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Weekly 3: Change your life with one word

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Idea Journal Weekly 3

July 11 · Issue #199 · View online

We combine 3 ideas to help you think differently and be more creative.


Summary: Big change doesn’t always require big action. Sometimes, a small shift can have a disproportionate impact. For example, changing one word in a sentence can change its meaning—and possibly your life. This issue explores three examples.
(~2 min read)

#1. What kind of freedom do you value?
Entrepreneur and investor Naval Ravikant says in an interview that the biggest change in his personal core values came from swapping a preposition.
For Ravikant, freedom has always been a core value, but his old definition was focused on freedom to: “… freedom to do anything I want. Freedom to do whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like.”
But as he’s gotten older, he’s looking for a different kind of freedom: an internal freedom.
As Ravikant puts it, what’s important now is freedom from.
“It’s freedom from reaction. It’s freedom from feeling angry. It’s freedom from being sad. It’s freedom from being forced to do things.”
#2. To find your personal edge, ask: "What are you competing *on*?
Marketing guru Seth Godin writes on his blog that it’s easy to identify what you’re competing for: a new job, a sale, or maybe a promotion.
But in a “hypercompetitive world” you also need to pay attention to what you’re competing on.
Here are some examples: 
  • If you’re competing on price, then you’ll spend most of your time counting pennies.
  • If you’re competing on smarts, then you’ll spend most of your time getting smarter.
  • If you’re competing on who you know, then you’ll spend most of your time networking. 
  • If you’re competing on being innovative, then you’ll spend your time being curious and shipping things that might not work.
Godin points out that in this kind of environment, you should be prepared to be fully dedicated to the thing you’re compete on.
Because of this, you “might as well choose something you can live with, a practice that allows you to thrive.”
#3. No need to be so hard on yourself
Author and entrepreneur Derek Sivers writes on his blog that you can help overcome procrastination by changing an “and” to an “or.”
For example, Sivers writes that his unwritten condition for exercising used to be: “When it’s a nice day, and I’ve finished my work, and I haven’t just eaten, and I’m feeling energetic.”
But it was rare that a given day met all of those conditions. As a result, he didn’t exercise much. 
His coach then suggested that he replace “and” with “or.”
He could exercise when it’s a nice day, or he’s finished his work, or he’s feeling energetic. 
If a list of conditions is keeping you from accomplishing something, try changing “and” to “or.”
Quote of the week
“For the great doesn’t happen through impulse alone, and is a succession of little things that are brought together.”
- Painter Vincent van Gogh in an 1882 letter to his brother Theo
Idea Journal
Idea Journal
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