Like many people, I dislike what can be nicely called “difficult conversations.” Whether it’s saying no to someone, confronting someone about a task left undone or done poorly, or raising a painful subject, difficult conversations are, well, difficult. A very natural reaction to them, and one I have far too often, is to simply avoid them altogether, or at least postpone them as long as possible. Continue reading The Upside of Difficult Conversations
In further evidence that I’m a product of my era, I decided to read Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes. For those of you downloading this blog post from your cave in the wilderness, Rhimes is the creator of some of network tv’s most popular shows, including Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. It also turns out that she wrote a pretty good guide to personal happiness in Year of Yes, with strong themes of purpose and authenticity. Somehow, I was surprised at the depth and quality of her advice, despite having written a past blog post on how Rhimes endorses authenticity in Scandal. Continue reading Saying Yes and Saying No: A Purpose-Guided Agenda
Continuing the thread of year-end wrap-ups that press the levers of motivation (see my post on TripAdvisor here, and Blue Apron here), I wanted to share the year in review that I found the most inspirational of all, from MapMyRun. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with MapMyRun; it was the first program I ever used to log my running data, and they don’t make it easy to export, so even though I’ve come to like other running programs better, I stick with MapMyRun for data’s sake. Yes, I am neurotic. Continue reading The Motivational Mojo of MapMyRun’s Year in Review
Habits can set people free, in some ways. By automating desired behavior patterns, we can make it easier to accomplish goals without conscious daily effort. Forming habits is a goal of many behavior change protocols, and something I personally try to incorporate into my self-improvement attempts. But recently I came across a line in a novel that made me wonder if it’s really that straightforward. Continue reading Does Habit Tie Us Down or Set Us Free?
For the last couple of years, I’ve had some defined goals beginning in January. I wouldn’t call them New Year’s resolutions–in fact, I think that approach can be counter-productive. Even so, the new year is a good reminder to thoughtfully evaluate one’s life. In 2014, I resolved to do one awesome thing each quarter. The result was my Year of Awesome. In 2015, I hooked into an initiative at work and picked goals for mind, body, and soul. Continue reading Resolutions for the New Year (NOT New Year’s Resolutions!): Mind, Body, Soul
New York City is very walkable in the small scale, with its sidewalks, crosswalks, and walk lights, but maybe not so much in the large: Just the island of Manhattan is over 33 square miles and 13.4 miles long from tip-to-tip. Fortunately, it has an excellent subway system. But what if people carved just a little off their subway transit and added just a little bit more walking to their commutes? How might that impact obesity, health, and wellness? Continue reading Walk This Way: Can Rewriting the Subway Map Get More New Yorkers Moving?
Most of us are familiar with the idea of a self-reward. If you want to lose weight, you might decide to give yourself a new pair of shoes when you hit a milestone. Maybe you only watch your favorite tv show after you finish doing your least favorite work task. Or, to borrow a provocative example from Kathleen Milkman, maybe you only eat your most favorite hamburger when spending time with your least favorite person (for those of you with cranky relatives). If you do use self-rewards, psychology can help make them more effective for you. Continue reading Treat Yo’ Self: How To Use Rewards to Effectively Promote New Habits
When do you know you’ve crossed the line from not knowing to knowing? How do you know when you can do something? I’m not talking about being an expert necessarily, but being competent and capable. These sorts of ideas have been on my mind in my new job as I find myself grasping for reassurance that I know what I’m doing. I’ve found that the more I try things, even when I’m not quite sure how to do them, the faster I learn them. This is scary, because trying things when you’re not confident about how to do them means you might fail. Continue reading Learning by Experience
If you’ve ever managed people at work, taken a low-level psychology course (especially organizational or social psychology), or read an advice column about giving someone negative feedback, you’ve probably heard advice about giving criticism. The conventional wisdom advocates tactics like “couching” or “making a sandwich,” in which negative comments are preceded and followed by positive ones in order to soften the blow. Continue reading You Probably Didn’t Realize This, But You’re A Jerk
A few months ago, I spoke with Shape.com about a phenomenon they dubbed “streaking.” Streaking refers to performing a specific health-related behavior every day for a certain period of time (a week, a month, a year). As an example, Runner’s World facilitates season-based run streaks including social media posts and badges that can be shared on one’s profile. I’ve also seen people commit to some type of exercise every day for a month, often during January or February when New Year’s resolutions abound. Continue reading My First Streaking Experience