7 Inspiring Links, Books, and Changes

It’s January 7th, which means two things:

  1. We’re a week into the new year! Not a bad time to check in and see how you’re doing, if you’ve got some changes to make this year.
  2. Today is the last day to get Wake Up (my new 31-day program) before two of the bonuses go away. I added a brand new bonus yesterday (to help people whose goal it is to start a blog or podcast); see the end of the post for details on that.

And it also means … I’m going to write a post with some 7’s in it.

And then, after a few much-needed days off to put some of my own resolutions and plans into place (described below), I’ll be back.

7 Links to Inspire

1. Courtney Carver’s Eat to Live Challenge  (Be More With Less) — Last month I wrote about my own Eat to Live challenge … now my friend Courtney is doing her own. Her post has lots of details that I omitted about what’s allowed and what isn’t, and I love her points about how the seemingly extreme becomes less so when you actually do it.

2. Jony Ive’s Secret Coffee Ritual (Tim Ferriss) — I’ve been on a major coffee kick recently, trying to make the one cup I drink each day as incredible and creativity-inspiring as I possibly can. I’ve also happened to have been on Steve Jobs kick, so this Tim Ferriss post about coffee and Apple came at the right time for me a few weeks ago.

3. Lift’s Quantified Diet Project — Lift is a habit-change app I’ve used a little bit in the past, and this month they announced an ambitious project that will use their platform and user data to collect real, hype-free information about popular diets and how they work for people. I had the pleasure of joining Leo Babauta, Tim Ferriss, and Steve Kamb, among others, to consult with them on the diet plans they’re offering. (And I’ve got an interview with Lift CEO Tony Stubblebine about the project coming soon.) Check it out and think about signing up.

4. Scared Sh*tless (Rock Creek Runner) — NMA Radio co-host Doug on goals (like his 100-miler) and fear. Plus info about his new ultrarunning guide.

5. A productivity gap (Seth Godin) — Short and sweet (as usual) from Seth. This is my favorite post of his in several months. The best line: “Sure, habits matter. So does getting out of your way. But if you want to hide, really want to hide, you’ll find a way.” I’m ready to stop hiding –how about you?

6.  Seth Godin’s Startup School — This isn’t new at all, but I’ve listened to it several times, all the way through, and highly recommend it. Assuming there are some folks out there with the goal to start a business this year, I’m including it here.

7. How Safe are Your Writing Resolutions from Abandonmnent? (Better Novel Project) — Good stuff if you’ve got writing goals.

 7 Books on My 2014 Reading List

I recently trashed my to-read list, after it ballooned to more than 30 books. The list had actually started causing me to read less, because when I would discover a new book that I really wanted to read, I felt like I couldn’t read it until I read the other books on my list. But I wasn’t as excited about those anymore, so I wasn’t reading them quickly, and as a result, the reading list got longer and longer and I read less and less.

I have a new list, but I’m keeping it short. And it’s not a to-read list, but rather an “ideas” list, so that if I find myself without a book I’m more excited about, I can consult it. Here are seven books on it:

1. The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease by Dan Lieberman

2. Surfaces and Essences by Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander (nerdy stuff)

3. The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurweil

4. The Autobiography of Ben Franklin by Benjamin Franklin

5. The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson (this is a re-read; it’s the first book I’ve read this year but it was good enough that I’m going to read it again)

6. Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

7. Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Curry

7 Changes for 2014

I’ve written a lot about habits and goals recently, but I haven’t written much about changes I’m personally making. Here are a few:

1. Less email. For almost five years, I’ve tried to answer every email I get. Finally, I’ve decided to stop that, mainly so that I can be effective at the second change on this list, writing more.

2. More blog posts. This won’t supplant my rule of “Only publish a post if you have something good to publish,” but I’m going to work harder to have something good to publish more often. Last year I managed only about one post per week with the book and book tour. This year I’m striving to double that on average (and podcasts count).

3. A return to everyday running. Not for the purposes of establishing a streak — I’ll have no problem taking a day off now and then. And it’s not because running every day is the best way to train for a race, either (it’s not). The reason I want to run every day is because it’s so valuable as a habit for me: in addition to the physical and mental benefits and increased energy throughout the day, it’s an opportunity for me to listen to something inspiring or educational for thirty minutes or an hour. And of course it builds a solid mileage base that puts me in a great position to start a training program, once I choose a race and a goal (I’m still mulling this one over).

4. More deliberate mornings. As I alluded to above, I’ve started the habit of setting aside one hour in the morning before I start work and filling that hour with a string of good habits. Over the years I’ve been on-again-off-again with habits like meditation, keeping a journal, brainstorming, strength training, being grateful, being creative, etc. It’s just too many little things to keep track of, each requiring only a few minutes of time but suffering from the “Easy to do, but also easy not to do” problem. Proposed solution: create one big habit that contains a few minutes of each of these little ones. So far it’s working, but I’ve only been at it six days.

5. More time off. Tomorrow and for the rest of this week, I’ll take the first few non-weekend days off of work that I’ve taken in as long as I can remember. I’ve discovered that the nature of working for yourself is that while you almost never have to do anything (like, at a particular time), you also never don’t have anything to do. I’ve realized that in order to avoid going crazy, I need to give myself that time where there’s nothing to do. Not so paradoxically, I think I’ll be much better at work as a result of more time off. 

6. More accountability. I always get inspired and motivated at the start of a new year, but I also find (like so many others) that the motivation wears off — no matter how much it seems like it won’t. So I’m really focusing on installing some rituals that keep me motivated, and the big one is accountability to others. For this purpose, I hired a coach and have also set up a weekly time with my friend Jeff (a fellow personal development junkie) to keep each other on track.

7. More happiness. More and more, I’m coming to understand that happiness is something you do, not something that just happens to you. Positive psychology researchers have identified definite habits that cause happiness (and have determined that it’s not the other way around) — these include gratitude, exercise, doing nice things for others, and lots more. One by one, I’m focusing on incorporating these habits into my daily routines.

A New Bonus with ‘Wake Up’ (But Just for Today)

As I said, this is the very last day to get two of the bonuses that come with Wake Up, my new 31-day program for taking charge of your life.

One is Nicole Antoinette’s 15-Step Bullshit-Free Goal Setting Formula (listen to her on NMA radio if you haven’t yet), and the other is a special webinar I’ll be doing about blogging and podcasting. I’ve realized that a lot of the people who have bought Wake Up have a goal to start a business doing something they love this year, and in my experience, starting a blog or podcast is one of the best ways to make that happen, so I’m going to share what I believe are the most important keys to getting yours off the ground. (And if you’ve already bought Wake Up, of course you’ll get access to the webinar too. Just make sure you’ve signed up for updates on the download page so I can send you the link.)

Check out the Wake Up page for all the details about the program and the bonus webinar on blogging.

We’re a week into 2014. Whatever you’ve got planned for it, you’d better get started! See you soon.



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  1. The Autobiography of Ben Franklin is a great read! Until I started reading his writing, I had no clue how funny he was. Did you know he was barred from writing the Constitution because they were afraid he would hide a joke in there somewhere? True story.

  2. I read Man’s Search for Meaning in high school and loved it. It’s definitely a must-read!

  3. Love your 7 changes…but in particular no 4 ‘more deliberate mornings’. I resonate with this soooo much! I began a habit just like that a few months back (and it was great) but it relied on a change of going to bed earlier in order to get up earlier and then when that didn’t happen all the ‘small things’ fell to pieces as well. I really want to get back on top of this starting NOW!

  4. Ok. Thanks a lot. Now I want an espresso machine and I’m trying to curb my coffee intake this year.

  5. Jon Weisblatt says:

    I love the post. I keep trying to run with gratitude. Eckhaer Tolle’s “Power of Now” is a nice little read as well.
    Stay Excellent Matt!

  6. Love his post! One of my goals this year like you is to listen to a lot lf inspirational material. Already listed to born to run and started it again and I am listening to Ben Carson’s Gifted Hands right now. But my question is do you but all these audio books or rent them somehow? Just those two am was over $40! Can’t keep doing that and I want to keep it up. Give me your secret!

    • Hey Shelby, yeah, audiobooks are expensive. audiobooks.com has a nice deal where you can get one a month for 15 dollars or so, but I end up buying most of them. Lots of libraries have them too; that works well. Still, I spend a lot on audio programs (not usually audiobooks per se, but seminars, programs, etc.). I decided a while ago that this stuff is important enough (and keeps me going in so many other areas, like running, cleaning, etc. where I can listen to good stuff) that it’s okay for me to spend a lot more on it than I do other things.

  7. Reading list recommendations: anything by Mike Dooley! I listen to his CD’s in the car, and I am immediately in a better mood and feeling more balanced.
    I also really like the Abraham/Hicks books, law of attraction etc.

    A really wonderful inspirational blog is Einstein’s Gifts. I think the link is http://www.einsteinsgifts.com

    🙂 loving your book by the way! The podcast you did with rich roll was really great too, felt like I was part of a conversation between great friends!

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