mind. Constantly. If you’re going to do number 10, you’re going to learn some new languages too. From my experience, learning a new language is a fantastic mind opener. Sometimes you don’t even have to travel there.

15. Find Reasons To Agree

Rather than disagree. We have this mindset of competition which makes constantly arguing over things. Well, stop that. You don’t have to force yourself into agreement, if it’s not the case, just trying to find some reasons will be enough.

16. Pay Yourself First

You can’t give something if you don’t have it. You can’t spread light onto others if you don’t have light from within. You can’t give wealth to others if you don’t have it for yourself first. Make yourself a service and pay yourself first.

17. Wake Up Early

This is not a habit, this is a lifestyle. Don’t just wake up early without a purpose. Be early. Be there before others. Look for opportunities and embrace them. Waking up early means keeping your eye open to every available opportunity.

18. Train Your Focus

Your focus is in fact your reality. Use it wisely. Train it constantly for it will enhance your reality in ways you never imagined. Keep your focus sharp as a razor blade and be prepared to experience life in fantastic shapes and colors.

19. Start A Blog

On whatever topic you want. Not only it will give you the opportunity to create something new and valuable but it will also bring new people into your life. Blogging is far more than a hype, is a personal development tool. A very good one.

20. Write An Ebook

You may think you don’t have a talent, but that’s completely wrong. And the easiest way to prove it wrong is to start writing an ebook. Any ebook. You pick the topic. It might be something you know or want to learn about. Write it. It’s fun.

21. Be Better, Not Perfect

Striving too much for perfection will ruin your life. It will wipe out all those little imperfections which are making you… human. Being better, on the other side, is rewarding. Look back at the yesterday you and just say: I’m better!

22. Stop Self Sabotage

You’ll be surprised by how much of a burden you can be to yourself. You are literally self sabotaging. Most of the time, unconsciously. If you have a long history of failure behind, that could mean you’ve become your worst enemy. Stop it.

23. Find Reasons To Love Your Life

Maybe life wasn’t fair with you. Yes, I know, I’ve been there: life is never fair. But it’s fantastic. It’s unique, unrepeatable, one of a kind, beautiful, simple, challenging, sweet, hard… Just take a step back and find reasons to love your life.

24. Try Something New

Maybe you’re sad because you’re bored. Have you ever thought about that? Just reach out and try something completely new. Go for a challenge, learn a new sport, pick a different restaurant or go for a comedy movie (if you’re the drama type). Just try it.

25. Avoid Fighting

Fighting is the biggest energy leak of your being. Trying to prove another guy wrong is so against your true nature. You’re here to acknowledge life’s wonders, not to prove anybody’s wrong. They’re not wrong, just have different opinions. And that’s part of life.

26. Stop Wasting Your Power

Are you doing something that you think you shouldn’t be doing right now? Well, that’s wasted power. That’s meaningless stuff promoted to the honor of being a part of your life. How long are you going to approve this? Why wasting power?

27. Learn To Ignore

I think they should be teaching this one in schools. We’re so focused on so many topics and think we have to do so many stuff, that our life is literally clogged with stuff. It’s good to do stuff, but learning to ignore stuff is much better.

28. Experiment Gratitude

When was the last time you said “thank you”? With all your heart? Everybody knows that an attitude of gratitude is the key to success, but almost nobody practices it. Well, start by experience gratitude first, and take it from there.

29. Recycle Your Aggression

Don’t throw it away, recycle it! Use it for something you really want! Call out those wild forces inside of you and put them to work. Aggression is part of your being, so don’t try to reject it, because it will only grow stronger. Recycle your aggression.

30. Release Your Guardians

Don’t touch that! Don’t eat that! Don’t go for that opportunity! Those are the sentences you hear when going for something you really want. Those are your guardians, your mental constructs made to protect you. Release them, you’ll be much better off.

31. Clean Up Your House

It’s fun. And it’s good for you. Make a habit out of cleaning up your house with joy and happiness. What’s outside is a mirror of what’s inside. If your house is a mess, probably your internal life is a disaster. Neat that stuff, it’s easy.

32. Write A Personal Mission Statement

You’re here with a reason. No matter how small you feel now, how insignificant others may made you feel, you have a purpose. Take the time to write your personal mission statement. It will bring light and direction into your life.

33. Dissolve Negative Opinions About Yourself

Whatever you think you may do, it’s half of what you can really do. And that’s because you have so many negative opinions about yourself. You can solve them. Just accept the fact that you have them and then start working on them.

34. Build Different Skills

Don’t stop learning. Don’t remain stuck in a single career, it’s boring and limiting. Learn different skills, possibly from completely unrelated fields. You never know when life will ask you to use them. Besides, it’s a lot of fun.

35. Manage Your Time As You Manage Your Money

Have you ever thought what would be if you would manage your time the same way you manage your money? Just give it a try. See where you spend most of your time, what the return of investment is and how rich are you in time.

36. Exercise

You don’t have to break the world record, or something. Just make sure you exercise constantly. It will make your body healthier and your mind clearer. It’s also one of the simplest and most affordable ways to improve your life.

37. Be A Parent

Having kids doesn’t necessarily means you’re a parent, and I know that very well. Being a parent will surely change your life forever: filling it with unconditional, life lasting love, care and warm feelings. You’ll live in love. And learn.

38. Throw Away One Object A Day From Your House

Maybe your life is breathing so hard just because it’s suffocated by objects. Learn to let them go. You may donate them, give to charity or simply throw them away, but don’t let the clutter stay in your way. You’re not the objects you have.

39. Read A Book Per Week

Or, alternatively, a fine selection of blogs. That will keep your mind alert and your focus steady. Reading is like good food for your brain, without it, it will go lazy, obese and unresponsive. But with the proper food it can become your best friend.

40. Start A Monthly Challenge

Being it physical, mental or social. Intend to acquire something new in your life in 30 days. Improve your health using new methods, or your relationships by starting new things together. Make it count. And count on it.

41. Call An Old Friend

It’s enlightening to meet somebody you haven’t talk to in the last years. Go right now and call an old friend, or a relative. It will bring up memories and it will create new opportunities. Don’t let the dust settle on your relationships.

42. Follow A Coincidence

Well, there aren’t any coincidences, I lied. Everything has a purpose. If you witness something which may seem like a coincidence, then you’re very lucky, you just got a sign. Follow it with trust, it will lead you well.

43. Play A Game

Any game. Just play. Like a child. Allow yourself to do something just for fun, without any goals, pressures or deadlines. Will make you understand that everything is a game. Sometimes a little bit harder, but still a game..

44. Forgive Somebody Out Of The Blue

Don’t hold that grudge for that past insult. Grudges are heavy and tend to make the take off for a new life a little bit difficult. The longer you hold that grudge, the more difficult the take off will be. Forgiveness will lift you off.

45. Stop Solving The Wrong Problems

You are not here to witness the bad things in your life. Nor the performance in itself. You are here to enjoy a journey. To become aware, To grow. So, stop solving the wrong problem and focus on what really matters.

46. Make Peace With An Old Enemy

That’s more than forgiveness, that’s the actual process of reversing a situation. Make peace with somebody. Turn it into your friend. I’m not saying this is easy, I know it first hand. But I also know it works. Enemies count down, friends count up.

47. Make A Promise To A Close Person And Keep It

It doesn’t have to be something big. It doesn’t have to be for someone special. It doesn’t have to be difficult also. But it has to be a commitment to somebody. Just reach out, make a promise, keep it and then enjoy the feeling after.

48. Break Up With A Person You Don’t Really Like

Maybe you’re friend with somebody just by habit, chemistry being dead for a long time now. Just break it up. Tell him. Ok, let’s unfriend us, this will not work. It will bring up something you thought you lost it long ago: courage.

49. Get A Thing You Wanted For A Long Time

But you didn’t had time or money to get it. Just go out and get it. Not only it will boost your self-respect, but it will also free your desire channel, which may be a little bit clogged by having one and only one desire for such a long time.

50. Stop Being Judgmental

With others AND with you. Excessive criticism will kill your enthusiasm. And if you think this post is something you shouldn’t read in the first place, then, my friend, you really are judgmental. Lighten up. Accept life as it is.

51. Change Your Wardrobe

You don’t know how much are you tied to what you wear. If you’re on the gray loving side, put some color in your clothes. If you’re on the black and white, try some gradients. Of course, your clothes are not you. Hence, they’re so easy to change, right?

52. Smile At Least 10 Times A Day

And I mean it, start to count that. Smiling is a sign of honesty and power. Everybody can cry over a disaster but only the most powerful can take bitterness with a smile. Exercise that power. And then try to go for 20 times a day.

53. Burn Some Old Memories

Maybe the notebook from your 7th grade? Maybe the teenage dumb poetry you wrote? Whatever it might be, break up. It might be difficult, but it might also be a sign that you’re so attached to the past that you can’t advance in your life anymore.

54. Plant A Tree

Or take care of a flower. Do it for at least several months. It will give you a sense of potential. Seeing that tree or that flower growing will make your self-confidence go up. If a flower can make it, why can’t I? Of course you can, now do it!

55. Move To Another Town Or Country

Maybe it’s time to change the environment? Take the plunge, move over. Pick another town or even another country. Like all the good stuff, it might be pretty difficult in the beginning, but you can bet it would shake everything really good!

56. Join A New Group

Go to a bikers meeting. Or, if you’re not a biker, to a toastmaster meeting. Join a group and see how you fit in. It will help if the group will be focused on some of your passions, of course. It will reveal a lot about your social skills.

57. Stop Watching TV

Television evolved a lot from the balanced news provider it was in the beginning up to the current manipulating tool. Just stop watching it for a week. And then for a month. Meanwhile, assess your psychological progress. You may be amazed.

58. Start A Totally Unexpected Hobby

Start making trains out of matches. Raise cobras. Put tiny vessels into tiny bottles. Do whatever it takes to move your mind from your problems for a while. And if you can create something nice in the process, why not doing it?

59. Randomly Hug A Stranger On The Street

Ok, this might be a little bit dangerous, but only if you think at it. If you’re doing it, chances are that you’re going to get your hug back. It will also help raising your adrenaline up to levels you never had for a very long time.

60. Set Up A Surprise Party

For your or for a friend. It’s always good for your mood, even if – or especially if – you’re down. Do a thematic one, invite friends and tell them to bring their friends. And then expect to meet new, wonderful persons. And of course, have fun.

61. Go Hiking

Do it for at least one week-end. Nature is more powerful than our human created environment. We don’t know how to channel the energy into our artificial habitats. If you want to recharge, go outside and stay in connection with the wilderness.

62. Get A Pet

Whatever works for you, a bird, a guinea pig, a dog or a cat. It will keep you alert and it will cheer you up when you’re down. Taking care of a pet is also easier if you’re overwhelmed with human interaction. Even from a pet, love is still love.

63. Write A Thank You Letter

You can send it or not, the real catch is to write it. Pick someone who helped you in the past. Start writing the letter and say everything you want to say to that person. It will make you understand what are you really grateful for in your life.

64. Meditate Daily

It’s the easiest thing you can do. True mediation acts like a mind emptier, leaving you open to the whole flow of the sensations and experiences you would otherwise ignore. You don’t even need a complicated technique, meditate as you see fit.

65. Say Something Nice To Somebody

Just like that. Out of the blue. Pick an unknown person and say something nice. After the initial surprise you’ll be amazed by the unmasked joy and gratitude they’re expressing. Admit it: you would like that too, isn’t it?

66. Say Something Nice To You

Ok, but if nobody is telling you nice things, why not start this yourself? Do it in whatever form you think it’s appropriate: send yourself emails, write in your calendar or leave yourself nice postits on the desk. With something nice just for you.

67. When I Doubt, Improvise

Being so scared for not knowing the answer, so nervouse that you may screw thins up… I know the feeling, I’ve been there too. Just go with the flow. Improvise. It will be so good for your unconscious mind. The real answer will be surprising.

68. Don’t Argue, Win Or Lose

This goes hand in hand with avoiding the fight, but it’s a little bit different. If you get caught in an argument, just accept that you can have only two outcomes from it: win or lose. Settle with one and just move on.

69. Stop Faking Your Life

It’s so easy to get caught in a flow of fakes. Society wants us to politely lie and you need to lie sometimes. Just stop it. Being authentic is the best thing you can do. No need to hide your sorrow, nor your joy. They’re both part of life.

70. Define Goals

Again, that goes hand in hand with writing a personal mission but it’s more than that. It’s the habit of clearly deciding – and, subsequently, describing – where you want to go. Do you have a goal? A passion, maybe? Go for it! And be verbose.

71. Help Others

Reach out and try to see if you can help others. You don’t have to be a Samaritan, just go out there and support somebody. The biggest trick of helping is really surprising: although it seems you’re giving, you’re in fact receiving a lot more.

72. Go Social

Mingle, interact, go out. Get used to meet new people. Make this a habit and you’ll soon get used to do new things too. The goal is not to be the best networker in the world, but to be connected to as many energy sources as you can get.

73. Spend Some Time Alone

Subsequently, make sure you set aside enough time for your own. You don’t necessarily need to recharge, but you need this time in order to get a new perspective. Stop for a while and look around. Where are you? Where do you want to be?

74. Fix Something By Yourself

Go fix a broken window, or a scratch on your car. Don’t call for a specialist, get involved, see how you can have an impact on things around you. Work with your hands, prepare to sweat. It will instantly make you feel better.

75. Create Value

Make things that others need too. Make something useful. Don’t follow blind or outdated commitments, go for what really makes a change around you. Creating value is the core of your activity here and the only thing you really have to strive for.

76. Do A Random Act Of Kindness

Doesn’t have to be in the form of a nice compliment this time. You don’t even need to communicate it to the target person. Just do an incognito service to someone. See how this makes you feel. Think how many times you received that.

77. One More Second

Create the habit of looking at things for one more second. Spend one more second before taking an important decision. Delay something. Time will follow your intention and open some unexpected window for you. Slow it down a little.

78. Understand What People Want From You

What you can do is not always what people want from you. Clearing that confusion alone could bring an immense relief to your life. You don’t have to immediately provide what they’re wanting, but if you do, you may have some big surprises.

79. Break An Old Bad Habit

Breaking a bad habit is difficult. But breaking an old bad habit will free an incredible amount of time into your life. Quit smoking or stop talking on the phone for hours. Whatever you break, it will change your life for the best.

80. Stop Complaining

Complaining is like an open invitation for troubles. The more you complain about something, the more of that something you invite into your life. Cut it out. You don’t get any comfort out of complaining, only troubles.

81. Reject What You Don’t Want

It’s so simple, yet so underrated. Society wants us to complain even when we don’t really like stuff. Like forcing us to smile when we don’t find it funny. Allow yourself to walk away from something you don’t like. Just do it!

82. Being Is Better Than Having

Too much and too often we shape our life’s fulfillment degree to the amount we possess. The fundamental mistake. If you’re doing it, stop it right now. You’re not what you’re having. Being is so much better than having.

83. Listen To Your Critics

This one might be difficult in the beginning but once you get used to it it’s fantastic. You may find out a lot of stuff about yourself that you didn’t know about. You think you are one kind of person, but others may disagree.

84. Don’t Take It Personally

Never. Your world is shaped by your reaction to things, not by the things themselves. Don’t get upset, don’t think that somebody knows you enough to make right assumptions about you. Acknowledge and move on.

85. Laugh

This time is not about smiling. It’s about laughing. Don’t you ever miss another opportunity to laugh. Especially at yourself. The longer your laughing sessions, the shorter your misery ones. Looks like a nice deal, isn’t it?

86. Go With Passion

Don’t let your rational mind stand in the way of your passion. If you found – or at least felt, even occasionally – something that thrills you, you’re there. You don’t need a confirmation on this from anybody. Go with your passion.

87. Trust Your Emotions

Don’t underestimate your emotions. Or overestimate them. Your emotions are your feed-back system and for that they are very important. Trying to ignore your emotions is like depriving yourself from lights in a car running in the middle of the night.

88. Live It Like A Holiday

Ever observed how nice you feel during your holiday? How light, joyful and authentic? Everything is just wonderful. Well, you are on a continuous holiday here. It starts with your birth and end with your death. Live it like a holiday.

89. Make A Story Out Of It

Do you like a good story? I love it. Make everything in your life story-worthwhile. Make it as it would be a fantastic journey and you will be at all time the observer, the hero and the narrator. Create the story of your life.

90. Stop Being A Follower

Admiring is nice. But being admired is even better. Stop trying to fit in other people’s shoes. Find your own path. If that means breaking up completely your lifestyle, so be it. If you are “like” somebody else you can’t be “like” yourself anymore.

91. Watch Your Beliefs

Your beliefs are not you. But they are shaping your life constantly. You have the power to change them at any point in your existence. But in order to do that, you must first start to observe them, to isolate them, to accept them.

92. Stop Lying

To others and to yourself. Although it might ease a complicated situation, a lie is not good in the long run. The trick is that if you’re telling a lie you’re altering your reality. And a distorted reality will be impossible to handle.

93. Stop Reacting To Stuff

And start acting on stuff. Initiate things. Start projects. Predict situations and be there before the hurricane hits. Reacting to stuff is a victim paradigm. Stop being a victim and start acting. Create your life instead of being the creation of others.

94. Live Today

Not yesterday, not tomorrow. Go for what you can do today and leave yesterday behind for good. It’s not here anymore. And tomorrow doesn’t even exist yet, so why bother. All you have is today. Don’t waste it.

95. Expect The Unexpected

If there’s something unusual that happens to you, go for it. The unexpected is a signal of an opportunity. It will not always be nice, this unexpected, but whenever it’s around, magical things are happening. Wait for it. Praise for it.

96. Enjoy

Like being in joy. Like giving permission to yourself to extract joy from any situation you’re in. Even if it’s bad. Or especially if it’s bad. Joy is everywhere, you just have to let it manifest through you. Don’t resist joy. Don’t reject it.

97. Make Your Own Rules

And stick with them. Go for what works for you, not the others. Go for what you want, not the others. Including me. Make your own system and be proud of it. You may upset some people in the process, but hey, that’s life.

98. Love

Unconditionally. Totally. Constantly. Restlessly. Love is the only glue that keeps your life running. You were born out of love and you carry it deep down in your being. Love is never about the others, it’s about you.

99. Get Rid Of Labels

Things are what they are. Don’t use labels anymore, use directly the things. Your notion of “right” and “wrong” are nothing but labels. In a different country your “right” might be “wrong”. Don’t charge yourself with this unneeded burden.

100. No Regrets

Regretting something is another form of not accepting reality. What you can do about it now? It’s gone. It doesn’t exist anymore. Focus on what you can change: your present moment. Not yesterday, not tomorrow. Now. Live now.

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