Join the 2015 Happiness Project (a fun, effective alternative to New Year’s Resolutions)

       

I’m doing something different instead of traditional New Year’s Resolutions this year. I just read two amazing books about Happiness: “Stumbling on Happiness” and “The Time Paradox.”

The former has more to say about the crazy quirks of our brains that make happiness so elusive, but it was really the latter book that got me thinking about a concrete plan to improve my happiness. I guess you could say that my New Year’s Resolution is “be happier”, and the following is a plan to make it happen. I call it

The 2015 Happiness Project

From now until the end of December, there’s a bit of prep and homework (it’s fun!), and then in 2015, we’ll spend the year focusing on activities that are proven to make us happier (these are backed by science, and they might surprise you!)

Step 1: Deviate for a Day

(This comes from The Time Paradox)

What makes you happy will change, and you’ll need to change with it. This is a fun and effective exercise that encourages you to embrace change.

Here’s how it works: first make a list of the important aspects of your self-image. Consider your abilities, appearance, and personality. Your task, for one day, is to violate one important aspect of your self-image. If you take pride in your appearance, jump out of bed and go straight to work. If you never swear, throw a few fucking four-letter words into your vernacular. If you’re an atheist, carry around a Bible. Etc.

Once you’ve done this for one day, you can go back to your old ways, but the liberating feeling might stay with you and who knows, maybe you’ll like the new weird You better. Either way, you’ll realize that change is possible, even extreme changes.

My Deviate for a Day:

I take pride in my no-nonsense wardrobe and style, so on Friday, I’m going to take meticulous care in grooming and go to work in my nicest suit and tie. Maybe I’ll post a photo.

Let me know in the comments how you plan to “deviate for a day.” Have fun, and be happy!

Are there only three different kinds of leaders?

rosh pina

I’m gonna be posting more about leadership, because it’s what’s on my mind.

From The Three Types of Leaders The World Needs Most:

  1. Artistic leaders inspire by influencing perceptions. They help us see, hear, taste, smell and touch new things or the same things in new ways. You can find these leaders creating new designs, new art, and the like. These people generally have no interest in ruling or guiding. They are all about inspiration.
  2. Scientific leaders guide and inspire by influencing knowledge with their thinking and ideas. You can find them creating new technologies, doing research and writing, teaching and the like. Their ideas tend to be well thought-through, supported by data and analysis, and logical. These people develop structure and frameworks that guide others.
  3. Interpersonal leaders can be found ruling, guiding and inspiring at the head of their interpersonal cohort whether it’s a team, organization, or political entity. They come in all shapes and sizes, and influence behaviors in different ways. The common dimension across interpersonal leaders is that they are leading other people.

Leaders influence the perceptions, knowledge, and behaviors of those around them. And they’re not mutually exclusive. Think of these three not as positions on a basketball team, but more as stats for a Dungeons & Dragons player. How much of each do you have? What type(s) are needed for the current situation? More importantly, what type(s) are needed for the future situation, as you see it playing out?

Camp Mustache was a huge success! Here’s some feedback from attendees

Got Mustache?

Welcome MMM readers! We held a 2nd Camp Mustache in 2015 and plan to do it again in 2016! Leave a comment here if you’re interested in getting in on the pre-sale for our next Camp Mustache.

Camp Mustache went swimmingly. It was exactly how I envisioned it: interesting people sharing wisdom and generally having fun while getting into a small amount of mischief.

Here’s a blog post from one of the attendees:

http://ohyonghao.com/blog/camp-mustache/

And here’s an amazing poem written by another attendee:

T’was two days before the first day of June
Spendthrifts powered through traffic on this afternoon
In anticipation for a weekend of fun
Just south of Seattle… there were rumors of sun

The group was diverse in geography:
Alaska, Florida, and Washington DC
Arizona, Canada, and Las Vegas
Oh, and a few from the Pacific Northwest

Some single, some couples, and some families
From recent blog readers to Mustachian groupies
We all convened for this camping trip
To meet Mr. Money and glean a free tip

After dinner in circles we played a few games
Yelling non-existent sports and guessing last names.
For dessert we roasted marshmallows for smores
As the night grew chilly in the outdoors

Conversations varied as we were warmed by the fire
Financial calculations and countdown to retire.
Women discussed tiny houses and riches forlorn
As men listened in pleasure to this frugality porn

The next day began with a group hike
Followed by breakout sessions to choose if you like:
Homebrew, bikes, and urban homesteading
Creative suggestions to reduce your spending
Budget, save, finance a plan
Concerning real estate notes–RebelSpy’s your man

New credit cards, Brett began to unravel
with these funny points the world you can travel.
We learned Carla derived great satisfaction
From minimum spend with faux cash transactions

Nighttime fell and entertainment resumed
Wine in a box by some was consumed
As were small squares of chocolate infused
With fun legal herbs as some were amused

The final morning, before we would go
Gathered a last time for a group photo.
These fancy people as it so happens
Were okay sharing bunks in the same cabins

Though we started off the weekend as strangers
In common we’re all time vs. money exchangers
Likeminded souls in quest to be free
On the financial path via Badassity

A special shout out to [the other organizers] and Joe
And to Pete who’s attendance was so apropos
To the understated volunteers who helped run this bash –
Thanks for great memories at 2014 Camp Mustache

I changed the poem a bit since it mentioned people by their real names…

We’re already thinking about next year’s event. Some folks jokingly said we should have it in Leavenworth and call it Das Mustachen-Kampen

Ada Developers Academy and Life Pivots

I had the amazing fortune to meet the charter class of Ada Developers Academy students when they took a tour of my office today.

Ada Developers Academy is a tuition-free programming school for women. The only pre-requisite (other than “for women”) is that you can’t already be a programmer.

In other words, every woman I met today woke up one morning and said “I’m going to quit my comfortable job (or education-path) and become a programmer.”

In addition, the software industry is dominated by males (unfortunately, for everybody who uses software), so not only did these folks make a risky life-pivot, they also pivoted into an industry where the deck is stacked against them.

This takes an amount of moxie that I may never comprehend, and meeting the class was very inspirational. It got me thinking about how the metaphor of startup pivots (i.e. a course-correction designed to test a hypothesis about the business) can be applied to life.

The common (and incorrect) definition of a startup’s “runway” is “the amount of time a startup has until it runs out of money.” A more accurate definition is “the number of pivots a startup can make before it runs out of money.” In other words, the number of new things it can try, the number of experiments it can run.

Perhaps the “runway” of your life isn’t the amount of time you have left to live, but it’s the number of interesting, experimental things you can do before your time is up?

Just as a business should structure itself to get to each pivot faster (by finding ways to learn at lower cost and in a shorter time), one should structure one’s life to get to get to the interesting parts faster!

How can you structure your life like this? There are probably countless ways, but here are a few that come to mind:

  1. Have interesting friends (and the harsh corollary: don’t waste your time with boring or uninspiring people)
  2. Live someplace interesting where you can make lots of interesting friends (and do interesting stuff with them)
  3. Double-check your life assumptions every once in a while. Who knows what you’ll find?

PS: Registration for the next ADA program is almost open. Check it out if you’re a female in the Seattle area (or willing to relocate).

(I tried something new on this post and didn’t spend much time editing it. The result is probably more raw and train-of-thought, but also closer to the original vision in my head. What do you think?)

Get your tickets to the first ever Camp Mustache

We rented out this lodge
We rented out this lodge

Update: SOLD OUT! See you in May!

I’ve been writing a series on planning a retreat, but it fell to the wayside, because I’ve been pretty busy planning a retreat!

It’s been hard work but very rewarding. A few things are still up in the air, but the main deets are already locked down, so I can share them now:

May 30 – June 1, 2014
On An Undisclosed Lake in Graham, WA
$200 for adults, $100 for children

Tickets are on sale here:
http://campmustache.brownpapertickets.com/

Here are a few of the many reasons that this retreat is going to be awesome:

  1. We rented an entire lodge on a picturesque lake, along with some adjacent cabins (for those who need a bit more privacy).
  2. The price includes lodging, activities, and a weekend of meals prepared by experienced chefs, including James from How Pickle Got Out Of A Jam.
  3. Friday night interactive entertainment hosted by Ben from Yawp Club.
  4. This is a non-profit event, so every last penny is going towards making it an unforgettable weekend.
  5. Attendees include Mr Money Mustache, JD Roth, and other surprise guests.
  6. Space is limited to 50 attendees, so everyone will get the chance to get to know everyone else in an intimate setting.
  7. Mustaches
  8. A mix of structured sessions, nature activities, and free time for chillin’

This is going to rock! MMM and JD Roth are both going to blog about the event, which will probably cause it to sell out, so if you want to get tickets, you should get ’em while you can!

Let me know if you have any questions!

Wizards Rule! Join the Good Judgement Project

The Good Judgement Project is a large-scale, government-funded prediction game. Similar to the markets where you can bet on who’s gonna be elected president, but with no actual money. You can read more about it in this Freakonomics article from a few years ago.

The project only accepts a limited number of participants at a time, because participating includes free, ongoing training on becoming a better prognosticator. You see, the researchers behind the GJP have actually distilled prediction down to a science, and they’re happy to share it with you.

Perfectly predicting the future still requires a crystal ball, but their training has helped me realize that good forecasting is a skill that one can cultivate, with practice and guidance. In other words, anyone can become a wizard.

I’ll give you a little peak into what I’ve learned: non-wizards tend to focus on the unique qualities of a situation, but wizards increase their forecasting accuracy by abstracting the situation and looking at outcomes of similar past situations. This is called reference class forecasting, and it also involves learning how to reframe problems and hunt for the right information.

Forecasting is a really awesome talent to have, so I’m totally pumped about leveling up.  The GJP is open for enrolment now. Register if you want to become more wizardy: http://www.goodjudgmentproject.com/

Just a heads-up,  registration includes a timed knowledge test that is rather rigorous. It mostly covers politics and current-events, and also includes brain-teasers and a few “personality test” questions. Nobody ever said becoming a wizard would be easy.