It’s Okay to “Fail” on Your Way to Finding What You Want to Do

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” ~George Bernard Shaw

 I would say it’s a safe assumption that most people aren’t quite sure what they’re doing.

What do I mean? I mean that most individuals—whether they look polished and presentable or haphazardly have their life thrown together—are generally playing a game called “life.” And they’re trying the best they can.

In other words, we’re all capable and have all experienced the highs and lows of what life has to offer. Unfortunately, that’s just part of the human experience. To try to ride the highs while avoiding the lows is counterproductive and, quite frankly, impossible.

But it’s also easy to feel like you’re falling down a dark rabbit hole when times are tougher. And one of those feelings revolves around our desire to make an impact on this world, finding what really drives us.

Great! Now, where to start?

And that’s the problem. Most of us, including myself, have fallen victim to not knowing what to do with our lives, both professionally and even personally.

And I offer you this: that is perfectly okay. And it is perfectly okay to fail on your way to finding out what to do with your life.

Failing Whether You Want To or Not

Life isn’t about an end goal or a destination. Life is about enjoying the ride and trying different things. Things you will succeed at and things you won’t succeed at.

I personally have failed at many things in my life in its two most common forms: action and inaction.

One of my biggest “failures” of inaction was sticking with a career that I didn’t enjoy on any level for far too long. It got so bad, I would begin to dread Saturdays because I knew the next day was Sunday, which meant the day before the workweek began. And when that week started, I counted the days down until the weekend.

And the cycle would repeat. Yet I kept this uncomfortable routine for years, lying to myself and saying that it was okay because I had a stable job, a good income, and it could be worse.

I was too scared to take a step or make a move. And years flew by before I realized it was time to take one.

I also didn’t move when I had the opportunity to. I didn’t take a trip because it might have required a bit more financing than I thought. I didn’t volunteer because life got busy and I shelved the idea.

The lack of moving forward, or taking a step, results in a failed effort to grow as a person. We begin to regret that we didn’t do X, Y, or Z. And unfortunately, living with regret is the fastest way to bury yourself into a hole.

But failure can also occur as you go about sticking your neck out and trying different things.

And unfortunately, this is the one that scares most people. Why? Because there is nothing worse than actually taking a leap of faith, only to have it blow up in our face. We may learn valuable life lessons from it, yet it doesn’t exactly help our arch-nemesis, the ego.

But as Wayne Gretzky once said: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”

So if the last relationship you got into didn’t work out, it’ll be okay. If the job you switched to didn’t turn out in your favor, not a problem. And if telling someone your true feelings got you on the wrong side of the equation, so be it.

Now you know. And you never would have known if you didn’t take that step. Rest easy knowing that you made the effort.

Life and Newton’s First Law of Motion

I remember at very specific points telling myself that sooner than later I’d figure out what I wanted to do with my life, but I needed to keep my job in the meantime.

Life doesn’t work like that.

I used to think that a lightning bolt from Zeus himself would come down and strike me, in the form of some epiphany wrapped in a layer of motivation. This “lightning bolt,” some kind of chance meeting with someone or witnessing something, would basically give me all the info I needed to pursue the things in life that were meant for me.

I was convinced it was that simple.

As you can imagine, that lightning bolt never hit, and I felt stuck. And it was equally hard to imagine a different life besides the one I was living: going to work, watching TV, and going out on the weekends with friends.

This life I was living had done me fairly well up to this point, but I knew something was missing. What that piece (or pieces) were, I didn’t know. But all of us, at some point, feel that sort of “empty” void that we know something is absent.

After awhile, I began to take steps to try different things that struck my fancy. Things like writing, taking an art class, volunteering, reading, researching different industries and careers, and many more. If it stuck out to me, I was willing to give it a shot.

And here you have executed on Newton’s First Law of Motion: An object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by an external force.  

In simpler terms, an object in motion tends to stay in motion, and an object at rest tends to stay at rest.

Looking back, all of the small things I tried were baby steps, but very important ones. It was these tiny little movements, so to speak, that enabled me to start moving in a direction that gave me greater joy and led to more fulfillment.

I started writing for a local magazine, free of charge, in an effort to practice my writing. I made it a point to read at least one book every two weeks, and ended with over thirty-four by year-end. I went back to school and completely changed careers.

And, as you can imagine, life got much better. But it didn’t go completely smoothly. I had some wrong turns in there, including taking a bad job and entering a bad relationship.

I did all these things in an effort to find my true calling, the one or two things that completely light me up and I would do for free without hesitation. Have I found it yet? I can’t say I have.

And yet somehow, I’m a little more at ease knowing that while I may not know what I want to do with my life, I’m trying things that will help me eventually find it.

I can also tell you that I’ve failed multiple times through taking action and I’ve failed multiple times by doing nothing.

It’s through these failures, though, that I’ve learned to hone in on the things that worked. And through honing in on the things that worked, I’ve been able to focus my attention in areas that interest me and have given me the greatest return.

You Have An Amazing Ride If You Want It

If I were to tell you with 110 percent certainty and conviction that life has an amazing ride in store for you if you were to take baby steps toward finding yourself, would you do it? If I were to then tell you that no matter what steps you take, you will ultimately fail at some point, would you still do it?

It should give you comfort to know that the steps you take won’t be perfect by any means. And knowing they’re not perfect should take the pressure off on trying to create immaculate scenarios every single time.

I know one thing: I’m much closer to finding my life’s purpose than I was before. And it’s because I’ve taken steps to try different things and see what sticks and what doesn’t.

Ultimately, there are many steps in life ahead of you that will be the right choice, and a few that will be the wrong choice. But either way, you’re winning by taking action.

Article by: Adam Bergen of Tiny Buddha

15 Podcasts to Listen to on Your Work Commute

I never thought I’d ever become a podcast person. No images? No videos? Just a voice talking to you? It sounded pretty bland to me, and I didn’t think it could capture my attention.

That is, until I decided to give one a go. And then another. And I quickly fell in love with them—they were perfect for winding down after a long day, as an alternative to watching TV in bed (and a healthier one in my opinion), and while making my way to and from work, which is quite a long and boring trek for me.

I found myself laughing out loud on public transportation, tearing up at 7 AM in the morning, and telling everyone I knew they had to listen to so and so episode right this second. (In related news, have you heard This American Life’s “Captain’s Log?”) Basically, they’re the perfect mix of entertainment and education—and they’re completely free!

So, if you want to try one out, learn something new to tell your co-workers (hello conversation starters!), and even become better at your job (yes, there are podcasts for that), check out what The Muse team is listening to right now!

1. Fresh Air by NPR

Fresh Air always has great, in-depth interviews, and I love the wide range of people it features on the show. Terry Gross has been interviewing people for so long, so she’s awesome at researching her interviewer and asking them a wide range of questions. She also asks them direct questions (a.k.a., she doesn’t beat around the bush). And her voice is also really soothing to wind down after work. The episode I recommend is with John Krasinski—he talks about his start as an actor, and how he got his break on The Office.

2. Reply All by Gimlet Media

It’s a podcast about the history of the internet, and all the quirky things people have done with it since its invention. I recently listened to a fascinating episode about the inventor of the pop-up ad, and how he feels like he ruined the internet with it.

3. Bill’s Monday Morning Podcast by Bill Burr

If you love stand-up comedy, you’ll like this podcast. It actually makes me look forward to Mondays. It’s like going to the bar with your friend after work and hearing him rant about the stuff going on in the world, be it pop culture, politics, or sports—in a hilarious way. Once in a while his wife Nia will join in and add some good opinions and laughter. There are two episodes each week, Mondays and Thursdays.

4. Magic Lessons by Elizabeth Gilbert

I became kind of obsessed with Elizabeth Gilbert after reading her latest book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear—which is all about powering through the challenges of being creative to do great work—and so was thrilled to find out she was starting a spinoff podcast. In each episode, Gilbert is helping an individual figure out how to deal with his or her creative blocks, calling on the likes of Martha Beck and Neil Gaiman for extra inspiration. While the podcast is geared toward artists, I think the advice can be powerful for anyone looking for more creativity or confidence in his or her work!

5. How To Build The Future by Y Combinator

As someone who values building great products, it’s super valuable to hear from other people who have built super valuable products and their views of the world. And as someone who really believes that software is eating the world, it’s super helpful to hear how the people who have built amazing software think about the world around them, and how they were able to build great things. I highly suggest everyone listen to the Mark Zuckerberg episode.

6. Still Processing by The New York Times

This is hosted by two culture writers from the New York Times, Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris, who talk about pop culture, entertainment, politics, and more. They’re only a few episodes in, but their thoughts about the movie When the Bough Breaks is hilarious and their interview with RuPaul during episode three is so refreshing.

7. Presidential by The Washington Post

This show covers the journeys former presidents took to get into The Oval Office, their personalities, and their decisions while in office. Best of all, the host always asks, ‘What would a blind date with this person be like?’ which is a great way to get insight into what these historic figures were like outside of the public sphere.

8. The Fantasy Footballers by Fantasy Football Podcast

I like this podcast because the guys who run it have a ton of passion for fantasy football and for entertainment. I listen to a ton of podcasts, but this one is different in that the hosts aren’t jaded by the need to put out a set number of shows a week—they’re completely dedicated to their community and to quality production, which goes a long way in a somewhat niche market.

9. Dhamma Talks by Amaravati

I listen to this a few times a week. I don’t consider myself a Buddhist, but Buddhist thought resonates with me a lot. It was initially surprising to me how correct and relevant the teachings of Buddhist monastics are for modern secular life. I suppose we all have the same human mind. Ajahn Amaro (in my opinion) is one of the best!

10. SPONTANEATION by Paul F. Thompkins by Earwolf

Thompkins is an incredibly funny interviewer. The basic format for this show is that he has really funny improvisers, as well as one special guest, to do a long-form improv together. It’s a very fun way to get my mind off the mundane tasks that I sometimes have to do at work. I recommend you check out episode #60 with Jon Hamm.

11. The Limit Does Not Exist by Forbes

This show’s about choosing your path, and why you shouldn’t limit yourself in your career. The two awesome hosts focus on interviewing people they call ‘human venn diagrams,’ who have a foot in more than one industry. Each episode is an inspiring take on expanding your creativity, your curiosity, your skill set, and your goals and ambitions—and they host some pretty amazing people in the career space.

12. Pistol Shrimps Radio by Earwolf

I’ve recently been enjoying this podcast with Matt Gourley and Mark McConville. They do commentary on women’s rec league basketball games in LA for a team called the Pistol Shrimps, and know absolutely nothing about sports—so hilarity ensues. In the last offseason, they called the shots for mini-golf games with the Pistol Shrimps players.

13. Note to Self With Manoush Zomorodi by WNYC

It’s a smart and insightful look at how we use technology and its effect on modern life. There are so many aspects of modern technologies (from phones and iPads to emails) that are only just now beginning to be researched and that so many people don’t understand fully. Things like what’s the deal with crazy privacy policies, or is your phone listening to you? Plus, there are several really great themed episodes about mothers in the workplace (‘Taking the Lead’) and how to stop information overload (‘Infomagical’). And they’re short—20 to 30 minutes long—so perfect for when you’re running an errand or working on a semi-mindless task.

14. Death, Sex, and Money by WNYC

To quote the NPR podcast’s official description, ‘It’s about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation.’ It manages to be both incredibly interesting and educational all at once, and I always walk away with a better understanding of other people’s lives. Not to mention, it provides great filler when you’re stuck in a boring conversation.

15. Invisibilia by NPR

I enjoy this podcast because they talk about things that influence everyone’s day to day life but never really stop to think about. The hosts do a great job of looking at the topic from the perspective of science and society. Often, I finish each episode with a different understanding of a previously held assumption or belief. My favorite episode so far was ‘The Problem with the Solution.

And my suggestion? Millennial by Radiotopia—it’s perfect for 20-somethings who are trying to make their way in the world—without falling on their faces.

Article by:  Alyse Kalish of The Muse

31 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Setting Next Year’s Goals

You can find more purpose and happiness at work and in life by asking yourself better questions…

Have you ever done a copy-and-paste of your goals from the previous year because you didn’t accomplish any of them? I have. I’ve also fallen into the lazy trap of making my goals in line with everyone else’s — to weigh less, spend less, earn more.

The new year is an opportunity. Many of us use the turning of the year to think about where we are and where we want to go. We set goals and make resolutions for how the coming year will be different. Better.

When we set goals by just going through the motions, we have little chance of success. At best, we might luck into a little progress, but it’s never very satisfying. Instead, taking time in advance to reflect leads to knowing ourselves better. And when we know ourselves, setting the goals for what’s next becomes much easier.

If life is a journey, the questions we ask ourselves are the fuel that gets us from here to there.

Without this intentional reflection, we react impulsively and with limited information. We’re vulnerable to getting pushed around by the forces of those more proactive than us.

Here are 31 questions to reflect on in December–one for each day–before you set your New Year’s resolutions. They’re intended to get you thinking about what you have to be grateful for, what you want to change, and what effort is needed to propel you forward.

  1. What are the first thoughts that come to mind about the past year? Mostly positive, negative, or neutral?
  2. What was one of the most interesting things I learned this year?
  3. Who was one person I met that I’d like to get to know better? Why?
  4. What was one of my most challenging moments? Why?
  5. What was one of my favorite accomplishments?
  6. What was one personal strength I used this year? How did it benefit my work or life?
  7. What hurdle came up more than once? (time, money, attitude, location, knowledge, etc.)
  8. How well did I communicate with the people who matter most to me?
  9. What three events or accomplishments were made possible by the help of others?
  10. What advice would I offer someone else on the basis of a lesson I learned this year?
  11. What are three problems that came up at work? How did I approach solving those problems? Are there any trends in those problems or solutions?
  12. Who needed my encouragement this year? What did I say or do to help them along?
  13. If I were writing a memoir, what would I highlight in the chapter about this year?
  14. What was I doing when I forgot about time and was able to be “in the moment”?
  15. What frustration seemed to come up again and again?
  16. What did I start and not finish?
  17. What did I try and fail?
  18. What three things am I curious to know more about?
  19. If I could wave a magic wand and master one skill, what would it be? Why?
  20. Who is one person I could help right now? How? What would it “cost” me? What would I gain?
  21. When did I slow someone else’s progress? Why? What was I worried about?
  22. What’s one thing I made or created from scratch? How did that feel?
  23. What’s one thing I did that left me exhausted at the end? How did that feel?
  24. What’s one thing I was a part of this year that I’ll remember for the rest of my life? Why?
  25. What was the nicest thing someone did for me this year?
  26. What was the nicest thing I did for someone else this year?
  27. If I could change one thing that happened this year, what would it be?
  28. What felt difficult one year ago that now feels easy (or easier)?
  29. Of the books I read this year, which was my favorite?
  30. How did I capture my thoughts and feelings? (journaling, writing, social media sharing, talking one-on-one with friends or family, etc.) Was that method helpful?
  31. What are six adjectives that best describe this year? What would I like those adjectives to be next year?

Asking ourselves reflective questions can jump-start our learning. When we’re more aware of our interests and desires, we can create goals that align with what we want — not what we think we’re supposed to want. Some of these questions are bigger than others and will be more difficult to answer. They’re intended to be asked one at a time each day for a month. Taking these questions day by day allows your thinking to change over the course of the day. Keeping a journal of these questions and your answers helps you keep track of what you notice through this process. At the end of the month, use these answers to help you create goals aimed at making the coming year your best year yet.

Article by:  Robin Camarote of Inc.

A New Way to Make Hard Decisions

Do you consider yourself a decisive person? Or, do you struggle to make choices for yourself—whether they’re big or small?

Many of us (myself included!) fall into that second category, and there’s no doubt that it can be somewhat paralyzing.

Fortunately, science is here to help. According to research published by Psychological Science, there’s one super easy trick that can help you make decisions for yourself: Pretend that you’re actually making them for a friend.

It’s called self-distancing, and it totally removes you from the equation—helping you to make more sound judgments about certain situations.

As part of the research, Igor Grossman at the University of Waterloo and his team conducted a study of 100 different participants who were all in long-term relationships. One group of the subjects was asked to imagine that they had been cheated on, while another group was told to imagine that a friend had been cheated on.

At that point, all of the participants filled out a questionnaire designed to measure their “wise reasoning” skills—things like their ability to consider multiple perspectives or pursue a compromise.

The results? The study subjects who were thinking about a friend demonstrated far better judgement and sounder reasoning than those who were imagining themselves in that scenario.

While the study looked at relationships specifically, this advice holds some water in other areas of your life as well—including your career. And, it’s a tactic that I’ve already been putting to work to combat my own chronic indecisiveness.

So, the next time you feel torn over whether to quit your job, go after that career change, or toss your hat into the ring for that promotion, step outside of yourself and think about what you would tell a friend in your exact same situation. You might just be surprised with your own reasoning and wisdom.

Article by: Kat Boogaard of The Muse

4-Step Formula to Pursuing Your Dreams

When I was 26, I was fumbling through life in different jobs that were only partially fulfilling, unsure of my future but certain of only one thing:

I don’t know what my IT is, but I know IT is going to be big.

I knew very little about what I wanted out of life, but I hungered for authority and to be taken seriously. Then a good friend, Krista, introduced me to a book: “The Dream Manager,” by Matthew Kelly. The book itself generally discussed how a middle manager reduced turnover by investing himself in his employees’ personal goals, which has since become very important to me in my career. But at the time, I was more impressed with the concept of creating a “Dream List.”

Essentially, The Dream Manager explained a simple concept. Fewer than 1 percent of the world ever writes down their hopes, dreams or ambitions, and fewer ever share this list with a third party, creating accountability for their goals. But of those who do, they are much more likely to live their version of a fulfilled life.

I created my Dream List and compiled 100 dreams I hoped to accomplish before I die. Now, exactly 10 years later, I’ve accomplished more than 80 of them and have a new 100 in their place.

If you are feeling a bit lost in life or confused about how to accomplish your life goals, I encourage you to follow these four important steps:

1. Write it down.

First, open an Excel spreadsheet. Create some time categories across the top of your sheet, such as “6 months,” “5 years,” and “Lifetime.” Next, along the left side of your sheet, create as many categories of life that you can think of, including (but not limited to): Spiritual, Family, Professional, Financial, Intellectual, Community, Character and Travel.

Now, take the time to fill in at least one goal for each of the intersecting buckets you’ve created between time and category. If you can get to more than one dream per section, all the better. Write until you can write no more.

2. Notice your themes.

If you are lost in your current career, feeling strapped for cash or frustrated with dead-end relationships, it can be hard to pull yourself out of your current predicament to dream big. So start small.

If you can’t see your future in the Lifetime category, think about where you want to be in one month, and if you are feeling stuck in your professional category, focus on travel or community. Dreams can overlap categories; in fact, I encourage it.

Every once in awhile, pull back from your list to see if you can find themes, or you can build them in right from the start. For instance, if you want to complete a marathon at some point in your life, then perhaps you may want to add a half marathon to your five-year goal and a 5K to your six-month. Do you notice a theme between travel and spiritual that you are longing to spend meaningful time in India at an ashram? Perhaps that can influence your financial goals as you consider how much something like that would cost. You might even consider what professional aspirations you have: could you work at one of these places?

When you remove yourself from your everyday monotony, you can find some gems that may guide you toward a more fulfilling future.

3. Share with others.

Once you feel your list is complete, write down a person’s name next to each dream. This person should be the person in your life that is most likely to help you accomplish this particular dream. Then, share those dreams with your identified person. Ask them for help in holding you accountable to accomplishing your goals, and give yourself deadlines for reaching back out to them to report out on your progress.

By sharing your dreams and asking others for help, you allow people who care about you to invest themselves in your life, and you make it far more likely that you’ll achieve your goals.

4. Check in regularly.

This final step is the most important. You don’t serve yourself by committing to goals and then putting them on a shelf. Plus, when you accomplish a goal, it feels great to mark it off your list and replace it with a new one. You can always move your dreams to a new timeframe if they no longer meet your original parameters, but by checking back in (say, every six months), you remind yourself of what is important to you.

I am now at a point in life where I can be proud of my years of hard work, but I know that I would be only half as far had I not crafted a dream list. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to start dreaming!

Article by:  Candace Sjogren, Entrepreneur Magazine

Why We Push Ourselves Too Hard and How to Work Less

“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” ~Unknown

I was sitting on the beach with my wonderful girlfriend, trying to relax on our vacation in Florida, yet I was racked with anxiety.

We were lying under a large umbrella, taking in the beautiful waves and swaying palm trees, attempting to recover from the past months (and years) of overwork and overstress. But all I could think about was a marketing initiative I was working on for a client.

The more I tried to chill, the more nervous I became. My girlfriend lay peacefully, dozing off occasionally, while I was busy fending off a full-blown panic attack.

Did I hurry back from our beach session to get back to work? That would be crazy, right? Well, it was worse. I pulled out my laptop and went to work right there on the beach.

I was so addicted to my computer and so stretched thin with commitments that I couldn’t even enjoy this highly anticipated vacation with the love of my life. In fact, the only thing I can remember when I look back on this trip is my stress. I don’t remember enjoying the beach or ever feeling present.

When, I got back from Florida, I didn’t feel refreshed at all. I more desperately need a vacation after it than I did before it. Not only had my over-commitment to work prevented me from enjoying my vacation, it led me to operating at below my best for many months following.

Why did I do this to myself? It was a combination of things. I was insecure and using money to mask it. I was correlating my self-worth with the amount of money I had in the bank. I worked more to distract myself from my own anxieties. But most of all, I was working myself to death because of how the human brain works.

The Psychology of Over-Working

The benefits of working less are counterintuitive, but well documented. There are the obvious benefits—such as having more time for hobbies, friends, family, health, or even working on bigger and better projects—and then there are the less obvious benefits, such as improving creativity and productivity.

Tim Ferriss’ proposition of a “four-hour work week” is attractive to our rational thinking brains, but in practice, it’s surprisingly difficult to work less.

The reason we work more than we need to—sometimes to the extent of actually hurting our productivity, health, or personal relationships—may lie in how humans have evolved.

In their book “Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters: From Dating, Shopping and Praying to Going to War and Becoming a Billionaire–Two Evolutionary Psychologists Explain Why We Do What We Do,” Alan S. Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa postulate that our brains are shaped by evolutionary pressures to survive and reproduce. We’ve adapted to recurring problems faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors.

“Our human nature is the cumulative product of the experience of our ancestors in the past, and it affects how we think, feel, and behave today,” Miller and Kanazawa write. People who showed no anxiety to threats would not have taken the appropriate steps to solve the problems and therefore may not have survived.

In his book “Evolutionary Psychology: Neuroscience Perspectives Concerning Human Behavior and Experience,” William J. Ray, describes how these evolutionary adaptations can actually hinder us from properly interpreting reality:

“Consciousness is just the tip of the iceberg; most of what goes on in your mind is hidden from you. As a result, your conscious experience can mislead you into thinking that our circuitry is simpler than it really is…our modern skulls house a Stone Age mind.”

In the context of work-life balance, our brains didn’t evolve to determine exactly how much we need to work. Our brains simply want us to survive and reproduce, and working more seems to contribute to those end goals. Our brain’s anxiety about survival and reproduction motivates us to work more, even though it’s not usually in our best interest over the long-term.

Similarly, our brains crave sugar because in the past, calories were scarce and we needed to eat as much as possible to account for extended periods without food.

Sugar has a high calorie density, so it was very economical for our ancestors. As a result, many people today have a tendency to overeat unhealthy foods, even though we don’t face a problem of the scarcity of food like we did before the agricultural revolution. Unfortunately, sugar contributes to a number of health problems over the long-term, but our brains don’t understand that.

Our brains think working excessively to gather resources contributes to survival and reproduction. But it doesn’t know how to moderate. More work doesn’t always lead to more money, let alone a more fulfilling life. At its worst, excessive work can lead to burnout, depression, panic attacks, and a lack of meaningful relationships.

Here are four signs you may be working to the point of your own demise:

  • Working far beyond what is needed despite the risk of negative consequences
  • After reaching a goal, you immediately set another more ambitious one
  • Refusing to delegate work, despite the opportunity cost of doing the work yourself
  • Creating more work that doesn’t add value in order to avoid feelings of guilt, anxiety, insecurity, or depression

To be clear, there are benefits to working hard. Working more can help you get more done, and, assuming you are doing the right work, that can help you make more money. And there are times when anxiety is rational and you legitimately need to work more in order to survive. But more often than not, working too much can do more harm than good.

The counterintuitive reality is that working more does not always mean working productively if it means you’re going to burn out.

Simple But Hard Choices

We have a choice about how to deal with working too much. Like so many other challenges, there is the simple but hard solution, and a complex but easy solution.

For your health, the simple but hard solution is to eat more healthy food and less unhealthy food. This solution requires discipline, but it doesn’t cost money, and it’s proven to work. The complex but easy solution is to pay for the latest diet products.

The simple but hard solution to workaholism is to work less. This means saying “no” to unnecessary projects and responsibilities. However, I call this the hard solution for a reason. First, it would be a bruise to your ego to admit you can’t handle something. Second, it requires introspection and change in order to address underlying anxieties or insecurities that may be the impetus for pathological working habits.

Fear or frustration with executing on the simple solution incentivizes us to change course. So we add complexity.

These complex but easy solutions include productivity apps, time management processes, or even prescription drugs. They can help us eek out a couple more units of productivity on a given day, but they often have negative side effects over the long term, and more notably, they enable us to avoid blaming ourselves or putting in the hard work of conquering our anxieties and insecurities.

These solutions are like playing whack-a-mole—they only solve the surface level symptoms. James Altucher provided an apt analogy in writing about the power of saying “no” to bad opportunities:

“When you have a tiny tiny piece of sh*t in the soup it doesn’t matter how much more water you pour in and how many more spices you put on top. There’s sh*t in the soup.”

Often times, continuing to work excessively, even while using the latest and greatest productivity apps, only leads to burnout, which results in an extended period of low productivity, or, worse, an unfulfilling life, void of meaningful relationships or even physical and mental health problems.

How to Work Less, Survive, and Prosper

Your brain doesn’t know or care that working less won’t prevent you from surviving or reproducing in modern times.

It doesn’t know how much money you have in your bank account or how many hours you need to work in order to retire in thirty years.

It definitely doesn’t care about helping you achieve higher ambitions like finding love or having fun on weekends.

You feel anxious about working less because your brain only cares about surviving and reproducing.

But we’re not slaves to our lizard brains. The idea that working less can help you accomplish more requires some critical thinking. However, with awareness of how our brains work, we can make decisions that are healthier and more productive.

So, how you can you counteract your brain’s adaptive impulses? I’ll share two strategies that have worked for me.

First, know your priorities. Every time you say “yes” to more work you’re saying “no” to the other aspects of your life that you value. By taking inventory of your list of priorities, and where work lies on that list, you can make decisions that will help you live a more fulfilling life.

Second, address the underlying issues. Oftentimes we work to avoid thinking about our insecurities or shortcomings. Or, we think we need to have more money in order to be loved. I’ve been guilty of both of these.

Once I gained awareness of these issues, it was easier to make healthier decisions about my work. I worked to conquer my anxiety instead of making it worse by burying it in work, and I’ve dispelled the myth that I’m not worthy of love unless I have massive amounts of wealth.

Since doing this work, I’ve said no to many great opportunities in order to keep my life in balance. It’s difficult at the time, but I’m healthier and happier for it.

It may sound idealistic to work less, but if it can help your health, productivity, and life isn’t it worth a shot? If it doesn’t work for you, keep in mind that there will always be more work to do!

Article by:  Michael Fishbein of Tiny Buddha

Find The Best Career Quizzes to Help You Find Your Dream Job

If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably been a little too sucked into the BuzzFeed quiz sensation. And while those goofy little tests are a fun distraction, what if we told you that you could spend your time taking quizzes that are actually beneficial to your career?

We’ve gathered some of the best career assessments and personality quizzes on the web. Whether you need help finding the right path for you or want to learn a little more about your working style to help you improve the job you already have, there’s sure to be a career quiz for you. And while no test is likely to be able to tell you exactly what your dream career might be, these can certainly help point you in the right direction.

1. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Cost: $49.95 or free online knock-off

Applicable across all areas of your life, the MBTI is probably one of the most used assessments by career centers and managers alike. The MBTI gives you a sense of your personality preferences: where you get your energy, how you like to take in information, how you make decisions, and what kind of structure you like in the world around you. While these preferences can certainly point to careers that might suit you well, they can also give you a lot of valuable information about what kind of workplaces might be best for you, what your working preferences are, and how you can best relate to others at the office. If you don’t want to pay to take the official test, you can take a pretty good and free online version here.

2. Self-Directed Search

Cost: $9.95

The Self-Directed Search (SDS) is built with the idea that people and jobs can be categorized into six different types: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, or conventional. After answering questions about your aspirations, activities, interests, and the like, you’ll receive the three types that best fit you, along with a list of careers that generally fit people with a mix of those types.

3. My Next Move O*Net Interests Profiler

Cost: Free

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, this tool uses a method similar to Self-Directed Search to help you identify where your career interests lie, then points you towards career paths that might feed those interests. The results section even has the option to search different careers by how much preparation is necessary to get into them, meaning you can find options that are a fit to your current skill level.

4. MyPlan.com

Cost: Free – $19.95

MyPlan.com offers a suite of four different tests to help you find your perfect career and measure your career personality (similar to the MBTI), interests, skills, and desired values (the only free test on the site). You can learn things from each test individually (for example, the career values test will give you a sense of what to look for in a new position in order to find meaning), but the site also offers a service that takes the results of all the tests you take to help you find a job that matches your profile.

5. Pymetrics

Cost: Free

Pymetrics uses a series of simple (yet surprisingly challenging) mind games to measure different cognitive and social traits (think your level of risk aversion or your attention span). The results detail your strengths and weaknesses, which can give you some hints into what kinds of roles you might excel in.

6. The MAPP Career Assessment

Cost: Free sample, $89.95+ for full results

The MAPP test is perhaps one of the most comprehensive career assessments out there, giving you a narrative report talking about what sorts of tasks you like best, how you like to perform them, and how you deal with people, data, things, reasoning, and language. The assessment also provides a list of 20 possible career areas for you. As part of the free sample, you’ll receive information about your top trait in each category, as well as 10 possible career areas, so even if you don’t feel like paying, you can still get some valuable insights.

7. Career Strengths Test

Cost: Free

This collection of activities, developed by Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation for Oprah, will test your strength level in a variety of different skills, from inductive reasoning to structural visualization. If you do well, you can see which jobs require that skill—and get a sense of what types of careers might be a fit for your abilities.

8. StrengthsQuest

Cost: $9.95

StrengthsQuest gives college students a sense of what you’re already great at—and how you can use those skills to better your career. After taking the test, you’ll get a customized report that lists your top five talent themes, along with action items using those talents to your advantage and suggestions about how you can achieve academic, career, and personal success.

9. The Big Five Personality Test

Cost: Free

Learn more about how you work and relate to others with this quick test. You’ll get information on how open to new experiences you are, how self-disciplined you are, how extraverted you are, how agreeable you are, and how you handle stressful situations.

10. Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator

Cost: $12

This test tells you which of the eight Enneagram types you are most like: the reformer, the helper, the achiever, the individualist, the investigator, the loyalist, the enthusiast, the challenger, or the peacemaker. Understanding more about your type can not only help you get along better with your co-workers, but can also give you hints about characteristics you need in a career in order for it to be fulfilling.

11. What Career Should You Actually Have?

Cost: Free

Okay, this BuzzFeed career quiz probably won’t give you many real insights. But if you only have a few minutes and need a break from the workday? It’s the perfect “productive” distraction.

Article By:  The Daily Muse Editor