Everyone can do better at meeting goals by listing what we think we’re doing wrong. It’s because the pessimists of the world are more realistic. They accomplish more in life. Not that optimists want to accomplish more. They don’t. They are just happy where they are. But whatever. There is no place for someone like that on my blog.

So here’s my list of everything I’m doing wrong in my life right now.

1. The most recent bad decision I made is one second ago, when I decided that I would not write this blog post about Esther Williams. For those of you who don’t know, I used to sign autographs for her. I played volleyball in the day and signed fan mail at night. Read more

Melissa says to me, “The reason you’re not writing is because you’re hiding. And if you hide something from blog readers you can’t cope. So you don’t write.”

I tell Melissa, “If you’re going to move to New York then David should put some of his huge salary in your bank account.”

Melissa says, “Don’t change the subject when you can’t face reality.” Read more

I have been trying to think of time differently, so I don’t panic because I don’t have time to do that. I have a job that requires about 60 hours of work a week. And I homeschool my kids. So the only way to get by is to stop thinking of time in terms of work time and personal time. I don’t have enough time to fulfill the needs of those two categories.

I have to find new categories so that I feel like I have enough time.

Tuesdays my son and I drive four hours to Chicago for piano lessons, cello lessons, and orchestra rehearsal. I used to think of it as a terrible day where I drive eight hours and get no work done. But then I realized I could do work while I drive.

So I recategorized drive time as work time, and then I felt better about getting work done on Chicago days. Read more

I get so many books in the mail to review, and the way I evaluate which ones are worth my time is to first read the jacket flap. So I’m not even going to pretend that I have read Tipping Sacred Cows, by Jake Breeden, but I’m going to tell you that it has an amazing jacket flap.

He lists sacred cows in corporate life that we should reconsider:

Balance: Disguising indecision as a bland compromise that attempts to achieve many things but ends up accomplishing nothing

Collaboration: Creating a culture of learned helplessness with little individual empowerment and accountability Read more

I only fly business class because too many things go wrong when I don’t.

When I’m at the airport, I miss my planes. A lot. My biggest problem is that I can’t actually read my boarding pass. So, I’m going to tell you about how I get help.

But asking for help is complicated. Garret Keizer, author of Help: The Original Human Dilemma, explains how nuanced the act of giving and receiving help is. But he shows also that help is what makes us human.

Research about mentoring, startups, organizational development, and even Asperger’s all show that one’s ability to ask for assistance makes or breaks their career. One way to get good at it is to watch how other people get and give help. Here are seven other ways to get good at asking for help: Read more

I wait until my kids and husband go to bed. I wait ten extra minutes just in case. Then I take my new book out of the bag: Family Violence: Legal, Medical and Social Perspectives.

It’s a textbook organized by types of violence. The only light on in the house is the one next to the sofa where I curl up to read.

I flip through pages: Neglect, sexual abuse, ritual abuse. Everything is here.

I pause at physical abuse. There are lists of signs. Inconsistent stories from caretakers. Belt marks. Hand prints.

Burns are most common for kids under three. I think of my burn. How old was I? I was older, because I could walk to the doctor’s office by myself. Read more

I spent the morning going through my file of links that people have sent to me over the week that looked good to read. I have seen enough productivity advice to know that I should not leave links in my inbox. David Allen says everything needs to be dealt with now or filed for later. Leo Babauta says you should clear out your reading folder each week so it doesn’t hang over you. And I want to be productive, so I’m following all the rules.

But something happened on the way to the bottom of the reading folder and I ate a box of cookies after I read Mike Maddock’s list of Resolutions Successful People Make and Keep. I am upset about the list because I assumed I’d click on the list and be like, “Oh yeah, I’m great. I do all those things.” But the list is killing me. Read more

Let go of your dreams. They are stupid. I’m going to show you why. But first, let me say that I’m a big fan of deciding what you want for your life. It’s just that I’m a practical person. If you say you want stuff you can’t have [insert here, for example, a list of 20 things you have to have in a new job] you’ll never get it. So the first step to getting what you want is dumping all your dreams. Here’s why:

1. Dreams are distractions from what you are good at. 
I have dreams. That’s why I know they are stupid. I have the dream that I look like a model with perfectly pulled together outfits and three-inch heels to match. But I keep shopping at sneaker stores. So my dream just distracts from my efforts at being my best self.

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I am shocked to hear that 60% of people don’t know what’s holding them back from reaching their goals. So I decide that I will address the topic: The way  you figure out what you should be doing next is that you try stuff.

You make bad choices, you try again. This is really standard advice for recent grads. But then, somewhere around age thirty, people start thinking they are above this advice. Like, this would be too slow and annoying for someone who is older than thirty.

And, in fact, that’s true. Finding out what you should be doing is a slow and annoying process because you have to try stuff. And a lot of times when we get stuck, we think philosophizing will get us out of the rut. But in fact, action gets us out. That’s right. Even for people like INTPs, who basically create theories in response to anything, even the INTPs have to take action in order to find out if they want to think at a think tank or at a university or a business. Read more

1. They use lists. High achievers organize their thinking with lists, they organize their time with lists, and when they want to spur their creativity, the best tool they have is to force themselves out of the comfort of their list.

2. They use pharmaceuticals. Adderall is de rigueur for the high-powered jobs in high-powered cities to the point that there is a shortage of available Adderall, (and a site to monitor the shortage). Pharmaceutical frenzy is nothing new for gen-yers who used prescription drugs to get a leg up on everything. New York magazine’s ode to Xanax lets you diagnose the type of overachiever you are with the type of pharmaceutical you like best.

3. They let doors shut all the time. Overachievers know their mom was lying when she said they could be anything. So it’s not that big a deal when they see doors shut. They pick a specialty, they give stuff up to get stuff, they know adult life is about making tough choices. Read more