Habit Fad

Two days ago I wrote that I’d “techniqued” myself into inaction. I was trying to do so many things, seemingly all at the same time, that I could do none of them well, and some of them not at all.

There’s what I’ll call a fad right now that says improving yourself — be it your productivity, your accomplishments, your health, your whatever — is all about establishing the proper habits. There are a multitude of blog posts, articles, and books on how to go about doing that.

It has a fad-like feeling to me. It wouldn’t surprise me if a few years from now we’ll haved moved on to a different productivity or self-improvement fadtechnique.

And yet, at a practical level, I’m paying attention. Fads often carry nuggets of wisdom.

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Technique Overload

I’m not a self-improvement junkie, but it’s certainly something that I have interest in. The process began years ago when one of my managers at Microsoft introduced me to an assortment of books and resources on the topic, most notably Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Since then I’ve done a lot of reading, tried an assortment of time-management tools, watched videos, and tried various … I’ll call them “techniques”.

I ended last year over-techniqued.

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Walter

Hello, my name is Walter. I’m a boy Pembroke Welsh Corgi, born in 2013. I live in Woodinville, Washington, but I do travel a little, mostly in western Washington. If you find me my owners would love it if you let them know. You can reach Leo Notenboom via the 206 number on my tag. … Read more

An Interested Interview

I was recently interviewed by Josh Spector, the man behind For The Interested, a curated newsletter of interesting articles and other information that Josh both finds and occasionally writes himself. There’s an associated For The Interested Facebook group made up of newsletter subscribers, and as part of an experiment to learn more about the people in it, Josh has been conducting a few short interviews.

Here’s mine, presented here with his permission.

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Not. My. Monkeys.

I have opinions.

(I’ll wait for everyone that knows me to stop laughing….)

I tend not to be terribly shy about sharing said opinions.

(Again, another pause for the audience to catch their breath….)

I recently read an article that discussed how the Dutch are somewhat more “brutally honest” when it comes to opinions, and are often puzzled when people don’t accept and understand that they’re offered with the best of intentions. My Dutch heritage apparently runs deeper than I thought.

Of late, though, I’m trying to take a different approach when I react and want to share something I think important. And a simple phrase is helping.

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The Insidious Bubble

I was talking to a friend yesterday about our meditation practices. The observation we both made was that meditation, mindfulness, and related concepts were becoming more and more mainstream. What was once considered a fringe and somewhat “woo” activity had made its way into common discussions around everything from personal performance, to medical and mental health discussions.

But on one observation we differed in an interesting way.

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The Shallows

As revolutionary as it may be, the Net is best understood as the latest in a long series of tools that have helped mold the human mind.

Last week I finished the book “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains” by Nicholas Carr.

It brought a few things in to clarity for me, both with respect to my own ability to focus and dive deep into content, as well as how my audience is being impacted as well.

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Five Things I Learned Writing About Gratitude Every Day For Sixty Days

In mid-August, sixty days prior to my 60th birthday I started a writing exercise I called “60 Days of Gratitude“. Ten years ago I wrote a thought piece entitled “Half Century Mark“. I wanted to do something similar to mark the next decade, and using a writing exercise focussed on gratitude seemed an appropriate approach.

Now that I’m done I decided to capture some of what I learned in the process.

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Oma & Opa

“Oma & Opa” is Dutch for grandmother and grandfather. Pictured are my mother’s parents with us on their visit circa 1964.

I never met my father’s parents. They were long gone before I arrived.

In looking back, I miss having never met them, and conversely, I’m very grateful I got to spend time with my mother’s parents.

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Coffee, Vodka, and Choice

It wouldn’t be my 60 days of gratitude if I didn’t include coffee. And vodka. And coffee-flavored vodka. And coffee-flavored rum, while I’m at it. And Starbucks, of course.

You get the idea. I’m grateful for coffee, with and without alcohol, and preferably from Starbucks.

But when I think about it, it’s really gratitude for something much, much larger: choice.

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Books

I’ve always been a reader. Some of my earliest memories include books of one sort or another. I’m sure I have my mother to thank for that.

I recall Little Golden Books on a bookshelf when I was perhaps five years old. Dick and Jane were part of my kindergarten or first grade curricula. I was an avid reader and collector of Tom Swift Jr. (my first science fiction), as well as The Hardy Boys.

But it wasn’t until high school that things really took off.

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