Book Review – Mini Habits

Stephen Guise has written a very powerful little book.  Mini Habits is a quick read about how to get big results from small life changes.

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Mr. Guise details how habits are formed.  There is a chapter on motivation vs. willpower, and then a lot of information on how to implement mini habits.

My favorite recommendation from this book is “make your habits stupid small”.  Even I can do something difficult for one minute.  The hardest part is getting started, right?  Once I have a minute in, it’s easier to add another.

Other good advice includes “if you feel strong resistance, back off and go smaller”.  And “be happy with all progress”.  These both ease pressure when making changes, and that’s clearly a positive thing.

The principles in this book have helped me create a habit of flossing daily.  I was terribly lazy about this before, and I noticed a big change at my last dental appointment.  It was quick and easy to get my teeth cleaned, instead of the usual rather torturous experience.  It worked!

To build my new habit I used brushing my teeth in the morning as a cue.  Immediately after brushing I got out the floss.  I told myself I only had to floss two teeth, but of course, it was simple to just do them all.  It’s become routine and easy now.  It takes less than 90 seconds and makes me feel great.  I am doing something good for myself, and ensuring I’ll hold on to my teeth for a long time!  No one ever said “I wish I hadn’t taken care of my teeth”, right?

Stephen also has a blog that’s worth following, he is an interesting and intelligent guy.  He recently published a post entitled “Why Mini Habits Is the Greatest Personal Development Strategy Ever”.  Read it.

Reading this book can help you improve in any area.  Habits can be created around your health, work and even parenting.  Do yourself a favor and give this book a few hours of your time.  I think you’ll be glad you did.

And here’s a fiber picture for the addicts.

Production For The Indiana State Fair Is Ramping Up
Production for the Indiana State Fair is ramping up.  These are worsted weight superwash merino yarns that will not be in the Etsy store.  You can purchase by emailing me at http://www.indigokittyknits.com.  $20 includes shipping in the continental US.

 

Friday Finds – February 19, 2016

We are all artists!  Resistance to doing our work can be paralyzing.  Melissa Dinwiddie is a creativity coach who published this great list of ways to overcome that stuck feeling.

10 Rules For Artists By Melissa Dinwiddie.
10 Rules For Artists By Melissa Dinwiddie.

Stephen Pressfield’s book Turning Pro is full of great ideas on overcoming resistance.  Here’s a very short YouTube video of him discussing some of the ideas from the book.   This book is definitely worth reading.  I enjoyed it more than his other books on this subject, which I found a bit too aggressive and even warlike.

Procrastination can be a form of resistance.  A common reason for it is perfectionism.  This article about Breaking the Perfectionism–Procrastination Infinite Loop is full of insight and techniques to get you moving forward.

I’d love to know your experiences and thoughts on this subject.  Do you know any great books or websites that might help others?  Comment below to share.

Here’s a fiber picture for the yarn lovers.

A New Handspun Yarn. I Named It Apricot Preserves.
A New Handspun Yarn. I Named It Apricot Preserves.

 

 

Friday Finds Jan. 8, 2016

Today’s finds are focused on helping entrepreneurs use Instagram for marketing.

Confused about hashtags on Instagram?   This post is titled Instagram Hashtags For Bloggers That Will Triple Likes.  Sounds like it might be overselling things, right?  If you read it, you’ll find tags that work for any product or service you can imagine.  The writer suggest what type of photos work for each hashtag.  It’s worth experimenting with, at best you get your brand in front of new people.  At worst, you spent a few minutes reading this and trying it with no results.

I have tried some of the hashtags that I thought would be good for my highly textured and colorful products, and I notice I get some artists and other creative types coming to check out my Instagram page.

Instagram Power by Jason Miles is fascinating.  There is so much here I am going through it really slowly with my Instagram page open while I read.  I suspect I’ll be reading it more than once!

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Jason has also written Pinstagram Power, which I read a while back.  That’s definitely worth taking a look at too.

Instagram is all about the photos.  Here are some great tips from people who take glorious shots.  I especially like the tip about selfies!

Here’s a fiber picture for those who love them.

A new handspun yarn coming to the Etsy shop soon.

 

How To Fail At Almost Everything And Still Win Big – Book Review

how to fail

Scott Adams is the very successful creator of Dilbert.  He is also a very intelligent guy and sincerely interested in making the world a better place. In this book he gives advice on optimizing your chances for luck and success.  I found this book fascinating because I love learning from smart people who have figured out something I haven’t.

My top five most important take aways from this book were:

  1. Personal energy is your most important resource and the most important metric to track.  Ways to maximize your energy include diet, exercise, sleep, and having a flexible schedule.
  2. Goals Vs. Systems – Adams says goals are for losers.  Harsh words, but he goes on to say that you spend every moment before you reach your goal (if you reach it at all) feeling as if you are short of your goal.  In other words you exist in a state of nearly continuous failure that you hope will be temporary.  The smarter choice is to have a system for continuous improvement.  You succeed every time you apply your system, and this maintains your personal energy in the right direction.  There is a lot of discussion on how to create systems.
  3. Simplifing vs. Optimizing.  An optimizer looks for the very best solution even if extra complexity increases the odds of unexpected problems.  A simplifier looks for the simplest solution with the least chance of complexity complicating things.  Optimizers make elaborate plans that can collapse if one variable is not perfect – think traffic, road construction, an unexpected wait somewhere.  Simplifiers look for simple solutions that might take a bit of extra effort but have a good chance of working out.  Think of a dinner and movie night with friends.  You allow plenty of travel time, make a reservation at the restaurant, meet friends there rather than make elaborate plans to meet somewhere else and travel together.  You don’t tack on other errands or stops on the way.  Chances are you’ll be on time for your movie.  If you optimize the trip you might drop off the dry cleaning on the way, but find a big line waiting to pick up and have your time table go straight to hell.  Sometimes optimizing works and sometimes it doesn’t.  I tend to optimize – I combine all my errands in one big trip with an elaborate itinerary.  Somtimes this is great, sometimes not so much.  Nothing causes me stress like being late, and optimizing can cause the whole house of cards to collapse if one little thing goes wrong.  Simplifying sometimes makes more sense, especially when timing is critical or others are involved.
  4. Knowing when to quit.  No one wants to be a quitter, right? Persistence is a virtue and all.  He posits that things that will work out start out well.  So, if you have a great idea that you just can’t any traction with, maybe it isn’t such a wonderful idea after all, or the timing just isn’t right.  He cites examples like cell phones, the first clunky ones were eagerly purchased even though they were terribly flawed.
  5. Every skill you acquire doubles your chances of success.  Some skills, like business writing and a working understanding of psychology are more important than others.  I agree!  He gives a list of skills he recommends.

Adams invites us to think of ourselves as moist robots, rather than “skin bags of magic and mystery”.  Robots are programmable and we can program ourselves for success and happiness.   I do think we are also magical and mysterious, but I don’t find these two ideas so incompatible that I can’t accept both.

I found this book easy to read and did so quickly, since it was full of good ideas and well written to keep the reader interested in moving forward.

A big thumbs up to How To Fail At Almost Everything And Still Win Big, it’s definitely worth a read.

I’m going to create a morning system designed to get me off to a good start every day.  Right now my morning consists of lying around sipping coffee and goofing around on my Ipad for a couple of hours.  I can probably improve that!

 

 

My Five Favorite Blogs and Why I Read Them

We all have our favorite sources of inspiration and learning. Right now I’m intensely interested in personal development, marketing and fiber arts.

Five of my favorite blogs (today and in no particulary order) are:
Marketing Creativity by Lisa Jacobs. Lisa is a marketing genius. She says so many things that resonate so deeply with me. I learn so much from every post she shares! For example, this post is a direct result of her post titled “27 Blog Topics You Can’t Wait To Write About“.

27-Blog-Topics-Marketing-Creativity

Mr. Money Mustache writes about living the good life frugally. I took real control of our finances last year after paying little attention for 25+ years (hanging my head in shame), and MMM, as his readers fondly call him, was instrumental in me getting my act together. I have saved a lot of money and paid thousands of extra dollars toward my mortgage principal this year and will finish my mortgage years early, all thanks to this blog. His slogan is Early Retirement Through Badassity. All the swearing is an extra plus!

Technically this isn’t a blog but a website, but I love it anyway. A Prairie Home Companion is my favorite thing on the radio. I usually can’t listen to it live, but can catch up here. I always laugh out loud at some point during this show. Garrison Keillor is a god. Smart men are so sexy!

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Handmadeology features many articles about Etsy and other training for small business, like this one on why Etsy sellers should explore selling on Tophatter. Tophatter is a live auction site that is billed the world’s most entertaining market place. I’m thinking about giving it a whirl.

Declare Dominion is a blog for women who want to be Epic Fucking Badasses. Anna’s motto is If You Want To Have A Beautiful Life You Have To Be Fierce About It.

Fierce is a badly overused word right now. If I hear Tyra Banks say “fierce” one more time, I might have to leave the room when the kids watch America’s Next Top Model.  Anna uses “fierce” properly. The dictionary says “fierce” means showing a heartfelt and powerful intensity. And that is the way she writes her beautiful stuff.

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Her post on “Make Your Own Meant To Be” is a good example of her writing and outlook. She encourages women to create the life they want. Another blog with plenty of swearing which I consider a plus.

There are lots of great blogs out there, and if you ask me next week, I can guarantee that my top five will be somewhat different. I’d love to hear from my readers about other great blogs that you consider to be required reading.

Friday Finds Oct. 23, 2015

Here are some things I marveled about this week.

Top Ten Ted Talks on Creativity.  Sir Ken Robinson is in there twice!  Elizabeth Gilbert is number 10, but should be nearer the top, in my opinion.

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James Altucher says you shouldn’t send your kids to college.  What do you think about this?

Etsy sellers, Did you know there’s a way to back up your Etsy store?  If you have lots of items this might be worth exploring.

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Hope you learn something you need to know from one of my picks.

 

 

If I Knew I Could Not Fail

I recently joined a class on marketing and was required to answer this question –

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After some initial resistance, I dashed off some quick answers, and surprised myself!

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

  1.  Become #1  in revenue of all outside vendors in the consignment shop I sell in at the Indiana State Fair.  I don’t know how I would actually know I was #1, of course I don’t have access to other vendors’ revenue numbers.  Perhaps this isn’t such a  great goal.  Goals are supposed to measurable, right?  Maybe a better goal would be – sell $XXXX at the Fair.  Or double last year’s sales at the Fair.  So, I’d double last year’s revenue at the fair.  My revenue was $1,162.50, which means my goal is $2,325.00  That’s a big, scary goal!
  2. Have a functional website with a sales page.  Lots of learning to get to that point.  Seems a little overwhelming.
  3. Create more patterns for sale.  That will take a big time investment that I didn’t think I had available.  More about that later.
  4. Dye more yarns in slightly larger groups, instead of so many one off yarns.  That’s doable.
  5. Create a well organized dedicated dye studio, instead of having supplies here, the dye area there, fiber storage somewhere else in the house.  I was reading this list to my daughter, and she said, “What do you need?  Water?  Electricity? Shelving? Lights?  Oh you can easily create a dye studio, you should have Daddy move his weights, push that bunch of tools here, move those shelves, rearrange the laundry area, move that table and you’d be all set.  Sometimes it takes a fresh eye!

About time availability – one of the assignments  was to create a morning routine and policies.  Mine include a commitment to a certain number of hours dedicated to work, in little 1-2 hour chunks throughout my day, which is quite a change from my previous method of squeezing it in here and there, allowing my mind to get distracted by whatever I notice, and basically getting little done.  This idea of going “pro” and having an actual work schedule now looks like genius to me, of course.

I now dedicate about 4 hours per week day to work, working around the other things I need or want to do.  I still spend plenty of time outside and get my errands done.  But, I have accomplished more in the last two days that I did in a week before I had an actual schedule.  So I can see that I have a lot more time than I thought I did, and I’m committed to finishing a class on pattern writing I began long ago, and then I’ll start writing up a pattern or two that have been rattling around in my brain for a while.

Another benefit of this dedicated time I’ve noticed is that I’m much more organized, my office space is tidy, and I have time to think and plan.  Quite a remarkable change.  At the end of my last work period, around 5pm, I start to think about the next day and get set up for that.

For example, tomorrow I will spend some time working on setting up my dye area, and by the end of day I’ll feel like I made some real progress.

How would you answer the question?

For the folks who come here looking for pretty pictures of fiber, here’s something for you.

Pegasus Fingering Weight 100% Wool Yarn
Pegasus Fingering Weight 100% Wool Yarn

Until next time.  Happy knitting or whatever makes you happy!