Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Motivation to be.. not get

We live in a reward system, right? You do something well, you get a reward. This is why we should pay for grades, give candy to our kids when they eat their whole dinner, give our toddler a toy when she goes potty on the toilet, and take ourselves on a cruise if we lose 20 pounds.

Does this feel completely wrong to anyone else? This "if... then" reward system places all the emphasis on the receiving of a reward and makes the action taken to get the reward simply a means. Not only that but the action is a means to an unnatural reward, one that does not follow naturally from the action. If we read we become educated and intelligent, if we exercise and eat good foods we become healthy, if we save money we become self-reliant, if we treat people kindly we become a friend and a good member of society. The WSJ has an article on why boys don't read some disappointed parent even tried "bribing him with video games" to get him to read. As Daniel Pink suggest in his interview on EconTalk , "What you've done is say reading is like working at a fast-food restaurant; only a chump would do it for free."

So for yourself and for you kids try using the natural reward of an action as a motivator. Say things like, "Eat your food so you will be healthy and strong and have energy to play" or "Isn't working hard fun, I always feel good when I try my best and work hard" or "Let's clean up our toys so we can keep them all together and also so we will have more room to play in".

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Innate Talent vs. Developed Mastery

Mastery pushes us to a new understanding of what we can accomplish. Mastery, as Daniel Pink puts it, is an asymptote, we can get close to mastery but perfection will always alude us. This is both exciting and daunting. Exiting because there is no end to our pursuit of mastery. We will always be able to improve and get better. An excellent article from the Harvard Business Review reports on the results of some research and 6 keys to mastery, and no, being born with natural talent is not one of them. I think too often we are cheating ourselves out of great learning and growth when we say things like, "I am not good at math", "I am not creative", "I am not good at sports". Never ever limit yourself! These sentiments support the innate talent myth, talents and mastery are the result of hard, determined work, not what you do well or poorly. You can accomplish anything!! Read the Harvard Business Review Article!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Can't have your cake and eat it too

Another birthday party and no cake or ice cream for me (despite how tempting they were- thanks Leah and Ryan). I have probably been to 5 or 6 parties so far this year and now we are coming into birthday season, at least for my siblings.

Not eating desserts and candy is not really as hard as it might sound. It is simply the price I pay to live longer and be healthier. I equate things to a simple decision tree: Do I want to life for an additional 5 years or do I want this piece of cake? Do I want to be able to wrestle on the floor with my great-grand-children or do I want this ice cream. Although one piece of cake or one bowl of ice cream is not going to cost me 5 year of life or wrestling with my great-grand-children, in the long run it will. For me I have to categorically eliminate certain foods otherwise I have a hard time drawing the line.

Since starting this lifestyle, I am down 30 pounds and I feel good. I have substituted desserts and candy with grapes, berries, and watermelon etc and I can tell you I don't miss the desserts one bit.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Live 2 B...Clutter Free

Anyone who has organized their closet or cleaned out there desk knows it feels great! Clearing out clutter seems to reduce a pressure on us that builds up so incrementally that we don't feel it as it grows but we certainly feel the relief when we get rid of it. That stack of notes from our undergraduate classes that we somehow thought we might want to look at again, or that box of clothes that we kept in case we lost weight, or that box of receipts from everything we have bought for the last 4 years all add to physical and mental clutter. Being organized, clutter free, and living simply will improve our quality of life. The New York Times has a good article on clutter that deals with our attitude toward clutter. The article points out a common misunderstanding of clutter, clutter is not a space problem it is a person problem. I can't tell you how many times I have thought, if I only had a few more plastic bins, or a bigger closet, or bigger house. I am now understanding that if I don't change my behavior it won't matter how much room I have, in the end I will always need more.

A few things that help:
- Scan your pictures and documents (evernote is a great resource)
- Throw things away, just do it! (or recycle or donate it)
- Use online statements and bill pay

If you have some other suggestions please post them. Thanks!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Live 2 B...100

Over the last few years health has become more and more important to me. I had set goals for eating healthfully, exercising more, and losing weight. With this focus on health I kept up on various articles on healthy life habits such as the need to laugh, relax, sleep etc. A few months ago I came across this video which I really like. It gave new meaning and a new purpose to my healthy wanderings. It helped me to establish a goal that is long term, meaningful and fun.

Live to be 100? Sounds like a great thing to do.