DIY Life Coach

Winners have systems.

Being productive is not doing things faster but doing the right things. Not even just doing the things you enjoy or building your career to the point that you only need to do the things you enjoy. It means doing the beneficial things, the things that get you closer to being the best expression of you.

The Diderot Effect tells us that your life is only going to have more things fighting to get in it, so you need to to understand how to curate and eliminate so you can focus on the things that matter. Every few years there's a new version of the Say Yes to Everything mantra. NO! Learn how to say no. Try it now. Say no.

How's it feel?

When you set self-imposed limits or choose to live a carefully constrained life by creating limitations for you to operate within you are not getting less from life. Indeed you are getting what you choose to include in your life. You are getting what you choose.

This is where most of us go sideways. You can't complain about getting what you choose. You chose it. But it's the grown-up thing to do. So....

What do you choose when you have imperfect information? Something. Something you think works. And then you test it long enough to determine what is not working. Better yet, test it 10-50% longer than you want.

Guidelines for New Stuff

New skill? At least 30 days of continuous trial. That means 30 consecutive days.
New habit? It takes 60 days to make it a habit so ....

Get Yourself Organized!

Find a way to track your habit or your practice or create a kpi that makes sense for your new endeavor. Ignore the goblins in your mind telling you want or do not want to do ...

Wanting is the death of doing.

If you think structure will help, divide your day/week/mo into the chunks to fit the new thing - or the work you need to do in advance of the new thing. Put it on your actual calendar so you won't be tempted to let it push. If you are changing careers, you may need to do a lot of background work to get prepared for the new field. It's not just as simple as applying for the job, getting the job, starting the job. You probably need to prepare for your first 100 days on the job. Your first 100 days shows the management team that hired you if they made a good decision. You can't hide from your first 100 days. (Need help? Lean on me with Acorn quarterly.)

Try It

Take a look at all the things/to dos/notes/ideas you've collected about what you want to do with and in your life. If you know you're likely to keep saying yes to everything, write each individual task/idea on its own piece of paper. Then find enough space to create five piles: tonight, tomorrow, some specific time, some general time, never. Each one of those items can be placed into one of those 5 piles. One helpful aspect of the physical piles is that you will visually and tactically sense the piles. When you have 20 items in the tonight pile you can see that you're setting yourself up for failure.

I use Things across apple devices, but any system that has worked for you is sufficient. If you don't have a system, try Things. Avoid wasting time analyzing systems. You need to get this stage done. You can perfect the system later.

If using Things you could either tag each item on your mega list with one of those 5 categories or create projects (folders) named for those categories. I do recommend keeping the Never category items so you can search Things the next time that same idea kicks around your noggin as Brilliant Idea! Seeing it in the Never Folder or tagged as Never will remind you why you labelled it that way.

Grand v Ordinary

There are grandiose things and ordinary things within a Grand Plan. Do not confuse the grandiose things with successful execution of the Grand Plan. When you make a decision on a grand scale, follow it through. Most of the success will come from doing ordinary things to make the grand plan happen.

A very human habit is to attempt to do grandiose things, fail, repeat. If instead you work on doing the ordinary things, it may seem less grand, but you are more likely to reach success. If in your think-time (the hour/week or day a quarter) you develop a better plan, weigh it against the current plan cautiously, not optimistically. Was it ordinary things or grandiose things that worked/failed? Gather data, not hunches or hopes before you shift any plan. You have to know that you will follow through on something for your brain to be willing to make sacrifices. You have to build your own credibility. It's easier to do what someone else asks you to do. It is much harder to do your own things. But ultimately prioritizing the doing of your own things - the things you choose - will build your internal credibility and personal fulfillment.

Which would you rather have today: one penny that doubles everyday for one month or $1mm?

Compound interest. The first 3 weeks of that month look like nothing. It's Week 4 - even in February - when that penny doubling scenario starts to pay off. By day 28 you are at least 30% ahead of the $1mm.

Turns out that doing unremarkable, even easy to do things, every day (not busting brilliance or waiting for divine intervention) builds better performance for the long haul. Your best bet is focusing on consistent execution. Soon enough you will be executing with a slight edge and then you'll pull away from the base.

Setbacks? Good.Take them as an opportunity to learn. Rebuild your fight or your focus.

Well done is better than well said.
– Benjamin Franklin

Other Things You May Enjoy


Similar to the Never category you have set up in your master To Do list, consider creating a project graveyard. Saying no to your dreamer may be difficult, but saying no definitively frees your mental and physical resources.

It is not enough for a project to be aligned with your values and mission, it needs to be relevant to your overall execution plan.

Project Graveyard

Life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forwards.



Several techniques for ‘letting go’ suggest that you try role playing in order to allow yourself to access more of your hidden talent in your hobbies.

Consider creating a specific alter ego for your practice. Pretend to be your favorite performer by playing in the way that person would. This can mean recreating the appearance of your favorite baller, tennis star, poet or cellist. The point of the exercise is to capture the physical expression of the performer, not the skill-based aspect. It's only the appearance - the stance, the walk, the breath, the wrist flick - that matters in creating your alter ego.

Find an item you can wear that represents your alter ego to keep boundaries between your regular life and your new practice alter ego. It effectively gives you an on-stage and off-stage.

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You've made it to the end. The blue button, "Current Business News" is the stuff I consider interesting that gets marked every few days. It's a little Finance heavy, but there's plenty of Science, Literature and assorted. You are on your own to find kitten videos.

See you next month! -Kate
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