Most people who are learning a second language understand how important it is to read material in their target language.
Even if your goal is purely conversational – maybe you just want to be able to watch movies or only need to use the new language in business calls – and literacy isn’t a concern at all, reading is still too powerful a tool to pass up. I’m all about having conversations as soon and as often as possible in your new language, but I’d never do it at the complete expense of reading.
The problem is, most people don’t recognize the differences between the two ways to approach reading in a target language. If you aren’t making full use of both, you’re making things unnecessarily hard on yourself.
As a part of starting to write more fiction I took the advice of smarter people than myself and made Stephen King’s On Writing a piece of my required reading.
One of the things that jumped out at me is how much he emphasizes setting aside a special area just for you to do your writing in. King argues that having a special place that is set up specifically for you to write and do nothing else not only helps you ignore distractions, but also helps trigger that creative mindset because your subconscious knows when you sit down in that particular spot it’s time to write.
This is powerful advice. Our environments have a huge effect on our behaviors and moods that we can’t always be aware of.
So why limit the benefits of reshaping our environment to just writing?
Getting fit, particularly to a basic level, is simultaneously frustratingly simple and incredibly complex.
It’s simplicity comes from the fact that there are really only two things you need to do once you boil it down. The first is to take in fewer calories than you burn or inversely to burn more calories than you take in. The second is to regularly move in some way that challenges your body. That’s it – and technically you could probably leave that second one off if you really wanted.
The problem is we’re not dealing with simple math or well-engineered machines here, we’re dealing with biology.Biology is messy. There are thousands of chemical processes going on all with their own variables and differing levels to which we even understand them. Compound that with psychological and sociological components that come with behavior modification, and what should be a simple process of just showing up and doing the work gets complicated.
That complexity can make it difficult to figure out what the problem is when you’re failing to make progress. Thankfully, I’ve found that it’s almost always something out of this handful of issues holding people back.
I love to read. Always have. To the point where as a little kid I would routinely get lost in the grocery store because I refused to put my book down even when walking and I wouldn’t notice my mom or grandma had turned off at some point.
I’ve noticed something though in my time spent within the circles of self-development and entrepreneurial minded folks – as much as many of them profess a deep thirst for reading so many disparage or at best ignore fiction.
Their reading lists are packed full of non-fiction, how-to books, motivational stuff, etc. with not a moment spared for a good story. I’ve had people tell me that reading fiction is a ‘waste of time’, or that it’s silly to devote hours to ‘entertainment’ when they could be reading something instructional. They say that, unlike fiction, non-fiction has value.
Fuck those people.
Not only does fiction have value, I’d argue it has a type of value that you can’t get from non-fiction. Here’s why you should make room for reading fiction again.
Confession time – I am a bit of a notebook addict.
Okay, ‘a bit’ is too soft of phrasing. A serious notebook addict. I tend to fall more on the eco-conscious, paperless, ‘let’s digitize everything’ side, but there is just something about the experience of sitting down with a nice, physical notebook to draw or write in that I just love. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that a notebook has always factored heavily in my language learning.
Regardless of my proclivities for fine stationary, I’ve found keeping a notebook like this to be a huge benefit to learning a language. It helps with motivation, planning, lesson structuring, memorization – just about every area of language learning except conversing with another human being. The trick is in knowing how to make the most of it.
Let me show you my favorite ways for building and benefiting from a personal language learning notebook.
Stoicism – or at least a modernized evolution of it – has become increasingly popular over the last ten years or so. More and more athletes, celebrities, political and business leaders, and other public figures talk about how much they enjoy Marcus Aurelius, or how much their following of Stoic practices has helped them in life.
For someone who is interested in seeing what it’s all about though, it can be hard to really dive in and get a good handle on things quickly. There is quite a lot of material out there and the writings of Aurelius, Epictetus, Seneca and others from that section of classical antiquity can feel a bit opaque and stuffy even in spite of their beauty and wisdom.
What if you just want to get started applying Stoic philosophy to your life right away? How can you get started putting these things to practice without having to do countless hours of study in philosophical texts?
If you’ve been wanting to get fit for any amount of time you’ve probably run across the idea of the three body types – Endomorph, Ectomorph, and Mesomorph.
Usually this seems to come up in one of two types of discussions, the first being ones about whether or not ‘X diet’ or ‘Y fitness program’ is right for your particular body type and the second tends to be focused on blame shifting (things like, “Well of course he got fit, he’s a mesomorph. I’m an Endomorph so it’s basically impossible for me to get in shape.”) or on telling people why they’ll never make it.
What really is the deal with these body type categories though? Do they actually matter at all, or is it just a bunch of bullshit?
Let’s take a look.
Keeping productivity up when you have a high number of projects to juggle can feel next to impossible.
Whether they’re all work related or it’s a mix of business and personal tasks when you start juggling too many different things then something inevitably gets dropped. When you’re in charge of a big project at your office job, trying to schedule things for the family, get your weightlifting in,
keep the house clean and the fridge stocked, learn a new language or skill, and work on some entrepreneurial endeavor all at once things wind up being a mess.
Caroline and I have been there. We are notorious for getting excited about and picking up new projects while still working on old ones. I’ve seen what tends to happen – one or more things get neglected.
Maybe you wind up going a month or two without lifting because of spending too much time on other things. Or maybe you just can’t fit the time in for building your own side income stream and it gets forgotten. How do you make sure you can handle progressing in all these things and getting all this stuff done without accidentally abandoning or neglecting some of them?
Okay – the easy answer is to chill out and stop overloading yourself, but if you’re
essentially a pathological goal starter ambitious like us that’s not terribly satisfying. There is a trick I’ve found for making it work out though.
Some people seem to be born knowing what they want out of life.
They have their career picked out before they’re out of high school, they have a plan for exactly the family life they want, they know exactly how they want to be spending their days.
Most of us are not that lucky.
Most people wind up rolling into adulthood a little lost. Maybe you never knew what you really wanted to do and have cruising along waiting for it to come to you but it hasn’t. Maybe you thought you knew what you wanted only to find, four years of university education later, that you were wrong – and now you feel trapped in a career you don’t enjoy. Whatever the reason, it’s not uncommon to find people who feel like they don’t have any real purpose in life.
If that’s the case, it’s time to start figuring one out.
We talk a lot about productivity on here for two primary reasons – the first is we have a lot of projects we’re passionate about and if we didn’t have a strong interest in productivity ourselves none of them would ever get done, and the second is everyone always wants to be more productive. It’s one of those areas that everyone uniformly wants but struggles with.
While there are a lot of things you can do to increase your productivity it can be easy to get bogged down in the little things. Apps, complicated organizational or notebook systems, specialized methods like timeboxing, and things of that nature all seem cool and exciting.
The problem is when you worry too much about that sort of thing it’s easy to completely ignore the stuff that doesn’t seem as cool – and that’s the stuff that’s actually going to help the most.