How to Know What Works for You

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    104 people had breakthroughs this week. Will the next one be you?

    One thing for you to think about

    Approach life advice not like immutable laws but rather like trying on clothes. Some advice will fit you well and flatter you. Other advice will not. Advice that may work great on one person may work terribly on the next. Pick and choose your advice to suit your personality and the occasion. Feel free to discard old advice any time it stops working for you.

    Reflect: Then consider sharing this thought with others.

    Three things for you to ask yourself

    What piece of life advice have you repeatedly and desperately tried to make work for yourself but it has never “felt right?”

    Did you try to force that advice upon yourself? Did you blame yourself when it didn’t work?

    One of the hazards of the personal development industry is that many of the people who come to it are insecure and unsure of themselves. So when they receive a piece of advice that doesn’t work for them, instead of blaming the advice, they blame themselves.

    Recommended: Use these as journaling prompts for the week.

    One thing for you to try this week

    Discard a piece of advice that you’ve tried on but hasn’t quite fit. Give yourself permission to let it go.

    Remember: Small changes lead to lasting breakthroughs. Reply to this email and let me know how it went for you.

    Last week’s breakthroughs

    In last week’s newsletter, I asked you to extend your time horizon, to take one area of your life that you’ve been optimizing for the short term and reorient your measurement of success for the long term.

    In taking the long view and asking the big questions, one reader was able to pick their path out of the weeds:

    The timing of this week’s message is uncanny, as I had been in a state of anxiety the whole weekend over ‘small’ questions—how do I divide the time between my place and my boyfriend’s, how do I know whether I choose this six-month job or another.

    I was so worried about getting small answers for small questions, until I was reminded that the only way to answer small questions is with one overriding big answer, the answer to what you want out of your life, how you see the next ten years instead of six months.

    For me, thinking about my current and future tribe, my family, and having clarity in that as my one big answer helped reduce the worry over the little questions.

    How I divide my time, or what kind of short-term job I choose—it’s not about what I feel in the moment, it’s about answering the small questions in the context of a big answer—how do all the smaller decisions I take now affect the bigger vision?

    Thanks for providing clarity with this week’s message, it was a help in shifting my perspective from worrying about immediate ‘right’ decisions, to thinking about investing in longer-term ‘optimal’ decisions.

    It’s graduation season here in the US. Which means my inbox is filling up with anxious college students who have no idea what they want to do with their lives. Pro tip: that’s completely normal.

    Here’s Danielle, who’s uncertain about her immediate future:

    I just graduated college a week ago with a B.A. in anthropology, but have since been pressuring myself to figure out my life path. What am I going to do next? What career will I have that will allow me to best use my knowledge of anthropology?

    I have been pressuring myself to figure out what my life looks like in my immediate future—what job I’ll have, how much money I’ll make, whether or not I’ll be happy. But I realized that if I start putting plans in place for the long term instead of stressing about the short term, I feel much happier and more relaxed about my future.

    I’m allowing myself to go with the flow and realize that it’s 100% okay not to have everything figured out, especially at this stage in my life.

    To Danielle (or any other anxious graduate reading this), here’s one exercise an older reader passed along that they found incredibly helpful throughout their life:

    My first boss made me write a 20-year plan for my life (I was 23) and I’ve used this concept to ensure I make good decisions for the future. I’m now 66 and on the third round. It was very valuable.

    As always, send your breakthroughs by simply replying to this email. Let me know if you’d prefer to remain anonymous.

    Until next week,

    Mark Manson

    #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
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