New?  Welcome to The Bucket List Society, a blog about achieving your life goals.  Want to know what this is all about?  Start here, or just go ahead and check out the articles below.

The Sorrows and Joys of the Bulldozer

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Photo credit: Vinoth Chandar (flickr: vinothchandar)

We hear a lot of hype about ideas. “Ideas can change the world”.  Right.

“Ideas can move mountains”. Ideas don’t move mountains, Peter Drucker reminds us, bulldozers do.  Ideas just tell the bulldozers where to go.

Know what this means?  I’ll tell you:

Do you fancy yourself a bulldozer? You’d better.

If you have a lot of goals, there’s a good chance that– like me– you’re an “ideas person“.  Your notion of the perfect job is to sit back and do nothing but come up with all the next brilliant ideas in your chosen field.  You love discussing, debating, and especially thinking of new ideas.  You place a high premium on interesting.

There’s a problem with that, though.  Ideas are cheap.  Worthless, almost.  What’s your most ambitious goal?  Oh, to start your own business?  That’s cute!  Do you know how many Read More

Oh hey there, Austin, Albuquerque, and Boston– you now have Finishing Schools

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Finishing Schools, dear readers– they are popping up everywhere.  Groups of people meeting to hold each other accountable and help each other with the goals most important to them.  It’s spreading.

Indeed, the following cities around the US are having their first meeting this month:

  • Austin, TX — Nov 2
  • Albuquerque, NM — Nov 4
  • Boston, MA (after a false start last month) — Nov 19, 20, or 21 (TBD)

If you’re interested in attending any of these, give me a holler.  If you want to start one in your city, same deal.  It’s an exciting time to be working on your goals.

We’ll be back to your regular scheduled programming soon.  Of course, tomorrow’s the 2-year anniversary of the Seattle Finishing School, so it may be few days ;)

All the best,
-Erik

Profiles in Awesomeness: An Introduction to Cal Newport

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You should assume that any time I recommend a product or service on this blog that I'm being paid millions of dollars and flown out to cruises and conferences in all world's greatest warm-weather locales-- not because such an assumption is accurate, but because it's pretty awesome. In fact, I haven't been paid to recommend anything-- until now.  Cal Newport recently sent me a copy of his new book "So Good They Can't Ignore You" and I agreed to review it for my blog. However, that's not quite what I'm going to do.  Instead, I want to give an introduction to Cal and many of his ideas, not simply the ones that made it into his most recent book.

Cal Newport wrote a book about succeeding in high school when he was in college, a few books about succeeding in college when he was in grad school, and, now that he’s graduating, he’s– naturally– turned his attention to success in the working world.  The book is called So Good They Can’t Ignore You.

If it’s not clear from the fact that he’s had four publishing deals before the age of 30, Cal Newport is good at life.  From the very first time I read his blog, it was clear that he was a nerd in the best sense– someone who, given an interesting problem and enough time, could simply think unthought thoughts– and then produce value from them.

Cal does something interesting with these thoughts.  Something incredibly simple and powerful.  He names them.

I’ll take the bait.  I’ve read a lot of Cal’s strategies and postulations in the last two years, and some of them have stuck with me since the day I first read them.  Here are a few of my favorite idea’s of Cal’s, including a bit on the book at the end.

* * *

Failed Simulation Effect

This is perhaps my favorite advice from Cal’s older writing.  It’s about how to be “impressive”.  And his idea goes like this:

The things that sound the most impressive are not the things that require the most work– they’re the things that are the hardest for someone else to imagine doing.

Let’s dissect that.  Let’s imagine, as Cal often does Read More

The Finishing School is starting in Boston!

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Almost two years ago, I went to Seattle’s Zig Zag Cafe with a handful of friends, acquaintances, and strangers on a Wednesday night to discuss the things we most wanted to do in life.

It was a group we called The Finishing School, and we’ve been meeting almost every month since to discuss what progress we’ve made on our life goals.  Whether it’s learning the cello, meeting a personal hero, or losing 15 pounds, we hold each other accountable and help each other however we can.

In fact, that’s really what the Finishing School is– an accountability group for your life goals.  And given enough interest, I’d like to start one in Boston, Massachusetts when I visit next week.

Here are the details:

Monday, October 8th
8:00 PM
Location TBD in Boston/Cambridge

If this sounds interesting to you, let me know– I’ll make sure to include you.

Personally, I love the Finishing School.  We’ve grown to be great friends and accomplished some really cool goals– goals like writing a novel, climbing Kilimanjaro, and yes, we even had two members whose goals included “fall in love and get married” fall in love.  And get married.  To each other.

The FS Seattle

You can read more about the story of the Finishing School here or a brief overview here.

If you want to join the Finishing School starting in Boston, MA, contact me.

 

Do All Your Dreams Start Tomorrow?

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Photo credit: Susannah Conway (susannahconway.com)

The sure sign of an amateur is he has a million plans and they all start tomorrow. --Steven Pressfield

Patrick Rhone, author of Enough and Mac Minimal, talked about the Finishing School in his most recent podcast.  It was interesting hearing his thought process in deciding to start a Minneapolis/St. Paul Finishing School.  The sentiment that stuck with him the most was this: something worth doing at all is worth starting tonight.

Boris Taratutin, an engineering student in Massachusetts, saw my guest post about living life like an experiment at The Art of Manliness and is getting together with a group of his friends to talk about self-reflection behavior changing.  Their first tenet is based around this question: what’s the smallest step I can take now?

Running a marathon.  Learning to rock climb.  Reading for self-education.  Learning Krav Maga.  The experiences that led me to start this blog happened only because of this question: how do I start tonight?

I used to write a lot of music.  I wasn’t majoring in music– heck, I wasn’t even in college when I learned, so I had to find other resources to teach myself– websites, books, scores, any mentor who would listen to a green 16-year old’s stabs at polyphony.  I ended up learning a lot from a centuries-old book called The Study of Counterpoint.  It turns out it was the same text the young Beethoven studied.  I still have highlighted a piece of advice from Read More