Tooting your horn might be the right thing to do

A brass horn.

For many of us, promoting ourselves can feel unnatural. Awkward. Sleazy, even.

Maybe you’re one of the top 25 tennis players in Germany and you’d like to get into tennis coaching. But when you talk with a potential client, you don’t mention that you’re in the top 25. It feels like bragging.

Or, you deliver better work than your coworkers who have the same title and pay as you. But you don’t feel comfortable saying that to your boss straight up. It feels pompous.

If you face these sorts of problems, try reframing the situation like this:

How will the other person benefit from me tooting my horn a bit?

The potential client wants to get better at tennis. If you explain that you’re a top tennis player, they’re more likely to hire you—and improve their tennis. It’s a win-win.

When you tell your boss that you’re better than your coworkers (and you back that claim up), you’re more likely to get promoted. And from your new job, you can make a bigger impact for the company’s customers or clients.

So when you feel uncomfortable tooting your horn, ask whether doing so would actually mean doing someone else a favor.

Yours,

— Peter

Book recommendations to escape from your daily worries

Stars in a galaxy.

Most of the time, I prefer to face my fears, worries, and challenges head-on.

Running away from them feels good for a second, but is a bad strategy for the long-term.

But sometimes, when you’re facing a lot of problems, distracting yourself from them for a while can make you feel a lot better.

For hundreds of years, books have been a fantastic way to lose yourself in a fictional world where your problems don’t exist. Here are some books I recommend to help take your mind off of your daily worries:

These are all in the genre of space opera. I discovered this genre a few years ago and I’ve become a huge fan. The stories are often on a grand scale, so you can easily immerse yourself in them.

Enjoy!

Yours,

— Peter

Act, before excuses appear

A runner's stepping into a puddle of water.

Yesterday I was chatting with my girlfriend while she was on a run. (I was biking next to her because I was heading in the same direction.) She was listening to a running coach and he had some good advice.

This running coach said that he has had all the same thoughts, and used all the same excuses, as everybody else who doesn’t feel like running on a given day:

  • It’s raining
  • It’s cold out
  • My friends bailed on me
  • I’m tired

And so on.

The key, of course, is to run despite less-than-optimal circumstances. If you wait to run until all the lights are green, you won’t end up running very often.

It’s excellent advice and you can apply it to anything you want to do, theoretically, but that you never quite feel like doing in the moment.

I would add another layer, though: act fast.

Excuses pile up. The longer you wait, the more time you give your subconscious (or maybe even your conscious thoughts) to find extra reasons not to do the hard thing. The longer you wait, the more excuses you’ll generate, and the more excuses you have, the less likely you are to act.

So, act fast.

For example, yesterday I wanted to shoot a video for you all. But it was already 10 p.m., it was dark out, I was biking home, and I faced a headwind. Then it struck me that maybe I could just shoot the video right there and get it out of the way.

So, I stopped at a park, pulled out my phone, and shot a video about conscious living.

Is it a perfect video? No. Did I get it done? Yes. Because I acted fast and didn’t give excuses time to pile up.

Act, before (too many) excuses appear.

Yours,

— Peter

Your best self

A man crouches on a patch of grass and "holds hands" with a puppy that's standing on its hind legs.

What does the best version of you look like?

If we fast-forward five years, what skills would you like to have that you don’t have now?

What would you like to spend your time doing that you’re not doing right now?

Which ethical choices will you be consistently following through on that you are not now?

Who would you like to be friends with, or who would you like to be dating/in a relationship with/married to?

While I am by no means “my best self” right now, at least not the way I imagine it, I’ve made some progress. A few years ago, I wanted to become vegan, but I didn’t do it until early 2018. And for years, I’ve wanted to develop my public speaking, but I only recently signed up to a club to start working on that skill.

What do you want, and what’s stopping you?

Yours,

— Peter

P.S. These questions are not rhetorical. Tell me!

Buying motivation

Yoga students practicing in a yoga studio.

Let’s say you want to start practicing yoga regularly. After all, it’s good for your body and for your mind.

But you’ve got lots of things in your life already. It’s hard to find the time and energy to go to a yoga class. How can you help yourself out a little?

You can buy a membership to a yoga studio.

Once you do, the marginal cost of attending is zero, financially speaking. (You still “pay” with your time and energy, of course.) Because the financial marginal cost is zero, you’re more likely to go than if you’d have to pay €15 for a single class. In the latter case, having to pay would be just one more argument not to go to the class—you could use it as an excuse.

When you buy a membership, you might end up paying more than if you had just paid for individual classes ad hoc, if you don’t go that often. But while there’s a risk that you might spend more, you would also probably go to more classes than if you’d pay per class. You’d essentially be “buying” extra motivation.

What can you pre-pay for to buy some extra motivation?

Yours,

— Peter